Our society in America is broken. You can see this everywhere in any number of ways, but one of the most obvious ones is in the area of Politics. Our government is formed on the idea of representational democracy where we the people elect congresspeople to discuss and enact laws that (for the most part) reflect what we Americans want. As we all know this isn’t happening. I can point to many examples and I’m sure you can as well.

The overall idea is that in this nation of free people with free speech, we the people can achieve almost anything. But in practice, that’s not working out very well. I frequently point to the fact that money has corrupted government but at a more fundamental level, the real issue is that we the people are not exercising our free speech. We are not communicating well at all. Large media and tech companies are stifling our ability to organize and communicate and effect change.

Please take a few moments to read this article in Wired Magazine titled “It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech” by Zeynep Tufekci. The central argument here is that Facebook, Twitter, etc. with their super algorithmic feeds do a disservice to gathering attention and consensus. I believe that It’s actually even harder now for people to discuss things then it was 15-20 years ago.

This is a solvable problem. Its my view that we simply need to make a tool that will enable and foster quality conversation and debate in our society. I alluded to this in my last post when I talked about “Conversation Rank”. It’s an idea that has stuck with me for many years and one I can’t shake.

I haven’t started building this yet, but I plan to very soon. I don’t claim to have it all figured out. My hope is that it will grow and crystalize as I make more and more progress. And I also hope that others will help me by commenting or contributing effort to building it with me.

Here are some general ideas (note that I’ve changed the name of the CR to “Reputation Level”)

Reputation Level

  • Your reputation level is everything
  • You can tie one reputation to one email address. I’m not sure how to make it so that one person is forever tied to one RL but it’s something I plan to build out more.
  • Levels are incrementally harder to achieve.. Each should be one order of magnitude harder than the last
  • You can go up and down in reputation
  • People with higher reputations carry more weight when determining ‘quality’ of posts
  • Any user can set their ‘read level’ to whatever they would like and the site will filter out all content by people of levels below that ‘read level’ thus the site won’t become cluttered with crap for users who care about serious things


  • Posts are collected in topics (like sub-reddits) which are created by users. Every topic has a ‘write level’ and the topic creator (who becomes the topic ‘owner’) can decide the minimum write level. It can’t be higher than his/her reputation level. Not sure if this level should be allowed to change
  • Posts can contain any content (scripts, binary data, text, etc)
  • Posts can be upvoted/downvoted by all users with reputation weighting the power of their votes

Gaining Reputation

  • People can upvote/downvote any post (like reddit). Their weighted votes have an effect on your reputation
  • We publicize how we compute reputation so people can hopefully act the way we want them to
  • One shouldn’t be able to gain a lot of reputation from just one super popular post. We need to make a formula that takes into account the quality of all of their posts.

One thought on “Reputation

  1. “Quality conversation and debate”…I think that ship has sailed in the post-modern society. Teach your children well…bring back Civics & World Cultures in high school; even Political Science could be introduced at this level.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s