I had a chance to get more detailed information from Peter, co-founder of Unvarnished, who graciously took time to respond to my previous post: The Bad, the Ugly & the Unvarnished: Why Anonymous Professional Reviews Don’t Work.
A couple things are apparent:
- Unvarnished is prepared for our uncertainty and ready to engage
- The team is smart (from his Facebook profile, it looks like Peter went to Stanford)
- The competition is watching closely: I was immediately contacted by Coworkers.com
- I am still not convinced of the anonymous nature of the service
Here’s why: Currently, the site is in beta and all of the invitations for reviews happen between Facebook friends. Meaning, only my friends on Facebook can be invited to review me. The good news, now I am friends with Peter. My social standing just increased.
My issue is this: I would only receive positive reviews from my friends on Facebook because they are (big surprise here) actually my friends*. Many are from highschool, but some are relatives or parents of my kid’s friends and 3 of over 100 are people that I have actually worked with at some point. [My BFF from highschool who worked with me at Hot Dog on A Stick does not count.] *Maybe I am doing Facebook wrong, because I have saved that for friends and purposely have not invited business associates, except a couple of groups.
So, everything that Peter stated in terms of positive reviews dominating the site is accurate. And I understand why. I firmly believe that if I invited my 3 Facebook friends that I have worked with in some capacity to review me I would get 100% glowing reviews, although it would be hard for them to remain anonymous, because I would know exactly who they are since I invited them from my Facebook account.
So yes, it is anonymous to other viewers who reviewed me, but even for a gal who would have never made it to the Ivy League, I could easily figure out who posted what. Knowing that, are the reviews still unvarnished? Or are they are just unattributed?
I am not a reporter and am not the most qualified person to dissect the nuances of what anonymous professional reviews means to social media or society in general (that sociology major from UCLA that I wanted would finally be useful for once, Mother). I am a PR lady who values transparency and a high professional and ethical standard. When it comes to managing mine or my client’s reputation, I don’t want to see either going down in flames due to an anonymous post. Most of us are perfectly capable of going down in flames at least once all by ourselves.
The world is a sad place and we all have pressures; do we need another form of Lord of the Flies to fight? No.
Is the Unvarnished team right for wanting to cut through the pooh and get some straight answers about potential colleagues, managers or clients? Yes.
Is anonymous posting the way to get through the pooh? Not sure.
I am going to check out some other professional review type sites (suggestions welcome) and then wait for Unvarnished to go live to weigh in with my final thoughts. Until then, I am holding firm on my (not so original) idea that anonymity breads malice.
I found this NYT article when reviewing the comments section of PR Squared’s blog post on the same subject. Eric Schwartzman, who interviewed Slideshare CEO Rashmi Sinha for On the Record…Online mentioned in his comments a quote from Sinha: “The key to maintaining high quality B2B conversations online is attribution. Anonymity is what destroys it.“
Thoughts? Would love to hear them.