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Klout Crisis Leads to Tough Questions for PROskore Founder Bill Jula

Jula's PROskore Embraces Opt-in, Transparency, Accountability

Klout.com has taken a lot of heat lately - lack of transparency, revisionist history, lack of opt-out, inability to remove profiles once created, and so on.  The list of "social media and privacy sins" is quite long.  In making a list, I had trouble limiting the "mortal sins" recently committed to only ten.

With Klout acting so badly, I really couldn't care less that they have 8 Ph.Ds working on their magic algorithm, as the Garth Holsinger, VP of Global Sales and Business Development proudly stated on Mashable the other day.  "Sound science" isn't enough - ask the residents of Bhopal India if they care whether Union Carbide's "science is sound". You can't hide behind an algorithm if you're acting irresponsibly.

Klout Alternatives?
Klout isn't the only "social scoring" play in town - although it's definitely the most notorious.

PROskore is an interesting alternative.  It's hardly a copycat product.  PROskore clearly offers much more value to "grown-ups" than Klout.  PROskore helps people network and create businesses.  They dispense with the Klout-style advertising for $5.00 Subway Sandwiches.

Over the weekend, PROskore's founder Bill Jula contacted me and later sent me some articles on Mashable and TechCrunch.

TechCrunch summarizes what PROskore does nicely:

According to CEO Bill Jula, there are three main differences between PROskore and Klout. To paraphrase:

1) All of its user profiles have been created by people (that is, manually). Meanwhile, many of Klout’s profiles have been imported from Twitter.

2) PROskore is about your professional reputation, but Klout is about your social influence.

3) PROskore is a business network, while Klout is about benefiting its advertisers.

Fool Me Once, Shame on You
Given all the privacy and transparency concerns, though, I was reticent to create another profile - when I created my Klout profile, I found that I was stuck in a tar pit and couldn't delete my own profile.  I won't make that mistake again.  After researching more, it was clear that PROskore was a different situation entirely.

My PROskore profile is at http://www.proskore.com/profile_share.cfm?ContactID=52424244

My Klout profile (I've emailed them and asked for it to be deleted) is at http://klout.com/#/softwarehollis

Let the Grilling Commence
I took the introduction to Bill Jula as an opportunity to grill him with some very pointed questions on topics related to privacy, transparency and accountability.  His answers might surprise you - in a good way.

His answers were refreshingly free from PR-Speak and he didn't once try to obscure the privacy and accountability issues by hiding behind "science" or "algorithms".

Hollis: What makes PROskore different than Klout?

Bill: We're measuring different things... in a different way... for different people... for different reasons.

It's pretty simple:  We measure professional reputation (Klout = social influence).  Our scoring places a greater emphasis on things that matter for business... less on the social side... and include a much deeper look into a persons professional background.

Then, we provide everyone with a business network to actively use their scores to connect with other professionals in a more intelligent way (whereas the goal of Klout is to use the scoring to the advantage of big box advertisers).

Hollis: Once you create a profile on Klout, you can't delete it.  Does PROskore have profiles? Can users delete them easily?

Bill: Yes, and Yes.

Hollis: Klout's K-scores are "black box" - how transparent are your scores?

Bill: We're very transparent and soon to become even more.  Since our launch only a few weeks ago (already over 125,000 members)... we made it a #1 priority to provide information about how we score (blog post here:  http://proskore.blogspot.com/2011/10/secret-sauce.html )

Hollis: Klout calculates scores for people regardless of whether they want them or not. There's no "opt out".  What about with PROskore?

Bill: We are 100% Opt-In.

A scraped profile doesn't do us (or members of the network) any good.  Remember, the score is to help people network with other people.

Hollis: The recent algorithm changes at Klout caused a lot of commotion - how would you have handled things differently?

Bill: I would have been far more transparent about the reasons why the changes were made... and exactly how the changes were determined.  Their scoring has some issues... and I don't judge them for making the changes... they need to get it right.

But, they should consider being more open about what they are doing... particularly if they are assigning Klout to millions of people who don't even know they have Klout.

Hollis: When the algorithms changed at Klout, Klout retroactively applied the changes to peoples scores, effectively rewriting history.  What's your opinion on that?

Bill: Similar to my answer #5... if they are going to make a change... they need to explain in serious detail... and it has to have meaning and context.

More Stories By Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis Tibbetts, or @SoftwareHollis as his 50,000+ followers know him on Twitter, is listed on various “top 100 expert lists” for a variety of topics – ranging from Cloud to Technology Marketing, Hollis is by day Evangelist & Software Technology Director at Dell Software. By night and weekends he is a commentator, speaker and all-round communicator about Software, Data and Cloud in their myriad aspects. You can also reach Hollis on LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/SoftwareHollis. His latest online venture is OnlineBackupNews - a free reference site to help organizations protect their data, applications and systems from threats. Every year IT Downtime Costs $26.5 Billion In Lost Revenue. Even with such high costs, 56% of enterprises in North America and 30% in Europe don’t have a good disaster recovery plan. Online Backup News aims to make sure you all have the news and tips needed to keep your IT Costs down and your information safe by providing best practices, technology insights, strategies, real-world examples and various tips and techniques from a variety of industry experts.

Hollis is a regularly featured blogger at ebizQ, a venue focused on enterprise technologies, with over 100,000 subscribers. He is also an author on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on protecting data: Online Backup News.
He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis

Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com

All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.