March 19, 2011

I’m Boycotting Mixtent, Here’s Why

If you’ve been here before, you’re somewhat aware that I believe in the spirit and execution of collective intelligence. Working together in a proactive manner to tackle objectives, goals and actions through transparent and social ways, cemented by collaboration and collaborative-based technologies is the ‘new black’.

I am, however, somewhat disturbed by a recent find in the Web 2.0 world.

Its name is Mixtent.

Rate & Discover The Most Talented People In Your Network

The basic premise of Mixtent is to adjudicate your LinkedIn social network through a comparison vote. To participate and ‘unlock’ your own skills to the network (and establish your own ranking), you must pit your network against one another, voting to determine who is more qualified than the other on a given skill.

In return for doing so, your own personal skill is ‘unlocked’ to the network in the category you just completed. You must complete 25 votes per skill in order to do so.

For example, if I wanted to unlock the skill ‘creativity‘ to see what percentile my ‘network’ considers I rank, I would have to go through the process of voting LinkedIn colleague A versus LinkedIn B (in some form of random order) twenty-five times in the creativity skill bracket. Afterwards, I would be able to see where I rank by the entire LinkedIn network through percentile, as well as against my own network, in addition to my coworkers.

This is a 360-degree feedback tool gone completely awry. Here is why:

  • As far as I can tell, this is almost analogous to a negative billing model (although you can ‘opt out’, it seems you are automatically being adjudicated by your network due to the connection into LinkedIn even if you have not signed up for the MixTent service)
  • Voting itself is unfair (there does not seem to be any credible algorithm being applied when voting against colleague A or B — other than key word searching in the LinkedIn profile itself)
  • LinkedIn, for me, is the new business card rolodex service. I personally use it to track the details of not only my strong ties, but both my weak ties and potential ties. How am I to judge the capabilities of an individual when I’ve met them for 15 minutes and haven’t worked with them … ever. Furthermore, what if I’ve never met them before? 
  • The service itself reminds me of the dreaded Web 2.0 service known as “Hot or Not”. Has it really come to this? Do we really need to pit our professional network against one another in a skills-based popularity content? (note: CubeDuel provides similar ridiculousness) 

“But Dan, you’re a 2.0 chap, are you really against the use of collective intelligence to help business professionals gain feedback on their skills, talents, etc.?”

No. I’m not against the practice itself.

What I am against is the process in which Mixtent operates. LinkedIn should provide a tool in which I can proactively ask my network for their opinion on certain skills, etc. and I should be able to control who I’m asking. And no, I’m not referring to the rather lame use of ‘recommendations’ in LinkedIn.

Mixtent is dangerous. It can (and likely will) cause irreparable damage to the psyche of some individuals

I’m boycotting it.

27 Replies to “I’m Boycotting Mixtent, Here’s Why”

  1. Yikes. This is the closest thing to the high-school popularity contest I’ve ever seen (e.g., are you part of the “in crowd”?) It’s more annoying than online contests where you have to spam your friends just to get a “ballot”. Thanks for sharing this little road hazard. Looks like a good one to avoid.

  2. Thank the eternal laws of physics and the ubiquity of the technium for the Intertubes. I just got an email from a person I’m connected to on LinkedIn, but who is someone I’m a bit leery of, inviting me to see my “marketing” rating. It does this partly by stroking one’s ego a bit, which is kinda creepy.

    I met this woman once and was a little put off by her suggestion I might want to sell a product she reps that writes blog posts for you. I told her I thought that was a bit disingenuous, but she argued as long as you respond to comments, etc. it was OK in her book. I’m still not sure I can adequately argue with that point of view (though it gives me the willies) but I read some of these auto-generated blogs and I sure wouldn’t want my name associated with them.

    For these reasons I thought to search “Mixtent” and your post came up. After reading a few things, I am convinced this is not something I wish to be involved in. It seems foolishly, and inadequately, competitive and comparative – respectively. Like you, Dan, I’m all in favor of collective and collaborative sense-making, but I find this kind of approach counter-productive.

