KDE Perceived Quality Survey (PESQUS)

Benjamin Rossen b.rossen at onsnet.nu
Tue Jan 18 14:12:46 GMT 2005

On Tuesday 18 January 2005 14:37, Chad Robinson wrote:
> Human Aspects of Software Engineering wrote:
> I also have a few comments about this survey. First, it's important that 
> survey participants be party to the results, or at least get a quick view of 
> what others are saying. You'll get a higher response rate if you promise to 
> distribute your results on this mailing list, or provide an e-mail address 
> box where a copy will be sent. 
Chad Robinson, 

I do not think this is a good idea, unless you mean that we should see the 
results at the end. Let me explain. 

In the 19th Century Charles McKay wrote a classic of mass psychology called 
"The Madness of Crowds" which dealt a little with matters such as 
superstition and witch hunting, but mostly with the phenomenon of bubbles and 
stock market crashes. His primary thesis was that collective behaviour is an 
expression of the lowest common denominator; and that becomes mass hysteria. 
That was the traditional doctrine of mass psychology for more than a century. 

Throughout the latter part of the 20th Century and up to today, mass 
psychologists, marketing scientists and others have discovered that this is 
not always the case. A recent book by James Surowieki; " The Wisdom of 
Crowds" sums up this research. It is a very good read. 

Crowds are able to arrive at better decisions than experts under certain 
conditions. The primary condition is that individuals DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE 
OTHER INDIVIDUALS are doing. For, if they do know, their own behaviour 
becomes biased, deference to percieved authority and other expressions of 
herd instinct start to play a role. You get the madness of crowds.  

When no one has any knowledge of what the others are doing, you get collective 
wisdom. You get individual errors that cancel out other errors, and you end 
up with a golden mean that beats the best experts. 

Benjamin Rossen 
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