Monday, June 04, 2007

Reputation

There is a long article in Informationweek about reputation. I read it with much interest. It covers most of the ground. The question that I do not find answered is, what does reputation buy me and, why would I care for an on line reputation.

My reputation is a consequence of the things that I have done. Some of the things I do have made me recognisable, I learned at a Wiki meet that my standard salutation, "Hoi" made me the first person that was recognised as an individual by someone who is working hard to understand the Wikimedia Foundation. This is my 250th entry in this blog, a growing group of people read this. I have written tons of articles in Wikipedia, Wiktionary and Commons and am now particularly active in OmegaWiki. But my reputation as I have it is a consequence of what I have done. It does not give me necessarily credibility; in Doctor Sanger's eyes it won't as he advocates certification in stead of reputation.

Much of the talk about reputations is defensive in nature; it is about vandalism, about pretensions, about why we should trust a resource and to what extend. This negative emphasis is self defeating because it does not value how a reputation helps in achieving goals. The cost of this absolute negative appreciation is that after a controversy a person like Essjay is no longer considered. He was once one of the most valuable Wikipedians and this was based on the good work work that could be observed.

The biggest problem that I can see with looking at reputation in a negative way is that you do not allow people to be wrong and the consequence is that this does frighten people off. People with a stellar reputation find it necessary to write under a pseudonym in Wikipedia because they are fearful of their reputation. When people are to be identified it does prevent people from contributing.

It is valuable to know what things are wrong. Scientific publications are a celebration of the positive discoveries. The dark side is that the discovery of things that are wrong is not as readily published, known. Many,many experiments are repeated over and over again because the fact and the proof why something is wrong is not published.

To me, a person gains his reputation by the work that he does. The more work done means the more opportunity for issues to arise it is however only the people that do that make mistakes. The people that allow themselves to be wrong should be celebrated. They are the giants on whose shoulders we can see further.

Thanks,
GerardM
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