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Reputation systems

The subject of topics for weblogs is getting some traction in the blogosphere. There are some promising apps for topics, including k-collector and Topic Exchange. Recently I wrote a post, in response to one by Clay Shirky, to say that weblog posts should be organized by topics in the blogosphere rather than organized by author. Clay Shirky pointed back to me and some interesting discussion came out of that.

One thing I’m not convinced there is a need for is a “reputation system”. Marc Canter linked to a post by Bill Kearney, who had some interesting things to say about syndicating topics (btw Marc also got it spot on when he advised Bill to stick to the topic and lay off the personal abuse of Dave Winer). Bill says this about preventing “pollution” of topic spaces:

“Here we run into the need for some sort of reputation system. One that seeks to differentiate the valuable material from those just trying to incorrectly grab attention.”

I don’t think ideas should be judged based on who is the author. This is the point I was making in response to Clay’s post mentioned above. Sure I want to be able to subscribe to individual authors that I enjoy reading and who I value as an authority. But when it comes to subscribing to topics that I’m interested in, I don’t wish to pre-judge what people may contribute on a topic. The best ideas sometimes come out of left field.

The Web is fundamentally a free space. That’s the beauty of weblogs, these tools make it easy for anyone to publish on the Web. If everyone has a right to write, then everyone has a right to be read. Even if they’re wrong 🙂

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