DeKloutifying

I got a Klout account a few months ago when it did that promotion of allowing its members to get an early view of the US version of Spotify, and that was reason enough to give it a spin. Well, I still have my Spotify account, but this morning I deleted my Klout account. Part of that was due to the various kvetches I’ve seen regarding Klout’s rather lackadaisical approach to privacy, noted by everyone from Charlie Stross to the New York Times, but really, at the end of the day (or the beginning of it, as I deleted the account this morning), I left Klout because I suspect the service is in fact a little bit socially evil.

Klout, for those of you unaware of its existence, purports to provide some general ranking of one’s influence on the Internet, across the various social media. The service apparently sucks in data from all the other social media services you belong to which it tracks, throws that into an algorithmic pot, and renders it down to a number between one and one hundred. Then you can look at your score relative to other people’s and see where you fit in the grand scheme of influence, at least according to Klout.

Wherein lies a problem: Who made Klout the arbiter of online influence, aside from Klout itself? I could rank your influence online, if you like: I’ll add your number of Twitter followers to your number of Facebook friends, subtract the number of MySpace friends, laugh and point if you’re still on Friendster, take the square root, round up to the nearest integer and add six. That’s your Scalzi Number (mine is 172). You’re welcome.

Is this number any less indicative of your actual online popularity than Klout’s score? As far as you know, no. I’m sure Klout has what it considers an excellent rationale for whatever stew of algorithms it uses to assign you a number, but neither you nor I know what it is, or (more importantly) why it’s valid as an accurate determiner of your online influence and popularity. As far as any of us know, one’s Klout number is determined by college interns, each feverishly rolling a pair of ten-sided dice, and then that number is allowed to oscillate within a random but bounded range every day to give the appearance that something’s going on.

However, even if we did know the process Klout uses to determine one’s influence, there comes the question of what purpose it serves. It serves Klout’s purposes, it seems, in that they have a nice little business quantifying its members’ desirability to companies who offer stuff to the members with the implicit agreement that they then talk about it on their social media sites. Good for Klout, and, in the interest of accuracy, I did get early access to Spotify out of them, and did write about it, so there you are.

But what purpose does it serve for Klout’s members? Aside from the occasional quid pro quo freebie, it seems that what Klout exists to do is create status anxiety — to saddle you with a popularity ranking, and then make you feel insecure about it and whether you’ll lose that ranking unless you engage in certain activities that aren’t necessarily in your interest, but are in Klout’s. In other words Klout exists to turn the entire Internet into a high school cafeteria, in which everyone is defined by the table at which they sit. And there you are, standing in the middle of the room with your lunch tray, looking for a seat, hoping to ingratiate yourself with the cool kids, trying desperately not to get funneled to the table in the corner where the kids with scoliosis braces and D&D manuals sit.

This is sad, and possibly evil. It’s especially sad and possibly evil because as far as I can see, Klout’s business model is to some greater or lesser extent predicated on exploiting that status anxiety. I clicked over to Klout’s “perks” section not long ago — “perks” being the freebie things the service wants you to market for them — and rather than being presented with a selection of perks available to me, I was presented a list of perks I wasn’t qualified for, because apparently I wasn’t smart and pretty and popular enough for them, although Klout seemed to suggest that maybe if I did my hair a little differently, or wore some nicer shoes (or dragged more people into their service, making myself more influential in the process) maybe one day I could get the cool perks. At which point I decided that Klout was actually being run by dicks, and getting let into Spotify a week early — or whatever — wasn’t worth being seen with dicks, or supporting that particular business model.

So now I’m out. It was interesting for a while, but ultimately I don’t care how influential Klout thinks I am, and I get enough perks in life without Klout’s queen bee corporate marketing style. And even if I didn’t, I’m more comfortable with who I am and my place in the world (online or otherwise) than Klout needs me to be in order for me to be a useful member for it.

All of which is to say: Bye, Klout. It’s not you, it’s me. Well, actually, it is you. I pretty sure I’m too good for you. But, hey: Thanks for the Spotify.

108 thoughts on “DeKloutifying

  1. Yes. Klout goes straight to applying superstimulus to exploit a cognitive bias, without all that tedious mucking about with actually doing something useful.

    I was appalled to discover I have friends I actually respect who care about their Klout score and were pissed off when they changed the formula (which was just as secret after as before).

