Building Reputation In A Swapping World

With our first swap just two days away, we’ve been getting handfuls of questions about how we will be making people accountable for the safety of their prepared food. It’s a complicated issue , and it’s a significant barrier to projects like food swaps. However, in the interest of full disclosure, we wanted to share our plans with you.

As this is our first public event, we expect that most participants heard about the event through word-of-mouth, and consequently, we’re expecting that participants will be connected through pre-existing relationships that are loaded with pre-existing reputations (i.e. friends, friends of friends, and even friends of friends of friends!). But what about people that are jumping in based simply on interest in the project? After all, we are here to build a community based around common interests and not just reworked social circles.

Our system isn’t complicated, and that’s largely because we are counting on your trust – and your trustworthiness. Last night, as I was testing a pumpkin-cranberry muffin recipe with my friend, we watched Rachel Botsman’s TED talk “The currency of the new economy is trust“, where she talks about Taskrabbit and Airbnb participants and how the success of the programs are built on reviews and documentation of reputation. These types of collaborative consumption projects are dependent on the repetition of ‘trust transactions’. As this is our first swap, we need to establish some building blocks to help participants build a food-swapping reputation and put everyone on equal footing.

So here’s our plan:

  • When you arrive at the swap, we will have sign-up sheets where we will take down your full name and contact information. The only information we will share with the public is your first name, unless you specify that we can make more information accessible.
  • We will require you to sign on to the following statement:
    I have prepared this product with the utmost care regarding food safety standards to the best of my ability and I agree to be accountable for the accuracy of the statement of the recipe and ingredients (including statement of common allergens and dietary restrictions) as provided to the Divide & Savour coordinators. The information listed below is complete and true to the best of my knowledge.
  • We will require a hard-copy of the full recipe you used to prepare your swapping portions. If recipes are not provided, or ingredient lists at the very least, we won’t be able to let you participate in the swap. The transparency of information is paramount, especially in the early stages of food swaps.
  • We will make note of what dishes each person takes home with them. This step will help us document how swapping moves, and we might solicit feedback privately if participants do not want their opinions to be made public.

See? Not so daunting! In regards to food safety at the swap, storage may be a concern. We will provide some insulation bags to help keep food cool for the duration of the swap.

We are open to feedback! Please let us know if these steps sound thorough enough to you, or if we should reword some of our statements.
Can’t wait ’til Thursday!


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