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Build Online Reputation Through Knowledge Contributions, Not Personal Popularity


The recent trend toward individuals endorsing each other for areas of supposed expertise is troubling in its simplicity and lack of rigorous checks and balances. The basic supposition that an online reputation can or should be built through what amounts to a popularity contest will lead to a rapid dumbing down of Internet content, since no actual expertise is required for endorsement.

Online ReputationSome social media sites that have introduced single click endorsements actually encourage reciprocal endorsements with no thought for the individual's actual contributions, except that the individual has personally selected and claimed expertise in a skill or knowledge area from a predetermined list. This is roughly akin to the "celebrity" who is famous for being famous, not for any notable achievement, and as such, is totally meaningless either in online social media or the world outside. Single click endorsements don't commit the endorser beyond the split second of that click, and they are nowhere near as valuable or enlightening as commenting in depth on an individual's real world expertise or contributions would be.

Single click endorsements have an advantage to the social media site that provides them since they drive traffic to the site as users clamor to endorse or be endorsed. These sites promote their simple endorsement process as a valuable credential for job seekers or those who are trying to build online reputations or credibility, but this type of endorsement can never provide true value. Due to the simplicity and reciprocity of the endorsement process, the actual value of these endorsements is to the site itself, not to the endorser or the endorsee.

Social media is an excellent platform for building and managing knowledge and online reputation, but value is only created when exchanges of information and ideas take place through online conversations. The ability of an individual's contributions to provoke thought and encourage learning through conversations that create new knowledge should be the measure of online reputation.

The only true way that worthwhile online reputation can be built is through the individual's actual knowledge and content contribution to social media. By adding thoughtful commentary or novel ideas to a body of knowledge, an individual slowly and rigorously builds a suitable and solid online presence that can and should be judged through open commentary and conversation with other interested and knowledgeable people.

True knowledge is built through sharing thoughts and ideas with a community of like-minded and interested people who care enough about a topic to produce worthwhile content, and who advance conversation and knowledge exchange through thoughtful comments on their own and other's ideas. This type of reputation building requires thought, care and time to build, and should always be a more valuable credential than any single click endorsement.

For a look at a site that promotes online reputation management based on the individual's expertise and actual contribution, look at XperLink.com.



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Opened by Antoine Fournier, Head of ECM, Input and Output management, Zurich Insurance
Dec 4, 2012.



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Shane Granger Analyst
Dec 5, 2012

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Its a great comment.
I'd agree that single click endorsements are to some extent a 'lazy-persons validation tool' and that they can be abused as they are mainly qualitatitive in execution. I'd also agree that to build an online repuation and credibility is a much harder road to travel, yet the rewards are worthwhile if you stick to it.
I enjoyed the Focus.com Expert status and network, the ability to partake in serious panel discussions with very smart people. Now that group has gone several of us have moved to XperLink.com and we getting involved with a much more diverse multi-lingual group (a better reflection of our less anglo lingua-franca world perhaps). Its great to have a non-US based alternate but I just love the fact that I can input a topic in two languages!
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Martin Goetze 25 Martin Goetze Senior Consultant, ISIS Papyrus Europe AG

Dec 5, 2012
Hi Shane, thanks, indeed Xperlink has been build specifically with focus to the multi-lingual aspects of the european online conversation space. It is a platform in its first iterations of improvement and we have huge interest in the experiences, expectations and recommendations of multilingual experts who want to engage in discussions with foreign and local experts, as well as in the needs and requirements to improve the social media discussion for those who can or want to exchange only specifically locally in their own country and culture.

Let us know your ideas here!

Antoine Fournier 67 Antoine Fournier Head of ECM, Input and Output management, Zurich Insurance

Dec 5, 2012
@shane - we do support Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish as contribution languages, and our website is already available (maybe with some spelling mismatch here and there) in 5 languages : Dutch, English, French, German, Italian.
We planned to open Spanish version of the website soon and would like to add Chinese to the list asap ...
Thank you for your constant support.