  2. Not even a mention of the thing that makes Klout hilarious (rather than simply useless), the “topics” it finds you influential in? I tweet almost exclusively about baseball, but Klout suggests I’m influential in “champagne” and “human resources,” among other things. My baseball-blogging partner’s #1 topic of influence (thanks in part to my +K and public encouragement) is “Moms.”

  3. Right there with you. I deleted my account a few weeks ago. Partly because of all the services they rank, I only use twitter (and even less on that lately), and partly because of what they don’t measure – blog hits, relevant comments, mentions related to that.
    In the end, I’m happier having a few followers who post meaningful comments that lead to full conversations than I am knowing I’m cool because I “liked” someones new socks.

  4. This pretty much sums up why I rarely check in on the site, though I haven’t quite actually deleted my account yet. I too signed up for Spotify, which I wasn’t much impressed with either (I was going through a k-pop phase, which they didn’t have much of, and I wasn’t impressed with the idea of paying for the premium service just to be able to access my own mp3s on my phone). I hadn’t even though about deleting the account, but knowing they have privacy issues tips me in that direction.

  5. I was having the same thoughts this week. I am forgetting about Klout. I have enough things to juggle, and the last thing I need is something telling me my score has dropped after I decide to take a twitter break on a weekend because I want to actually interact with my family (gasp!).

    Evil? You bet.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  6. That Klout thrives doesn’t surprise me. It’s based on the same impetus that has folks focusing on their Technorati score, daily hits, etc. If someone seeks visibility online, this is another measure (albeit a questionable one). So I think it gives more than just “hanging out with the cool kids” for at least a segment of its subscribers. (I quickly add that I don’t endorse Klout, just think that they’re touching/exploiting something that’s endemic to the web.)

  7. it seems that what Klout exists to do is create status anxiety

    YES. This is the same reason I ditched them a bit ago. I realized I was starting to feel anxiety over it, and if an internet-based app is going to make me feel anxious, there is something WRONG. Also, their algorithm (at the time I dropped it, at least) somehow felt I was influential in cooking and bacon. Which…. yeah, I don’t think so.

    Also? Since I deleted my account, it’s STILL tracking me. As of a few days ago, I was still getting emails from them telling me I qualified for another perk. Even though I am sure I deleted my account and revoked access to my Twitter. How’s about that for evil?

  8. I agree exploiting people’s anxieties about self-image is evil. I don’t think the Scalzi score is in any way as valid as Klout’s score. While your skepticism is admirable, your line of reasoning seems to suggest that any formula we don’t understand has no more value than the poppycock you and I might come up with in our daydreams. If that was so, then all the technology we society relies on is stupid and worthless, because 99% if people don’t understand simple things like why some materials have better insulating capacities than others. The R-value we use is a simplification of many factors material scientists have distilled into a number.

    Klout probably exists as a way of getting conservative old-media execs to understand that social media has business value. That they use the platform for other unsavory practices does not invalidate the thinking they may have put behind devising a formula.

  9. Although the other 14 comments seem filled with exanples of Klout’s epic fail :p Spoke too soon, I guess…

  10. They quantified the online pissing contest.

    I already cringe at people obsessed with SEO. Being concerned with Klout score seems to be an even more annoying veriosn of that.

  11. My Scalzi Number is 42. That number seems to be coming up a lot this year, as if it’s some sort of answer or something.

    And yes, I just punted my Klout account as well. Too much time spent on it for no good reason. I feel more free already.

  12. Woo, my Scalzi number is 7! Was 6 last week, before somebody found me on Twitter and became my first-ever follower. Maybe I can get that back down…

  13. Hm. I am so completely uncool that this post is the very first time I have ever heard of either klout or spotify. Awesome.

    (Not really off topic, because you mentioned the subject in passing: Starting on day 3 of 7th grade, I skipped the cafeteria altogether, right through HS graduation, in order to avoid the terrors. Even at 12, I knew a set-up when I saw one, and a tall, gawky, brown, braces & glasses-wearing, bookworm female might as well have a giant, magnetic target painted on her. But, I learned to love and appreciate being an outsider.)

  14. Interesting. I keep my account because of the occasional free perk, but even if I use them I don’t think I’m going to tweet about them any more. Why? Because apparently half the people who follow me weren’t eligible for the Stephen King book (the second perk I’ve gotten, first being Spotify). Made me feel guilty about it. Given its randomness for what it thinks I’m influential about (babies, for example, despite the fact that I’m unchilded and not planning to make them–perhaps because I do squee over my friends’ babies?), I don’t have any ego caught up in the algorithm.

