Why Expertise Matters in Collective Knowledge and Intelligence

One of the more interesting areas of crowdsourcing today is in the area of collective knowledge and intelligence – often referred to as Q&A. Quora, one of the more recognizable names, currently focuses on startup and Silicon Valley related matters.  Recently, Jig, a site that allows users to post needs and have them answered, raised $3 million in financing.  Of course, Yahoo! Answers is the original pioneer of Q&A, delivering answers to everyday topics such as parenting and gardening.

With these sites, the propensity for useless and unorganized information is high, as anyone can answer, and there is nobody there to vet backgrounds or experience of respondents.  So of course, all of these helpful tips should be taken with a grain of salt.  The problems that arise with such sites markedly go away when you can ask your questions to a community who actually has some expertise in the areas of concern.

For example, LawPivot (whose Co-Founder and CEO, Jay Mandal, is an old friend of mine) takes small business’ legal questions and sends them to lawyers who have expertise in the area of concern.  That means if you have a question on an HR issue, your question will get sent to employment attorneys, not tax counselors.

The interesting part about focusing on people with expertise, as Dr. Edward George of The Wharton School contends, is that you don’t need too many respondents to get a strong, directional answer.  With only 10-20 respondents who have experience and knowledge, you can get a much better result than asking hundreds who don’t know enough even to be dangerous.

Arun Prakash is Vice President of Marketing at Thinkspeed a crowd sourced market intelligence and research platform for the technology industry. Arun’s background is in software engineering and management of software and technology companies. More information can be found on Thinkspeed at Follow Thinkspeed @thinkspeedhq.

Image Source: Sean Dreilinger

  • Michael

    Internal Prediction Markets reward
    employees for revealing their best knowledge which results in highly accurate quantitative
    forecasts for e.g. S & OP, demand forecastin, and many other business KPIs. Pretty helpful are case studie on for this.

  • siti mahillah

    nice article… I was finding it ..this is brilliant.. Cheers

  • Sev

    If it is about “collective knowledge” one way is mass of personal experiences. An open sourc of Personal Life stories will suport us with collective knowledge.May be PERSON-PEDIA.COM is good example in that case. 

  • Sev

    Did you meen

  • Cristina16x

    interesting article. websites that draw from expert knowledge are certainly distinguishable from the likes of yahoo, etc.

    A relatively new website,, seeks to gather and share knowledge from industry- and subject-matter experts. It has the potential to revolutionize social learning on a global scale.

  • Muffin

    Yahoo WAS NOT the original Q&A site. Yahoo Q&A was stolen idea from a lesser known area of the web that paid for answers, called Google Answers. Here have a read for yourself a quick google search pulled this link up: Yahoo sucks with a passion in everything that they do and so do their users… you can tell by the questions asked and the answers received.