Patterns for Designing a Reputation System

By YUI TeamJune 11, 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).