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Just a bit more, and somewhat in defense of Google.
Once a bid is let, if protested, the sale may halt.
If so, that is trouble for a lot of people as illustrated
in my last mail. Why is this not done more routinely?
Reputations ARE the result of open systems, not assertions.
In this case, a hidden coupler is the conference. Almost
any industry meets its customers at conferences. A vendor
who doth protest too loudly or too often, indeed, will as
you surmise, get a rep for doing that. What will happen
is this will travel across a conference floor at light
speed. Attendees anticipating letting a bid will find
out and will decline to visit a booth, or more potently,
see to it that this vendor does not make the final five
so cannot submit a BAFO and cannot protest. As you see,
much depends on the process and that is why, as I said
originally, it is formal. Google can help you find
them, but how clever it is at ranking depends on the
size and validity of the assertions made by others.
In most cases, Google like nature, does not like to
be fooled. And by the way, customers publish results
on their web pages and we Google for things like that.
Google creates reputation by ranking. Ranking is very
important, so if one can buy that or game that, it
may be well worth doing. However, the more Google
enables that, the more its reputation declines, and
in fact, the "hell" example is revelatory: they
broke with their own policy and quickly hand fixed the
reference precisely because it was garnering
bad publicity for them. My guess is, and only a guess,
they work hard on trying to offset the results of gaming
and will work harder on it.
Any discovery based service will be improved by
having levels of queriable assertions of service,
and standard means of representing these. Now
the semantic web has a job in that world. It
can be gamed, but that can be discovered. As Mike
said, perhaps Google plus XML or RDF.
BTW: I totally agree with Paul that centralization
is not the best way to go about this. I made that
point a few years back about Passport, etc. It
isn't centralization I am questioning. It is the
statement that what others say is more important
than what one says about oneself. They are both
important particularly if the way to space turns out
to be one has to drop LSD first rather than take
a ride from Kazakstan.