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Do Online Reputation Measurement Services Like Klout and Kred Support a New Kind of Plagiarism?

on March 30, 2012

Yesterday, I made an appearance on the Tonya Hall Radio Show where we talked about online reputation measurement services such as Klout and Kred. While these services are fun to look at and watch your score as compared to your friends’ scores, they are really only a measurement of your popularity on Twitter assuming that people credit you appropriately via Twitter. These services are trying to prove that they’re more than that by allowing others to vote you up, including some offline behavior, and even a little Facebook and LinkedIn action. But the most measurable public and interconnected space is Twitter and that’s where the overwhelming majority of the measurement comes from.

My main problem with these services is they very poorly measure influence through blogs. Currently, Technorati does that to a certain degree for an entire blog, but not for individual bloggers.

The BIG PROBLEM with online reputation measurement services

I believe that people who write blog posts that others share and comment on are a much greater indicator of a person’s influence than someone being @ replied or retweeted on Twitter. That’s a strong opinion, but I think it’s validated by the fact that blogs are long form multimedia content and Twitter is 140 character limited microblogging that can only link to other content. There’s no way a person can solely be an expert on anything if all they do is microblog. You must have another outlet. And most influential people do blog. Very few only express themselves through Twitter.

These measurement services only measure your worth through how much others properly recognize you through Twitter. And the only way they can indicate that is if the user gives Twitter-specific credit (the blog author’s Twitter handle) to the content creator. It’s the only way these reputation measurement services can work. They can’t identify you via your full name and not your blog.

What that means is the following:

If you share this article on Twitter with your friends, and don’t include my Twitter handle, @dspark, and others click the link and you get retweeted, then YOU get the increase in reputation score. I get nothing, zero, zip. This is partially equivalent to plagiarism. While not intentional, these services are giving you credit for my work and I’m not being acknowledged or recognized for it.

These reputation scoring services do not connect a person’s Twitter profile with their blog. They have known about this problem for a long time. I mentioned this to Klout more than a year and a half ago and I got a “we’re working on it” response. The CEO of Kred just recently said the same thing to me in a Twitter chat and invited me to help them.

There is a solution. Why aren’t they using it?

Here’s my answer. FriendFeed figured it out years ago and many of the people search engines figured it out as well. People voluntarily and involuntarily connect all their real and social identities. So if I know your Twitter handle I can discover your real name, blog, YouTube account, Flickr account, etc. If this information is readily available then you should be able to connect someone’s Twitter handle to their blog and every other social identity. So if someone retweets an article of mine, but doesn’t use my Twitter handle, it should be easy to do a lookup of the blog address, and the author of the blog post. This problem is very fixable, yet I don’t understand why they’re not fixing it.

I would love to be proven wrong on this, but I’ve yet to see any new results. For more about how people can game their reputation score solely through sharing, read my article on Mashable “Why Sharing Online Content Might Be Too Easy” and my piece on Spark Minute “Here’s What’s Wrong with Social Media: Sharing Without Consumption.”


Stock image of pirate flag on keyboard courtesy of Shutterstock.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Shawn Roberts March 30, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi David, this is Shawn from Kred.  

We love to hear ideas from our community on what they would like to see in an influence measure. In fact, Kred is very much what it is today because of the ideas we get from our stakeholders.  We blogged at about the people that inspired us to make Kred what it is. Our goal is to include indicators of influence from all over in the Kred score – be it social networks, real life (in the form of Offline Kred) or anywhere else.I see that you already in touch with Kred CEO @andrewgrill:disqus about your idea.  Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention.Cheers,Shawn

Dana Oshiro March 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Hey David, 
The way I understand your article, you’re arguing that reputation scores often recognize “cool hunters” rather than giving attribution or weighted credit to the intial “cool makers” or “cool thinkers”?   If I’m understanding you right, I absolutely agree. That being said, I do think that cool hunters as curators or collagists have their intellectual merit. Their strength is simply in being experts at distribution on a specific topic. 
As for an aggregated identity –Google Profiles? 
Thanks David, as always it’s a thought-provoking piece.

David Spark March 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Yes I agree, that is the case. It’s cool hunters that are being rated more than anything else. It’s just I believe the solution to recognize cool makers is out there yet they’re not capitalizing on it. Why aren’t they?

