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The OCR Glossary


Karen Freberg

The term whuffie, originated by Cory Doctorow in his novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, refers to a reputation currency that rewards positive impact. This entry discusses what whuffie is, how it was developed, and how it is used for reputation management purposes.

Online reputation management is becoming more and more prominent for businesses, corporations, and reputation professionals. Employees and others associated with an organization can influence how the business is represented in terms of their own reputation. The term whuffie has been used to refer to the overall value and reward individuals earn within their community based on their specific actions and behaviors. Corporations are perceived and valued by their internal and external stakeholders based on their business practices, corporate responsibility measures, and responses in and after a potential crisis situation.

In Doctorow’s novel, an individual’s whuffie score combines the level of expertise someone has, his or her level of influence in the community, his or her contribution as a resource and thought leader, and the number of his or her accomplishments. Although there is no whuffie score in the world outside the novel, all of the factors that combine to make up the whuffie score are important to individuals’ reputation and their ability to contribute to corporate reputation.

With the vast array of online tools to disseminate information effectively, individuals are able to publicize their personal brand much faster and cheaper compared with traditional advertising resources and campaigns. Online tools can include a website, blog, social media platforms, white papers, infographics, presentations, and videos. An organization and a team of reputation managers can evaluate employees and even higher-level managers to determine their online reputation, what they are doing that is working online, and in which areas they need to improve.

Tara Hunt discusses whuffie in terms of online reputation, referring to it as a reputation currency that rewards an individual’s positive impact based on digital exchanges with fellow colleagues and businesses and comments shared on various discussion board forums and social media platforms. This currency operates like traditional currency, but it is dynamic and based on the individual online media user’s behavior and actions online. For example, if a user is positive and engaging online, he or she is rewarded with more currency in the form of whuffie. However, if the individual user is negative in his or her posts and comments in the public forum, he or she will lose currency based on these actions. In addition, the specific community in which the individual user operates is considered to be a key factor in evaluating whuffie.

To increase whuffie, Doctorow recommends that users be nice, notable, and networked. Essentially, users have to engage in their community with a proactive and positive approach that is accepting and professional. In addition, users need to have a level of authority or expertise in a subject or topic that is received well and respected. Last, users need to make sure that they are networked and engaged with their fellow community members online to be successful in getting whuffie. Whuffie helps with establishing positive relationships with community members. If people consider an individual to be trustworthy, he or she is more likely to have whuffie attributed to him or her.

Whuffie operates in a similar way to social media influence platforms such as Klout (measuring influence),, and even, but it operates to directly affect a user’s own reputation and shift his or her behavior based on a reward or consequence model. A platform that has a similar form of social currency is the business networking site LinkedIn. LinkedIn has a feature for users to recommend or endorse individuals based on their contribution to the field or for specific skills. These skills are then highlighted on the user’s own profile page and recognized by others visiting LinkedIn.

Doctorow, C. (2003). Down and out in the magic kingdom. Retrieved January 30, 2016, from

Hunt, T. (2009). The Whuffie factor: Using the power of social networks to build your business. New York: Crown Business.

See Also

Social Capital Theory; Social Media

See Also

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