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Unvarnished or unfair?

Workplace grudges. Whilst I would like to say that we all have them, the vast majority of us don’t. I genuinely like (or at the very least respect) every person I have worked with on a professional level, and I would have no problem with saying that. After all, what’s the point in harbouring bitterness, or even a grudge? Somebody once said that bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Everybody loses.

But in the online world, a world that frees us from our traditional roles and responsibilities to be polite, respectful and courteous, we are free to say and do as we please (within reason). Whilst on certain levels this may be A Good Thing (we can open up and talk to people all over the world about problems affecting us in our day to day lives), a new site that has been launched could bring some of the carnage, flaming and trolling of the internet into our home and professional lives.

The site’s name is Unvarnished, and it ended its test run earlier this year. Launched by veterans of sites such as LinkedIn and eBay, the site allows users to rate their co-workers and bosses positively or negatively. Comments cannot be deleted from an account, but if the person in question does find one of these comments, they can take control of their profile and respond to the criticism. Reviews are rounded up, and you are given a rating out of five, not unlike a video on Youtube, a track on iTunes or a DVD on Amazon. And it’s really easy to do, as you can use Facebook Connect to sign in, adding that all important social media element to the whole, malignant process.

I’m sure when bosses or HR departments hear about this they are going to go crazy. Finally, a reputation-gauge that goes beyond a person’s CV, or their references! AMAZING! This is what people really think of them, so this is how good or bad they really are at their job! BRILLIANT, RIGHT?


With the rise in cyber-bullying amongst school children, and the water-cooler toxic culture of the workplace, is giving people the option to anonymously slate their peers or their boss really such a good idea? Whilst I understand the need to at least have a conversation about work practises, surely they should be had face-to-face? And when does a work gripe become a personal grudge? Since when has it been justified to sit there, glass of wine in hand, laptop on your knees, happily writing anonymous broadsides about somebody at work you just don’t like. Wrong hair? Funny smell? Doesn’t take part in your shitty chain emails? Then why not post a comment saying they failed to deliver on a major project. After all, it’s totally anonymous. Head to head for a promotion with a colleague? Then just give them a bad write up on Unvarnished, then hope your bosses read it. Simples.

I’ve worked at (for the most part) some pretty wicked places in my life. I have also worked at some terrible places, where workplace bullying is the norm, and certainly places where this form of passive-aggressive bullying would be welcomed with open arms.

Who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys? That’s not for me to say, it’s not my place to slate or berate people online. It’s immature. But I personally hope that everybody who posts a bad review about somebody on Unvarnished feels a little bit dirty for doing so.

I’m very concerned about a site like this. Whilst giving you a certain degree of control over the conversations that are being had about you online, you cannot control what is posted to your own profile, or delete comments that aren’t true.

And although it may never take off in the UK, there are still plenty of reasons for concern for people the world over.

Unvarnished claims to be opening up a space for candid discussion. Well, let me put this challenge to you. If you are not essentially a front for cyber-bullying, then allow people to control what is said about them on their own profiles, and do not allow anonymous posting of any kind. If you care about the truth as much as you say you do, then honesty should not be an option, it should be mandatory.

An empty room created purely for the purposes of negativity? I can’t think of anything worse.

Photo by freddy

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