By now you’ve read about Unvarnished, a site now in private beta that will allow people to post anonymous and irrevocable opinions about y-o-u online.
The founders call these reviews “community-contributed, business-focused assessments of professional performance,” and suggest that “the quality of an individual revewer’s submissions … (will be) rated by other Unvarnished users,” ostensibly to ensure some level of fairness.
But let’s face it: the buzz around the service no doubt already has a swarm of haters on stand-by, ready to bash current and former colleagues and employers.
If the service winds up being even a li’l bit popular, the relative importance of “quality ratings” for each reviewer will be insignificant: there will be too many one-off reviewers, telling too many unverifiable stories, to expect everyone else to judge the “quality” of a review.
Instead, most everyone will simply dig into a schadenfreude sundae of bilious gossip. It’s human nature. As Pete Blackshaw has shown us, “Satisfied customers tell three friends, angry customers tell 3,000.”
The situation becomes even more perilous if you’ve been in business for a while. You can’t rise in a career without stepping on a few toes along the way — whether purposefully or unwittingly, most achievers have made a few enemies along the way. Life is incredibly complex, especially the parts related to business and human interpersonal relationships, so this is bound to happen.
I humbly consider myself to be “one of the good guys,” yet I’ve been in the industry for almost 20 years: I rose through the ranks quickly (too quickly, by some people’s measures); I’ve fired underperformers and jerks; I’ve wielded the axe during layoffs. You think the 90% of the time I’m a “good guy” will counter the 10% of the time I’ve been the “bad guy?” I don’t think so. Not on Unvarnished.com. The mean stuff is gonna be way more fun to read about!
And having even a li’l bit of fame will hurt you, too. Poor Chris Brogan already gets scores of missives telling him that he’s “jumped the shark.” Those are notes mostly coming from people willing to sign their name to their dark thoughts. I imagine it will only get worse for nice guys like Chris who have inadvertently stepped on toes, occassionally over-scheduled themselves and disappointed others, and are just generally envied.
Envy + anonymity + a keyboard + a global publishing platform = danger.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am too cynical. Maybe I am too quick to suggest that anonymity = venom. We’ll see.
But I wonder if Google will be indexing the content at Unvarnished.com? I wonder how we’ll all start to feel about our “personal SEO?”
What do you think? Are you eager to see the unveiling of the Unvarnished site? If you are an employer, will it be a site you look to before extending an offer letter to a job candidate? (Would you be able to resist??)
Posted on: April 9, 2010 at 9:50 am By Todd Defren