Ruining Reputation

    I love foundational discussions – they always have the potential to fundamentally change my world-view, which is quite stimulating.

    Radovan picked up on my little piece on reputation. In particular he suggests that the question “What attributes should be influenced by reputation and what should not?” does not make any sense.

    I fully agree with this statement, but not necessarily with all conclusions that Radovan draws. As I see it, the question is not what attributes of an entity should be influenced by reputation, but much more about what attributes can be reasonably approximated by a mean-value approach such as reputation.

    In Radovan’s example, the height of a given person can be precisely determined (up to an error margin, that is part of that measurement). The result of such a measurement–as long as it is reproducible–is the objective value of the attribute “height”. It does not make any sense to attach a reputation to this value. But you can attach a reputation/”credibility score”/whatever to the measurement process (this is typically done through the specification of the error margin), or the faithfulness of storing this information in a given storage system (e.g. through the reliability score of this provider, determined by averaging over the subjective reliability score given to the storage system by its customers/clients). The aggregate “reputation” of this process (measuring, recording, storing, reproducing) can then be used to calculate the “reputation” of you saying that I am 147 cm tall.

    But–and this is important: your statement about my height (or the aggregate statement of the community about my height) does not influence the fact (if you want to use this hopelessly overloaded term) that I am 187cm tall.

    This is fundamentally different from what might happen with other attributes: for example, let us look at my “reputation for drawing aesthetically pleasing pictures”. While I ( or my daughter) might be convinced that I have a rather high score for this attribute, the rest of the world might beg to differ. My community-wide[1] reputation as a gifted painter could thus be much lower. Note that I do not have any reasonable recourse: there is (fortunately) no final authority, or repoducible process that can determine a definite value for this particular attribute.

    Nevertheless, for such non-CFD, mean-value attributes you still face the same issues that you do face for objective attributes: there is the change of recording or storage failure, and thus other factors that might ultimately determine the reliability of a “reputation as painter” score I might have.

[1] Note that at this point it becomes very important to define the correct domain of your mean-value process, i.e. you have to fix an ensemble.

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