theodp writes "Before Danny Hillis and Bran Ferren invented Google's newly-patented system for 'Delegating Authority to Evaluate Content', Google says users looking for content evaluation websites were condemned to the likes of Amazon.com and Slashdot. From the patent: 'Many sites found on the World Wide Web allow users to evaluate content found within the site. The Slashdot Web site (www.slashdot.org) allows users to "mod" comments recently posted by other users. Based on this information obtained from the users, the system determines a numerical score for each comment ranging from 1 to 5.' The problem with sites like Slashdot, Google told the USPTO, is that 'because there is no restriction on the users that may participate, the reliability of the ratings is correspondingly diminished.' Commissioning a small number of trusted evaluators or editors would increase the reliability of the evaluations, Google notes, but wouldn't allow nearly as much content to be evaluated. Google's solution? Allow trusted evaluators to transfer a 'quantity of authority' to like-minded 'contributing authorities', who in turn designate and delegate authority to additional like-minded contributing authorities. Think Microsoft Outlook 97 Delegate Access meets Slashdot Karma Points, and you've got the general idea!"