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Six Degrees Of Reputation

Great review on the use and abuse of online review and recommendation systems.

This paper reports initial findings from a study that used quantitative and qualitative research methods and custom–built software to investigate online economies of reputation and user practices in online product reviews at several leading e–commerce sites (primarily Amazon.com). We explore several cases in which book and CD reviews were copied whole or in part from one item to another and show that hundreds of product reviews on Amazon.com might be copies of one another. We further explain the strategies involved in these suspect product reviews, and the ways in which the collapse of the barriers between authors and readers affect the ways in which these information goods are being produced and exchanged. We report on techniques that are employed by authors, artists, editors, and readers to ensure they promote their agendas while they build their identities as experts. We suggest a framework for discussing the changes of the categories of authorship, creativity, expertise, and reputation that are being re–negotiated in this multi–tier reputation economy.

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