Vendor-Tech

Operational Excellence with Technology

Building a Reputation

One of the interesting things about the Defrag conference (http://www.defragcon.com) is it helps me bring ideas together. I have been fascinated by virtual teams since getting my MBA in 2000 from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, without setting foot on campus. After a semester or two you learned which students you hoped would be assigned to your virtual team--they had developed a reputation.

The past two years I have been doing a lot of Drupal website development, several times in virtual teams that have spanned the globe. I've worked with Indian outsource developers, as well as with talented developers in Bogata and Sao Paulo. I can see the value of bringing together a team that has experience in exactly what you are trying to accomplish. I have also gotten to personally know a lot of Denver Drupal developers through the Denver Boulder Users Group.

I was pondering that waiting for Defrag to start and made this note to myself: "How is reputation established and managed? Within the Denver Drupal community how does one figure out who are good resources (both talented and willing to share)? How does that discovery process scale? How would, for example, Indian developers establish reputations within a development group?" Then Defrag started...

So it was ironic that one of the speakers the second day one of the afternoon speakers was Drummond Reed from connect.me. His topic was "Socially Verified Reputation." He described a site/service he is developing called Connect Me, http://connect.me/.

I first ran into an attempt to measure reputation in 2008 on the fledgling social networking site Naymz, which at the time was trying to compete with LinkedIn. As I winnowed down my social networks in 2009, I forgot about Naymz. Looking at the site again, it would appear it has pivoted into a reputation site that has a peer review component to your "Rep Score" that I really like. That peer review is coupled with your social influence to create the score. Unfortunately looking at my network messages, more people have left since 2009 than tried to connect with me, something I suspect is as much due to forgetting about Naymz as anything else.

Naymz social influence score component is much like that of Klout, which I briefly joined out of curiosity, then have worked to quit after reading about how they were selling the data (while the help file says you can delete your account, the instructions don't match the actual site--the best I was able to do was disallow Klout from accessing my social media accounts). Beyond the questionable use of the results of my Klout score, the big issue is it measures how connected I am, not my reputation.

Connect Me appears to have that peer to peer review component that Naymz has although having read the mini-questionnaire that Naymz uses I'd love to see that ported over to Connect Me. Connect Me also lets you define your own reputation tags, although that freedom may mean you pick the wrong tags when you first join before you have a chance to learn which tags might be the most appropriate.

I also assume that eventually Connect Me will be better at using the reputation scoring to integrate with the other social networks as a badge rather than a stand alone, additional network. That, in my opinion, is what doomed Naymz.

Where I can see the Connect Me concept being really powerful is within more specialized communities. Going back to my Drupal developer network, there is a site called Certified to Rock, http://certifiedtorock.com, that calculates a reputation score in a very opaque way, which is a problem. I can guess that most of the score is based on activity on Drupal.org, but that only recognizes people who are active on that site. A lot of Drupal programmers, like myself, develop sites with work for hire or non-disclosure agreements, so we might not be as active.

But with a Connect Me dedicated to Drupal, it would be possible to use the same tagging and vouching process, but focus the tags to the kinds of activities that are likely only relevant to a fellow Drupal developer like views, cck, module development, project management, theming, etc.

Ultimately to really measure a person's reputation you need to know more about that person. The best third party measurement tool is going to be peer to peer reviews that contribute to a growing base of quantitative and qualitative information about a person's ability to deliver what they say they will deliver. LinkedIn has its recommendations for qualitative data, I see a lot of potential for Connect Me in creating a quantitative scoring system for your reputation. After that, it's personal interactions that will finalize how you perceive another person.

I encourage you to experiment with these reputation measurement systems. Watch your own reputation to make sure you don't get a bad one by lack of attention. And think about how you might be able to leverage reputation measurement to build more effective virtual teams -- either in development, support, or even thinking about your customers as a part of a team.

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