Karma To Burn

Posted on Thursday 2 March 2006

Finally. Someone has finally started an online Reputation service that isn’t tied into its own offerings (like eBay’s). From the story on C|Net (Link):

Jupiter, Fla.-based iKarma’s new service allows any Web site owner to add user, reader or customer-created ratings to their site. That, said iKarma CEO Paul Williams, can significantly increase business.

This is exactly what we need going forward into an age where the concept of protecting intellectual property fades into oblivion. I don’t have to like that something I create can be ripped off, but I’m not going to waste time lamenting the turn of events either. And having a good reputation can go a long way to regaining some of what’s lost.

So while there’s still some time left before I have my own iKarma account, I just have one thing to say to everyone…

Ummm, wait a sec. What’s this? Additional details posted by the CEO concerning something called “Karmic Reboot”??? That wasn’t in the flash animation intro. What the hell. So much for this. I can pretty much guarantee someone is going to game this thing now. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how this service actually works after beta.

In the meantime, I guess I can continue calling out trademark violations on the Second Life forums because as soon as this or some other service gets put into play, there’s going to be a whole lot of crowd intimidation.

(p.s. Does anyone else think that Moe should have had the good rep and squeeky-clean Joe should have turned out to be a wanted felon?)

{p.s. – For those of you landing on this entry looking for news of the band, I honestly wish I had some; I’m a fan. Right now all I have is a couple CD’s and a Derek Hess print with K2B on the bill.}

  1.  
    3/2/2006 | 11:36 pm
     

    Thanks for checking us out Ulf.

    Karmic Reboot isn’t a means of gaming the system; it’s just the electronic equivalent of changing your name and moving to another town. Since anyone can do this anyway, we figured we would force the bad guys to generate a little good karma in the world on the way out. Perhaps feed a starving child or something. Since the purpose of iKarma isn’t to be a complaint board (although anyone can post a critical review), but rather to provide a place for the good and honest business people to establish their reputations in a way that makes it easy to display customer reviews to potential new customers. This gives our users a reason to keep all their customers happy since they can post a critical review at any time.

    The value in using iKarma comes from being able to demonstrate to your customers that you have a history of happy customers and have really put your reputation on the line. If you reboot your profile it takes removes not just your bad reviews but also your good ones. This is similar to what happens to eBay sellers when they quit selling and leave the system. They just don’t have to make a donation to charity to remove their reputation profiles like they would on iKarma.

    So, will someone try and “game” the iKarma system? Yes, we live in a world where there are unethical people who will do most anything. But what the bad guys can not do is build the kind of long history of honest dealing on iKarma.com that good business people will be able to do. That’s the value.

    As for Joe and Moe, the stars of our iKarma Tour…

    Moe wears dark sunglasses and has a beard. That makes him the perfect “bad guy” stereotype. But what people don’t know is that Moe isn’t a bad guy at all. He just doesn’t have iKarma so people judge him by his looks. Moe is actually a good guy who becomes our spokesman. We use him to explain and demo the advanced features iKarma provides to help users build their reputations. So don’t worry about Moe. In the end he captures his word of mouth, builds his reputation, makes the sale and gets the girl!

  2.  
    3/3/2006 | 9:30 am
     

    But what the bad guys can not do is build the kind of long history of honest dealing on iKarma.com that good business people will be able to do. That’s the value.

    What if the bad guys aren’t interested in the value of this system? What stops a group of angry people (e.g. a group of people and their supporters who are engaged in illegal activity) from using a system like this to retaliate against a whistleblower? Where is the safeguard? What recourse does someone who has built up karmic points have against this kind of griefing?

    Conversely, what stops a bad guy from creating multiple accounts and giving false praise in order to build karmic points?

    btw, if these questions are already answered on the site, please point me to it. I might have missed it. All I found was this piece from the FAQ:

    “iKarma also takes steps to ensure that anonymous posting is minimized by verifying poster email addresses and by recording the date, time and IP address of every feedback post. This limits the impact of the occasional undeserved negative posting.”

    Please explain “verifying poster email addresses”. Does that mean no free email accounts will be permitted?

    How does recording date, time and IP help? Can’t someone use a proxy and, in fact, wouldn’t the “bad guys” do exactly that?

    Given the beta status of this application, isn’t using the word “occasional” premature?

    If I sound overly confrontational, I apologize. I would very much like this to work. But I want the right system to work. Hopefully it’ll be yours.

    But what people don’t know is that Moe isn’t a bad guy at all.

    They don’t know anything! To me, he fits the stereotype and is – visually – the obvious person to avoid. By making the person who, by external appearances is the good guy, turn out to be the bad guy, you would imo emphasize the need for this sort of system. People aren’t fooled by the obvious; they’re fooled by the non-obvious. Joe is non-obvious.

  3.  
    3/3/2006 | 1:00 pm
     

    Sven,

    Yep, iKarma and Opinity are both taking a shot at portable reputations:

    http://mashable.com/2005/11/11/actually-mary-reputations-are-portable/

    I took a look at the market a while back, and while iKarma could certainly solve a big problem, I have trouble trying to come up with a really solid business model. Still, let’s hope that *someone* figures this one out.

  4.  
    3/3/2006 | 1:26 pm
     

    I’ve not heard of Opinity. I’ll have to check them out. Thanks for mentioning them.

    Have to admit though, the name “iKarma” rang a bell when I read this. {edit: ah, I might have seen mention last Fall and forgotten. Thanks for that link.}

  5.  
    iron
    3/4/2006 | 11:36 am
     

    The key here is the reputation / trust network.

    Who do I trust that trusts these people to do great work? Work that in intelligently and you will get a good system. Who do I trust that distrusts these people? Have a system that can answer questions like that and this will work.

    We’re all rooting for you. This is the sort of technology that can change the world.

  6.  
    3/4/2006 | 11:48 am
     

    People who know me know that I can sometimes play a nasty devil’s advocate. So to echo the above comment: We’re all rooting for you. Without a good reputation system, the future looks less bright to me.

    (btw, I’m rooting for Moe too!)

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