With so much personal information floating around the Internet, managing an online reputation can be a challenge, especially for people looking for a job or hoping for a promotion. Professional networking sites like LinkedIn have helped people manage their reputations by allowing them to post tightly controlled professional profiles–on LinkedIn, users can request recommendations from colleagues, which they can first approve before posting them on their profiles. But while those profiles are useful, some people see them as a little more than organized puffery.
Soon, however, more daring professionals can also use the services of Unvarnished–a controversial new Web site where users can leave anonymous reviews of a person’s work. Billed as Yelp for people, the site is built on user-generated reviews, and it aims to present an “unvarished” picture of a worker’s strengths or weaknesses. So far, the reviews of the beta version of the site have been scathing. Apart from being named “2010’s worst startup” [Econsultancy], the site has also been described as a “clean, well-lighted place for defamation” [TechCrunch].
The site, created by Peter Kazanjy, is currently available by invitation-only and was released in its beta form a few days ago. You can either join a waiting list or wait for someone to send you an invite via Facebook, asking for a review. Once you connect, you have to submit a review for your account to be activated; that allows you to “claim” your profile–because if someone has already submitted a review of you, your profile already exists. Once your profile exists you can request reviews of your work. And of course, you can submit as many anonymous reviews as you like.
If someone posts a nasty review of your work, however, the site does not allow you the option of removing the post or deleting your profile, leading some to worry that the anonymous reviews opens the forum up to personal vendettas and amplifies everything that is awful about the web right now: anonymous, drive-by, ad hominem attacks that can’t be erased or edited and that live in search forever [CNET].