Can Politicians Learn From eBay?

from the wouldn't-that-be-nice dept

While eBay has changed and grown over the years, it’s still one of the more interesting examples of an online trust system where the community polices itself. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it does do a pretty good job most of the time. The key to it is that people try to hold others accountable. If they describe an item in a misleading way, or don’t live up to promises concerning shipments or payments, they see that reflected poorly in their feedback ratings. Obviously, some scammers have figured out plenty of ways to game the system, but it does add a larger transaction cost to running a scam. So, now, some are wondering if there’s a way to take the trust metrics of eBay and apply them to the ultimate con game: politics. Some, of course, would claim that a democratic vote is exactly that trust metric. Every few years, you get your feedback rating loud and clear. However, it’s become pretty clear that no matter what political party you support, few people feel that politicians are the most honest of people with their constituents, and a better system for holding politicians accountable for their actions would be welcomed by many. Part of the problem, of course, is that eBay is a situation where someone who gets bad feedback can keep on selling. It isn’t a zero sum game. In politics, it’s winner takes all, which makes it that much more polarizing — even when politicians have generally similar views and goals in mind.

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