I found a very interesting post on the Yahoo User Interface blog today discussing social reputation patterns. Reputation is a way to create engagement inside a community and plays an important part in many social networks and other action-driven sites.
Some quick examples of reputation systems are LinkedIn's profile completeness and eBay seller ratings. Having these levels of reputation in the system give interactions an added value. In eBay, sellers are given the incentive to deliver what they say they will, because they know they'll be rated afterward. LinkedIn's profile completeness level is dependent on helping others in the system and encourages more interaction.
Here are the patterns that Yahoo mentions:
These patterns can also be used in different types of community environments. They range from altruistic, nurturing communities to combative, winner-takes-all environments. Certain brands can use each to deliver value to their community.
Take a minute now and think about the communities that you participate in where users are given an incentive for taking action. Where does it fit in these patterns? Most sites use multiple patterns to engage different groups of users and it's a very powerful technique to engage users online and drive repeat visits and extended loyalty.