I’ll correct you, rather than answer your questions

Gregor Hohpe is an engineer at Google that was lucky (or deserveful) enough to get invited to a workshop by Tim O’Reilly, along with people like Bill Scott, Jeniffer Tidwill, Cal Henderson, John Musser and Martin Fowler.

The theme of the workshop was “Web 2.0 Patterns”, and one of the objectives of it was to help out O’Reilly with a paper he is putting together about the former.

What is even better, he wrote a summary of what happened that day.

From our perpective there is two things that make it interesting:

  1. An experiment on Yahoo personals revealed that prefilling fields with slightly incorrect data motivates people to enter personal data. This also relates to the common joke that “80% of all usenet posts start with “Actually” – it is hard to get a question answered, but if you make an incorrect statement people are compelled to correct you. Along the same lines it turned out that the rather unappealing default buddy icon on Flikr results in a higher percentage of personalized icons.

  2. O’Reilly, in order to write a paper on a hot topic, instead of just doing it by himself and taking all the credit, decides to put together a team of respected professionals and enlist their help to come up with ideas that will enrich[1] his final script.

The first item is worth exploring. Are people more willing to correct you rather than help you out? do they fill better by appearing smarter than you instead of displaying themselves as helpful individuals? can we motivate them with this dirty trick in order to provide a better interaction?

The second idea is probably something that is already done when an article is shown to certain people to get feedback, to be edited. But doing it so openly is allowing it to be pinged and commented. To get even more exposure. And to build it with better foundations.

There are two obvious backdrafts apart from the plethora of positive aspects:

  1. The paper better be GOOD when it is finished.
  2. Way too many pens wanting to write the same letter (and, eventually, running out of ink).

To top it all, the lucky bastard got invited to FooCamp too. Gee.

[1]This might backfire as well, who knows.

UPDATE: An article on how the ugly avatars are quickly changed by the users.

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