Unvarnished astroturfs blog comments after pretty much everyone hates on it

The new professional networking site Unvarnished was a pretty big topic of discussion yesterday after people balked at its strange marriage of concepts- kind of like LinkedIn meets /b/ on 4chan.

When the site comes out of beta, you or anyone who’s ever met or heard of you can set up a profile for you on Unvarnished, and then the anonymous “feedback” cycle begins. With jobs scarce in this economic climate, the idea of workplace (or general) grudges being aired unedited and in a place where you’re powerless to remove inaccurate and harmful information has people predictably pissed. The site got a pretty much internet-wide panning over the past week or so, but they don’t appear to be taking it lying down.

I don’t know that it counts as irony per se, but the the site that’s trying to sell itself on the value of honest feedback engaging in not exactly honest feedback to drive their point home is somewhat amusing. One blogger who posted his not so positive feelings on Unvarnished spotted an interesting pattern in comments first on his own post, and then on similar posts about Unvarnished:

Unvarnished’s co-founder, Peter Kazanjy, left a comment on my post, which was shortly thereafter followed by an interesting comment from a fellow going by the name of “Mike.”

The comment looked a little bit suspicious to me… A little digging online appeared to confirm that Peter had a relative named Mike, so I figured one plus one probably equals two.

My suspicions were confirmed after Mike Kazanjy, Peter’s brother, responded to me, apologizing for his “use of anonymous response earlier” but chastising me for spreading “inflammatory and baseless criticisms”. It’s worth pointing out that Mike did not use our anonymous response functionality, which is available to registered users; he simply didn’t provide his last name.

It would appear that Mike was a busy boy that morning, commenting all over the web about how he’d love a service like Unvarnished to help with recruiting:

On TECH.BLORGE.COM, a “Mike” chimes in to set the record straight about Unvarnished. He claims to be “a participant in the private beta.” There are defensive comments from a “Mike” on Marketing Pilgrim and TechStartups.com too, and a quick survey of the comments left on TechCrunch’s Unvarnished post reveals that people named “Mike” seem far more likely to support what Unvarnished is doing than those who don’t go by “Mike“.

…When faced with the evidence, Mike Kazanjy has confirmed that at least some of these comments were indeed written by him. The excuse: he failed to reveal his last name and relationship to the company because he wanted to avoid “personal attacks and threats“. An especially revealing excuse given that Unvarnished — the service Mike so staunchly defends — doesn’t provide individuals any ability to protect their profiles from the same sort of abuse.

The bolding is Patricio’s, but it raises an excellent point. Most tech blogs that reviewed the idea didn’t feel that a service like Unvarnished would be particularly useful and seems like it would be more harmful than helpful. Based on the commenting habits of those linked to (and trying to sell) Unvarnished, it would appear that they are pretty much in agreement. Or, as Patricio helpfully summarizes:

Unvarnished talks a good game, but at the end of the day, the people behind it are willing to engage in precisely the type of behavior they say Unvarnished’s users won’t.