In Characteristics of Successful Online Communities, Andrew Cohen has written some very interesting guidelines for successful online communities. He emphasizes the need to plan for success, make people feel at home, rule with benevolence, encourage personal relationships, and facilitate reputation building. I found reputation building to be the most interesting of all his guidelines. I traditionally think of reputation building as something a company would do, but Cohen is talking about allowing community members to build their reputations within the community. When frequent and high quality participation is acknowledged, not only is the community as a whole bolstered, but individual community members develop and build strong reputations within the community. Cohen suggests several ways to do this. Frequent participation can be rewarded with a virtual ribbon once a community member reaches a threshold. Active participants can be publicly acknowledged by featuring them in a spotlight or by interviewing them. Finally, allowing community members to rate postings and comments rewards quality, and members with high ratings can be given more privileges within the community.