    If other people started paying much attention to my score–I’d delete it too.

  15. @sharat The difference is that the formula used to generate the R score is 1) tested 2) available for scrutiny and critique. I’m pretty sure the Klout formula is neither. Until it does those two things, it is just as much poppycock as the Scalzi number, if not more.

    I love that people actually went through the contortions to figure out their Scalzi number. How silly! How foolish…ahem, ah, 25.

  16. STILL waiting for anyone, anywhere, to show real Return On Investment (in cash) from any of this stuff. Pretty obvious to anyone who’s been watching that most, if not all, social media “stuff” is a huge waste of time. Maybe when the economy improves, people will have less free time on their hands and actually return to doing truly productive things….

    Rob Frankel
    http:/www.robfrankel.com
    The blog – if you can handle it: http://www.robfrankelblog.com

  17. I’ve never really been aware of Klout before, and now that I am, well, color me underwhelmed. The only vaguely interesting aspect of this to me is its passing resemblance to Whuffie in the Bitchun Society.

  18. Hmm, maybe just a coincidence, but my son is reading Lauren McLaughlin’s Scored this week. (Thanks Big Idea!)

    Also, didn’t Alan Dean Foster have a novel that featured social status scoring, about 25 years or so ago? (I’m thinking it was The Man Who Used the Universe but I can’t swear to it….

    Anyway, I appreciate your point: Nobody elected or appointed Klout as arbiter of Internet Impact.

  19. I don’t understand why this is any more “evil” than a credit rating. Credit ratings are built on opaque and secret models, and their arbiters have only the legitimacy given them by the purchasers of those ratings. There are laws that govern the ratings agencies, and I imagine there will eventually be similar laws which govern Klout-like entities.

  20. Nick from the O.C.: Hm. I don’t know about AD Foster, by Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series has social media rankings as a major theme; in fact, it’s central to a couple of the books. They are YA, but I found them more relevant and enjoyable than a lot of so-called “adult” novels (esp. LitFic, but this is not the place for that rant.)

  21. This reminded me of an old website a friend and I created a long time ago. As a joke, we started http://arbitraryranking.com, complete with ugly clip art graphics, industry buzzwords, AR badges and a random ranking generation system that tracks your arbitrary ranking over time. It was tempting to see how far we could take it, but there were karmic concerns.

    It’s still up and ranking things arbitrarily: http://arbitraryranking.com/John_Scalzi/ As you can see, John Scalzi is currently ranked arbitrarily at 65, with very strong across partnerships and brand identity, while his Solutions index is trending downward. If those buzz words do not make your soul cry just a little bit, you should probably leave marketing while you still can.

  22. My most influential Facebook friends include: Klout = 70
    @John Perry Barlow: “I co-founded EFF, wrote songs for the Dead,
    ranched in Wyoming for 17 years. A weird father, a good friend, and an
    excellent ex.”
    LikeUnlike · · Share · 2 minutes ago

    o
    Jonathan Vos Post Klout = 67
    Andrea Kuszewski
    researcher, therapist, artist, writer, book whore,
    convention challenger, knowledge fanatic. Main Themes: Cognitive
    Neuroscience & Individual Differences
    * Science & Technology
    * Neuroscience
    * Psychology

    Klout = 66
    Camilla Sdo
    “I am Camilla Corona SDO, NASA SDO’s Mission Mascot. I
    help with Education & Public Outreach and I train to fly to Space.
    http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/swx/
    * Astronomy
    * Science & Technology
    * Scientist”

    Klout = 65
    Brad Meltzer
    The greatest criminal mind of our time. Bestselling
    author. Host of Decoded on History Channel. But really, greatest
    criminal mind.
    * Writing
    * Entertainment
    * Authors

    Klout = 65
    Brad Acker
    focused on profound transformation of civilization as
    genetic, nanotech, and robotic advances continue their exponential
    acceleration; + helping artists succeed
    * LinkedIn
    * Apple
    * Facebook

    Klout = 64
    Rachel Armstrong
    Senior TED Fellow, Interdisciplinary researcher inhabiting
    art/science/architecture

  23. Reputation Score Tools Compared: Which Ones Actually Matter?

    Online reputation score tools are becoming more and more popular, but do they actually serve a purpose?

