glassdoor.com

glassdoor.com claims that it has 8 million reviews from 400,000 companies. This is a lot of reviews of a lot of companies. While Glassdoor makes its money from employers, it clearly has attraction to employee / reviewers.  When employees, past or current, write reviews about problems in their companies, they hope that management will solve them or they hope to warn off other prospective employees. Some reviewers of South Bay mental health say explicitly that these are their goals. While they may have succeeded in warning off prospective employees, they have never succeeded in getting management to improve.

Glassdoor is an example of a company using reputational power to engage employees. It uses employers’ need for employees to also use the site to help employers recruit new employees. Glassdoor helps employers make Glassdoor an attractive portal to their recruiting efforts. They do this by allowing employers to use their company graphics and logo in Glassdoor at the top of the reviews of their company, and in between reviews, they run ads to help companies recruit new employees. Past, current, and prospective employees need to write a review to gain access to the site content.  Prospective employees receive job posting ads via email from the companies they look at on the Glassdoor site.

Employee / reviewers hope that the reputational effect will cause management to improve pay and working conditions. Glassdoor allows this possibility but does not do anything to enhance this effect. For example, they do not track employers who do not change, they do not highlight the worst employers, they do not have standards of employee treatment, and they do not suggest anything that employees can do about their complaints.  Even employers identified by employees as breaking the law, being abusive, discriminatory, and who take public funds to deliver substandard services, get a free ride.

We can imagine a site that is focused on identifying the worst employers, schools, hospitals, and service providers; a site that allows employees, patients, and customers to easily find each other’s reviews and, if they desire, contact each other; a site that provides direct links to consumer groups, unions, friendly lawyers, petition sites, and others.  SaysUs could be such a site.

SaysUs – an idea that should not die

Anyone familiar with the web knows to check if a web site is still “alive” by looking at the date of the last post.  saysus.net has had little activity recently because it has not yet gained sufficient momentum to get to the next step.

I want to review the history of South Bay Mental Health and jobvent.com which provided the inspiration for SaysUs.

In 2010 I was working at a local high school as a psychotherapist. I saw kids who asked to see me, whose parents asked that I see them, or whose school staff asked that I see them.

In my experience, school seemed to be the perfect place for most kids to receive therapy. They were usually glad to get out of class, and my private office seem to provide a good environment for conversation, which sometimes led to meaningful change.

I saw kids for a wide range of reasons. While some relationships did not work out, most did and I had a full schedule.  Other therapists came into the school for the same reason.

Some of them worked for a company called South Bay Mental Health. I was aware that working conditions at South Bay were not great. One day a South Bay therapist asked me if I had seen the website jobvent.com. She encouraged me to go to the site and look up South Bay.

When I did so, I saw that many South Bay therapists had gone on to jobvent, given it low ratings, and expressed in reviews just how bad things were. I was happy to see that jobvent existed and that people could use it to anonymously reveal the truth of their situation, including the ways that clients were affected.

Here is a link to some of the reviews that I found on jobvent. http://saysus.net/southbay/

I had been a union activist in a previous career, and I found jobvent fascinating. A little while later I went back to jobvent to see if there were more reviews from South Bay and to read reviews from employees of other companies. To my surprise, instead of getting to the jobvent site, I was redirected to a site called jobitorial.com.

Jobitorial looked a lot like jobvent, but the more I explored, the more I saw major differences. For one thing, the average rating for South Bay had gone way up. I saw that some of the reviews that were there previously, had now disappeared. There was no acknowledgment or explanation on the site for why this had happened.

I also saw that new reviews and ratings could no longer be entered into the site. Again there was no explanation. The site continued to dish up ads and I realized that it was probably under new management. It had been turned into a ghost site, still capable of generating ad revenue, but hollowed out and no longer functional.

The average rating for every company, not just South Bay, had gone up and the reviews that had been there related to low ratings, had disappeared. My programming background allowed me to understand what had been done. The new owners had programmed the site to eliminate every rating below a certain number, including each review associated with each low rating. The proof was when I saw negative reviews with high rating scores that were still there.

Really, a major fraud had been committed by the new owners.  A naive user looking for ratings and reviews of their company or prospective employer, might find that company on jobitorial, with a system that purported to represent employee opinion, but which actually represented only management opinion.

Here are links to pages from Yahoo and Blogspot in which users react to what happened to jobvent.  from Blogspot: http://saysus.net/jobvent/    Yahoo: http://saysus.net/complaint-sites/jobvent-what/

Later, I discovered that it was Glassdoor that bought jobvent, renamed it to Jobitorial, and eviscerated the most important content.  Since GlassDoor does not reveal its business decisions, we can only speculate as to why they would do what they did.

We can notice that over time, glassdoor has made critical ratings and reviews less accessible. Whenever I have looked up South Bay on glassdoor, I have started receiving ads for jobs at South Bay.  Glassdoor makes money by identifying companies that people show interest in, and then promoting those companies to those people, independent of how bad ratings and reviews show those companies to be.

Wikipedia claims that “as of April 2015, 8 million reviews for 400,000 companies were submitted to Glassdoor, which has raised $42.2 million of outside funding.  I have never seen a claim on GlassDoor that they are trying to improve management practices in the many companies that are rated and reviewed on their site. I can also guess that content on sites like jobvent makes related content on glassdoor less attractive. It is a well established business practice to destroy competition. Thus we have what was an effective and transparent site, jobvent, obliterated to support GlassDoor’s profit making goals.

