Rating Friends Without Making Enemies

TitleRating Friends Without Making Enemies
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsAdamic, LA, Lauterbach, D, Teng, CY, Ackerman, MS
Conference NameProceedings of the Fifth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media
Date Published06/2011
Keywordscouch surfing, e-communities, friends, online communities, rating systems, trust

As online social networks expand their role beyond maintaining existing relationships, they may look to more faceted ratings to support the formation of new connections between their users. Our study focuses on one community employing faceted ratings, CouchSurfing.org, and combines data analysis of ratings, a large-scale survey, and in-depth interviews. In order to understand the ratings, we revisit the notions of friendship and trust and uncover an asymmetry: close friendship includes trust, but high levels of trust can be achieved without close friendship. To users, providing faceted ratings presents challenges, including differentiating and quantifying inherently subjective feelings such as friendship and trust, concern over a friend’s reaction to a rating, and knowledge of how ratings can affect others’ reputations. One consequence of these issues is the near absence of negative feedback, even though a small portion of actual experiences and privately held ratings are negative. We show how users take this into account when formulating and interpreting ratings, and discuss designs that could encourage more balanced feedback.