My good friend Sanjana sent me a link to a very well put together article on online trust by Mark McElhaw. An excerpt...
"To ensure site visitors continue to trust your site, you need to ensure users are who they say they are. Ways you can achieve this when users are registering include:
1. E-mail an activation link
2. Send a text message with an activation code
3. Send the activation code to a home or business address
You can also:
1. Only allow site visitors access to content/functionality if recommended by a registered user (LinkedIn, the online career network, does this)
2. Show people you know their IP address when they're logged in
3. Collect users' credit card details
If site visitors know you've validated the credibility of users creating content, they're far more likely to trust that content.
Other ways of increasing trust of user generated content, and enhance the credibility of users, include:
1. Make users' profiles publicly available to everyone in the community (the profile can include tastes, expertise or experience, for example)
2. Allow users to rate a person for their content, services or products (eBay does this)
3. Set up a reference system to highlight respected contributors (Amazon now gives out 'badges' to reviewers, where they get tagged with 'real name' (if the site can verify that it's their real name) or 'top 500 reviewer' (if the site feels the person has given good reviews)
4. Have real time face-to-face interaction (e.g. Skype on eBay)"
All good advice. I think a big part of the online incivility issue has anonymity at its root, as Dan Goleman pointed out last month.