What is the Web of Trust?

One thing the world of cryptocurrency seemingly lacks is a solid and fair reputation system. Users have no idea of the person they are dealing with is reputable or not. Several cryptocurrency-related platforms embedded a reputation system, yet it is still overseen by a central authority. This is where the web of trust comes into the picture, as it is an independent and decentralized reputation system.

The Web of Trust Is A Powerful System

Ethereum developers have been looking for ways to introduce a reputation system without centralized authority. That has proven to be quite a monumental task, as it should be impossible to game the system or gain any other form of unfair advantage. Using traditional solutions will not work in this regard. Instead, a decentralized approach is absolutely necessary, although creating one will not be easy.

This is where the Web of Trust comes into the picture. This particular reputation-based concept leverages a decentralized model that does not involve a centralized regulation authority. Instead, users can directly bestow trust upon one another, and also mark other individuals in the ecosystem as trustworthy. This allows for all participants to accumulate and distribute trust in a perfectly decentralized manner.

The concept of a web of trust is not new by any means. The cryptographic sector has been using this method for several years now. The web of trust concept can be found in PGP and other OpenPGP-compatible systems. In these cases, the web of trust is used to establish the authenticity of the binding between a public key and its owner. Moreover, these public keys are used to verify the other party in the transaction is in fact who they claim to be.

In the world of Ethereum, a web of trust can be used to verify one’s identity based on their social contacts. That is quite an interesting way of authenticating users, as people no longer have to believe the other party on their word alone. Having users vouch for others in a decentralized and transparent manner is quite an intriguing concept, to say the least. It is a way to shape the future of digital identity management, assuming the web of trust is ever fully implemented.

It is evident the web of trust concept can be quite powerful both within and outside of the world of cryptocurrency. Building up trust, especially online, is incredibly difficult. However, if you trust your friend, and that friend trusts a third person, you will be inclined to trust that person to some extent as well. Once users have a successful transaction with this third user, they will sign their signature and build up reputation along the way.

As one would expect, the web of trust can also be used to reward negative feedback if things go awry. Users in the web of trust are able to negative-sign the signature of someone they engaged in a trading activity with. This would result in the other party’s trust rating going down due to bad behavior. It sounds like a great concept on paper, although the web of trust is far from finalized when it comes to the Ethereum ecosystem. A lot more research and development needs to be done before this can ever become a viable project.

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