August 02, 2007

Online Trust in a Web 2.0 World

As more and more of the most popular websites depend on user-generated content, trust becomes an increasingly important commodity.  The success of a site like eBay depends on a system of community trust where buyers and sellers carry a reputation based on the feedback they have received from others in the community.  Such a system exists for other large sites as well, but the problem of how to extend such a system of trust to smaller sites is a difficult one. 

The anonymous nature of the Internet makes it hard to know exactly who IS trustworthy. Is this eBay user really selling this rare jazz record, or is it a hoax? Does this auto-care blogger actually know anything about cars?  A famous New Yorker cartoon in 1993 carried the caption "On the Internet, no one knows you are a dog." -- as the internet becomes ever more user-centered we will need to find better ways to deal with this problem.

Venyo, one of the websites we have integrated with, is attempting to tackle this problem. Their concept is that users carry a reliability index--a "Vindex"-- made up of ratings given by users on any website.  The magic of the Vindex is that they are offering a Trust platform which ties to the user, rather than to a specific website or community. 

A Vindex rating box instantly tell you how a user's reliability has been judged by the larger online community, giving you peace of mind when interacting with that person's online contributions. And by clicking someone's Vindex box, you have the opportunity to rate that person yourself, warning or encouraging other users about that person's reliability.

 To sign up for a account, click here. Once you've signed up, log into your myDataBus account and click the Profile tab. Scroll down to the Venyo login box and submit your Venyo user name and password. Your Venyo Vindex will be posted next to your name in myDataBus group lists and on the download pages of e-mailed myDataBus files. Your myDataBus contacts can then see your reliability rating and have the opportunity to rate you themselves.