24 May 2012

What is this thing called Klout?

Several people invited me to look at a site called Klout, and so I did. I've been looking at it on and off for a month now, and trying to discover if it is of any use, and if so what it was useful for, and the answer, I believe, is "not much".

Some of the ideas behind it are quite intriguing, but I think it misses out in the implementation.

The stated aim is to show who influences you, and who you influence in social networks, mainly Twitter, and which topics you are most influential in, and to give your "influence" a numerical score. I'm not sure how the score is calculated, but the calculation appears to be based on how many people retweet your tweets, and how many Twitter followers they have.

Does it succeed?

I don't think so.

I wrote about my initial impressions of it here and here, and my initial impressions have not changed much. I did link to a rather scary article, What Your Klout Score Really Means | Epicenter | Wired.com, which indicates that some people take the Klout score quite seriously, and that some people's jobs depend on it. That's about as idiotic as it gets. You might as well decide to hire or fire someone on the basis of their newspaper horoscope.

One of the things that makes me think that it's nothing more than a fun (for a little while) online toy is that its list of topics is altogether screwed up. And so is its way of calculating influence in the topics that it does list.

Among the missing topics that I noticed were:

  • Anglican Church
  • trade unions
  • liturgy
  • missiology
  • icons, ikons, ikonography, iconography
  • art
  • Orthodox Church

Can anyone add to it? If you have looked at Klout and noticed some missing topics, perhaps you could list them in a comment.

To give just one example, one of the people I follow on Twitter is Zwelinzima Vavi, the General Secretary of Cosatu (Congress of South African Trade Unions). So if there is one thing he influences people in, it is trade unions. But can you say that on Klout? Not a chance.

It had a rather convoluted and difficult-to-find category of the Orthodox Church, and as I blog about that quite a lot, several people indicated on Klout that I had influenced them on that topic. But yesterday Klout decided to change all my topics around, and removed that one, and a few others, and put in a whole lot of new topics in which it thinks I am "influential". These included:

  • health
  • feminism
  • atheism
  • LGBT
  • celebrities

As I said, I'd love to know what algorithm Klout uses to calculate these things.

OK, I did tweet on a "health" topic today (about organ donation), but that was after I had seen my changed topic list.

Some of the blogs I read (and bloggers I follow on Twitter) are members of the Anglican Church, and have influenced me on that topic. But can I say so on Klout? No.

What it offers for "Anglican" are:

  • All Saints Anglican Church (museum)
  • The Riverina Anglican College (university)
  • Wollondilly Anglican College (university)

That's it.

So which one do I use for the Anglican Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson? His blog is in my blogroll and I follow him on Twitter, but his main sphere of influence is missing from Klout.

What Klout has is sub-sub-topics, but no main topic for people like him.

Out of curiosity I Googled for Wollondilly Anglican College, and found, somewhat to my surprise, that it actually exists. But it is not what I would call a "university". And it's not really a topic on which the Anglican Bishop of Buckingham has influenced me.

But when I looked up Alan Wilson, Klout also noted that both Alan Wilson and I used Twitter as the primary way to spread our influence. That's funny, because two days ago it said that 93% of my influence was spread through Facebook. I think it is sulking because it keeps asking me to invite my Facebook friends to Klout, and for the most part I haven't done so. And one reason for not doing so is that the topics in which they have influenced me are missing from Klout.

A little earlier, I compared Klout to a newspaper horoscope. A more apt comparison might be a toy that we used to play with in Grade 2. I haven't seen one for years, but it was made out of folded paper, and someone would come up to you and ask you for a number between 1 and 10, and they woudl move the paper that number of times and an open it to reveal four coloured flaps, and ask you to choose a colour. Then they would lift one of the coloured flaps revealed and read out your fortune, which they had written there beforehand.

I think Klout works a bit like those.

I might stick around on Klout a bit to see if it improves, but I somehow doubt that it will.

1 comment:

Greenpatches said...

Heavens, it sounds a depressing idea! It puts me in mind of the choosing of teams during school games lessons :"You can be on my team; you others - go over there and play quietly dears, and we might be able to bring you in at half-time." Has even our use of social media got to be constantly assessed and monitored?


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