Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ratings and Trust

Some online communities offer some kind of rewards, e. g. points that one can collect (associated to specific actions like writing a contribution, sharing one's knowledge, number of contacts). Assuming that everyone acts according to fair principles, there seems no problem with that. However, taking the example of rating other people's contributions, it is not uncommon for people to generate some specific accounts from where they will rate their own contributions, however under another user account (associated to themselves, which the platform is not aware of).

There seem to be several approaches to cope with this issue:

  • Require full address upon registration together with phone number in order to check it against phone listings. This has the disadvantage that not every potential user may be listed in some given directory (e. g. students sharing an appartment, where one phone is shared among several people)
  • Require first and last names at registration (with the possiblity to choose a nickname for users who do not want to unveil their identity to the general public).
  • Require passport or ID card upon registration. This requires a mechanism to verify users given their passport number.
  • Only allow one account per email address. Of course, I may be generating a large number of email addresses to circumvent this, but still it may help
  • Require user photographs for any active account. But, on the other hand, how would it be possible that a photo really shows the user, and not some other person?
  • Allow only active accounts, where activity relates to productive actions (such as writing a contribution). That is, remove accounts whose users have not been showing any social interaction with their peers for a given time (e. g. a week, a month)

As I am only starting to think about valid mechanisms to ensure a community of trust, I welcome any ideas that expand on my own thoughts.

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