Startups Take A Swing At Online Trust Metrics

from the harder-than-it-looks dept

Lots of people have tried to create more sophisticated and useful online trust metrics. It ain't easy, as you would assume when brains like MIT get involved. Now a handful of startups such as Opinity and ZoomInfo are bringing their ideas to the table, and their stories only highlight the difficulty of the task. For starters, there's the complicated computer stuff, like devising reliable algorithms and data collection methods. These so-called "reputation management" sites then require lots of input by users (registering and updating profiles, for example) for their systems to work well, adding a huge burden of drumming up interest in the service. Opinity estimates it needs 1 million users to reach critical mass. Will enough people go out of their way to contribute to these unknown systems? Doubtful. The extra effort notwithstanding, the notion of trust is relative and almost impossible to measure explicitly, so it won't be easy convincing people that your system is more trustworthy than others (motto idea: "Trust us, our trust metric is great!"). Of course, there's also the chore of building a business around a radically new, free internet service. It just makes the uphill battle that much steeper.


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    Freedster, Apr 15th, 2005 @ 7:30am

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    The other problem that you will inevitably run into is people hacking the trust metric system just like they do with Ebay now. Scammers will often have several legitimate auctions for small items to generate good feedback before they try to scam someone out of 50 Grand for a nonexistent car. Criminals will inevitably find a way to establish trust if it is necessary to commit their crimes. Anyone that comes up with a trust metric system will have to address this issue.

    Another problem is that trust levels are so granular and nebulous that they are difficult to quantify. Think about it. There are different areas of your life, even online, that have different levels of trust. I trust one friend of mine a huge amount, and would trust him enough to loan him money, watch my house when I'm out of town, or babysit my daughter, but I wouldn't trust his advice on automechanics. Heck, I wouldn't trust my own father's advice on computers, should he ever offer any.

     

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