PhD student Devin Bloom has demonstrated that mobs can be very smart about a serious subject. In this case, diehard fish-heads schooled on FB to identify fish caught in a ichthyological survey on Guyana’s Cuyuni River. From the ScienceDaily article describing this very successful croudsourced identification of 5000 fish specimen:
That’s when Bloom made a great suggestion. “Let’s just put them up on Facebook and see if our friends can help.” Sidlauskas loved the idea, so he uploaded the photos that Bronaugh had meticulously taken of each species. “The network of fish experts is pretty small,” says Bloom, “and fish people can be real fanatics. Once a fish pops up on Facebook, they get very excited and start arguing. So next thing we knew, we had a really interesting intellectual debate going on between various world experts on fish, sort of like a real-time peer review that reached across continents and around the world.” In less than 24 hours, their network of friends — many of whom hold Ph.D.s in ichthyology and whom Bloom refers to as “diehard fish-heads” — had identified almost every specimen.