Today, we are experiencing a revolution in human interaction.
The “online” world has come full circle, with more and more websites and apps focused on reconnecting people with the real world around them, and the people in it.
It’s amazing how technology is making it possible for us to connect with people again. I’m not talking about connecting with usernames and avatars. I mean real people, with real names in real places.
With the growth of “collaborative consumption” sites and applications like Airbnb, Ebay, Zimride, Sittercity, Snapgoods, ThredUp, Zipcar, Zaarly and the list goes on, people are connecting with each other in a whole new way. Complete strangers are turned into trusted neighbors.
But why are they trusted? Solely because they use the same site as you? Clearly, that’s not enough. Trust and reputation have to be build into these products. Users have to earn their trust. They have to build credibility. We want these platforms to be safe.
At Zaarly, we’re focused on building what we call a “well-lit” marketplace. A community where you can clearly see everything that’s going on, who’s around you and feel totally comfortable.
The part that sucks is that every time you join a new site, you have to rebuild trust. It never carries over.
There’s a huge opportunity for someone to build a solution here…
Now understandably, some aspects of a user’s reputation will be specific to that community. But usually, there are aspects of reputation on one site that could apply to another site.
There are two different kinds of reputation that are important in online marketplaces:
- Earned: Providing a positive experience for other users. Do you ship on time as a seller? Do you pay on time as a buyer? Are the items or services you provide “as described”?
- Existing: Who are you? What do your friends have to say about you? Do you have a criminal history?
Earned reputation isn’t always applicable in multiple marketplaces, but there’s definitely a case for it. If someone has a 99% positive rating after 12,000 transactions on eBay, and the majority of their written reviews are positive, wouldn’t that be relevant to me if I’m considering staying at their place through airbnb?
For existing reputation, there are many applications that can be used on multiple platforms:
- Verification: Verifying your social accounts, email, phone number, etc.
- Referrals: If someone vouches that you’re trustworthy on one site, you should be able to display that on other sites.
- Background checks: Some sites require them. Some of them offer them as an option. Usually, the user has to pay for them. So if someone gets a background check for one site, should they not be able to use it for another?
So then the question is, will there soon be a “standard of reputation” on the web? I guarantee you there will be. It’s just a question of who’s going to build it. Will it be a third party solution? Or will one company build something in house, make it available via an API, and create the standard or reputation.
Here are just a few of the companies working towards some form of standard for reputation on the web:
- Klout (does influence translate to trust?)
- trustmob (did they disappear?)