Invented by Neelakantan Sundaresan, Vasilios Mitrokostas, Lauren Olver, Chi-Hsien Chiu, Jean-David Ruvini, Badrul M. Sarwar, Hill Trung Nguyen, eBay Inc

The market for methods and apparatus for social networking qualification systems has experienced significant growth in recent years. As the popularity of social networking platforms continues to rise, there is an increasing need for effective systems that can help users qualify and assess the credibility of information and individuals on these platforms. Social networking qualification systems refer to the methods and tools used to evaluate the reliability, trustworthiness, and expertise of users and content on social media platforms. These systems aim to address the growing concerns surrounding fake news, misinformation, and the presence of malicious actors on social networking sites. One of the key drivers behind the growth of this market is the increasing reliance on social media as a source of information. With the rise of citizen journalism and the decline of traditional media outlets, social networking platforms have become primary sources of news and information for many individuals. However, the lack of credibility and accountability on these platforms has raised concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the content being shared. Social networking qualification systems offer a solution to this problem by providing users with tools to assess the credibility of information and individuals. These systems use various methods, such as user ratings, verification processes, and algorithmic analysis, to determine the trustworthiness and expertise of users and content. By providing users with this information, social networking qualification systems empower individuals to make more informed decisions about the information they consume and the individuals they interact with on these platforms. The market for these systems is also driven by the increasing demand for online safety and security. With the rise of cyberbullying, harassment, and online scams, users are becoming more cautious about the individuals they interact with on social media. Social networking qualification systems help users identify potential risks and protect themselves from malicious actors by providing information about a user’s reputation, history, and behavior on the platform. Furthermore, businesses and organizations are recognizing the value of social networking qualification systems in building trust and credibility with their audience. By using these systems, companies can verify the authenticity of user-generated content and identify influential individuals who can help promote their products or services. This market segment is expected to grow as businesses continue to invest in social media marketing and influencer partnerships. However, the market for methods and apparatus for social networking qualification systems is not without its challenges. One of the main challenges is the balance between privacy and transparency. While users want to know the credibility of others, they also value their privacy and may be hesitant to share personal information or undergo verification processes. Companies in this market need to find ways to address these concerns and build systems that are both effective and respectful of user privacy. In conclusion, the market for methods and apparatus for social networking qualification systems is experiencing significant growth due to the increasing need for credibility and accountability on social media platforms. These systems offer users the tools to assess the reliability and trustworthiness of information and individuals, while also providing businesses with opportunities to build trust and credibility with their audience. As the importance of social media in our daily lives continues to grow, the demand for effective social networking qualification systems is likely to increase, presenting opportunities for innovation and growth in this market.

The eBay Inc invention works as follows

A method and system are provided for qualification testing within a social networking service. The qualification testing is used to control access to a social network. In one case, members who are admitted to the social network offer guidance, notes, and research assistance. To facilitate connection with potential members, social network members can access the network via an external networked service such as another social networking site. The social network can be implemented as a service overlay or access connections within the external network.

Background for Methods and apparatus for social networking qualification systems

Social Networking is the communication between people or groups who share a common interest. In a social network the social relationships are formed by individuals (the ‘nodes’). The network is made up of nodes and the relationships between them are called ties. A social network then becomes a map that shows the relevant connections between nodes. Users can communicate anonymously using social networks that are built or facilitated by a networked computing system, like the Internet.

The following description contains numerous specific details about various embodiments and example systems, to explain and provide a comprehensive understanding of methods and apparatuses for social network qualification system. The present invention can be implemented without these specifics, but it will be obvious to a person skilled in the field.

According an example embodiment, a method and system are provided to qualify users of networked computing systems to participate in a group or social network. The method is used to qualify users according to the purpose of the social network or group. A computer system supports an electronic commerce system or marketplace (e.g.) where at least one social network or group is formed and available for one or more transactions. The social network can be created automatically by the system (e.g., from the data collected by the system), or by individuals or groups of people who have defined the purpose of the network.

For instance, a member of a social network or a person who wants to create one sends an invite to other users. The invitation asks the user to join a group of social network users with a specific purpose in relation to the transaction system. For example, those who are interested in purchasing or know about a certain item or type. The group can compare user experiences, get price reduction information or suggest related products. The requester initiates a qualification process for the invited users. This procedure can be hidden from the invited users. Upon qualification, the invited members join the group. Both the joining and qualification procedures may be automated. The qualification process is related to group focus and is designed to identify participants with the required experience, knowledge, or opinion.

In another embodiment, where a social network group is associated with gaming, the qualification process identifies those interested in a specific game system. The qualification test may check whether the user has purchased the game, searched for it, or bought a book or a game for a gaming system. The social network links individuals who are interested in the gaming system. It provides information on a network similar to a swap meet, which allows participants to buy or trade items that relate to the gaming system.

Each social network group has a set of criteria for qualification. Qualifying a party may involve requiring them to take a test or quiz, and determining their qualification based on their performance. Qualification processing involves providing a user with a test or quiz, scoring their entries, and accepting them when they score above a certain range. A group controller (e.g. creator, coordinator, or moderator) specifies the quiz or test. The group controller may define and author the questions or challenges that are part of the test. The questions and challenges can be tailored for the purpose of the team, to ensure each member has the skill set that the group desires.

In another example, questions of qualification are used to determine if a party is familiar enough with a group or member. In this example, an invited party’s qualification is based on their social or professional relationship with one or more members of the group or the group controller. These questions can include personal details of a group member (e.g. name, address, date, pet names, etc.) in order to qualify them for admission. In one embodiment, the qualification unit 37 shown in FIG. The application provides an interface that allows a group controller create a quiz or test for invitees or users who are not yet qualified to use the transaction system. This test is used to qualify the invitees to join the social network group.

