I want to compare and contrast two very different instances of crowdsourcing for you. One is the exposure of the Kimkins fraud. The other is the Anonymous attack on the church of scientology that is being talked about in the papers today.
I am 99.9% certain that there is no overlap in the participants. Anonymous is a shadowy collective that is mostly comprised of technically savvy teenage misanthropes. They are, by their own headcount, legion. I brought up their recent activities to a young man in their demographic this morning and he advised me that they are just looking for attention. He was surprised when I told him that papers of record were discussing their attack on scientology. According to him, the media are giving them what they want.
There has been an element of anonymity in the Kimkins controversy, but some of the most active and effective people are not anonymous. I think the rascally teens that comprise Anonymous might be a bit impressed if they found out about the incredible crowdsourcing effort that found all those Russian Bride Pictures.
Both groups incorporate humor into their activities, although they have serious goals. Sometimes Anonymous behaves badly. Jeannie Baitinger referred to the anti-kimkins people as terrorists on more than one occasion, one of which was on national television.
I have been on the periphery of something that was attacked by Anonymous before and I realized that while they have strength in numbers, their Achilles heel is their inability to have a sustained interest in any one target. In fact, I think they abandon their efforts as soon as the attention that the crave begins to wane. If the people who put in the effort to expose the Kimkins fraud had the same attitude, big things might not have happened.
I have been critical of scientology on a regular basis and I have very little sympathy for their plight now that hundreds of thousands of hackers are trying to bring them down. I won’t shy away from being critical of Anonymous either. They have many interests and activities that are beyond the pale with regard to societal norms. For the most part, Kimkins detractors are the kind of people who represent societal norms.