Suggestbot, developed by Dan Cosley at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and colleagues, could help online communities such as Wikipedia and Slashdot distribute editing tasks. Such organisations rely on members to add and edit content but, as work piles up, it can be hard even for dedicated users to pick out appropriate tasks.
Suggestbot links tasks with people’s interests. It can comb through thousands of Wikipedia articles with a “needs work” tag and compare them to the list of previously edited articles on a user’s profile, looking for similar articles. To test if this could increase productivity, Cosley studied the work of 91 Wikipedia editors, who had collectively requested 3094 tasks. He tested three versions of the Suggestbot algorithm – one compared titles of “needy” articles with those in the editor’s profile, the second paired people with tasks popular with editors with a similar history, and the third looked for links between needy articles and those in an editor’s profile.
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