    Klout

    Klout gauges how much you drive action from different social networking platforms. Your score consists of three things: true reach, amplification, and network. True reach is the number of people you reach. Amplification is how much you influence people. Network indicates the influence of people within your true reach.

    Scale: 0-100

    Social Networks: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, Last.fm, and Flickr

    Identified

    Identified lets you know how “in demand” you are based on your professional background. Your Identified score is measured on three things: educational background, work experience, and network. Educational background includes the schools you have attended, what you studied, when you graduated, and your degree level. Work experience includes the companies you have worked for and the positions you have held. Network is the breadth and depth of your network, plus the quality and strength of those connections.

    Scale: 0-100

    Social Networks: Facebook

    PeerIndex

    PeerIndex allows you to see your online authority by the impact you make–how much social and reputational capital you have created on the web. There are three factors to your score: authority, audience, and activity. Authority is the measure of trust, meaning how much others rely on the content you place online. Audience is not only how many people are within your reach, but also how many people you impact. Activity is the topic communities you are a part of — and also takes into account long gaps in content and being too active.

    Scale: 1-100

    Social Networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, and an optional link of your choice

    MyWebCareer

    MyWebCareer helps to discover, evaluate, and manage your online data based on career prospects. Your score is consists of three things: online profiles, network, and search results. Online profiles are the different types of social networking that you use. These are rated by skills, experience, and reputation. Network is reflected on the quality and quantity of the connections you have across all of your online profiles. Search results consist of what is discovered by putting your name into various search engines.

    Scale: 400-850

    Social Networks: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Quora

    PeerREACH

    PeerREACH, the newbie in this area, gives you an influence score through different social media accounts. PeerREACH claims to be different than the rest of the online reputation websites by reflecting the quality of your followers onto your score. The website should be finalized sometime in November 2011.

    Scale: Not available yet

    Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, GetGlue, and Google+

    It is safe to say that, while most of these websites are similar, they do focus on different aspects.

    Identified and MyWebCareer reflect upon your professionalism and are career-focused. Both of these tools are potentially helpful for job seekers. Klout and PeerIndex seem to be more concentrated on online popularity and impact. These two aspects are a good way to demonstrate how effectively you are using social media, and insight into what you need to change. However, how high your score is isn’t necessarily an indicator of how knowledgeable you when it comes to certain topic — just how many people are responsive to the content you’re producing. When PeerREACH is up and running, it will be interesting to see which category they fall into — web popularity or career-based.

    I believe all of these tools can be helpful in measuring the impact you have online. Overall, these tools should be taken lightly and used sparingly, but the career-based ones are definitely moving in the right direction.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/reputation-score-tools-compared-which-ones-actually-matter-2011-11#ixzz1dNQYlVEK
    http://www.businessinsider.com/reputation-score-tools-compared-which-ones-actually-matter-2011-11

  24. Anyway, what matters for me in my quest for another Math professorship is my Erdös number. Erdös numbers have been a part of the folklore of mathematicians throughout the world for many years. For an introduction to our project, a description of what Erdös numbers are, what they can be used for, who cares, and so on, choose the “What’s It All About?” link below. To find out who Paul Erdös is, look at this biography at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive, or choose the “Information about Paul Erdös” link below. Some useful information can also be found in this Wikipedia article, which may or may not be totally accurate.
    http://www.oakland.edu/enp/

    And my Asimov number, based on how many people co-authored with who co-authored with Isaac Asimov, thus showing my connectivity to Science Fiction AND to Biochemistry.

    And my Kevin Bacon number.

  25. Ah, well using the high school analogy, the D&D table wasn’t popular then, but now they’re the ones creating tech companies and creating most of the things they use daily. As the saying goes, the dorks the popular kids beat up in high school are now their bosses. Now, suddenly, they’re cool. The Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world have come into their own.

    I have no idea how this applies to Klout—whether there will be a growth phase or whatnot—but I for one have abandoned the precept that being a nerd makes you uncool. I have finally accepted my dork/nerd/geek status and am loving it.

  26. I’m increasingly coming to feel that there are two main kinds of marketing, which, for the sake of taxonomy, I’m going to assign the arbitrary labels Good and Evil. Good Marketing brings products and services to the attention of people whose lives would benefit thereby. Evil Marketing seeks to inflict psychological damage on people so that they will buy the handy psychological snake-oil remedy.

