No, this is not an article about the Lytton Tribe. On Thursday, July 26, the Windsor Democratic Club heard a presentation by Chase Palmieri and Jared Fesler on their web application which rates news articles for trustworthiness. The “tribe” in the name refers to the audience which reads and rates the articles. That is, all of us.

Tribeworthy

Palmieri and Fesler, two young local entrepreneurs, have developed what looks like a powerful system for allowing readers of the news to evaluate and post their opinions of whether an article is one you can trust, or is it illogical, biased, has mistakes or, in general, is not credible.

They call this “crowd-contested media.” Once you install the application and sign up, you can review any news article you find on the web, whether it’s in the New York Times or the Windsor Times. Users evaluate whether to trust the article. Then others read the review and can either enter their own review or vote up or down on other reviewers.

In Tribeworthy’s system, all the news that’s out there can be evaluated so we can decide for ourselves whether to trust a certain reporter and/or a certain news outlet. The goal is not to fact-check, as some sites do already, whether a news article is “true” or “false.” Rather they want to allow readers to decide on whether to trust the article or not. The article, over the course of a few reviews, will display a percentage rating from 0 percent to 10 percent, showing the trust level as judged by the reviewers.

The reviewers themselves receive ratings as well. So, a reviewer can be judged by what are called “users.” Each user can give an up or down click on the review. So reviewers have percentages telling the “tribe” what users think of their work.

Palmieri and Fesler refer to this as Yelp or Rotten Tomatoes for the news.

Club members raised several questions. One was the suspicion that a flood of users with ulterior motives would try to influence the trust in an article. What if someone wanted to pump up the positive message of something that lacks validity, say a report of a cure for cancer?

This, of course, is a similar problem faced by any reviewing system, whether it’s Yelp or Rotten Tomatoes or Amazon or Trip Advisor. This can be solved, the presenters said, by two means. First, the reviewers and users will spot the flood and counter that with their own review or user ratings. Second, Tribeworthy has tools to recognize the characteristics and source of such input. They would warn the source and eventually could flag them for others to see what’s going on. In other words, they have the goal not to censor but to provide information to the community of such attempts.

Since Tribeworthy’s usefulness depends on getting a large base of reviewers and users, Palmieri and Fesler request those interested to check tribeworthystart.com. For Windsor Democratic Club, go to windsordems.org.

Rick Massell is the president of the Windsor Democratic Club.

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