Thursday, April 18, 2013


One of my first thought after the Boston bombing was that looking for the bombs should be crowdsourced. As in, every picture should be put online and people should look for suspicious items and see if there's a group consensus and just generally figure out what happened... to help the FBI and law enforcement.

I now believe I was wrong. The crowdsourcing effort actually happened. A subreddit called "findbostonbombers" was created to share images and speculation. And you know what happened?

Idiots took the speculation and turned it into online memes, posting the stuff people were finding in the images onto Facebook as if it were from actual law enforcement and basically dragging people's faces through the mud. Many of those people were just victims, but the online hoards are after them because some idiot decided that crowdsourced speculation is better than the FBI.

So, while I don't mind being able to see the photos and such, I think the idea of crowdsourcing this sort of thing just isn't right. It cannot work without people taking it the wrong way. I think the folks in the subreddit meant well, but it has gone horribly wrong.

UPDATE: Once the FBI identified suspects, the crowdsource did a little better. But until then, way too many false positives being picked up by idiots who spread the information way too far. It was a shambles. Had no one taken the speculation and reported them as fact, it would have been fine. But whoever irresponsibly took that speculation and spread it turned it into something horrible.


Roger Owen Green said...

there are reasons professionals set guidelines for these things. That Saudi guy who was hurt in the blast would be beaten to death by now if "the people" had their way.