    It can be argued that there is a third major variety, Assholish Marketing, that does not seek to inflict psychological damage but merely to exploit that which is already in place. I’m on the fence about whether this is a legitimate distinction from Evil Marketing, since generally winds up being Evil by subtext anyway, and an Assholish Marketing company whose market is threatened by society starting to get over whatever’s wrong with it that the company lives on will invariably switch to outright Evil Marketing like lightning.

    I feel like many of us have an instinctive grasp of this distinction, though often a stronger one in some specific areas than in others, but that we’re hampered by the lack of a clear articulation of it in the social dialogue.

  27. I didn’t know Klout had perks, or really what it was supposed to be. I opened an account earlier this year because people were talking about it and I thought it would be amusing. It was amusing. It told me I was influential on a lot of oddly random topics, such as Myanmar, and also Burma. Instead of deleting my account, I think I’m just going to leave it there, abandoned, so that their servers can keep collecting data on my influence or whatever, without me ever knowing about it or caring. (I’m the kind of person who sends back empty business reply envelopes from scammy credit card offers, too.)

    I think some of what you wrote also applies to Technorati. Although they seem to make a more honest effort to offer a useful service, in the end, all it seems to do is create status anxiety, or status lust, and give you nothing in return. And their algorithm is also secret, arbitrary, and most likely broken. (Many bloggers report that Technorati doesn’t update their blogs or authority numbers.) I “claimed” my blog on Technorati two months ago, and I’ve received a grand total of one hit from their site. At the same time, I’ve been solicited many times to blog for them for free. I assume people give them free content in the hope of gaining more “authority.” I’m not impressed.

  28. I don’t understand why this is any more “evil” than a credit rating.

    Your defense of Klout is based on invoking credit ratings agencies? Ouch.

  29. I think you nailed it: it’s high school all over again. Popularity contests like Klout are for insecure idiots who are missing the point of life.

  30. From what you say, it sounds like the only “influence” that Klout wants to measure is my influence over other people’s consumer purchasing decisions, via techniques that, as you say, exploit people’s status anxieties. I’ll pass. I didn’t care much for the cafeteria scene when I was in high school; I have no desire to return to it 36 years later.

    I’m not on Klout, nor did I even know about until now. I am on Facebook, and I have a little used Twitter account, so I can, with a simple calculator, find out my Scalzi number (18) without giving out personal data for free (or virtually free; I’m not interested in free samples of hair gel, or early memberships in services that will likely mine even more free data about me).

  31. Well darn. I never wanted a Klout account, but tempted to sign up purely to find out where it thinks I am “influential”…

  32. I don’t think I’d ever heard of Klout until now. Scalzi number =18, Bacon = 4, Asimov = Erdös = none (both easy to compute, no published papers with a co-author.).

  33. Hmm, my Scalzi Score is a whopping 6 …. I must be the last person (in this particular universe, anyway) who can’t be bothered with ANY of the social-networking operations. I’m disabled-retired and spend a fair portion of my time online. but my personal influence, if any, “out here” is primarily determined by my participation in group discussions, mostly in two fairly specialized areas: computer security, and medical peer-support groups (I’m a brain-injury survivor plus have very stubborn psoriasis, and have been active with groups in both areas).

    Probably the best relatively tangible evidence of my “influence” was being invited to (and in a couple of cases, accepting) becoming a moderator at some of them, because of (as they put it) my rep for being the “voice of reason” when things became heated.

    I suppose if I wanted to play with identity theft I could rank higher. My real last name is quite uncommon, probably of Russian-Jewish origin (by no means a tongue-twister, and similar to a fairly common English-Irish surname) … like probably everyone has done at one time or another, I once googled my full name and was surprised to find there’s a highly-published and respected teaching anaesthesiologist at one of the leading medical institutions in the eastern US (Hopkins?) with the exact same full name.

  34. My Scalzi number is 12. I don’t do Facebook, so I substituted the number of mutual friends on my Live Journal, and added that to my Twitter followers.

  35. I had a Klout account out of curiosity to see how much ‘influence’ I supposedly had. I hadn’t looked at it in ages, and I decided to go ahead and delete it so I have one less account to keep track of. (I ditched MySpace ages ago for roughly the same reasons.)

