Aside from Reddit users' attempts to help solve the Boston bombings case, online communities have had some success in cracking cases, Tim Murphy writes. Redditors have helped with some previous investigations, Murphy writes, and "the best example of what Reddit could be -- if it became a bit less like Reddit, that is -- is a site called websleuths.com."
The most high-profile example of Websleuth's utility was the 2009 murder of Abraham Shakespeare, a Florida laborer who won $32 million in the lottery. Police speculated that Shakespeare's financial advisor, Dee Dee Moore, might have had information about her disappearance. Websleuths began digging, prompting Moore to register for the site under an anonymous name to defend her actions. "She came back to me in an email and said I don't know who is posting it, that wasn't me, and I said 'That's funny the IP address in this email matches the number of your computer,'" recalls Tricia Griffith, who has co-owned the site since 2004. "I had a detective call me up and say this is just great." Moore was eventually convicted.Another example: Jalopnik readers last April identified the part of a car left behind by suspects in a murder investigation, leading Waynesboro, Va., police to an arrest. (more...)