magine a world where banks take into
account your online reputation along-side traditional credit ratings to deter-mine your loan; where headhunters hireyoubasedontheexpertiseyou’vedemon-strated on online forums such as Quora;where your status from renting a housethrough Airbnb helps you become atrustedcarrenteronWhipCar;whereyourfeedbackoneBaycanbeusedtogetahead-start selling on Etsy; where traditionalbusinesscardsarereplacedbypro
lesof your digital trustworthiness, updated inreal-time.Wherereputationdatabecomesthe window into how we behave, whatmotivates us, how our peers view us andultimately whether we can or can’t betrusted.Welcometothereputationecon-omy, where your online history becomesmorepowerfulthanyourcredithistory.Thevalueofreputationisnotanewcon-cepttotheonlineworld:thinkstarratings
Number of blogs that need to link to yourblog over six months, in order to make it onto technorati.com’s high-authority site-list.
onAmazon,PowerSellersoneBayorrep-utation levels on games such as
World of Warcraft
erencetodayisourabil-itytocapturedatafromacrossanarrayof digitalservices.Witheverytradewemake,comment we leave, person we
agorbadgeweearn,weleaveatrailofhowwellwecanorcan’tbetrusted.An aggregated online reputation hav-ing a real-world value holds enormouspotential for sectors where trust is frac-tured:banking;e-commerce,wherevalueis exponentially increased by knowingwhosomeonereallyis;peer-to-peermar-ketplaces, where a high degree of trustis required between strangers; andwhere a traditional approach based ondisjointed information sources is cur-rentlyine
uentialbloggers,sawthewin-dow of opportunity to reinvent the waypeoplefoundjobsthroughonlinereputa-tionafewyearsago.
TraditionalwikisandQ&A platforms drove me crazy,
Atwoodsays.Ifyouhadquestions,say,onChromeextensions, double pointers or Tiny Pix-els,
you had to wade through endlessconversationsthatwentineverypossibledirectionandwherenocommentismoreor less important than the previous one.We realised there was a need to optimisethewaypeoplegotanswers,tounearththelittle gems buried among a lot of dreck.
The way to solve this seemed obvious toAtwood.
Have people vote on the bestanswers,andrankanswers,
hesays.In September 2008, Atwood and Spol-sky launched Stack Overflow. A sort of Digg meets Wikipedia meets eBay, itis a platform for programmers to postdetailed technical questions and receiveanswers from other programmers.
Assoon as I touched it, I was hooked,
saysMarc Gravell, a 33-year-old user basednear the Forest of Dean, who, with morethan315,000points,hasthesite’ssecond-highest reputation score. Stack Over
The reason why the site is 100 percentspam-freeandthataround80percentofallquestionsgetansweredisentirelyafunctionofthecommunity.Thewaywedothatisasyouearnmorereputationpoints,yougetmorepowersonthesite.
Shortlyafterthesitelaunched,AtwoodandSpolskyheardthatprogrammerswereputting their Stack Overflow reputationscoresontheirCVs,andheadhuntersweresearching the platform for developerswith specific skills.
A CV tells you whatschools they went to, what companiestheyworkedforandhowwelltheydidonastandardisedtestwhentheywereteen-agers,
But if you readthe writings of someone on Stack Over-
ow, you immediately know if they are askilled programmer or not.
owlaunchedCareers2.0,an invitation-only job board where com-paniescan
ndskilledprogrammers.Stack Overflow demonstrates howa person’s reputation score createdin one community is starting to have
value beyond the environments whereit was built. By answering questions inan expert forum, you create more oppor-tunitiestoﬁndabetterjob.
