I have been working on items that use the “Wisdom of Crowds” to try to come up with better solutions.
A lot of people talk about sites such as Digg as implementors of the wisdom of crowds ‘pattern’, and although they do offer benefits compared to a pure editorial approach, I think that they influence the selection.
The problem is that you can easily create selffulfilling prophecies.
In the book, if a group is asked to solve a problem, and everyone else in the group says that the answer is B, someone is more likely to agree with the rest of the group EVEN IF it is obvious that the answer is actually A. This is just simple peer pressure.
We can push peer pressure buy showing users the results of the crowd.
E.g. if an article has a rating of 5, I am willing to bet tha others are more likely to give the article a high rating than if it was a 1 before they checked it out. This matters even more if you are a competitor and give fake reviews of “1″ to spur things on.
So, for the best outcomes, I think that it is better to not allow people to see what others have said about a given issue before they have voted. This may not be the most usable solution though, and it may easily go at odds with the community aspects of some of the crowd features.
There are many areas in which we can use the wisdom of the crowd in a non-community manner, giving us great results.