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The Reputation System

You may have noticed little rectangles with colored bars in them littered about the site, and wondered what they mean.

For example: person Barack Obama

(If you aren't seeing them, it may mean your "point of view" is set to "none" or your browser does not render SVG, or you have javascript disabled, or something has gone wrong on our end. Sorry.)

So, what do they mean?

The colored bars represent the reputation of the person or organization they are displayed next to.

On the left side, we have positive reputation. The more positive reputation someone has, the bigger the green bar.

On the right side, we have negative reputation. There are two kinds; the red, lower bar shows the degree to which people don't like that person. It's what people generally mean when they say that someone has a bad reputation.

The yellow-orange, upper bar is a little more subtle. It shows the degree to which that person associates with people who have a bad reputation.

How is reputation determined?

Reputations are calculated based on the connections between entities. If person A disagrees with person B, B's red bar will get little bigger. If organization C praises person B, B's green bar will get bigger, but C's yellow bar will also get bigger because A disagrees with B.

The actual calculation is done using a software package called Pariah. Curious souls can read more about it here. You can also grab the raw data if you have your own ideas about how reputations ought to be computed.

Note that, currently, the software that computes reputation values works off of a copy of the data that it fetches once every three minutes, so you won't see changes quite in real time.

What's with the "point of view" selector at the bottom of the page?

Reputation is subjective. Someone can have a good reputation from one person's point of view, and a bad reputation from someone else's. To accomodate the subtleties of reputation, we allow you to select from several points of view. Here are the options:

This can't be right. These reputation values don't make sense.

The reputation algorithm is only as good as the input data. Right now, connections between people are pretty sparse, so a single new link can cause reputations to change drastically. Once we have a fairly dense set of connections, things should stabilize.

You can help us out by adding in missing links, especially the boring ones that seem so obvious as to be hardly worth mentioning.

If I like or dislike a person or organization, will that affect the reputations that other people see?

No, it only affects what you see.

If I add another user as a friend or foe, will it affect the reputations that I see?

No, links between users are completely separate. They currently don't affect anything in the system.