to look forward rather than back – forinstance, using past actions to work outthe likelihood of someone honouring anagreement in the future, which could beparticularlyusefulintheﬁnancialservicesindustry. “Any kind of business based oncredithastotakeintoaccountpeople’sabil-ity to repay and their propensity to pay,”says Errol Damelin, founder of Wonga,theonlineshort-termcashlender(
er-entquestion.That’swhenreputationreallycomesintoplay.”Wongaclaimstocrunchon average 8,000 pieces of data to get asenseofhowtrustworthyitsapplicantsare.Brett King, author of
andfounderofNewYork-basedbankingstartupMovenbank,foundedin2010,agreeswithDamelin.“Creditscoresarealaggingindi-cator–theyonlylookatwhathashappenedinthepast,”hesays.“They[creditagencies]don’t use data to look into whether yourbehaviourisriskyornot
.”Movenbank’sgoalisnotjusttousetech-nologytopersonalisethebankingexperi-ence, but to reinvent the traditional riskmodel. King spent more than 18 yearsworking for traditional banks and wasstruckbytheopacityofmuchofthecreditassessment process. “Most banks rejectaround50percentofcreditapplications.It’s a pretty strange business when yourejecthalfofyourpotentialcustomersanddon’teventellthemwhy.”At the heart of Movenbank is a con-ceptcallCRED.Thistakesintoaccountanindividual’straditionalcreditscorebutalsoaspects such as their level of communityinvolvement, social reputation and trustweighting.DotheyhaveagoodeBayrating?Dotheysendmoneypeer-to-peer?Italsomeasures their social connectivity – howmany friends do they have on Facebook?WhoaretheyconnectedtoonLinkedIn?DotheyhaveaninﬂuentialKloutscore?Itcom-binesthisdata,notjusttoassesstheirrisk,but to measure the potential value of thecustomer.Ifyoureferothercustomersfromyournetworkorpayyourbillsontime,yourCREDscorewillgoup.“It’snotaboutyourcredit,butyourcredibility,”Kingsays.A big question mark lies around peo-ple’sreadinesstoopenuptheirsocialdata,butKingbelievesconsumersarewillingtomakeatrade-o
Social scientists have long been trying
to quantify the value of reputation. In2008,NorihiroSadato,aresearcherattheNational Institute for Physiological Sci-encesinAichi,Japan,alongwithateamof colleagues,wantedtodeterminewhetherwe think about reputation and moneyin the same way, by mapping the neuralresponse to di
erent rewards. “Althoughweallintuitivelyknowthatagoodreputa-tionmakesusfeelgood,theideathatgoodreputation is a reward has long been justan assumption in social sciences” Sadatosays.“Therehasbeennoscientiﬁcproof.”Inordertoprovehishypothesis,Sadatodevisedanexperiment:participantsweretold they were playing a simple gamblinggame, in which one of three cards wouldresult in a cash payout. Using functionalmagneticresonanceimaging,theresearch-ers monitored brain activity triggeredwhen the subjects received a monetaryreward.Whenthesubjectsreturnedonthesecond day, they were each shown a pic-tureoftheirface,withaone-worddescrip-tor underneath that a panel of strangershadsupposedlywrittenaboutthem.Someof the descriptions were positive, suchas “trustworthy”, others neutral, such as“patient”,andothersnegative.Whenpar-ticipantsheardtheyhadapositivereputa-
“BANKS REJECT AROUND50 PER CENT OF CREDITAPPLICATIONS. IT’SA STRANGE BUSINESSWHEN YOU REJECT HALFOF YOUR POTENTIALCUSTOMERS AND DON’TEVEN TELL THEM WHY” –
BRETT KING, MOVENBANK
1 0 1
THE NEW IDENTITY BROKERS
A RAFT OF SERVICES HAVE BEEN FOUNDED OVER THE PAST YEAR, ALLPROMISING TO MONITOR AND POLICE YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION
Aims to turn yoursocial proﬁle into apersonal reputationnetwork, makingit easier to ﬁndtrustworthy people,from accountantsto babysitters.(In beta.)
Builds easy-to-useAPIs and toolsthat enable P2Pmarketplacesto conductbackgroundchecks and verifya user’s identityand reputation.
Enables usersto verify theirdigital identityagainst theirreal-world one byauthenticatingsocial proﬁle dataagainst ofﬁcialgovernment data.
Wants to becomethe “FICO of social commerce”by providing aportable proﬁlethat users cancarry across P2Pmarketplaces.(In beta.)
Aggregatespublic data andcorrelates it intoa “TrustScore”that measuresonline behaviour.Its aim: to let youown your onlinetrustworthiness.
Aims to createa snapshot of aperson’s onlinereputation byaggregatingreviews andratings acrossP2P marketplaces.(In beta.)
Correlatesreputation datafrom a number of P2P marketplacesinto a “LegitScore”and a reportthat summarisesuser behaviours.(In beta.)
Working oncombiningindicators fromacross socialnetworks andofﬂine activitiesto create a trustproﬁle andscore. (In beta.)
The discount on ﬁnal fees for eBay’s top-rated Power Sellers. Power Sellers need atleast 98 per cent positive feedback.