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Making Sense Of Online Decision Maker Websites

Author : Darren Willsmith


It is a mark of our times that websites designed around literally helping us make decisions has recently become popular. Not as in reference sites which provide information to help you apply that information to your specific situation, but literally websites that take you through the mental process of making a decision. Gone are the days of the canned response, random chance Magic 8-ball as a reference! Now available to anyone with internet access is the World Wide Web, with all the immense power of its collective wisdom.

Now we have online decision maker websites which take away the stress of mulling over questions alone in our head. These websites vary greatly in their execution so their different manifestations will be discussed.

Today, the internet is a sprawling, dense mass of incredible information. Decision engine websites aim to help you navigate the web to get where and what you want, through different means.

In trying to alleviate the problem of information overload, one kind of online decision maker website endeavors to present different web experiences depending on the search. Its main appeal is immersion. This website efficiently and elegantly incorporates many other sites into itself to keep you browsing within itself. When you are searching online shopping, be it products or services (like travel booking), searching through this kind of website brings in comparison pricing, reviews, images, and more. The aim is to keep you internal to this sort of website by pulling in data from others so that you don't have to leave to find what you're looking for.

Other decision maker websites are more community-based. Their main appeal is that they draw from the collective knowledge base of their users and rely on person-to-person interaction to answer questions. This is a more personal experience than simply referring to published information on a website. Their draw is also their drawback, since they rely on the knowledge of their users, the expertise and sincerity of advice may be dubious at times. This type of website has particular conceptual significance for the internet, as well. It is an important paradigm that has now become very popular and has contributed to the rise of acceptance of crowd sourced information.

A new, recently developed breed of website considers itself a "decision engine" in a very intuitive sense. Not strictly a search engine and not strictly a question-and-answer community-based site, this kind of online decision maker features the capacity for its own built-in knowledge base which is contributed to by users, much like an online user-built encyclopedia. In describing this sort of website, one developed described the online experience as, it "gets you to a decision better when you don't already have a decision in mind. It can show you the right questions to ask." This type of website lends itself to questions like "what place should I visit in X country?", "Which kind of shoe should I buy??, ?Should I buy X kind of product?", "How can I get better at X skill?" It is not like community-based decision-making websites in that users who participate in it will get immediate answers--yet. The most notable feature about this type of website is currently its potential. As more users contribute to it, the more refined it will become, because it can ask more questions moving from the general query to one tailored to the user asking the question, and then can yield an answer.

For those too ambivalent or apathetic to make an informed decision, there are also a number of websites dedicated to randomly giving you answers to your question. This takes the responsibility out of your hands and leaves the answer to the conclusion of a code script. For example, one online decision maker is merely a race between two pixilated creatures on a 44-pixellated block track. One track says "yes", the other, "no". The user clicks "start" and whichever creature reaches the end of the track first is the answer to your question!

Other websites are online coin tosses, for those occasions when flipping coins yourself is too much effort, or you simply don't have any with you. More sophisticated online decision makers feature a design that allows users to input their question along with a number of available options. Then users click a button to allow the website to randomly select one of the inputted options.

All of these websites evolved from what appears to be a growing sense of paralytic ambivalence that seems to stem from the overwhelming variety and option that the internet offers. There is just so much to do, so much which is possible that it is overwhelming. Decision-making websites aim to make that task a little easier by guiding you through the myriad of possibilities, or through simply and quickly giving you answers irrespective of whatever you are asking so you don't have to expend the mental effort of thinking very hard on a question. More and more, the internet is becoming something like a prosthetic sense, a part of popular consciousness, and online decision makers are no exception to that growth.


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Tags:   Online Decision Maker, Decision Maker, Make Decision Online, Make Decision, Online Decision Making, Decide Something Online

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Submitted : 2010-11-02    Word Count : 870    Times Viewed: 241