Patterns for Designing a Reputation System

By YUI TeamJune 10th, 2008

Reputation patterns

Recently, we released a family of related Reputation patterns to the Yahoo Design Pattern Library, the first of several collections of social-design related patterns that we’re working on. These patterns are somewhat different from the typical UI or rich-interaction type of pattern. They don’t tell you how to lay out a page or where to put an interactive widget. Instead, they address how to design a reputation system for your social software.

A key element in the Reputation family of patterns is one we call The Competitive Spectrum:

Competitive Spectrum

The Competitive Spectrum is the first pattern you should look at because it asks you to consider the degree of competitiveness in the community you are trying to build or foster. Are you aiming for a highly cooperative community, an arena for death-matches, or something in between? The answer to that question will inform which of the remaining Reputation patterns best apply to the design of your site or application.

The primary author of these patterns (and the creator of the sensitizing images) is Bryce Glass, a senior interaction designer on the Y! OS social team. Product manager Yvonne French deserves some of the credit as well. The patterns were developed for an internal reputation platform here at Yahoo! that was inspired and guided by online community guru Randy Farmer. We’re very pleased to be able to share them with the wider web community now and as always we welcome feedback and suggestions for improvement.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Bryce gave a great talk about reputation design at the IA Summit this year: Designing Your Reputation System (in 10 Easy Steps).


  1. This is a fantastically useful conceptualisation of the area. Particularly interesting to me in creating online communities around news – many thanks.

  2. [...] hittar jag också till den här artikeln som beskriver en rad av patterns relaterade till rykteshantering i [...]

  3. [...] there’s a whole set of design patterns for a reputation system, as well as some solid basics on online reputation and how it works. (You can find some thoughts [...]

  4. [...] Patterns for Designing a Reputation System Yahoo! User Interface Blog has published Reputation Design Patterns. Great work by the Yahoo team including Randy Farmer, it’s a great understanding of the social-design related UI elements for communitys and social networks. [...]

  5. [...] Yahoo identifies five different competitiveness levels for social communities (Caring, Collaborative, Cordial, Competitive, Combative) and recommends different ways of handling reputation in your system based on the behavior of its users. I found it very insightful to break down behavior in this way as point systems work better in competition, for example, while named labels help in caring and collaborative situations. Looking forward to more of this sort of stuff from Yahoo! Original blog post at the yuiblog. [...]

  6. I love the information graphics here!! Nice blog posting.

  7. [...] it’s Developer Network, Yahoo! has just released a nice set of design patters for reputation systems. I have some issues with some of the language and patterns, but overall, I think they put together [...]

  8. great take on the industry, i appreciate it and opens up some new concepts. thanks

  9. [...] When we started floating ideas around the office for the Productivity Suite there were quite a few people who were hesitant. As the application came together we realized that without a rule set, or some guiding principle that was easy to understand, the experience would be crippled by apprehension. As there will be many people submitting blog posts, and sending each other kudos and offenses, we wanted to be sure that these things were done in the most constructive way possible. [...]

  10. Absolutely stunning and useful research guys! Keep it up – Yahoo! has so much more…