We cannot have thousand friends. Not even thousand closer acquaintances. The British anthropologist Robin Dunbar estimated the number with whom we can form stable social relationship. It is 150, which more precisely means that between hundred and two hundred. When I opened my this website and run along my INBOX to decide whom I ask easily ”to follow” me … I was shocked.. their number was 149 (well, fifty of them kindly pushed the button. They are the people who know some of my characteristic features and my actions, so my reputation is based on their perception of my activities. But in a broader sense my reputation is the collective opinion of everybody else, except myself (well, too bad :-)). As it is known, to build reputation needs time. We all know that a single moment is sufficient to destroy a good reputation. Unfortunately, even malignant gossips are sufficient to smash this reputation. Well, but having a good reputation among friends might help, as they may defend you even without your knowing.
In the internet age we have digital reputation. Some of the reputation is expressed by numbers, and the whole book is about discussing the reality, illusion of of objectivity. One of my peer ((one of the 149) has more than forty thousand citation. He does not need any manipulation, he has non-digital and digital reputation. When I asked him to follow my website he wrote back: ”Your new project sounds very interesting. I don’t blog, twitter, facebook, etc., but if you want to send along something am happy to comment.”
Well, this peer is in my age, but how about the millennials? As I learned from an article in Chronicle of Higher Education published several years ago, Eszter Hargittai (a sociologist than at Northwestern University, now in Zurich; well it happened than I met her in her parents’s house in Buda, when she was about five years old, but I have not met her later, maybe once) studied the on-line skills of millennials. Her results confirmed what many of us sees in the classrooms, there is an obvious inhomogeneity among the students. It seems to be a correlation between the socioeconomic status of the students and their skill in building their own digital reputation, and there are many students, whose only skill is being able to post on Facebook without thinking how any post form their image. While it ‘s important to tell students that digital reputation is important, and it is possible to teach how to build either personal or business reputation. I hope that it is true that honesty is an essential part of building your online reputation (as I read in Susan Gunelius’ Forbes article from with the title ”10 Ways To Successfully Build Your Online Reputation”), still in 2015 Amazon sued 1,114 people who were paid to publish fake five star reviews for products.
The dark side of a success story: the search engine manipulation effect and its possible impact
Actually a big industry emerged to make websites more visible, and there are SEO (search engine optimization) companies who do the job. Even Reputation Management Companies are ranked. In October 2017. As in the Western movies there are characters with white and black hats (white generally worn by heroes and black hats by villains) there are SEOs who make manipulation with ”white hat” on their heads, they are called ethical hackers, and and there are manipulators with ”black hat”. As always, in democratic societies, first there are rules accepted by the community. Second, some people (organizations etc.) have black hats, and try to evade these rules. Third, we cannot do else just help identify and neutralize the effects of these troublemakers. Here is a warning you may find useful: Black Hat SEO can take you to the top of website ranking in a very short time. But strictly speaking, it is totally illegal. If you don’t want to get penalized and crash your Google ranking forever, it is strongly recommended to avoid black hat SEO.