Online Reputation Systems: How to Design One That Does What You Need

Social web platforms don’t thrive by magic. They can succeed only if they attract the right individuals, motivate them to act in the right ways and empower them to know and trust others in the network. That’s where online reputation systems come in.

Image courtesy of Flickr user rcade.

Some of the most exciting new ideas in organizations are based on harnessing the collective intelligence of crowds and communities. Think of user-generated content platforms, open source software, crowdsourcing, and knowledge markets — just a few examples of ways that large numbers of loosely networked users are invited to create or evaluate products, content or ideas. This is the “social web,” the interlinked virtual universe that to so many executives seems to offer the irresistible promise of providing something — ideas, work, decisions — for (almost) nothing, if only they could manage it right. But the first step toward smart management of the social web is to understand something paradoxical about it: The new platforms may be all about harnessing crowds and communities, but in the end, those crowds and communities are nothing but a sum of individuals. And your company’s social web efforts will succeed only to the extent that you are able to attract good individuals, motivate them to perform good work, and empower them to get to know and trust one another enough to collaborate toward the end goals of the community.

The Leading Question

How can a website attract the contributors it needs?

Findings
  • Designers have to be driven first by the business objectives of the website.
  • Four main aims: build trust; promote quality; facilitate member matching; and sustain loyalty.
  • Design choices can profoundly affect a community’s culture, easily turning a good space into an ineffective one.

The question is, How do you do that? The answer : By capitalizing on the motivational power of reputation. The best websites know that. (Even poor ones know it — they just don’t manage it as well.) Accordingly almost all social web platforms have some form of member profile feature, a set of pages where one can find out about individual community members. Member profile pages provide a space where community members can write about themselves, and their interests. In addition, profile pages often include statistics about a member’s activity, testimonials from other members and sometimes a score or rating that reflects a member’s accomplishments and status within that particular community.

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2 Comments On: Online Reputation Systems: How to Design One That Does What You Need

  • Mike MacAdam | May 18, 2010

    Good article. I’m going to study it.

    There is a typo….
    At the same time, eBay’s reputation system’s poorly designed has done an

  • ¿Por qué los Sistemas de Reputación son tan importantes? (post-408) | | June 1, 2014

    […] muchas definiciones de “reputación”. Una de ellas es la de Chrysanthos Dellarocas: “Síntesis de las acciones más relevantes de una persona/objeto en el pasado que ayuda a tomar […]

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