Does “crowdsourcing” work for investing?

TechCrunch has a post up about Wikinvest, a kind of “crowdsourced” investment encyclopedia, and how it has added a pile of interesting data about certain sectors such as airlines and so on — including revenue per available seat mile and other fun stuff (and yes, if you invest in airlines, that stuff had better be interesting). Coincidentally enough, I was just looking at earlier today, because I spotted the name on the list of panelists at Paul Kedrosky’s Money:Tech conference.

The first commenter on the TechCrunch post brings up one of the first things that jumped into my mind as well, namely: If investing consists of finding little-known metrics or tools or insights that you can use to spot trends or problem areas, how does it help you to have — or contribute to — a kind of encyclopedia that keeps track of all that kind of info? In other words, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep that kind of thing to yourself, rather than sharing it? If so, then you have to wonder who is going to be doing all the work of submitting stuff to Wikinvest.

In some ways, what Wikinvest seems to be trying to do is a little different than what or Cake Financial are doing. Like Motley Fool’s CAPS — which is quite well done, as far as investing-related social networks go — these sites capture your trading activity, your portfolio performance, etc. and let you talk about what you think about stocks. But Wikinvest requires you to actually help other investors by providing data that may or may be one of your special tools for assessing the worth of a particular sector, which is a whole different ball game.

That said, I like Wikinvest — it’s well designed, and I think it is a valuable effort. I’m just not sure how much of the data that gets contributed is going to be worthwhile. It almost seems like the more worthwhile it is, the less likely that someone will contribute it. On a somewhat related note, Michael Robertson — of and and dozens of other ventures too numerous to name — just launched a kind of encyclopedia for the VC business called

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