  36. I actually don’t care so much about the score except in what perks I might be interested in. And that’s really the only reason I stay. Other than that, I’m pretty much…whatever. lol

  37. Judging from what I’ve seen on twitter, Klout is mainly for people who are starved for attention. I’ve seen a lot of “Look at my score! I’m so important!” Usually followed by them complaining that they didn’t have access to the best perks. I skipped lunch in high school but I can safely assume John is correct in stating that it is like a high school cafeteria.

  38. Among the perks Klout reminds you that you could be losing when you delete your account is “free drinks in casinos”. For some reason that made me smile. But I deleted the account anyway. If I have any actual influence with my network, there are other measures I care about more than their numerical ranking.

  39. I can’t be the only one who noticed they spelled it wrong – Clout begins with a C. As in, “The next person to be all ‘kool’ and substitute a ‘k’ for a ‘c’ like those folks at Klout is going to get a proper clout upside the head from me*.”

    My Scalzi Number is 17, which I think is quite respectable considering I’m not on Facebook. I did consider weeding out the bots from my Twitter followers, but that seemed too much like hard work. Then I did it anyway and my new Scalzi number is 15. Which just goes to show I needn’t have bothered.

    *Internet Police – not a genuine threat.

  40. AFAICT, a Klout score is a virtual price tag for selling your information to marketers, so they can target ads to you and hope you’ll influence your friends, and so you can see ads that say “These 16 friends of yours all bought Axe Hair Gel”, the way the LA Times was showing me what articles my Facebook friends had recently been reading (leading me to give Facebook a separate browser profile on a separate virtual machine and expunge it from my main browser :-)

    For a regular person, using social networks to connect with your actual friends, a Klout score’s not giving your any useful information, though if you view them like a coupon service, maybe they’re offering some coupons for stuff you want in return for your information. If you’re a marketer, using the social networks for pushing your products, and want to see how influential @MyCompany and MyCompanysFacebookPage are, maybe a Klout score will tell you something, but you’ll get better data from using the tools at Twitter and Facebook.

    And they apparently left out one of the biggest social networks, WoW. It probably provides all sorts of statistics they don’t understand how to integrate into their measurement, like “How many people want to kill your character right now” or “How many people were in your last raiding party and would invite you to their next one”, or they haven’t figured out how to give lower Klout scores to gold farmers.

  41. I actually hadn’t intended to calculate my Scalzi number, but after reading all these comments I just had to. It’s 12. Which is pretty good considering I don’t actually *use* my Twitter or Facebook accounts.

  42. Well… Sadly this is kind of the wave of the future.

    I just got back from Las Vegas where Pubcon was held, the big social media convention. Apparently, your social media web is a very large part of the way Google finds search results for you now, as opposed to straight-up keywording. If I’m searching for grapes and I follow a site that is about grapes, that site is more relevant to me because it’s part of my social media web thus it will come up fairly high on my Google results. If I follow John Scalzi on Twitter or Facebook and he follows a site about grapes, when I search for grapes, the site that John follows will be more likely to come up because I follow John and he follows it.

    So, while this change to Google is more about personal relevance than personal influence, it’s really a small leap from one to the other. I imagine we’re going to see a lot more of this Klout-esque “influence indexing.”

  43. @Laz: In addition to what Steven Burnap said above about domain registration, I think that also has a lot to do with trademark law; I believe that you can’t register a single common dictionary word as a trademark unless you deliberately misspell it e.g. Krispy Kreme™.

  44. I’m surprised I have a Scalzi Number as high as 31. Maybe it’s because I never joined MySpace in the first place. :-)

    And I get my Klout score through About.me; I don’t actually have an account with Klout. It says it’s 18, but I have no idea what I did to get it that high. I’m not a “thought leader” or anything like that…

  45. I’m a little surprised at all the attention the “evil” of Klout is suddenly getting. (Salon recently published an article on the same topic.) I guess I never realized there was that much to it—I thought it was a game like Empire Avenue, where your social media reach is reflected in a faux “stock price” and you can invest the game’s fictional currency in other players, and they in you. I thought it was just a fun thing where you would see if you were getting many likes or re-shares, and occasionally you might win a little prize if your score happened to be up.

    So you mean, people are taking it seriously? Businesses are taking it seriously? I have trouble understanding why. One of the topics I was considered influential in was “yer”, for goodness’ sake. (I can only assume this means that at one point I posted a tweet with the word “yer” in it, that got several replies and resulted in some followers.)