    Thanks for making your thoughts known on the subject.

  3. I agree, and I am a bit worried also about the “social spam” elements of this site. i got an invite from a contact on my linkedin who is an early adapter, but don’t really know if it was sent from him or if they just sent out to all of his linkedins. and now i don’t know if by signing up and playing with this for 5 mins out of curiousity i have spammed my own contacts. probably not, but since the UI isn’t clear I’d recommend caution in playing with this. I am far from one to criticize a beta UI, but because this site deals with personal reputations, it seems like they should do things with a higher standard of clarity.

  4. I’m always reluctant to allow access to my contacts, whether it’s in LI or FB. I never play the FB games, and this sounds a lot like that. I was curious and did a search, which is how I came to your blog. Thanks for the info.

  5. Thanks Dan for posting your well written boycott point of view. I almost got sucked in the Mixtent by the ego stroke that Rick referred to!

  6. Thanks for informing me Dan – I thought it was rather strange to get this invite to mixtent, so first off I did some research and came up with – Quote “Mixtent is founded by a Venezuelan-born entrepreneur named Jonathan Gheller, who relocated to Silicon Valley after selling his second company. His goal is to make the labor market slightly more efficient on a national level, and fully expects it to take a decade or more to get there. This is not a guy out to flip a company, and he’s already spent years honing Mixtent’s reputation algorithms”.

    Mixtent has a page rank of 0/10 which would put me off straight away – quite clearly no-one wants to waste time – do they?

    Sounds too much like advertising to me – Johnathan Gheller started other sites according to his blog that tied up with

    I guess it all depends on how you would like to use linkedin – are your contacts sacred or what’s your take?

    For me I’m running and I am not interested in building my business on spam ie I will not sell my network….
    would you sell Kate Middleton’s photos – if you get my dry comment

  7. DavidS, go into LinkedIn > Settings > Groups, Companies and Applications > View Applications. You’ll find it under the heading of External Websites. Just tick the box and click Remove. I’ve just done this, because I fell for the ego-stroke email, but once you allow access to your LinkedIn account, it seems to “scrobble” all your data, which worried me, and then, as it took a while it showed a message that the “Internets is slow today”, and a later message with another spelling error in it. And for me, bad spelling is warning sign that something is not kosher. I didn’t let it go any further than that. 🙂
    Thanks Dan for the heads up too!

  8. Thanks for the Heads up Dan, I just got invited to mixtent and ur blog came up on my google investigation, I have FB to tickle my ego(not that it needs it too often) LI needs to be kept as a social tool of the trade!
    (Another side of this discussion- I’m a recruiter and we are LI stalkers to an extent in all honesty, and some users with good skills will get approached or pinged more than they like so I reckon alot of us would FAIL in mixtent and get our egos KICKED haha)

  9. Hi Dan,

    Today morning I got the message “…you have votes on Mixtent…”.
    First was the search through the web what Mixtent can offer.
    Your article was not the first hit but in the light of it I will not be the power user of this “solution”.

    Thanks for the clear and logical summary.

  10. Thanks for the heads-up. I too got an ego stroking email this morning from a former colleague telling me that I had been awarded marketing points on Mixtent and to discover my ranking I should click the link. Intrigued and flattered in equal measures I clicked the link and (stupidly) allowed Mixtent access to my LinkedIn profile. Whilst it was downloading I belatedly googled “mixtent” and found your blog, together with the notes on how to ‘uninstall’ the app on LI. Hopefully I have been able to stop it before all my 130-odd connections are spammed with a faux-endorsement from me (I didn’t complete the Mixtent registration process, so hopefully not). But having read what they are asking for – a marketeers version of ‘Hot or Not’, it would seem – there’s going to be a lot of angst about for people who complete the registration process only to find they are being asked to give public rankings of people they work with. At least with Linked In, when you ask for a recommendation, you actually have some control over whether the public in general get to see what someone says about you…

  11. Dan,
    I think you bring up some great points about the misguided efforts of Mixtent. If we’re talking about ranking skills of others which require lots of interaction, such as ‘Leadership’ or ‘Management’, Mixtent will likely not suffice. However, I think Mixtent provides valuable information for skills which can be assessed online, such as ‘Blogging’ or ‘Social Media’.

