While many companies strive to keep information internal by instituting social media policies, a new site moves in the opposite direction. A combination of LinkedIn and Yelp, the beta version of Unvarnished is a tell-all online resource for "building, managing, and researching professional reputation, using community-contributed, professional reviews."
To protect employees from being fired or reprimanded as a result of publishing personal opinions about a boss or co-worker, Unvarnished obscures a reviewer's identity. According to the company founder Peter Kazanjy, this "ensures that reviews are of the highest quality and maintain a helpful, business-focused approach.
Therefore, posts about other employees will be reviewed by the Unvarnished community, resulting in a quality score for the anonymous reviewer. The score is then used to give the anonymous employee a badge based upon the quality of his or her peer reviews. Every negative opinion of you, should you be reviewed, will be published in its entirety. The problem is, once your profile is on the site, no way exists to modify or eliminate peer comments for those reviewed.
Unvarnished will likely be an outlet for employees to trash their co-workers and supervisors. TechCrunch labeled the site, "a clean, well-lighted place for defamation."
TechCrunch queried Kazanjy as to whether users eventually will be provided the ability to take down their online profile. Kazanjy replied in the negative, for it were allowed, everyone would remove their profile. This being the case, Unvarnished is nothing more than an online service fueled by heat-of-the-moment negativity. If your boss gave you a project that you feel is ridiculous and unnecessary, you can log in and tell the community about it.
The concept isn't new, with RateMyProfessor, iKarma, Rapleaf, and Jerk similar in form and function. However, since Unvarnished is specifically aimed at business professionals, poor reviews by co-workers may jeopardize current -- and future -- employment status. It's also possible that a potential hire with a lot of positive -- and a few negative -- reviews on Unvarnished would fare worse than someone with no reviews when competing for a position.
Overall, the site has been reviewed poorly, mainly because reviewers aren't accountable for their actions. Like the Rip-Off Report, the lack of moderation and the inability to resolve issues favorably after they've been brought to light encourages negative negative commentary while discouraging positive feedback.
However, if the site takes off, it may increase sales for Reputation Defender, an online identity-management system that allows users to remove negative and inaccurate information. Unfortunately, Reputation Defender charges for services; Unvarnished is free.
Currently, the site can't be accessed unless your name comes up on the waiting list or a member invites you to join by either rating you or asking you for a rating. The estimated number of active profiles is about 400,000, mainly in Silicon Valley.