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Tag Archives: reputation systems

How is Reputation Managed in the Absence of a Strong System?

(Sorry my post is so late, guys!)

Strong reputation systems (like those employed by eBay, Amazon Reviews, and CouchSurfing.org) reward “good” behavior (behavior desirable based on the mission of the system) with factors such as increased user influence, points, or other means of positive reinforcement. The greater your “score,” the better your user-experience with the site.

On the other hand, Twitter operates more organically, with a bare-bones approach to organized reputation management. When you sign up for Twitter, you enter your full name, username, and password… and that’s pretty much it. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, here’s their help page.


You’re allowed a 140 character bio, an image, and you can adjust the look on your own homepage. Other than that, the only way users are rewarded for engaging in appropriate behavior is by the number of followers they accumulate. Behavior is regulated socially, by other users, rather than by system architecture.

The problem with strong reputation systems, is that users are keen to find ways around them, in order to improve their user-experience. Amazon reviewers cut and paste the same reviews onto different products simply to accumulate more points. eBay had to revamp their reputation system a few years ago because users would simply trade positive scores regardless of the actual sale experience – rather than risk being given a negative score as retribution for a less than positive user review.

With Twitter, there’s just no system to game. Or is there?

This week I am going to examine how users interact with Twitter’s non-reputation-system reputation system. I guess what I am saying is: GUYS. PROBABLY YOU SHOULD FOLLOW @dandybandit ON TWITTER.

Managing the Middle Space

As Lessig explains in his article “The Law of the Horse,” the internet makes self-authentication difficult. You can’t actually know that I am who I say I am, and the things that I say or do online can’t usually be tied definitively back to me. But as long as my internet persona doesn’t affect the physical world, there’s no need for self-authentication. I could anonymously or pseudonymously build a Ty Beanie Baby fan site if I wanted, and no one in my day-to-day life would know that I had a really weird obsession with collectible stuffed toys.

The problem with self-authentication arises when your internet persona overlaps with your physical-world persona (the middle space of your personae Venn diagram). For example, let’s say I wanted to set up a Beanie Baby store on Ebay. How would you know I’m a trustworthy salesperson, that your order will be shipped on time, that when you order Dipper the Dolphin I won’t send you the significantly less collectible Clipper the Dolphin instead? Read More »