    I’ve written my own Blog Post about Mixtent and how it could benefit the end user. Would your love your feedback, thanks! Do Your Skills Stack Up Against Your LinkedIn Connections?

  12. Similar to others, I got an “invite” from someone in my LinkedIn network. Knowing nothing about it, I quickly searched and found this blog. I wholeheartedly agree with Dan’s reasoning. The idea that you can somehow “vote” on a person’s skills from their LI profile is ludicrous to say the least. As Andrew Kirk and others point out, you need a lot more interaction to be able to effectively judge someone, and ranking them against another individual?? Oh, please!!!

  13. Thanks for flagging this. As an European with a professional entry on Linked-In I am simply astounded by the crass stupidity of Mixtent and anyone who might be tempted to useit. This may provide some adolescent fun for immature high school kids but relationships in a working environment are complex – Mixtent is far to simplistic to provide any meaningful information and it has a very high chance of causing serious damage to individuals.

  14. Dan,

    Thanks for taking the time to investigate Mixtent. My own research in the App was confirming my disappointment in the platform as an option. This must have been a weekend of Mixtent participation though as I have had several LI messages about it today. Two other platforms that have the ‘scent’ of a popularity contest in my mind are Yelp and Four Square (and the many Four Square imitators.) The real value in social and digital media isn’t in the followers, your ‘scores’, your post frequency, etc.

    Dan, thanks for taking the stand — and for giving all of us the vetted heads-up on this.

  15. Yup. We are all being sold that Social Networking is the way to increase business…LinkedIn is already becoming a glorified MySpace…to date, all my Mixtent invites come from people that I’m not even certain how they got my info from…not even in my LinkedIn contacts…I’m done with all you vultures.

  16. Thank you for this warning! I received some inboxmessages regarding this mixtent and when reading what it was, I couldn’t believe that this awful “Branchout” phenomena had reached LinkedIn as well. Delete, delete, delete!

  17. I received one of this ego-invites this morning. I recognised the guy in the email “from”, it was “to” me and cc’ed a load of others.

    Being a suspicious SOB I assumed it was going to be some kind of spamming/phishing/virus site that was mimicking a LinkedIn hookup, so like the others here I googled and came up with this. So it’s genuine in as much as it’s not pretending to be one site whilst phishing your personal details, but nevertheless, I’m giving it a very wide berth.

    Wholeheartedly agree with your comments. I particularly liked the parallel with the “high-school popularity contest”. This sounds like highly subjective ego-stroking and I’m not going to get involved.

  18. I was amused when advised a colleague had rated me on Mixtent, as I immediatelty thought it was a swingers camping group (MIXTENT), but then he did rate me on creativity. Let’s just hope it gets dropped, linkedin doesn’t need this in my opinion.

  19. Dan,

    As with the others many thanks for this. I received a “Hey Baron” mixtent request from a contact I’m not entirely at ease with and just before clicking yes to the link something made me check it out. After reading your blog I deleted the request. Cheers! Baron

  20. Hi Dan, Thanks for making me think about this. I already joined in and thought it was OK, but now I’ll reconsider.
    There is one aspect in your argumentation though that I don’t agree with. My opinion on the use of LinkedIn is that you should only add contacts when they are people you have worked with or have a professional view on. So people you know and trust to connect to others or to connect you to others.
    If you cannot tell anything about your contacts they shouldn’t be your contact. And with regards to this aspect: when you don’t know enough about a person to be able to vote on a skill, simply declining the vote is also one of the options.
    Nevertheless; thanks again, I’ll definitely reconsider.

  21. Like others ahead of me, I too got a message from a LinkedIn member and did a Google search, then found you. So glad I did. I don’t like anything where it’s a popularity contest to win. If I can’t win by my own merits, it’s not worth having.

    Thank you for talking about this.

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