My 10/24/10 Missoulian column
Last spring, I got an invitation to check out a new social networking site called Unvarnished. The site was for Silicon Valley professionals, and it allowed people to anonymously post work and performance reviews of people they knew or worked with in the California high-tech sector.
The idea of anonymous and what was assumed to be “honest” evaluations of employees and employers was interesting. Other anonymous social networking sites are well known for flaming and mudslinging, but Unvarnished approached it in a professional manner, concentrating on the business world and ranking reviewers by the quality of their reviews in order to encourage civility.
But many bloggers assumed that Unvarnished promised at best bad blood and snarky comments, and at worst, legal actions for libelous statements.
I was curious about Unvarnished’s potential for abuse, so I took a look around the site and wrote about it in a few columns. But Unvarnished didn’t quite take off the way many predicted. People were mostly nice, and the site didn’t grow much.
Part of the growth problem had to do with the way Unvarnished signed up new members. To get on, you needed an invitation from someone already in the system.
Now, Unvarnished has changed. It’s called Honestly.com, and it’s ready for growth with a few million in venture capital and a new policy: You don’t need an invite to get in. Honestly.com is open to business people and professionals in the general public.
It’s hard to say if Honestly.com will take off. It all depends on the users. The general public could muddy the waters of anonymous business performance evaluations.
But Facebook itself started off as a private network for college kids. Then it went public and the rest, as they say, is history, now with north of 500 million users.
If you have a Facebook account, you can sign in at Honestly.com and start a profile or claim an existing profile imported from Facebook.
So far, there’s only one person in Montana, other than me, who has added a photo and job history to their profile. Will Honestly.com keep people honest, but nice, too? Or will it end up another social networking mess and be avoided by professionals? A few months will tell.
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