HolidayBuyer's Guide

Start-up creates tools for verifying, managing online reputation

Reputations can be a slippery thing. If Attila didn't have a reputation for ruthlessness, for instance, Rome may not have fallen so easily. And it's a problem in the online world too. Burk1185 might be one of the best sellers of bike parts on eBay, but Burk 1185 on Yahoo auctions might be a thief.

San Jose-based Opinity has created a service that lets web sites and users get information on a person's reputation, even if that person use several pseudonyms, said CEO Ted Cho at the Dow Jones Consumer Venture Conference taking place in San Jose. Individuals submit data on themselves--educational background, peer reviews, testimonials, professional credentials, etc. The data is consolidated in one file and then associated with his or her various pseudonyms, thus making it easier to take a reputation on one site ("One of the premier blowhards on SQL chat rooms.") to another. Opinity will also verify that the information.

It's not like a Dun and Bradsteet investigation. Individuals chose what information they want to share, so you can always leave off felony convictions. But if you want to tout yourself as an expert on databases, Opinity will certify that you do seem to have some credentials in that area.

The service launched in beta in April.