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More from the mailbag this week – reader Eric asks about “mixtent”, a new-ish LinkedIn application.

I’ve done a bit of searching around on it, and I’m going to give a pass on this one, but I did feel compelled to login if only to specifically tell mixtent that I wanted to opt out.

It’s a little fuzzy, so you might want to read further…

The application

By way of introduction, mixtent allows individuals to “vote” on their connections.

Which connection would you rather accept a ride home from?

X – Vote for Fred!                                      X – Vote for Frank!

And then calculates rankings of all users to show who is in the top percentiles.

Congratulations Steve – You’re in the 95% percentile of Swedish Chefs!

The details

In order to see your own rankings, you have to vote 25 times.

In order to see the rankings of your connections, it appears you have to vote some number of times about them as well. (Do you prefer Tina over Tricia as a Twitter-er? Do you prefer Tina over Traci as a Social Media Expert? …)

There’s a little grey here because while I joined to see what it was about, I didn’t actually vote on anyone and so it said I needed to vote 25 times to see John’s Executive skills, and only 3 times to see Mary’s.

And yes, I’ve used some corny preferences here – the site uses better skill labels, but not necessarily much better.

Joining

You login with your LinkedIn account, so it’s not like you’re registering for a completely new site.

By giving mixtent the ability to use your LinkedIn account (with its password), the application can access all of your LinkedIn data.

And here’s the rub – that includes data on other users – connection data. And since people have already given permission, the application now has the basic attributes of many users.  Since I happen to know Eric, if someone is rating him, the system probably also knows about me.

This seems to be a “you’re in unless you tell us you want out” sort of site.

And that doesn’t make me happy.

The criticisms

If you’re thinking this is all very high-school-ish, I’m with you.

People might as well head over to Babe Vs Babe and just vote on the guys and gals they think are hottest…

I’m not alone in this opinion:

So let’s consider some aspects.

Meaningless

I’m going to paraphrase one of John’s assertions – that the site is meaningless.

Just what does it mean if you’re in the 60th percentile of leadership – where other people would rather have A vs B lead a company? Do we know what size, industry, or location such a fictional company would have?

Of course not – mixtent simply shows the picture and headline from two people and asks “Which would you rather lead your next company?”

Later on when the rankings get built, mixtent is going to favor the ratings of the leaders, because if someone’s the most respected executive, their opinion counts more, right?

Unknowns

Dan points out the unknown factor. What happens when a user is asked to rate two individuals but doesn’t really know one of them? (I know you won’t find that kind of connection behavior encouraged on this site, but let’s just acknowledge that it does happen from time to time;-)

Or worse – what happens when mixtent somehow comes to the conclusion that Jim and Joe are both Angel Investors and asks me to rate which one is better. But I know neither of them is! So it is very possible that the system has less-than-useful ratings.

No Privacy

My first check into the system got me to the privacy page, but then when I read it, I got a bit confused – this is just the first paragraph:

Any information that you provide to Mixtent Inc is subject to our Privacy Policy, which governs our collection and use of your information. You understand that through your use of the Services you consent to the collection and use (as set forth in the Privacy Policy) of this information, including the transfer of this information to the United States and/or other countries for storage, processing and use by Mixtent Inc Properties. As part of providing you the Services, we may need to provide you with certain communications, such as service announcements and administrative messages. These communications are considered part of the Services and your account, which you may not be able to opt-out from receiving.

Oh – so since my data is covered by the privacy policy (because it says so right there), what does the privacy policy say about the use of my data? It was sort of like a self-reference – this was the privacy policy!

But it seems clear – the data is headed overseas for storage, processing, and use…

And later on there is a nice provision:

You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

You agree that this license includes the right for Mixtent Inc Properties to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Mixtent Inc Properties for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.

So not only does mixtent get a right to use the data wherever and however they’d like, they get to make this content available to any partner…

Oh – and as pointed out by the Social Media Academy – that first blurb indicated that you’ll get “certain communications” that you must not opt out of. (It was gratifying to read the Social Media Academy review – it matched my own about the complete lack of privacy over data given to mixtent)

Opting out

The one very easy thing I discovered: “opting out” was easily accomplished through a link on the bottom of each page.

So yes – I have opted out.

Since I don’t have access to the system (and shouldn’t be referenced by the system in any way), I can’t check.

And so, if you get into the system and see my profile – that would be a big no-no – and I’d like to know about it, so please do follow up with me.

Your mileage may vary

I don’t have a firm recommendation here.

One one hand, you can ignore the application, and I hate to give it any credibility by talking about it.

On the other, if people you know are using it, your name may come up – and you may not want to be compared to others…

To keep that from happening you would have to signin once to mixtent, and then click the “opt out” link. It might be possible to opt out without signing in, but then I don’t know how mixtent will know _who_ to opt out – which is why I suggest authenticating to LinkedIn (for one day) and then specifically opting out.

Me – I’m happy I won’t come up on the system.

And I guess I have backed into a recommendation – of opting out, and that perhaps, is a sad state of affairs.

To your continued success,

steve

Steven Tylock
http://www.linkedinpersonaltrainer.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevetylock


Addendum
I don’t normally re-edit articles, but Tom asks where the “opt-out” is.

It was on the mixtent site. When I look now, I see that it has been removed from the home page of mixtent. This is what I (and Tom) are currently seeing:

Footer of Mixtent's Home Page

But this is what it used to be – and still is on each of the other pages on mixtent: (About Us, Jobs, FAQ, Terms of Service, & Privacy pages)

Footer of Mixtent showing Opt-Out link

And remember – to opt out of Mitxent, you probably have to agree to the service first, and then opt out, otherwise, I’m not sure it would know who to opt out.

(That would be like walking into a store and saying “Stop sending me fliers in the mail” and walking out – who would they stop sending fliers to?-)