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Andreas Wiedow Principal, arow-biz
Dec 5, 2012

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Hi Shane, nice meeting you. Have heard about your contributions re. LinkedIn endorsements already through Antoine's mentions in my ORT club on LinkedIn and would love to read you there too if you feel so inclined.
Antoine,
I tend to disagree slightly with your headline. As I ignore those . . . "clamoring" . . . requests as I ignored endorsement (LI) or testimonial (ecademy) requests in the past . . . one can see a huge variety of the mentioned in my profile which come naturally from entities I've either met IRL, had phone chats, sustain online exchange or . . . didn't notice that they took notice of me (loose connections). So it's in the mix for me.
Provided one party (the receiver) holds a strong opinion in general re. online reputation.
I agree that a routine such as . . . I click you, you click me . . . is meaningless and utterly rubbish and I tend to stay away from palace guards once identified.
And that gets me to a point which struck a chord yesterday: What comes after reputation ? What is the next level ?
Character ?
What is more important: Reputation or character ? And provided character would be it (see my latest discussion on LI) . . . do strong characters need to worry about their reputation at all ? Don't they comply naturally ?
Sustain knowledge contribution and raising interaction is a major player, yes. A long way.
Who wants to be the fastest needs a long time to become. Bernhard von Mutius


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Antoine Fournier 67 Antoine Fournier Head of ECM, Input and Output management, Zurich Insurance

Dec 5, 2012

@Andreas - I totally agree with the way you are making use of LI endorsements - Everyone would be like you, I would support & trust LI system.
But what is the point of building a reputation carefully, giving suitable endorsements and rejecting irrelevant one (that I do not do ..), if others are abusing easily the system : They cast doubt on what you built.
The reputation system has to be very difficult to workaround - eventually impossible - so you know that what you are doing will not be vain.

With a breakable system, I would need to trust you first to believe your displayed reputation is the right one, no? I'll need to be sure you did not abused the system to get a fake "knowledgeable expert" profile. So you need to have a good reputation before ...

I support endorsements system and I'm trying to use them correctly, but will not spend too much effort to maintain them, actually.

XperLink is certainly not perfect (if we find some weakness, we'll correct them) but, paraphrasing Bernhard von Mutius you quoted, XperLink will take ALL its time and will grow the right speed to become a trustable tool to build reliable online reputations to its members.
We target to be of the best, but not as fast as endorsement webapps are popping up.


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Roz Bennetts B2B Sales, B2B Sales Professional
Dec 31, 2012

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Antoine, et al,

I agree. I feel like adding 'obviously' as the LinkedIn endorsements are so evidently 'thin' in meaning to be relatively valueless as an actual endorsement of skill.

On the flipside though, for LinkedIn themselves it's a good thing as it adds a new way for people to engage with their site - and so for a social media outlet they have done a smart thing. It doesn't address their desire for people to use it more for updates and following but it is an engagement nonetheless.

As for the users, the endorsements pretty up our profiles and at least help brand us a bit by showcasing what skills we'd like to be known for. And as I've said elsewhere on this site, the savvy amongst us might see an opportunity to ask for a proper written endorsement following a clickable one as a natural
evolution.
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Nadine Hack CEO, beCause Global Consulting
Jan 19, 2013

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Antoine - Great observations. As I choose to engage on social network platforms, I am much more concerned with quality rather than quantity. And, in doing so, I've "met" some extraordinary thought-leaders from whom I'm learning and/or with whom I'm having great dialogues. I've also become familiar with usual suspects who tag me in every photo, hashtag me in every tweet but have nothing to say. I've shared this post on Facebook, Google+ as LinkedIn as Ihave some of your earlier posts. I believe you make an important contribution to the dialogue. Best, - Nadine
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Antoine Fournier 67 Antoine Fournier Head of ECM, Input and Output management, Zurich Insurance

Jan 19, 2013
Thank you for the support and contributions. Let's push for more accurate usage of social media !All the best.