Monday, June 11, 2007

Wis.dm of the crowds: web site seeks to build dialogue through yes/no questions

Wis.dm of the crowdsThe Boston Globe reports today on the launch of wis.dm, one more in a long line of social networking web sites.

Wis.dm (tagline: "Question everything") describes itself as "an online community where you ask questions to the wis.dm crowd and get back useful answers. It is for people who are looking for something more meaningful than they get from 'popularity' based social networks. It's a place to engage around asking, sharing, growing and learning."

And that's the premise behind wis.dm. Members are invited to post questions intended to "Get answers. Inspire a discussion. Raise a debate."

Which sounds fine in principle until you realize that members can only pose questions that can be answered by either yes or no.

Here's my question: In a complex world filled with complex problems, are yes/no questions the kind of question we really want to be asking?

If the idea is to inspire a discussion, it's not clear how far "yes" or "no" will get you. There's no room for explanation, for nuance, for subtlety, for all the many shades of gray that life's questions call for.

"Yes" or "no" produces no understanding. It's the "Yes because..." or the "No, but..." that is so much more compelling.