The Whuffie Bank: Reputation-Based Currency

The Whuffie Bank is a real-world non-profit startup that is dedicated to building a new currency based on reputation. According to their website, the "value of your Whuffie is "obtained from your online reputation by tracking your interactions with social networks and the feedback from your contacts."

The site just launched yesterday as part of the TechCrunch50, one of the top fifty new Internet companies as determined by the well-known site TechCrunch.


(The Whuffie Bank video)

When you enter your Facebook or Twitter name, you will see a graph describing your Whuffie Salary. Your friends and followers are also listed. Whuffie can be transferred between users either on the site or on Twitter, with special codes.

How is Whuffie calculated?

Our work consists on improving the calculation of whuffie to properly represent a value for reputation. The Whuffie Bank won't take into consideration popularity or influence, although these variables may help to increase the whuffie of a person. The algorithm currently considers these aspects:
1, Detects Public Endorsements Each time a message you put on Twitter gets retweeted or a Facebook post gets liked by others, that's considered a positive endorsement for you.
2. Measures Level of Influence A person that's constantly retweeting others will be spreading the impact of his influence among many people. On the other side, if a person retweets a message once in a while, that will have a bigger impact.
3. Considers Existing Reputation of Members Being endorsed by a Whuffie-rich person will have a stronger impact than being endorsed by an average user.
4. Analyzes Content of Messages A message with a link that gets retweeted usually it's because of the content in a website rather than the person sharing it in the first place. So when someone gets retweeted for something they exclusively said, that will have a bigger impact on the algorithm.

At this point, it's not clear whether or not your Whuffie "salary" will result in actual dollars, or other hard offline currency.

As The Whuffie Bank's site FAQ makes clear, the term whuffie was coined by Cory Doctorow in his 2003 novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

Whuffie recaptured the true essence of money: in the old days, if you were broke but respected, you wouldn't starve; contrariwise, if you were rich and hated, no sum could buy you security and peace. By measuring the thing that money really represented your personal capital with your friends and neighbors you more accurately gauged your success.

Fans of sf Grandmaster Jack Vance also recognize the concept of strakh from his 1976 short story The Moon Moth.

Check your account at The Whuffie Bank; via TechCrunch.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/16/2009)

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