In my last post, I talked about how difficult it was to try and decide what groups of people you can trust in an online community. Outside of my simple and naive "Why don't we just trust anybody?", most online communities use a "reputation system" to establish trust and order on their sites. Some common examples include:
Even technical support sites, such as Experts-exchange.com and Apple.com Discussions use reputation systems to give users on their systems some sense of personality and let the community know how "trustworthy" that particular user is. Even Microsoft's own Xbox.com Forums have a rich reputation system. Simply put, the most successful online communities--the ones that people want to come back to time and time again--have reputation systems.
The reputation systems are based around a few common principles:
So, what am I getting at? Well, I'm priming people for my next few posts, in which I'm going to propose a reputation system that should be used for all of the Microsoft Forums, starting with the MSDN Forums. I'm currently working with the Microsoft.com Forums team on this, and I'd love to get broader feedback from everyone on this. Stay tuned!