Millionheads is a Magic Eight Ball of Indecision

Crowdsourcing just got a new outlet today with the social polling site, millionheads. The millionheads site is positioning itself as a sort of magic eight ball of personal indecision. But instead of relying on the random, one-in-twenty, and often out-of-context responses of the Mattel toy, responses to millionhead user questions are open to anyone with an Internet connection, a keyboard, and an opinion--albeit, hopefully, an informed opinion.

All questions are posted on millionhead starting with the words, "Should I..." The question asker then provides details on what s/he is seeking to decide, such as these recent queries: "Which laptop should I buy?," "When should I give my kids the talks about sex?," and "Should I do what millionheads tells me to do?" (The latter of those queries is still an open poll; but as of when this news story was written, seven people had voted with 71 percent saying, "No - make up your own mind!" versus 29 percent saying "Yes - the crowd knows best!") The question asker then provides between two to five possible options for answerers to choose from. Question askers can also include relevant photos of the question details as well as for the multiple choice options. Question askers are required to supply an e-mail address, as the results from polls are e-mailed to the askers. The site does not require any registration and the e-mail addresses of question askers are not visible to the public. Answering questions does not require any personal information at all--not even an e-mail address (although, supplying one is an option--but see below for the caveat to doing this).

We spent some time on the site and came away with a mixed-bag of impressions. On the surface, the site seems fairly innocuous, somewhat fun, but hardly addicting. And even though the name of the site implies massive amounts of people will respond to your polls, the largest number of respondents we could find for a poll was 13. Of course, millionheads is a new site, so these numbers have nowhere to go but up.

But a few things actually disturbed up. There are no "About us," "FAQ," or "Security," links on the front page. We also noticed that when someone opts to provide their e-mail address when responding to a poll, that e-mail address is published in the answers on the site for the public to see! We couldn't find any notice or warning on the site that responders' e-mail addresses would be included in their pubic responses. This is especially misleading as users might assume that their e-mail addresses would remain private since the site states that folks who ask questions won't have their e-mail addresses visible to the public. And without a FAQ and Security page, how do we know what the site owners are doing with the supplied e-mail addresses? It's not that we necessarily suspect foul play on millionheads. In fact, our Spidey sense tells us that the site is probably on the up-and-up and just good old-fashioned clean fun. But at the very least, the site needs to make its policies more transparent to its users.

If a poll responder supplies an (optional) e-mail address, the address is included in the public response.

The site also suffers from the same Achilles' heel that just about any crowdsourcing site suffers from: There is nothing to stop folks from gaming the system. Pranksters can easily supply joke or nonsense polls, as well as supply nonsensical responses to others' polls. Perhaps even viral marketers could invade the site and use polls as a form of stealth advertising.

It's a new site, so we will give it a pass for now. But if millionheads wants to move from the kiddie pool to the adult pool, it's got some growing up to do. 
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