Then there’s the other issue of the reputation services are not saying, “Oh btw, we’re HEAVILY skewed towards curators and not content creators as we can’t give content creators any credit unless each and every one of you remember to @reply them.”

David Spark March 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Shawn, I appreciate you stroking my ego that I’m “bringing great ideas” to the table but you don’t actually answer the issue. Why AREN’T you recognizing content creators in the same way FriendFeed or people search engines can identify all of a user’s social identities? I’m sure I didn’t bring this to your attention. I’m sure you’re well aware of it. What am I missing here? Why aren’t you connecting a blog post with the blog author and their Twitter handle and then bringing back any recognition of that into an influence score WITHOUT the user actually @replying?

Viksn Vik April 3, 2012 at 4:50 am

A great article, David) but what do you think about tools that help monitoring all this stuff? for example. I heard it’s quite helpful, but don’t really believe… do you think it’s worth using it?

David Spark April 4, 2012 at 7:43 am

I don’t know anything about this company. But if you’re interested try them and see what you get out of them. I’d be interested in what you discover.

Andrew Grill April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

David, Andrew Grill CEO of Kred here.

I take your point on this – and we’re working hard at Kred to ensure all networks are accounted for – and each of them has their own issues when it comes to properly measuring influence.

Looking at blog posts and working out who “owns” the content and who to attribute the influencer to is not a simple task as you would I’m sure agree.

I don’t agree with the argument that we support plagiarism – you could also levy that charge at Twitter themselves (or G+, Google, Facebook etc) or my local ISP.  It really is a really complex issue and you can’t always shoot the messenger.

If the old-style plagiarism was reviewed then the people that make pens, pencils and paper should also be held to account – and this is just silly :-)

I’d instead like to work **with** content creators such as yourself to figure out the right way to properly attribute original content creators and reward influence.

Are you up for that?

I blog myself at and I am sure I am missing some Kred points for content that is not properly attributed to me so I’m in exactly the same boat as you.

FYI with Kred, if someone DOES mention your twitter name in the post, then they will receive outreach points for being generous towards you, and you will receive influence points in a particular community.

Not perfect – and this is where we need your thoughts – and a metric and measure that works for all those that create content, not just bloggers.

Andrew Grill


Dana Oshiro April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Hi There,
I will be out of the office until April 24. If you are a publisher and are require an immediate response please file technical tickets with Zendesk or email

David Spark April 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I look at services like FriendFeed (voluntary input) and the People search engines (nonvoluntary input-crawled) and they can make a connection between my name, my blog, my Twitter handle, my YouTube account, my Flickr account, etc. Why can’t reputation scoring systems like yours do the same? My major complaint is services like yours and Klout are a measurement of Twitter influence (mostly), not online influence. Two VERY different things.

Dana Oshiro April 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Hi There,
I will be out of the office until April 24. If you are a publisher and are require an immediate response please file technical tickets with Zendesk or email

Andrew Grill April 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm

David, it’s not that we can’t do this – however there is a difference between building a social footprint and then defining influence based on that.  There also needs to be some sort of verification process that works especially when people can add their own profile and it’s not a platform like Twitter or FB.

In the above scenario, if these services get the match up a little wrong then no big deal.  In the influence scenario, where there is voluntary input, I am sure you would not want me to be able to claim your blog as my own and hence claim influence for it.

I’m with you – as an industry we need to provide this to allow content creators to have their influence is properly measured.

Until we get this right, keep on us – but do give us some time to get it right.

Kred has been live for just 3 months, first with Twitter, soon with Facebook then others.  Doing this properly takes time and we want to release something that measures influence properly and in a transparent way.

Dana Oshiro April 11, 2012 at 12:08 am

Hi There,
I will be out of the office until April 24. If you are a publisher and are require an immediate response please file technical tickets with Zendesk or email

David Spark April 11, 2012 at 8:24 am

I appreciate you understand the problem and you’re looking to rectify it. With Klout I got a “we’re working on it” response more than a year and a half ago and I haven’t seen any movement.

Dana Oshiro April 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hi There,
I will be out of the office until April 24. If you are a publisher and are require an immediate response please file technical tickets with Zendesk or email

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