Search Engine Reputation Management

Reputation management is the process of tracking an entity’s actions and other entities’ opinions about those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions, and reacting to that report creating a feedback loop. All entities involved are generally people, but that need not always be the case. Other examples of entities include animals, businesses, or even locations or materials. The tracking and reporting may range from word-of-mouth to statistical analysis of thousands of data points.

Real-world communities

The classic example of reputation management is the small town. The population is small and interactions between members are frequent; most interactions are face-to-face and positively identified — that is, there is no question who said or did what. Reputation accrues not only throughout one’s lifetime but is passed down to one’s offspring; one’s individual reputation depends both on one’s own actions and one’s inherited reputation.

Big city

The large metropolitan area is at the other end of the spectrum from the small rural town. Community members come and go daily, and most members are only personally acquainted with a small fraction of the whole. Implicit reputation management continues to work within subcommunities, but for the city as a whole, it cannot.

Big cities have developed a large array of formal reputation management methods. Some apply only to subcommunities, such as, say, an association of local dentists. There are four methods (among others) that apply quite generally to the entire population: elections, appointments, the criminal justice system, and racial or ethnic prejudice.

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Reputation management is also a professional communications practice – a specialization within the public relations industry. It ensures that the information about an individual, business, or organization is accessible to the public online as well as through traditional outlets and is accurate, up-to-date, and authentic. Reputation strategy is a competitive strategy. Reputation initiatives drive stakeholder perceptions, which drive the likelihood of eliciting supportive behaviors and fuel business results. Leveraging reputation allows individuals or businesses to build an advantage in the marketplace and reduce risk exposure. You manage a reputation by building a ‘reputation platform’ and by carrying out ‘reputing programs’

Online communities

eBay is an online marketplace, a forum for the exchange of goods. The feedback system on eBay asks each user to post his opinion (positive or negative) on the person with whom he transacted. Every place a user’s system handle (“ID”) is displayed, his feedback is displayed with it.

Since having primarily positive feedback will improve a user’s reputation and therefore make other users more comfortable in dealing with him, users are encouraged to behave in acceptable ways—that is, by dealing squarely with other users, both as buyers and as sellers.


Everything2 is a general knowledge base. E2 manages both user and article reputation strongly; one might say it is central to the project’s paradigm. Users submit articles, called “writeups”, that are published immediately. For each article, each user may cast one vote, positive or negative. Voting is anonymous and each vote cast is final. The article keeps track of its total of positive and negative votes (and the resulting score), all of which can be seen by the submitting user and any user who has already cast their vote on that particular article. Articles with strong positive scores may also be featured on the site’s main page, propelling them to even higher scores. Articles with low or negative scores are deleted, hopefully, to make way for better articles.


Slashdot contains little original content, instead of revolving around short reviews of the content exterior to the site. “Karma” is Slashdot’s name for reputation management. “Moderators” are able to vote on both reviews themselves and comments on those reviews in a system not too dissimilar from E2’s. In a novel twist, votes are not merely “+1 point” or “-1 point”; moderators also attach one of a list of predefined labels, such as Flamebait or Informative. This change was made in June 2002 to help prevent some users from taking karma too seriously.

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