iKarma has Potential to Be Huge

Company: iKarma
Launched: August 6, 2005
Location: Jupiter, Florida

iKarma is an online feedback and reputation system that we’ve been kicking the tires on for a few days.

While there are many closed, centralized feedback services that are quite useful (ebay’s feedback, for instance), they are a part of the service they support and cannot be leveraged effectively outside of those services.

I think they may be on to something really big here, but in my humble opinion they need to embrace the ideas of open services and open data. If they do that, I can see important third party applications being built on the back of iKarma. I expand on this below under “What it Needs”.

The Basics

You can register for iKarma directly at their site or via an email from someone who would like to write about you. Once you’ve registered you get an initial five-star review from the iKarma team and are encouraged to add contacts and begin writing about people. If they aren’t members, you can invite them.

A review consists of a star rating (0-5) and a free-text area. Your overall star rating is averaged among all reviews. If you don’t like a review, you can leave a comment with an explanation or choose to start a more formal challenge process.

You can only leave a review for any given member once; however, you can edit all aspects of a review if you change your mind later.

The basic service is free and iKarma plans to roll out paid premium services in the future.

To see our iKarma profile, click the icon below, or here.

What We Like

iKarma does one thing, reputation, very well. It has a clean and usable interface and no bugs were found. I also like that comments can be edited later on if the author changes her or his mind.

What it Needs

eBay has certainty that two parties have done business because they (eBay) close transactions and know who both parties are. A necessary limitation of the iKarma is that they have no idea if someone posting a review actually knows or has transacted with the person they are writing about. iKarma has mitigated this problem somewhat by creating a formal challenge process to any posted review.

I really like the point system in eBay. There is no upper limit on total feedback and I believe people use eBay sometimes simply because they want to increase their overall feedback number. In contrast, the only objective measure of your iKarma is an average star rating. After a certain critical mass is built up, another postive review or two will not noticeably affect your score. I think iKarma (for business reasons) should change their system to create a points system similar to eBay.

iKarma has an icon that you can include on a website or email (we’ve put one above). However, the icon would be more useful if it also told viewers your total iKarma score.

Lastly, and most importantly, there are many new web 2.0 and other online applications that could deeply embrace a third party reputation system like iKarma’s. But for that embrace to happen, they are going to have to open up their data and their APIs and let people create mashups.

I’m betting iKarma is hard at work building premium features to generate revenue. If I was running the company, I’d raise capital now (I don’t think they have), stop building premium features and focus entirely on opening up the APIs and data for third party applications. Good things will happen.


Paul Williams, Chief Executive Officer
Scott Pitchford, President
Andrew Mayer, Chief Architect
Lori Leach, Creative Director
Robert Warren, Marketing and Communications
Tyler Pitchford, Special Projects
Robert Lieblein, Multimedia Coordinator