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Re: Reputations

> I don't see how there can be such a thing as negative reputation
> capital. Wouldn't that mean B believes the opposite of what A says? If
> you anti-believed someone in a consistent manner, couldn't they exploit
> that?

Of course they could exploit that.  But you're not "anti-believing" 
the information an untrusted party is passing.  Rather, you are not 
acting on their information in *any* fashion.  You're ignoring them.  
In the case of the common killfile, you may not even know that 
they're talking at you.  

> Also, you are speaking only of 1-to-1 reputation-relationships. But that
> is inefficient. The mere fact of having to evaluate each person's
> reputation yourself is significant work.

It is significant work.  How much work depends on how valuable the 
transactions you are considering are to you.

It's not as if the notion of reputation capital doesn't have precedent. 
When I make a purchase for my business, I do quite a bit of checking 
on the background of individuals and businesses I am purchasing from. 
The amount of reference work I do depends on how much I intend 
to spend.  Furthermore, I am much more apt to do business with 
individuals who have been referred by other trusted parties (a 
transfer of raputation capital).

Also my initial investment with a relative unknown is usually small.  
The repuatation capital of both parties increases relative to one 
another as a relationship is continued.
> On the other hand, you could talk about the transmission of reputations.
> For instance, when a certain infamously-low-reputation (deservedly so)
> individual recently joined the cypherpunk lists, others who had endured
> him in the past tried to relay their impressions of him. It proved very
> difficult to convey, and they were somewhat attacked for their efforts
> and not entirely believed.

You seem to view the notion repuatation capital as absolute.  It is 
relative to each user of it.  The unnamed you are referring to did 
indeed come in with quite a bit of negative repuatation capital 
attached to his name.  While I might regard the opinions of others on 
the list as being valuable, I chose to see for myself if the unnamed 
person warranted his bad repuation. 

> In other words, he *could not* spend down to 0, despite years of
> unflagging effort.

In other words, I decide if an when he has "spent down to zero" with 
me -- even if we never directly communicate.
> Now, suppose J. Anonymous Gourmand spams all of Usenet, and millions of
> people who have never heard of J. Anonymous Gourmand before read a
> plausible but false account of the disgustingness of McDonald's food.
> Perhaps the same detailed study, just fake. (Not to intertangle this
> with other issues, let's further suppose that Ms. Gourmand sneaks in
> underneath spam-watcher's radar, and cleverly appears to be on topic in
> every group.)
> Nothing about her reputation has changed, but surely when her claim is
> read by millions it will hurt McDonalds a non-trivial amount.

Why?  That depends on the sophistication of millions of Usenet 
readers (heh). 

I think your extension of this example is not useful.  It's 
impossible not to "intermingle it with other issues" such as the 
substance of the message itself, the ability to verify any factual 
information, etc. etc. ad nauseam.  

Reputation is but one factor in many and has a mostly negative effect 
if J. Anonymous Goumand is indeed anonymous.  Change J. Anonymous 
Gourmand to say, C. Everett Koop, and you can envision a more 
tangible example of reputation capital in action.

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