Wis.dm of the crowds: web site seeks to build dialogue through yes/no questions

Wis.dm of the crowdsThe Boston Globe reports today on the launch of wis.dm, one more in a long line of social networking web sites.

Wis.dm (tagline: “Question everything”) describes itself as “an online community where you ask questions to the wis.dm crowd and get back useful answers. It is for people who are looking for something more meaningful than they get from ‘popularity’ based social networks. It’s a place to engage around asking, sharing, growing and learning.”

And that’s the premise behind wis.dm. Members are invited to post questions intended to “Get answers. Inspire a discussion. Raise a debate.”

Which sounds fine in principle until you realize that members can only pose questions that can be answered by either yes or no.

Here’s my question: In a complex world filled with complex problems, are yes/no questions the kind of question we really want to be asking?

If the idea is to inspire a discussion, it’s not clear how far “yes” or “no” will get you. There’s no room for explanation, for nuance, for subtlety, for all the many shades of gray that life’s questions call for.

“Yes” or “no” produces no understanding. It’s the “Yes because…” or the “No, but…” that is so much more compelling.

2 responses to “Wis.dm of the crowds: web site seeks to build dialogue through yes/no questions

  1. Martin Clifford

    Would America be a very different place if English settlers had come over without their wives?…just one example of yes / no question that inspires debate and, at the same time gives the questioner a immediate sense of the balance of opinion on the subject at hand. wis.dm users are not required to answer yes or no and can elect to jump straight to “Comments” to provide their particular insight. For more on this topic, specifically the need for a simple “call to action”, keep one eye on the wis.dm blog.

  2. Diane Levin

    Martin, thanks so much for your correction and for pointing out to me the comment section. I stand corrected.It was easy though to overlook, especially when the focus of your site is so heavily on the yes/no questions, rather than on the opportunity to add the “but” or “because”. Members are instructed to frame their questions to elicit a binary response. It’s not immediately apparent that further input beyond a “yes” or “no” is possible or will be sought. I missed it–others may as well.Thanks for the comment–and for letting me and readers know that there’s potential depth to the content of the answers.