A few months ago the guys who started Networth IQ  (mentioned in an article with me in the New York Times) approached me to put the net worth I track on my blog into their website. As long as it doesn’t require an unreasonable number of hours (and sometimes even if it does) and it is a reasonable request, I’ll gladly lend a hand, especially to fellow personal finance bloggers (a term I use loosely) out there. Anyway, back when I signed up I had a few reservations with a system like this…
If you look at any unaudited sites, invariably you’ll get unreasonable and outlandish information posted that just wreaks havoc on your site. It’s probably been studied ad infinitum and it’s a problem that I think is beginning to appear on their site. For example, check out their list of their top five Net Worth’s:
1. oo1  – $241.8M, under 25. (last update Aug)
2. King  – $33.7M, 25-29. (last update Aug)
3. Barneyrubble22  – $33.6M, 40-44. (last update Aug)
4. mm48  – $19.8M, 55-59. (last update July)
5. pontex1  – $13.5M, 50-54. (last update Aug)
I’m not saying any of them are lying but to believe oo1 has $241M, is under 25, has a masters, professional, and doctoral degree and a $250k+ income in the field of Education, Training & Library Sciences may be a little much. It led at least one user of Networth IQ to wonder if this guy/girl was for real. No one else in Education, Training & Library Sciences  makes over $200k and no one has a net worth of over 1.5M. No one under 25 has over half a million in net worth (link ).
Another problem is that the net worth categories aren’t either clearly defined or the concept of calculating net worth isn’t touched upon enough. Check out poor mandym , net worth of -$414k, but that’s because she has a $400k mortgage but no offsetting value in real estate to equal it (unless she has a $400k mortgage on a home worth only $100k, something I doubt because banks won’t lend you money like that).
What is the solution?
1. Unless your net worth is up to date (within a month), you shouldn’t appear on the homepage. I would suspect that oo1, after getting excited at being featured on a website, probably doesn’t check it anymore and it’s of no interest. If oo1 doesn’t update it then drop them from the front page.
2. Unless your net worth is up to date (within two months), you shouldn’t appear in any of the lists such as age, profession, industry, salary, etc.
3. Add some more guidance (or make it more explicit) on how net worth is calculated, what the categories are supposed to represent, and common mistakes people make. I bet if Mandym really knew that her net worth wasn’t so far under water she might even feel better about it.
I think the guys at Net Worth IQ have a really interesting idea and I fully support it. They are very receptive to new ideas and new criticisms (they are already aware of and addressing the bogus entry issue). If you haven’t used their system, I do suggest you try it (it’s quick, painless, and anonymous) and give them feedback on it.