Hit job – web style

This is a familiar enough story (Via SF Gate)…And the people hit have few avenues for relief:

The first postings appeared soon after Sue Scheff, who runs a Web-based referral service for parents with troubled teenagers, advised a woman from Louisiana to withdraw her twin sons from a boarding school in 2002. Scheff is “a con artist,” “a crook” and “a fraud,” according to the messages, which peppered blogs and Internet forums for parents of troubled teens.

Soon, calls to Scheff’s Parents Universal Resource Experts dropped by half, said Scheff, 45, who lives in Weston, Fla. “People would say: ‘You know, I just read this about you online. How do I know I can trust you?’ ”

Scheff, whose 6-year-old service usually draws a lot of traffic, is a victim of an emerging phenomenon: online smear campaigns, which can wreak havoc in the victims’ professional and business lives at the touch of a few keystrokes.

We need an identity and reputation infrastructure that puts all opinions, expressed by all people, in perspective based on what they have done in the past. Such a system will help online communities maintain decorum by penalizing participants who don’t add value to the discussion (much like discussions in real community) and rewarding those who do…This is quickly emerging as an important requirement for wider adoption of social media…