The primary vulnerability of a publication systems with a large global readership runs in another direction than the one mentioned.
Members can post information in a way that appears to be well grounded in theoretical proofs or empirical study when the information may in fact be invented to sound good. The information may be authentically reproduced from the results of a web search and that information may too sound good but lack rigor or peer review.
The classic example of this later case is Wikipedia. The oversight of that site is well aware of the fact that many Wikipedia pages and sections lack peer review or reflect popular trends that have not been properly tested or very deeply considered. Most universities have departmental policies to not allow sources that are essentially blogs in theses.
Another example that I've seen in this AI beta and the SE sub-sites is the referencing of a sentence from the abstract or conclusion of a paper accompanied by an interpretation that conflicts with the facts in the body of the paper. I'm aware that people want to support their views and do searches, and I've done that on occasion too. However, we all must be aware that the quality of the site is highest when we all work to investigate the reliability of what we are quoting or referencing.
People are vulnerable to misinformation, even if accidental, and this is an information disseminating community. That's the concern of greatest importance, but that vulnerability is not a vulnerability of the SE system. It is a vulnerability of the readership.
Example of Negative Global Impact
The SO site and associated SE sub-sites are powerful. For instance, some semantic impressions have formed in SO that design questions are too broad. That may have been done for reasons that seemed wise, but the result is that SO has a corresponding impact on the global development community: Dismissal of design. Again, a vulnerability of the readership.
Size and the Influence of an Individual or Small Group
Regarding the correlation between size and the impact of activity of an individual or those who work together in a team in a workplace or lab, yes that is true. The larger the group, the lesser the relative impact of one or a few people. For that very reason, some prefer smaller groups because they feel more relevant, which is why the sub-sites are growing.
However, the correlation flips when considering detection.
It is actually more difficult to detect especially large impact from one or a small group in the larger group. A few people who just happen to have similar backgrounds or have read a similar set of material for work related reasons will stand out more in smaller communities than in larger ones.
The question has that aspect backward.
Defining Positive Impact
Whether that impact is positive or negative is reflected (and should be reflected) in the up votes or down votes, not the opinions of those that may notice what appears to them like excessive corroboration. When scrutinizing game-play, the developers of the system will naturally examine questions about trends. Regarding individual accounts or groups that work or live together, the question should be ...
- Are there any votes that appeared that are without merit?
- Were there any published member rules broken?
- Are members collaborating to trounce on others?
- Are members trolling to crush other individual members or ganging up on them to remove what they imagine to be a threat?
Those are the questions I have too.
The question mentions gaming, where in fact all SO and SE sub-site members are in game play. The system is deliberately set up as a game. It is a zero sum game in that the point scores are relative as in some sports, therefore the increased success of one member may threaten the success of another. The game system is not the design of the member.
What is the choice of the member is intent. Some are here to compete; others to contribute.
That privileges must be earned is the more fixed point, and less relative, so there is some communal value to those who have decades of experience and tend to apply mathematical rigor and interest in social responsibility to questions to game out sufficient point score to positively impact the larger parameters of game-play. That too is how the system is set up.
The best leaders in this community (as with the larger community of humanity) are the ones that are willing to engage in the silliness of game play without particular interest in winning but to game well enough to get more factual and productive information out to people so they can make wiser decisions.
Actions to be Taken
The actions to be taken are the rules of the game. Of course, as in tennis, appealing to the umpire is permitted, but not always productive, especially if the umpire tips the scales against a contributor as a result of the appeal in such a way as to suppress or censor useful perspectives that contain needed qualities.
Mathematical rigor is not always appreciated by those who don't value it, yet it is objectively useful, especially in science and technology. Those with decades of experience are not always appreciated by those that cannot speak from experience as easily. Because this is natural, those with more experience should respect the need of novices to gain experience gradually as they once did. So the experienced and the novice should yield to one another.
Minority views are by their very nature unappreciated. When they are repeatedly expressed with vigor and they have a disruptive quality or challenge the status quo, the reaction can be a mob scene. The mob is usually made up those that have used the status quo or trendy ideas to gain reputation.
Of course, SE AI members are above that.
Multiple Accounts in One Household, Workplace, or Laboratory
Although it is true that in communities, local ones, FaceBook groups, and SO ones, there are people who know each other and work together so that they have similar patterns of speech when talking on the topics in which they collaborate for family life, activism, or work. It does not mean they are cheating in some way. To those in the group working together, what they do is collaborate, which is no threat to an SO or SE site because they have thrived with couples, work teams, and many other collaborating groups interacting.
Truth be told, those who appear in public to always be in agreement may not always be in agreement privately. Families, laboratory teams, and those who work closely in the industry have just learned to withhold argumentation with their close friends, family, and work and laboratory associates.
In summary, others may have legitimacy or malice in their intent, but score based systems are technically games, and we all play together. The power and importance of AI is substantial and some will enter game-play reluctantly solely for higher purposes than points.
- Infusing mathematical rigor where lacking
- Encouraging backing facts with proper academic references and attribution
- Encouraging proper analysis of papers and articles
- Exposing the misuse of terminology
- Scrutinizing practice that, while common, may be detrimental
- Questioning blind futurism when it may realistically lead to mayhem
- Asking any of the larger questions that should be asked