Fact checking the Jigsaw database

Fact checking the Jigsaw database

Summary: I saw my colleague Dan Farber's post yesterday about Jigsaw and how it already had 319 contacts for people that work at CNET Networks (the parent company to ZDNet). So, I thought I'd dive in to see if I'm one of them.

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TOPICS: Data Management
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I saw my colleague Dan Farber's post yesterday about Jigsaw and how it already had 319 contacts for people that work at CNET Networks (the parent company to ZDNet). So, I thought I'd dive in to see if I'm one of them.  Accurate work contact information about me can probably be found in more databases, some of them online, than I can count. It stands to reason that I should be in there. So, I dove into Jigsaw (under the 14 day trial), narrowed the search down to people who work for CNET (under any title), and searched on "Berlind."

The results were not good. A listing came up under my last name, but it wasn't me.  It was my 16 year old son and he was listed as a production assistant that worked for CNET at an old address in Cambridge that CNET hasn't occupied for years. I racked my brains for a bit, trying to figure out how my son's name ended up in the Jigsaw database as an employee of CNET under the title of production assistant.

And then it hit me.

A few years ago, my son joined me for a trip to O-Reilly's OSCON in Portland and he helped CNET's TV crew while he was there.  It's the only time his name could have ever been associated with CNET and married to the title "production assistant." It really has me wondering about the source of Jigsaw's data. I'm pretty sure he didn't run his badge through any of those card readers at any of those booths at OSCON.  If he did, then the source of the data could be one of those booth vendors.  If he didn't, then the source of the data was O'Reilly or whatever company O'Reilly may have outsourced its data management to (if it outsourced its data management).

Either way, my little investigation raises a lot of interesting questions, not the least of which how much bad data will end up polluting Jigsaw's database. How funny is it that I'm not in there, and my son, who doesn't even work for CNET, is. Data accuracy is basically policed by the community of Jigsaw users (go to the site and you'll see how it works).  But I can see how this record would stay in the database in perpetuity because the only person that would really know to remove it would be me (which I can't do as a trial member -- another problem since, here I am with accurate data ready to fix Jigsaw's database, but it won't let me).

Topic: Data Management

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7 comments
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  • Contact spam

    The explanation for how such inaccurate information got into Jigsaw comes in a sentence in Dan's writeup:

    "if you add 25 new contacts per month, you are entitled to 50 contacts."

    So let me see, people who want contacts without handing over any money are incentivized to populate the database with as many contacts as they can lay their hands on. What sort of people is that going to attract and what kind of quality of information is that going to produce?
    phil wainewright
    • Cool... we can polute the sucker...

      If you are willing to pay for something of so low quality, well, you deserve it. How much bad data are you able to tolerate? 2%? 5%? 20%?

      When you accept data without any filtering, if you get trash, you will produce trash.

      Any data miner know that. Maybe they don't care, because their customers don't care. You know, spammers don't need high accuracy.


      MV
      MV_z
    • Something for nothing

      Tnat's not all. Adding contacts gets you points that you can SELL FOR CASH on the "Jigsaw Marketplace."
      msnovember
  • Jigsaw

    According to Jigsaw's "Community Message Boards" Jigsaw knows this is a problem and is trying to figure out how to fix it. In my opinion it is too late. The whole business model is flawed because the reward for adding contacts is much greater than the risk that those contacts will be discovered as bogus. Aside from that, there's the fact that even accurate info gets outdated. There are some companies with three or four people listed with the same title, with only one of them being the incumbent.
    msnovember
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