If one were to build an open platform to compete with news media rather than social or blogging media, they would need some sort of accountability/quality control mechanism to mirror the role of editorial review at prestigious news platforms.

The best tool for aggregating information that we have devised is markets. This is especially the case in open systems. The biggest risk to a well-functioning market is collusion. The second major problem with prediction markets for information is that bettors can become more concerned with predicting what people think the truth is rather than predicting the actual truth. Any mechanism that was designed to employ markets in the place of editorial review would need to guard against these failings. With this in mind I propose this system:

  1. A reporter with information on a climate event in Costa Rica writes an article and publishes it to the platform. They must stake a certain TBD amount of money on this article.
  2. The article is published without editorial review (unlike how news media currently works).
  3. Prospective fact checkers (post editorial reviewers) also stake money and state their specialist topics. Some of those that listed Costa Rican current affairs or climate as a topic are randomly chosen from the available pool of people. They are each given guidelines on how to judge an article and use these guidelines to give the article a trust score without colluding among themselves as they don’t who else's been asked to fact check. The article and the guidelines together likely represent the only Schelling point the fact checkers can converge on as the position of the market is unknown prior to settlement. Information about any consensus that might exist outside the truth is unknown. A fact checking assignment is like jury duty. Some of your stake is slashed if you renege on giving a score for a given article in your specialty. This requirement along with random selection should minimise any collusion.
  4. The writer’s payout is determined by the score the fact checkers give him/her. The fact checkers’ payouts are determined by how close they are to the average score from the group. Everyone’s respective rep scores are also updated. Those that drop below a certain trust score will not have their articles listed on the platform or be chosen for post editorial review. Articles from the best performers will be amplified on the platform, minimising the chances of readers being supplied erroneous information.

Would be interested to hear people’s thoughts on this system? One worry I have is that after some time people will be armed with prior probabilty data and will simply strategically pick the high probabilty outcome without doing any fact checking. This could be mitigated by minimising the amount of articles a fact checker gets, leading them to take the utmost care with the ones they are given.




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There's a bayesian truth serum literature coming out of mechdzn/econ/cs, lots of results when you google "bayesian truth serum". What sort of market design principles do you need to elicit honest beliefs with respect to some ground truth? that sort of thing. 

Interesting, thanks. 

I found your post interesting and your proposal compelling. Noam Bardin (founder of Waze) recently founded Post.News, a platform that aims to implement a version of specific parts of your proposal in their mixed new news and social media site. His interview on the Pivot Podcast explained very little details of the product (mainly his "vision"),  although they are still early in development and seemed to have rushed their launch given the happenings at Twitter. Nonetheless, the parts of that podcast episode that I found most interesting and may be relevant to your proposal are:

  • 42:30 - Waze established a hierarchal system of maps editors that have built reputation over time and have jurisdiction over specific geographic locations. A version of this that may be implemented in Post.News sounds like having specific content moderators for specific geographies regions or topics.
    • This sounded similar to the fact-checkers in your proposal, in which fact-checkers list topics they are experts in. A key difference between the Waze and Post.News examples and your proposal, is that your proposal suggests that fact checkers are selected at random for each article to prevent collusion.
    •  The key similarity between Waze, Post.News and your proposal is that these actors' objectives are to optimise for some specific score - whether that is increasing maps accuracy, minimising user reports of community violations or closeness to the average score to other fact-checkers for a given article - with the purpose being that optimising for these scores improves the quality of the service.
  • 53:57 - Establishing a two-tier user system in which:
    • Content on Post.News by verified users (real identity is verified using a paid 3rd-party service) is distributed amongst and beyond your followers using a reputation system to determine degree of amplification. Verified users that cross some threshold of 'bad content' as reported by content moderators or others users, will be removed from the reputation system and their content will only be distributed to their followers. Content on Post.News by anonymous users (real identity is not verified) is distributed to only their followers.
    • I am curious about what happens to content in your proposal that isn't chosen for post editorial review (ever) and what happens to the post while it is in review. Do you think a two-tier user system for content is necessary to attract content, writers, fact-checkers and reader (i.e. there needs to be a certain volume of content for you to attract users and build the news site)?

Question: In your proposal, how would the system onboard fact-checkers and what factors would influence selection of new fact-checkers if reputation scores are 'fresh' broadly on the platform or for a specific topic? Would bad fact-checkers be weeded-out by poor scores from their first few fact-check assignments? 

Question: In your proposal, how / would you enable fact-checkers to list topics of expertise? Again, would topics be removed from fact-checkers' profiles by poor scores from their first few fact-check assignments?

An observation I have about your proposal is the high volume of fact-checkers you would need to onboard to keep up with article content, particularly given that your proposal needs multiple fact-checkers per topic for one article.

My prediction is that future AI systems will emerge that will perform fact-checking activities for a significant volume of content (I am uncertain what amount this would be). These systems will have their own 'knowledge graph' of facts, extracted from a variety of sources, influenced by sources' reputations (that they track), so humans don't have to. Rudimentary versions of this already exist (e.g. Google places an answer in a callout box at the top of search results, Microsoft's implementation of OpenAI's GPT3.5 presents web sources when it produces prompt responses). @quinn's comment about Bayesian Truth Serums are similar to what I envision for mechanistic fact-checking.

Its worth nothing that I've just started an self-direct research project on this very topic and would be open to chatting further if you are invested in this topic too.

Thanks for posting!

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