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Xbox One's new reputation system detailed

UPDATE: Microsoft explains that muting carries very little weight.

UPDATE: Microsoft has responded to my concerns that muting random strangers would damage their score. Apparently its weight is negligible and only becomes an issue if thousands of people are always muting the same person. According to Microsoft, this algorithm is quite cautious about jumping to conclusions, and - as noted in the original story - it factors in the complainant's behaviour, so if some troll is haphazardly dishing out negative feedback the system will devalue their say.

Microsoft's full response is as follows:

There are many ways to control who you want to chat with on Xbox Live. If you typically avoid in game chat, you can turn it off completely in Settings. If you only like to chat with your friends in game, the best way to do so is through our Party system. Smart Match's new advanced Party system with Xbox One helps with communication by allowing parties (and members) to move in and out of game chat as desired as easily as a quick click.

Depending on the situation, manually muting a non-friend player may result in a minimal amount of feedback, but not at the same rate as reports of cheating or blocking a player. Each feedback type in the reputation system is weighted differently based on a number of factors including the frequency with which the player has received the feedback. Muting a player has the least amount of feedback weight in the system. For example muting and unmuting the same person over and over will not affect a person's reputation, but if thousands of users across Xbox Live are muting a player in every game then that feedback would affect their reputation. And of course muting a friend has no impact on the friend's reputation.

Original Story: Microsoft has spilled the beans about its upcoming Xbox One reputation system.

You'll no longer have to put up with these jerks.

As detailed on the Microsoft Blog, players will be able to "Mute" and "Block" people they don't like playing with and this will go into a complex algorithm that will determine one's feedback score. This will separate players into "Good," "Needs Improvement," and "Avoid Me" categories. These will be colour-coded green, yellow, and red respectively, and be viewable on one's gamer card.

"The new model will take all of the feedback from a player's online flow, put it in the system with a crazy algorithm we created and validated with an MSR PhD to make sure things are fair for everyone," said Xbox Live programmer Michael Dunn.

"Your reputation score is ultimately up to you," Dunn continued. "The more hours you play online without being a jerk, the better your reputation will be; similar to the more hours you drive without an accident, the better your driving record and insurance rates will be."

Dunn noted that most players will wind up in the green, and players will receive several warnings before they drop down to the red. He also explained that the algorithm is sophisticated enough that it won't penalise players for a few bad reports.

"Even good players might receive a few player feedback reports each month and that is okay," Dunn added. "The algorithm weighs the data collected so if a dozen people suddenly reporting a single user, the system will look at a variety of factors before docking their reputation."

This complex HAL-like algorithm will also take into account how often someone leaves poor feedback and how good their feedback is. "The system also looks at the reputation of the person reporting and the alleged offender, frequency of reports from a single user and a number of other factors," Dunn explained.

"If you don't want to play with cheats or jerks, you shouldn't have to," Dunn stated. "Our new reputation model helps expose people that aren't fun to be around and creates real consequences for trouble-makers that harass our good players."

This reputation system is an interesting notion, but I'm a little concerned that muting someone inherently condemns their behaviour. If you're anything like me, you may just mute strangers by default because you simply don't want to listen to people you don't know yammer away, regardless of how polite they are. I've contacted Microsoft about this concern and will update as I hear back.

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Jeffrey Matulef


Jeffrey Matulef is the best-dressed man in 1984.

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