  46. Too funny! I have blogged about Klout recently and touted it can be useful….IF we don’t pay too much attention and look through squinted eyes and log in about once a month but not before a good stiff drink. I teach social media for writers and Klout does seem a better measure than looking at how many “friends” or “followers” we have. Heck, I could hold up the White Pages and claim 30,000 “friends.” So, I recommended Klout as a tad more sanity….but it still is like saying, “Yes, it isn’t prison food, but it’s still hospital food.” At the end of the day, be good to people and offer great content people like and everything will sort itself out.

    Thanks for an awesome and HYSTERICAL post.

  47. It’s an old game. It was Hubspot’s Grader in 2008. Either way while quantifying influence has some value for marketers, there’s little that tells you what works in what categories, and any service based on counting Twitter has no chance of understanding demographics, which is what marketers really need to know. Being very influential to 10,000 guys making dick jokes isn’t the same as being very influential to 10,000 new mothers.

  48. My Scalzi number: 21
    That’s going to be the new thing. It will soon replace any other influence measurement units.

  49. I love this! Another evil of Klout??? I can’t seem to cancel my account!! Would you please tell me how you did this, because I keep getting annoying emails that say, “You have one new notification from Klout.” I don’t like this social media site.

  50. My Scalzi number is 11, and I am pleased to see that I am not the only person thinking of how it compares to an Erdos number.

    With that said, I feel a strange compulsion to sign up on MySpace and cancel my Twitter account so I can have an imaginary Scalzi number.

  51. Oh my gosh! You nailed it with the cafeteria connection. That’s exactly how it made me feel. For the last few months, I’d watched my klout score go up and stabilize as I socialized more on Twitter. Then with their new algorithm, it plummeted and no matter what I did, it kept sinking. I decided I didn’t need that type of virtual pressure and opted out. If social media becomes a job, it sort of misses the point.

  52. My Scalzi number is zero.

    On the other hand, my static website just brought me a $1600 special order for my work, so I can’t be doing things all wrong on teh internetz. Take that, “Must have social media in your on-line marketing” people!

  53. John,

    I only heard of Klout through friends posts about its capricious nature. I’m not sure what your ranking was, but find it humorous that you were not ranked high enough to unlock certain acheivements. Considering how regular people comment on your blog I think you could post a picture of a table setting on your counter, label it, “Knife spooning a fork,” and you’d get more comments in an afternoon than many do in a month across ALL their social networks.

    I also really enjoyed the imagery of the interns rolling d10’s to generate people’s scores :-)

    All the best,
    Paul

  54. My Scalzi Number is 19. Which feels pretty good- not non-existent, but not pretentious. It is a nice friendly number. I have never actually heard of Klout until today. This means that either they are not as important a measure of influence as they think they are, or that I am hopelessly unknowledgeable about internet influence and importance. As I came here after looking at Twitter, I am proud to say I learned of the Scalzi Number BEFORE I heard of Klout. Take THAT, Klout!

  55. I like your Scalzi system and think you should make it a go. I wrote to Klout recently when I noticed that my score had dropped by about 10 points across my 2 primary Twitter accounts that I have for online newspapers I edit. I expressed to them that the problem with this is that if they’re going to be the arbiters of influential scores, they’ve got to make it fair and reasonable because for many of us, advertising dollars are on the line and this affects our business. They can’t just give somebody a higher Klout score because they’re re-tweeted by a celebrity because that’s not really an indication that the person has a broad reach. Needless to say, they didn’t respond. But, now, a question: if I delete my Klout accounts do my scores simply disappear?

  56. My Scalzi number is “6”. You can read-in your own inferences regarding how many social networking gizmos I currently am (or ever previously was) a member of. I’m only a few years older than John, but I guess I just have the soul of a ninety-year-old grumpus. Every time one of these new-fangled internet social-network deally-thingies is launched, I rub what little hair I have left on my head and try to comprehend the point of it all. For me, it all seems like so much gibberish, as if someone is pointing to my cat and saying “rubber-band bank-account, sign up now !”

  57. Nick from the O.C.: Yes, the novel you’re referring to is ADFoster’s The Man who Used the Universe. Amusingly, the society in that novel had two different, parallel rating scales, one for people in illegal enterprises (the Mafia etc.) and one for people in “legit” society.

