Posted March 30, 2010 2:46 pm by with 15 comments

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Hands-up if RipOff Report keeps you awake at night?

Yeah, the site keeps many business owners awake. It takes just one unhappy customer to cause the biggest online reputation headache of your company’s life.

Now imagine a service that could end up doing the same for your personal reputation.

OK, you don’t need to imagine it–it just launched!

While I’m sure the founders of Unvarnished don’t consider themselves to be anything like RoR–and I’m confident that’s not the modus operandi–it likely won’t take long before the new review site becomes the playground of the upset, revengeful, and down-right pissed off.

The site is in invite-only beta, but what we do know of it paints a picture of LinkedIn meets Yelp meets Wikipedia. Yes you can claim your personal profile. Yes, there are some safeguards to prevent flat-out defamation or mischievous reviews. And, yes, the reviews can be moderated by the community. What’s not there is what could cause Unvarnished to become the RoR of personal reputations:

You can claim your profile, but unlike LinkedIn, you have to accept every post, warts and all. And once the profile is up there’s no taking it down. I asked co-founder, Peter Kazanjy, “Will you ever give users the option to take down their profile?” Kazanjy’s reply: “No, because if we did that, everyone would take their profile down.”

Perhaps the most concerning is that review can be left anonymously. I’m waiting for the day when reviewers are held publicly accountable for their comments–maybe then we’ll all be a little more civil to each other!

The lack of moderation by the recipient, the anonymity of the reviewer, combined with an inability for a resolved matter to be expunged, is the exact formula that makes RipOff Report despised by so many.

It’s still early days–the site is still in beta–and maybe Unvarnished won’t get the traction it needs to have any serious impact on your reputation. However, if you thought, as an individual, “I really don’t need to monitor or manage my personal reputation” then consider this your wake-up call.

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  • This is hellish. Can you imagine the horrors for a HS student, or if a vengeful ex gets ahold of this? How many job interviews will this kill?

    There will be lawsuits.

  • HichamD

    this guy is crazy

    I am going to create a profile about the site’s owner and claim how unethical he is LOL

  • Mike

    His profile already exists, and you are free to put up whatever review you like. But, you will just be hurting your own reputation as a reviewer, when everyone who finds the site useful, trashes your review. Get it?

  • Jason

    Seems like he could get into trouble by not allowing people to take their profile down.

  • HichamD


    you don’t get it

    If some idiot creates 3 fake profiles and post bad stuff like this guy is pedophile etc…
    he can review back and get support reviews but the name + pedophile will still appear in google SERP

    This can lead to serious trouble if you can’t get the profile down, and even if you do an exception, the text will be cached in google and other Search engines…

    • Pat Eagan

      I just heard about this site on th news.I used to own a business and want to see if peoples said anything about me…thanks

  • I agree with your view that people should be held publicly accountable for their comments.
    There is already a lack of respect for people’s feelings in some of the posts you see on the internet.
    Although of course they really just reflect on the character of the poster rather than that of their victim!
    .-= Valerie´s last blog ..Cultural Fit – the Rise and Fall of the â??traditionalâ? Interview =-.

  • Bill

    I see why people are nervous or upset about this but I think it will be an interesting test of what these guys can do.

    The identity of the reviewer is hidden but it is still recorded and tied to a facebook profile. Sure, you can create a fake facebook profile but there are ways that could start addressing that in the future and add additional checks (what if they looked at your social graph and use that to determine the possibility that you’re a real person based on the available activity / # of contacts).

    I think it is interesting to think about claiming your profile, responding to criticism, and inviting in others to participate and I’ll be interested to see how it evolves to respond to this kind of user feedback.

  • rudy

    this is a facebook advertising scam…
    you have to use facebook to use this site

  • jz

    Can we say, they are trying to create real life bullying. Teens kill themselves and face book can track people whom make “negative” comments, but this site’s owners are knowing they have the ability to cause bullying. This site will someday be the cause of a teens death and they will say, but we can because we have the right to make money….

    • Bill

      Wow… That’s a bit of a reach.

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  • My daughter was on a site called forum spring which links to Facebook and allows facebook friends to post anonymous comments. I allow her on facebook because she approves friends and I have the log in and password to check it out. She is also my friend. In a short space of time the site was being used to rip people apart and these are 13 year old kids. Some of the language being used would put a porn site to shame. It is sites like this and the ROR, plus pissed consumer, etc etc etc that will lead to the internet being regulated. We cannot simply keep going and allowing a culture of anoynmous defamation and slander to thrive it is simply wrong. When the sites themselves do this without any self regulation then the innocent wil have to be protected some how.

    And Andy you said “Yeah, the site keeps many business owners awake. It takes just one unhappy customer to cause the biggest online reputation headache of your company’s life” you forgot to add and ruthless competitors who use these sites to harm your business and ruin your brand 🙁

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