Digital reputations, development and diplomacy – the links

Reputation scoring has interested me since my .com days in the early 2000’s. A friend and I came up with a business plan along the lines of what and other reputation amalgamators are doing. Our vision was of an ethical credit score rather than a reputation score, but the ideas are similar. (That friend helped design the reputation system for

When I left Afghanistan in May 2012, I knew that I needed a break from Pol-Mil and security issues. I found myself going back to sci-tech, which along with foreign affairs is a professional life passion. The possibilities inherent in crowdsourcing, specifically the crowdsourcing of policy development and implementation, fascinated me. This course led me to eDiplomacy, where I consider myself quite lucky to be leading State’s implementation of a micro-tasking platform. Reputation scoring and feedback will be key elements of this system.

A few points about reputation that didn’t make it into the presentation:

-Reputation scores are contextual. Just because you have a high eBay score doesn’t mean you’re a good person or pay your bills on time. This will be a challenge for the amalgamators.

-I like this quote from Joe Fernandez at Klout: “Influence measures your ability to drag someone into action. Reputation is an indicator of whether a person is good or bad and, ultimately, are they trustworthy?”

For those interested in more information on how reputation scores are transforming the world, below are a list of good links and references for learning more about the topic:

Rachel Botsman’s website is a great place to start. She has some slick presentations on reputation scores and is an expert on the collaborative economy. Make sure you read her Wired article.

The Atlantic has a good article on how reputation scores are transforming professions.

For those interested in crowdsourcing, David Allan Grier has a new book on Crowdsourcing for Dummies. He remarked to me that he may be the only author to be published by Princeton Press and the For Dummies Series.

Wikipedia uses barnstars as rewards for contributors and editors.

Etsy, TaskRabbit, Lending Club, Amazon Mechanical Turk all integrate some form of reputation scoring., trustcloud, whytrusted, and legit (acquired by Facebook,) all try to amalgamate reputation scores and give users control over their data.

I think Facebook is going to turn out to be the winner in the reputation amalgamation game. They have something the others don’t – hundreds of millions of online identities. Reputation is meaningless if it can’t be tied to a verified identity. Combine this with nearly ubiquitous Facebook sign in and you have Mr. Zuckerberg as the gatekeeper for a large portion of the net. is doing great things in generating psuedo-credit scores for the developing world. Not quite reputation scores, but close, and very admirable.

Wikipedia has a short article on reputation scores and the way people can spoof the systems.

More updates later…

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