The rising practical importance of online reputation systems invites rigorous research in this largely virgin territory. Do these systems truly promote socially desirable outcomes? To what extent can they be manipulated by strategic buyers and sellers? What is the best way to design them? How should buyers (and sellers) use the information provided by such mechanisms in their decision-making process? This is just a small subset of unanswered questions that invite exciting and valuable research.
In order to answer these questions, collaboration is needed between several traditionally distinct disciplines, such as economics, computer science, marketing, law, sociology and psychology. In each of those communities, researchers are actively working on aspects of reputation systems and their work has been well received within their own disciplines.
An informal community had been forming around the topic. A few researchers had met each other at disciplinary conferences and workshops. There is at least one web site (http://databases.si.umich.edu/reputations) devoted to building the community of research on reputation mechanisms. At the same time, a number of established and startup companies, such as Epinions, BizRate and OpenRatings, have been basing their business models on the accumulation and dissemination of reputation information. So far, however, most of these people had not had a chance to meet their colleagues to identify opportunities for cross-fertilization of ideas.
The First Interdisciplinary Symposium on Online Reputation Mechanisms took place at MIT, on April 26-27, 2003 with the aim of bringing together the leading researchers from various disciplines that are active in the area of reputation systems, together with a few people from industry who are responsible for practical implementations of reputations systems. The objective of this symposium was to help us better understand how these various lines of work connect to one another and how, together, they can contribute to the design and implementation of better feedback mechanisms for electronic commerce and our digital society at large.
Funding for this symposium was provided through grants from the National Science Foundation (Award number 0209136, CISE/Digital Society & Technologies) and the Center for eBusiness @ MIT.
Symposium Summary Report
Symposium Website (with links to papers)