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February 11, 2007



Reminds me of a best practice study I did for another class called Persuasive Technology with BJ Fogg. We looked at forums and review sites like Yelp.com and determined what steps a small or medium sized organization could take to artifically bolster their image/credibility through fake or poser reviews and recommendations. This practice reminds me of astroturfing in politics where a PAC or special interest will produce hundreds of constituent correspondence with little or no permission from the constituents in order to convince the congressman that a cause is gaining traction. Shady, yes, but congressmen do catch on.
Similarly technology catches on. As far as legal issues go, I lean towards infringement. Of course there will always exist fake posts and digg effects, but technologically, the companies with their credibility at stake have proven that mechanisms can address these poser posts. Ranking systems, statistical filters, and community monitoring can remedy most of the web astroturf. The danger lies in the newbie who casually runs across a review site or blog and assumes all are made to equal standard. It's a learning curve, but give it a few years and reputations and reviews will go hand-in-hand.
Got to hand it to the Europeans though. The more I read about EU tech policy, the more I realize they know what the deal is.

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