Want to know if you’re an online jerk? There’s an app for that! [Interview]

Tom Scott – Creator of Klouchebag

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of Klout.com, a service that attempts to measure how influential your social media profiles are. People are scored out of 100 by an algorithm and are assigned influence ratings on topics. They can also compete for titles and rewards. It’s the gamification of influence online. Some people love it, some hate it. Last week one Londoner decided to poke fun at it by creating his own service designed to measure your online “asshattery“.

This new parody site, named Klouchebag.com, was created in a few hours by Tom Scott  (@TomScott) – a British geek comedian, programmer, and social media contributor.

Klouchebag ranks Twitter accounts by evaluating online activity using the ARSE system:

  • Anger: use of profanity and rage.
  • Retweets: “please RT”s, no or constant retweeting, and old-style.
  • Social Apps: sharing every useless check-in on Foursquare or its horrible brethren; and
  • English Usage: if you use EXCLAMATION MARKS OMG!!!, or no capitals at all, this’ll be quite high.

Getting a good chuckle at this site, and learning that I’m “Quite Noisy“, I shot Tom a quick email to get some more background on his latest creation. Here’s what he said about Klouchebag….

What spawned this idea and how fast did it come together?  
I had the idea on April 26th, 2012, after reading this article in Wired. I’d been annoyed with the idea of Klout for a while, and that crystallised it. On April 27th, 2012, I registered the domain name (sadly, “klunt.com” was already taken) and built it in a couple of hours of spare time.

What type of feedback have you been getting so far?
Almost all positive – fortunately no-one seems to be taking it seriously!

How much traffic did you get on the first day?
No idea. The stats won’t be in for a while. It’s certainly the fastest-launching project I’ve ever had.

Is there anything that you left out that you would have liked to have included?
Given another few hours, I might have added some awards or badges – but I’d worry about people competing for them!

Who, besides yourself, has the highest score?
Someone did discover one natural 100, which I didn’t think would be possible – a US morning radio show! For their sake, I’ll keep quiet as to who it is.

After a little Googling, I found this…

Do you have an axe to grind with Klout? or could this have been any “influence rating” service? 
Klout annoys me for the same reason that search engine optimisation annoys me: it’s an enormous amount of effort designed to game an arbitrary and often-changing system. Imagine if all that time went into actually making interesting things, or caring about the people around you. To quote the WOPR computer from WarGames: “the only way to win is not to play”!

Social media in a business context is all about measurement. If influence isn’t a viable measure for ROI, how would you suggest evaluating the effectiveness of social media campaigns? 
I’m not sure I can actually answer that question without throwing up a bit in my mouth.

Now what do you think? Do  you care about your Klout score? Do you try and improve it?

9 Responses to “Want to know if you’re an online jerk? There’s an app for that! [Interview]”

  1. First of all, another great post David.

    Last fall I checked my Klout score for the first time during my Intro to Social Media class, and was blown away at the results. To my embarrassment as I announced to the class of age 30+ students, the three things that influenced me were Fashion, Hockey,(thank god one was right), and the Backstreet Boys.

    I think I had tweeted once about my girlfriend at the time getting a picture with the Backstreet Boys, and probably tweeted once about how I was excited about a hoodie that I bought.

    After seeing this article I just had to log back into my Klout account to see if anything had changed. To my surprise, things had. I’m now an influencer of the NHL, Conferences, and Social Media.

    Regarding my Klouchebag score, well I’m at a solid 50. It’s hilarious because I use ‘!’ often to show enthusiasm and support, and RT to boot! (Great, just did it there…)


    • Hi Rory! Thanks for reading, and for sharing your perspective. Quick question: Are you trying to be influential about any of these topics? Or are they just your interests? In other words, does Klout have an accurate picture of Rory?


  2. Both I suppose. Most of time when I tweet it’s either about the NHL, (specifically the Ottawa Senators) and I’m usually linking people to my blog through Social Media about the team. I also like to discuss breaking news and new tech regarding Social Media

    Klout does give an accurate picture of myself, although I’ve had to go through and clean out a lot of the topics that had nothing to do with what I was tweeting. It has pinned me as the “Socializer”, saying that I’m the hub of social scenes and people rely on me to provide them with new info.

    Since boosting my Social Media presence Klout has painted an accurate picture of Rory. I think the key here is consistency.


    • I think you are right on the money when you say “the key here is consistency”. Last question: Do you think that Klout provides an accurate picture of “influence” or do they merely identify “interests”?


  3. For my account, they provide an accurate idea of who influences me, (people that I respond to the most, mention, RT, etc). For people who I influence, I don’t think they’re quite there yet. The number one person that I apparently influence I’ve only had an interaction with once.

    Overall I’d say they merely identify interests, based on what you’ve tweeted and interacted with. It’s the right idea, but I find the number one thing that they have to work on is weeding out the topics that are talked about only one or two times. Again, consistency.


  4. What do I think? Thank you, David, for asking. @TomScott’s quote from War Games sums it up: “the only way to win is not to play”! [“!sic] which echoes Gore Vidal’s maxim: “the only way to win at poker is to cultivate a serious desire to lose.” Seriously, I think that if you take either “K-bag” (as msnbc editor Rosa Golijan euphemistically renamed it)–or Klout–seriously you are in serious trouble. K-bag rates @moneygraffiti at 38 and “a bit of a prat,” same as @BarackObama with a numerical score of 33. Assuming that either of us did care and wanted to improve our K-bag scores, I wonder: could we? From what I see now, unless Tom does more coding, it’s sort of a one-trick pony. K-bag churns out a limited repertoire of “Magic 8-ball” programmed responses ranging from “a very nice person” and “mostly alright” to “a bit of a D*bag,” “very noisy” and, per the example above, “prat of the year.” One thing’s sure: it has all the chops to “go viral,” which in itself recommends it highly. But no matter what buzz it achieves, as Tom himself advises,
    “Ignore it. Concentrate on making amazing things, caring about the people around you . . . you’ll soon realise that it doesn’t matter one jot what an algorithm thinks of you.” Sounds right to me. What do you think?


    • Thanks for the comment, Richard.

      I agree, Tom said it well. The key is to focus on creating (and curating) good content. The “K” numbers don’t really matter….


  5. I’d say that besides creating and curating content, Tom has become the overnight expert in “K-rating” it;)



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