Chapter 6. Would You Buy a Used Car from This Person?

What is reputation? It’s the general opinion (judgment) (more technically, a social evaluation) of (and by) the public (or a group or a person) toward an entity (person, a group of people, or an organization or brand or object)—as distinct and different from the background (others)—concerning the likelihood of the entity to behave in a certain way in the future [under certain circumstances]. It is a ubiquitous, spontaneous and highly efficient mechanism of social control.

REMEMBER HOW YOU FELT BEFORE THE FIRST DAY AT A NEW SCHOOL? Maybe it was frightening, the fear of the unknown, a new social environment with invisible rules and, for better or worse, a clean slate. Maybe it was exciting, a chance to reinvent yourself. Until it turns out your enemy from summer camp arrived just before you, talking behind your back and tainting your reputation before you even had a chance to make your first impression.

What? This has never happened to you? Nevermind... maybe I’m flashing back to high school.

Reputation online is another one of those social problem spaces that models the real world, connects to the real world, and in some ways simply extends the real world. One’s reputation online might not be precisely the same thing as one’s “real world” reputation, but the principles are similar. Reputation is largely a matter of context. Are you known to ...

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