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Unvarnished: bad networking idea or the worst networking idea ever?

unvarnished website

You’ve probably heard some of the steadily increasing buzz about the new professional networking site Unvarnished, a site Gawker says aims to “cross the anonymous pompous idiocy of Yelp with the overserious ‘professional’ism of LinkedIn.”

People are freaking out about it, understandably, though the site is still in closed beta. The alarm comes essentially from the fact that- well, have you never crossed a person or had a co-worker that just hated you for no real reason? Have you never escaped a round of firings with some very displeased colleagues getting the ax instead? While the people behind Unvarnished describe it rather innocuously, the idea has some rather unpleasant attributes you can’t ignore.

For instance, you don’t create your own profile- anybody can do it. That boss who really didn’t take it well when you jumped at another job offer? They can start up your profile for you, and it probably won’t be flattering. Ditto for that chick that was passed over so you could get a promotion. Or that guy in accounting who asked you for a date you weren’t interested in. Essentially, any manner of in or out of workplace grievances can be aired in a few nebulously damning sentences on Unvarnished.

When the unfair and inevitable undeserved bad reviews do appear, you can’t get rid of them either. They’re anonymous, and all you can do is respond to what’s been said about you. You can also encourage a friend or favorable co-worker to get in and defend you, which doesn’t seem like it would help very much once the bad stuff is out there. Although Gawker hopes that if we all ignore it, it will go away, that’s cold comfort when you know a buzzed about site is hosting a claim that you never refill the coffee pot, have poor attention to detail or tend to continually run five minutes late. (Even if you make that up by always staying an extra thirty.) (Edit: CNet has some interesting commentary after speaking to one of the founders, Peter Kazanjy.)

Do you plan to “claim” your Unvarnished profile if it appears? Is this going to take off and help the hiring process, or is it career ruination and lawsuit potential in a neat Web 2.0 package?

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