The Reputation Guy


Community, Part II

Posted in Online Reputation by thereputationguy on February 16, 2006

This is a continuation of my earlier discussion on Community.

I’m looking to address (but perhaps not solve) two questions I raised – what would make a strong reputation system within a Community, and how would you decide when / what to use?

Let’s start out looking at our options of a reputation system.

slashdot.com – has a karma system based on a moderator’s view point of the quality of your participation. It has 6 levels to it – “Terrible, Bad, Neutral, Positive, Good, and Excellent.”

livingwithstyle.com – allows people to get “style points” through of participation. Nothing unique here. But what’s interesting is how they let people use them, they can use their style points to “buy” an avatar, change their title, donate them to another, as well as a multitude of other things. This is worth noting because it encourages participation.

omidyar.net – Their feedback system is interesting for a couple of different reasons. One is it allows for either a “positive” or a “negative” vote. Most reputations that use a user-on-user voting system only has a positive type of voting. But the thing I like most is their concept of a “bank” of points. You use a point to give feedback (positive or negative), and get points for participation. What I like about this is the concept of “scarcity”. But making your ability to give feedback scarce, you create value behind it. This value creates awareness and encourages more thought behind it’s use, and hopefully encourages it’s use as well.

There are more variations possible (including as noted before Opinity’s 1-5 rating system), but the above three covers a pretty good range.

We should also note that we’re talking about reputation specifically given to the author, rather than a specific post. For example, you can label a post “helpful” or “not helpful”, and sites like msn have a 1-5 rating system for each news story, but I’m focusing on systems that are attached to the online ID and not their posts directly.

Any system that is used has to be natural. As I discussed earlier, most members of communities have a personal attachment to that community, so any kind of reputation system has to be careful not to create worthless damage.

Other communities that bring strangers together, for example Yahoo Answers, allows strangers to ask other strangers for their advice. These loose couplings of can make use of a more objective and detailed reputation system.

I believe the answer to what should be implemented where is two fold – one is simply whatever the community members would want and need to continue building a vibrant community, and two as people become more comfortable with having an online reputation, the appropriate system will evolve over time.

As I continue my research, I’m looking forward to the day I can publish something as comprehensive as Kim Cameron’s The Laws of Identity. This of course is an iterative process that will take a while, but a journey I’m looking forward to.

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