A score is assigned to a party based on their performance in the qualification test. The group may see the score via an interface for groups. The scores are compared with a threshold and only those who meet the threshold are qualified. In one embodiment of the invention, invitations to a group of invitees are sent, and each invitee is tested individually. Scores are calculated, and then a certain percentage is determined for qualification. As an example, the top ten percent of scores can be used to determine qualification. Invitees who have scores within the top ten percent are then qualified for the social network group. Invitees who meet the qualification criteria become members of the group. Members can offer advice on the transaction system or provide funds to facilitate a transaction. The examples are only meant to be an example; every social networking group offers a variety of ways that members can interact and contribute.

The network diagram in FIG. shows an example of a distributed system that implements social networking, and other distributed services with qualification mechanisms to determine access to a particular group. The system 10 is shown in Figure 1, using a client/server architecture. A commerce platform, or commerce server, is comprised of an information storage platform 12 that provides server-side functionality via a network (e.g. the Internet) 14 to one or multiple clients. The system 10 is shown interacting with three clients: a web client 16, which executes on a client computer 20, a programmed client 18, which executes on the client device 22, and a programmatic 18 in the form client image modules 25, which runs on client machine 23. In one embodiment, web client 16 is a browser. However, other web services can be used. The system 10 can be an ecommerce platform that supports auction-based transactions.

Within the Information Storage and Retrieval Platform 12, social network servers 24 and web servers 26 are coupled and provide programmatic interface and web interface to one or more application server 28. The application servers 28 are the hosts of one or more modules 30, e.g. modules, engines, applications, etc. The application servers 28 are shown in turn to be coupled with one or multiple database servers 34, which facilitates access to databases 36. Modules 30 offer a variety of storage and retrieval services and functions to users who access the information storage platform 12. The user can access the information storage and retrieval system 12 via network 14, which is in one embodiment, the Internet.

The system 10 in FIG. The system 10 of FIG. 1 uses a client/server architecture. However, the disclosure presented here is not limited to that architecture and could also be used in a distributed architecture or peer-topeer architecture. The modules 30 can also be implemented in stand-alone programs that do not require networking capabilities.

The social network server 24 provides a programmatic interface through which the “programmatic client” 18 can access various services and features provided by modules 30. In one example of programmatic client 18, a seller application is included (e.g. the TurboLister developed by eBay Inc. in San Jose, Calif.). This application allows sellers to create and manage data item listing, each listing representing a product, on information storage platform 12. Listings can be created and modified even if a client machine 20, 22 or 23 isn’t connected to the information storage and retrieval system 12, for example, off-line. Client machines 20, 22, and 23 will also perform batch-mode communication between programmatic client 18 and the storage and retrieval platforms 12. The programmatic client 18, and the web client 16, may also include authoring modules to generate, analyze and publish categorizations rules that are used by the information storage platform 12 to transform queries and structure data items. Client machine 23 shown coupled with one or more databases. The databases 27 contain information that is used by the client machine 23, for example, to implement a service or an operation. They may also include specific information about products or services provided by client device 23.

Users of client machine 23 may include computer users 19 and wireless network users 17, which can serve as an access point for network 14 to a wide range of wireless devices including cable television services 11, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) 13 and cellular phones 15.

In an example, the client machine 23 is able to enable web services. A catalog of web service offerings are stored on information storage and retrieval system 12. Client machine 23 can store information about the use of web service in databases 27. The stored information allows identifying associated services and offers. These services and offerings can also be found in the web service catalog. “Each of the client machines 20, 22, and 23 can also be users who search data items on information storage and retrieval platforms 12.

In a second example, client machine 23, is an ecommerce customer offering products to clients via network 14. Client machine 23 saves a product catalog in the information storage and retrieval system 12. The catalog has a data dictionary. Client machine 23 stores data related to atleast one product in databases 27, Information may include the frequency of searches, sales results, related products and pricing information.

Additionally databases 27 may also store other product-related information such as style color format etc.” Client machine 23 can use information from databases 27 to create descriptors for at least one of the products. Descriptors of products and other information about the product can be used to create and modify a product catalog, so that a search using keywords for a first product will return results for a product related to a service. In other embodiments a client computer may store information on the information and storage retrieval system 12 relating to business processes or other applications that store data in a DB which can be accessed multiple users.

Further, databases 36 can include social networking data, such as group member lists, identification of members, information about qualification testing, scores, and thresholds. The application modules 30 can include programs that execute methods and algorithms used by social networks. Alternative embodiments can include social networking functions and storing data specific to them in social network modules, (not shown), separate from modules 30 or databases 36.

The system 10 provides social networking features, which allows users to access social networks that are related to the system. In the information storage and retrieval system 12, social network server 24, provides a programmatic user interface. For example, it can receive requests from users of a group of social networks and send invitations to other users of the system 10. Social network server 24 provides information about members of a group and also enables communication between members. The social network group can also access system 10 information including detailed information about products, pricing, and sales history. This information is especially helpful when determining the qualification criteria for specific social networking groups.

The qualification unit 37 can operate on information received from client machines 20, 22, and 23, such as product or service descriptor information, and other related data. It also includes a memory storage capacity for storing and retrieving data. The qualification unit 37 can operate on data received from client computers 20, 22, and 23 such as product descriptors or other related information.

The system shown in FIG. Information storage and retrieval platforms 12 include modules 30 within application servers 28. Module 30 is detailed further in FIG. 2. The modules 30 can include software modules, or functionality implemented at least in part by software. Software can be developed in a flexible language such as Java. The system developer may choose to use other languages or development tools, depending on the purpose and design of the software.

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