Six Degrees of Reputation: The Use and Abuse of Online Review and Recommendation Systems
Yale University - Information Society Project; Cornell University - Science and Technology Studies
Trevor John Pinch
November 25, 2005
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 ecommerce sites (primarily Amazon.com). We explore several cases in which book and CD reviews were copied in part or in whole 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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: affordances, reviews, book reviews, technological change, social construction, user practices, use and abuse, recommendation system
JEL Classification: A13, A14, O31, O33
Date posted: December 1, 2005
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