  58. This reminds me of the fuss SEOs used to make over pagerank. Back in 2003 I used to care about every update, but I was young then, and foolish.
    These days PR it only matters if you’re daft enough to take these kinds of measures as some objective guide to spending your advertising money, and few are. It’s about as reliable as your website’s Alexa score: not worth losing sleep over. That’s why I never signed up to Klout.

  59. rmtodd,

    Thanks for the confirmation. I remember reading that novel and wondering how the scoring/rating/ranking actually worked. Looking back through memory’s hazy lens, I seem to recall there was a huge network of computers (maintained by only the highest-rated scientists, of course). I don’t recall that Foster made a huge point of it in the story, but there had to be 100% monitoring of everthing (including illegal activity) for the computers to update the numbers.

    Now I need to dig out the paperback from the boxes and re-read to see if that’s how it worked….

  60. Long before Klout there was FollowCost ( http://followcost.com/ ), a service that measures if someone is a good or bad person to follow on Twitter. It too is mostly useless and entirely opinionated and arbitrary… though I do confess that the folks it sees as toxic usually are.

  61. My Scalzi Number is 38. If there are perks to be had for increasing my Scalzinfluence, I am open to hearing them. ; )

    In other news, I dropped Klout a few weeks ago simply because I was tired of (1) hearing about it on Twitter *all the time* (i.e. @JoeSchmoe just gave you +K in something you never talk about) and (2) because the more I looked at my Klout stats, the more dissatisfied I felt about my “reach.” And when I investigated this further, I discovered that I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with my “reach”; it was only Klout telling me I wasn’t doing / being enough.

    Kinda like ads on TV that make a girl feel fat for not being a size 2. I don’t watch those ads anymore. So…bye-bye, Klout; hello, contentment. : )

  62. I was only halfway through your post before opening another tab to delete my Klout account. (Of course, I had to open a third tab to find the secret portal which allows one to delete a Klout account. Profile Settings->Click link at bottom about “Concerned about Privacy Settings”->jump through five or six silly hoops->submit. Don’t forget to go to twitter, et al and take Klout off the approval access list.)

    You see I did return to read the rest of your post. Thanks!

  63. Scalzi Number (yes, computed right after reading the instructions, thank all the gods for that little calculator icon) = 19. Bacon degrees = 4.
    It seems far too much work to figure Asimov and Edros scores. I co-authored only two published papers in obscure social science journals, so the number would be pretty meaningless if it existed.

    I didn’t sign up for Klout, even with their enticing Spotify offer, because my Klout number would be meaningless. I don’t often post on Facebook or tweet or retweet, so in Klout’s eyes, I’m not influential. I felt like high-school again. Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, etc.
    On further thought, though, I think I prefer real-life influence, like where I can help a friend of my kid’s by giving her common-sense advice and URLs written on a page ripped out of my notebook. For me, having my kids, who are fully-grown adults now, refer troubled friends to me for a practical mom advice talk is more precious than any ranking system online.

    Except for maybe number of unique hits, a holdover from the olden days.
    No, I’ll go with the “family” answer.

  64. If I’m quick, I’ll be your 100th comment on this post! I, too, blogged about Klout last week. I think it’s been on everyone’s mind since the algorithm change. I’m over it. Done. Finito. Basta!

  65. Thanks for elucidating Klout for me. It is very many years since those days in the junior high and high school cafeteria, and I’m so relieved to hear I don’t have to go back there.

  66. Just a quick note to previous poster, Facebook is one big junior high school lunchroom.
    Klout is simply a ranking for all who crave attention and which to compare. I think there is sour grapes here.

  67. I’ve always drawn the parallel between social media and high school culture. Social media drives down the importance of high-quality writing and art. For every judged competition rewarding a high-quality product, there must be 1,000 competitions where the main measure is the number of “votes” a contestant can gather from willing netizens. This is so high school.

    When I first heard of Klout, I didn’t even look at it. It saddened me to see my social networking friends publicizing Klout scores and inviting me to play the stupid game. I’ve hoped Klout would die a quick death, but I hear that some companies now use Klout scores in hiring decisions and in performance evaluations. Remember when managers used to examine your work and ACTUAL results to decide whether you had value to the company?

    In my seminars about social media marketing, I emphasize: don’t get hung up on the numbers. It’s better to have a network of 1,000 people fully-engaged in what you do than it is to have 10,000 who just want to hang with the cool kid.

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