Ascertaining a Quality Factor from Likes, Dislikes, Assessments and Comments

One of the most straightforward uses of the Social Web 2.0 for Open Science is the ability to transfer positive and negative ratings and comments. These features are not new by any means, the most prominent among them being those employed by Facebook, but even there they were not new, owing to their simplicity. Blogs, online book marketplaces and bidding platforms recognized the principle of assessment for boosting one's reputation at a much earlier stage and used it to their own advantage. It can basically be divided into simple expressions of approval or disapproval (like or dislike), an interesting aspect being that Facebook only allows the affirmative ''like'' vote which, judging by the demographic structure of its users, may be of inestimable value in protecting the psychological development of school-children/minors, seeing as countless cases of cybermobbing have been heard of even when the voting is limited to favorable ''thumbs up'' ratings. Although science ought to be regarded as objective and rational, it would be wrong to underestimate the interests that lie behind research results, and which might play a role in influencing the assessment of publications beyond the limits of objectiveness. Only a process of experimentation and subsequent evaluation can determine whether the accumulation of negative votes leads to an objective improvement in assessment or encourages the intentional underrating of undesirable research results. In the interests of transparency, however, it would probably make sense to show features of this kind with a clear, publicly visible reference to the originator. In this way, likes, dislikes, assessments and comments would reflect straight back on the reputation of the person passing the criticism and would consequently be better thought-out than anonymous comments. This contrasts starkly with the fear of uncomfortable, but justified truths which are more easily expressed anonymously. It might be possible to experiment with both forms in order to ascertain a quantified quality factor that would also be taken into consideration in evaluating the reputation of an article or researcher.

Crowd Editing

The possibility of crowd editing is a completely new, feasible feature in the Open Science web. Strictly speaking, it amounts to the steadfast further development of joint publications. While the ideal number of academics working on a treatise is limited to two, three or occasionally four scientists, crowd editing opens up a publication on a general level. As introduced earlier on in this book (see chapter Dynamic Publication Formats and Collaborative Authoring), anyone reading the article can contribute voluntarily to it provided he/she has something relevant to add. Old versions can remain stored in archives, as is the case with Wikipedia articles, and subject-related changes can be either approved or rejected by a group of editors before an official new version of the article is published. It is conceivable that the relevant subversion could be cited—not really a new procedure—but the principle of crowd editing might increase the frequency of amendments.

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