Google's PageRank algorithm is tweaked hundreds of times every year to reduce crap and increase the quality of results, but it's essentially a majority rules result that is subject to a tyranny of too much crap.
What is needed in the internet search world is the automated sorting of results into groups that are correlated with each other. I have a dream that someday the search engine will sort the results by embedded ideas. In other words, automatically sort the results into N groups. I see this as a "senatorial" result that balances majority rule. This might or might not be really hard - look at IBM's Watson computer for something along those lines.
In the mean time, we rely on trusted sources like TechDirt to provide filters relevant to various groups. Thus, TechDirt is one of the de facto "states" in my senate of filters that help me hear the messages coming through the cacophony.
Ben Franklin was an avid anonymous poster - it helped that he owned the paper. He used it for truth, justice (his version anyway), harmless fun, and for discussing things that you simply could not print any other way.
Not much has changed in ~250 years.
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