In a conversation yesterday with a technology analyst, I got into a debate about the desirability of false responses. Which is more desirable (from a KM perspective): a false positive (i.e., a response to your query which turns out to be wrong), or a false negative (the system telling you it has nothing relevant, when in fact it does but it isn’t connecting the dots properly)?
I argued for a false negative, on the assumption that users will eventually stop using a system that leads them down too many dead-ends. The analyst argued for a false positive, using the analogy to a doctor: at least with false positives, you have something to test to see if it’s right or wrong. A false negative, you assume that it’s non-existent and move on… which is when people die.
So I’m kicking it to you guys — which would you prefer? A system that gives you an answer that turns out to be wrong, or an answer saying there is no information related to your search? Why?