Unvarnished look at co-workers

 A new website is betting you’re
willing to dish about your co-worker’s job performance just as you would a
Netflix movie or an Amazon purchase. The site, dubbed Unvarnished, came out of private beta testing last week and
aims to create an open forum to rate professionals in the workplace — for
better or for worse.

It’s a concept that has caused some
controversy, particularly since Unvarnished allows employees to be reviewed
anonymously and with no way of removing a negative review.

But the co-founders, veterans of
sites like LinkedIn and eBay, think there’s a market for honest, unfiltered
feedback about how individuals perform in their jobs and say their site will
ultimately be more useful than the carefully selected job references or curated
blurbs on someone’s LinkedIn profile. “We’re trying to take how
professional reputation works in the offline world and port that online,”
says co-founder Peter Kazanjy.

Here’s how it works: Say you have a
gripe with your co-worker. You can log in to Unvarnished using your Facebook
profile and either create a profile for your co-worker or add a comment to a
page already created, assigning them a rating and giving a description of your

Your name is kept anonymous,
meaning your co-worker can’t seek you out for retribution, and your comment is
left there for the world (and potentially future employees) to see. Want to give
someone an attaboy? You can add that comment on their profile too. The site
aggregates reviews to spit out your professional reputation on a five-star
scale, along with comments from individual reviewers.

Kazanjy says Unvarnished has
controls in the system to prevent people from simply trashing their co-workers.
All users must “authenticate” through their real-world Facebook
profile, providing the company with actual names and personal information in
case of a defamatory post. The system is closed to anyone under the age of 21,
and abusive comments can be reported and removed by administrators. Users also
gain authority based on the helpfulness of the reviews they provide.
“We’re not being Pollyannish about [anonymity], but we also don’t want to
throw out the baby with the bathwater,” says Kazanjy. “We don’t want
people to not give out negative reviews.”