Hey there! This article has been written in collaboration with Coinvise, a web3 platform that helps creators & communities build and manage their Social Tokens. You can join their Discord here. If you find this essay interesting, make sure to follow me on Twitter. Enjoy! 🔥
Not so long ago, no one really cared about digital legitimacy and online reputation. There was way less collaboration happening online, and physical reputation was often sufficient to work efficiently with others. Managing a Digital identity and the reputation that goes with it was a nice-to-have, not a must-have, and was mostly limited to an email address and eventually a pseudo on several forums.
But as Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, said, "The Most Important Scarce Resource is Legitimacy." Legitimacy appears in any context where there is coordination, and especially on the Internet, coordination is everywhere. Nowadays, most of our day-to-day interactions and need for coordination exist in digital accounts, and our online reputation and legitimacy are more important than ever. Our real-life and digital life are intrinsically linked. People are now landing new jobs on Twitter, getting new clients on Linkedin, and collaborating with their co-workers on Slack.
Our digital identity is much more complex to manage than previously, and is formed at the intersection of different platforms, communities, and groups. So how to efficiently manage this online identity and build legitimacy?
We're already seeing solutions appearing on Web3. Web3 is defined as a decentralized web, where platforms have decentralized governance and open data compared to Web2, where platforms are mostly governed by centralized teams (CEO and key stakeholders) with lock-in data (you can't access the data of anyone on Facebook for example).
While it was complex to manage online identity and Reputation on Web2 because of Lock-in data and centralized power, Web3 and crypto mechanisms allow every action happening on the Blockchain (on-chain) to be linked to your unique decentralized identity, which means your reputation will follow you throughout your life. Put simply, thanks to crypto mechanisms, instead of having separate accounts on different platforms, you can now have a single account (online identity) that you can bring on different platforms. We're about to enter a new era where collaboration will be easier, and value creation will be rewarded thanks to an efficient reputation score.
1/ The problems with the current online Reputation
As mentioned above, our physical and digital lives are intrinsically linked, and online reputation is more important than ever. However, for 99% of people on the Internet, the value of their digital identity is locked within platforms. Creators that have built an audience of 1 million followers on Instagram won't start in another platform like Twitter with 1 million followers. They will begin with 0. Amazon sellers who have built their Reputation for years won't start on other marketplaces with five-star reviews. They will begin with 0. When leaving a platform, users have to start from scratch, all over again, as there is no interoperability between platforms. The data are locked. It doesn't incentivize users to do their best or build long-term relationships as they know they will lose it when leaving the platform.
The second problem with the current online reputations is the negligible cost of creating a new online identity. To create a whole model around reputation, we've to be sure who's the person behind this pseudonymous or this email address. Today, anyone can create new accounts for no cost, limiting the weight we can put behind a name or a pseudo.
Interoperability, open data, and a reliable way to know someone's identity are essential to create a legit reputation score, and Web2 platforms have failed to provide those key elements.
2/ Interoperability and reputation score on Web3
Thanks to crypto mechanisms and Crypto Wallets, we can now all have a unique decentralized identity that can be used across different platforms. We finally see the path to create a reputation score.
Every transaction (and by transaction, we don't specifically talk about monetary transactions, it can be social ones as well) happening on the Blockchain are registered on a public ledger and are accessible to anyone. To do transaction on the Blockchain, everyone needs a Crypto Wallet to be identified. Similarly than you need a credit card to purchase an item online, you need a Crypto Wallet to do transactions on the Blockchain, with the difference that you can also use your Wallet to do non-financial transactions. It's like if you could use your credit card to sign up on new websites.
Web3 platforms allow using a wallet as a single sign-on. Like the "connect with Google" button, you now have a "connect with your Wallet" button. By gaining access to every new user's identity through their Crypto Wallet, Web3 platforms will be able to track a specific user's action and reward them for creating value.
With crypto Wallets, the problem of fake online identity is solved. You can create a new address email at a negligible cost, but with your identity linked to your Wallet (already connected to a lot of Dapp (Decentralized applications) and with your virtual currencies and your NFTs in it), it will be much more difficult for someone to create several identities. The cost of creating a new wallet will be too high and the benefits too low.
At coinvise, for example, we're putting a lot of weight on people who are verified on BrightID. Brighid is a social identity network that allows you to prove that you're only using one account. It's the holy grail of digital identity. You will get verified on BrightID based on your social relationships and the communities you belong to. By taking those data (such as if you’ve a verified BrightID account) to assess an overall Reputation score, we'll make sure everyone is using a single identity on the Internet.
Now comes the need of Interoperability. In Web3 As every transaction is taken on-chain and therefore accessible in an open ledger, Crypto wallet finally also allows interoperability. With its open data model (every information is on a public ledger), Crypto allows any Web3 platforms to use those data and, therefore, recover the user's reputation from other platforms. For example, if a user sent many messages on Discord, it's a good sign that the user is engaged in a community. If a user has participated in several community's crowdfunding, it shows its support in different communities. Publishing essays on decentralized platforms shows the willingness to provide value and help others etc... All those "transactions" are visible on the public ledger, everything is "on-chain." You can go on another platform or software, and the platform can recover all your information and past transactions. In the new world of Ethereum and Web3, your identity and data go with you.
We've just seen that Crypto solves the two main problems of centralized platforms, and that it's now possible to create a reputation score thanks to open data, interoperability, and a single decentralized identity. So now, concretely, what would be the advantages of having a web3 reputation score?
3/ Main advantages of a Web3 Reputation score.
There are many advantages to having a Web3 reputation score. Firstly, it acts as a metric for On-chain participation, creation & ownership. It helps identify high-value creators/communities & access a better quality talent pool for communities to onboard. In many ways, a reputation score will serve to establish trust for creators, not because they're high-signal on Twitter but because they've probably built a high-value community. With interoperability and reputation Score, Web3 platforms and communities will be able to reward those who create the most value. Reputation scores incentivize creation and participation.
A reputation score on Web3 has many advantages that we'll list here:
Self-sovereignty - users own their online identity and reputation. Web3 platforms do not lock their data, and they are the only ones with access to their Wallet and all proof of their identity and past actions.
Portability & interoperability - Users are allowed to move their data into other systems and platforms. On Web3, anyone could bring its audience or content from a platform to another.
Allow to find high-quality people - Users and communities will work with people who have a high reputation score. A reputation score will incentivize everyone to create more value and help each other.
Better governance distribution - Today, we mostly use users' number of tokens to give voting power. In the future, it could be directly your reputation score that serves to determine your voting power. It won't be enough to buy a lot of tokens. You'll have to prove your value to gain voting power.
Establish trust - With a life-long reputation, users will be more likely to play the infinite game, where the objective is not to win but to keep playing. As everything is on-chain, users will be incentivized to do good, ultimately resulting in more trust.
Incentivize to create more value - Users will be incentivized to help each other without fearing losing their reputation when joining new communities or projects. Someone with a high reputation score will be able to join new projects and prove its past experiences and capabilities right away.
Reputation score is a first attempt in establishing trust for creators, showcase them, and reward those who create the most value. By having a verified identity on Coinvise (Wallet + Twitter), creators will be confident that the value they are creating with their community and the reputation they are building will follow them across platforms. It's time to leverage new technologies to give users control of their digital identity and allow them to bring their reputation across platforms.
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