This history of jobvent, South Bay, and GlassDoor, illustrate the need SaysUs. We need a website that cannot be corrupted, that users can trust, and that can be used to do more than just reputational organizing. In the case of South Bay, which does not seem to have changed its poor practices in the five years that I have tracked it, either a union or legislation is needed. SaysUs can be created to facilitate both.

 

 

Rating & Review Systems

Rating and review systems have begun to create a transparency about what does and does not work for us in the organizations that affect our lives.

From 1 star to 5 stars, and from “this company should stop treating its employees like robots” to “this is the best company I’ve ever worked for”, rating and review systems give people a way to influence employers as well as product and service providers.

We learn what our co-workers or co-consumers have to say about a job or school we are considering.  We can find out if others are dissatisfied or satisfied, about a job or service.  And we can express anonymously our own experience and opinion.  Rating and review systems can help us meet important needs around work, school, health care, transportation, government, etc.

Businesses spend money to manage their reputation.  Some negative ratings have caused companies to improve conditions for employees and improve products and services in order to boost their reputation.  A good reputation helps to gain customers and employees, and a poor one can hurt.

There are hundreds of rating and review systems.  Most of them are part of businesses that use ratings as a way to attract customers. Some hire people to go online to boost their ratings. Employment sites, like Glass Door, allow reviews, but their focus is on helping companies, including those with poor reviews, to recruit new employees.  Companies like Yelp have been accused of removing negative reviews.

There are scattered non-profit sites designed to help one particular group, like potential union members or abused migrant farmers.  But there is no for-profit site that can be trusted to keep the trust of users, and no not-for-profit site that tries to be helpful beyond its target population.

We at says-us.net propose to create a trustworthy, not-for-profit, rating and review site that can be used to tell the truth about our experiences as workers and consumers.  From these ratings and reviews, we can see what needs to be changed, where, and by whom.

Future releases will allow people to contact each other, to propose action, and to find helping agencies and institutions, including those advocating union, political and economic action.  We will move from anonymous complaint to coordinated action.

 

 

Rate, Review, Act, Improve

This web site is a proposal to build web and mobile capability that will allow people to rate and review employers and providers of products and services like health care, education, housing, and transportation.

We focus on getting our basic human needs met. We will learn from positive reviews, and from the negative ones, we will be able to take action, by talking to each other, and by finding highly rated groups to help us, like unions, tenant organizations, health care advocates, and consumer groups…

In this way, we will change and improve our lives and the world, one employer, institution, company, hospital, school, government agency, and landlord at a time.

Alpha2 & other progress

We now have a small but valiant team

including a developer, a content manager, and someone to consider how we incorporate, become a non-profit, and raise funds. I and our three other team members all have experience with kids, schools, and the healthcare system.

This says-us web site is hosted on May First / People Link web servers, and we are being actively advised and assisted by people from Agaric, a worker owned and managed Drupal development company.

Orsan and I participated in the DL14 conference, and we got to present says-us to a small but important group of attendees, including people from Turkopticon, (see below), Dynamo, and Agaric. We have developed prototype questions which are now being circulated for review and comment.

We are looking at contratados.org, turkopticon.org, glassdoor.com, ratemyemployer.ca, and greatschools.org as examples of rating and review systems from which we can learn.

If you are willing to help in any way, please send email to info@says-us.net.

What is #Turkopticon, and how it works?

Turkopticon helps the people in the ‘crowd’ of crowdsourcing watch out for each other—because nobody else seems to be.

Almost half of the Mechanical Turk workers who wrote their Bill of Rights demanded protection from employers who take their work without paying.Turkopticon lets you REPORT and AVOID shady employers.

snoogiebug from turkernation says, “if you do not have this please get it!!!! it does work and is worth it !!”

How Turkopticon works:

Turkopticon in action

Turkopticon adds functionality to Amazon Mechanical Turk as you browse for HITs and review status of work you’ve done. As you browse HITs, Turkopticon places a button next to each requester and highlights requesters for whom there are reviews from other workers. Bad reviews let you avoid shady employers and good reviews help you find fair ones. You can view reports made against requesters with a quick click.

Continue reading What is #Turkopticon, and how it works?

WSF-Discuss

A message sent to the World Social Forum Discuss list:

We have a project to build a really big pitchfork (as in, “the peasants have pitch forks and are storming the castle”).  Is anyone on this list interested in helping?

Take a look at says-us.net  .  Says-us advocates building a rating  + reviews + whistle blowing + organizing + action system, encompassing all domains of need.  Using the Foucauldian notion that institutions are born through problematization, says-us is a vehicle for self-expression, and problematization.  With that comes the abolition, modification, and creation of institutions.  Says-us addresses the question of “whose problem?” and “whose solution?” by giving voice and power to everyone with web / mobile access.

Any big thinkers and even bigger doers out there?

A Yelp about Yelp!

From Forbes Tech 7/16/2014

Why Yelp Tosses Aside A Quarter Of All Reviews

“Why do some negative assessments on Yelp seem to disappear? Can businesses with bad reviews on Yelp pay or persuade the online review site to erase unflattering opinions?

John Olsen in Schaumburg, Illinois thinks so. He was fired from his job for what he says was his questioning of his firm’s ethical practices. He thinks the world should be able to see his unvarnished assessment on review sites such as Yelp.

“I have also been monitoring Yelp, and I can testify that it appears to be fixed,” he said. “I know of several negative reviews that were posted about my former employer that were true.  However, they have been filtered out, so that their rating does not affect the total rating.”

“One of the reviews that has been filtered was written while I was working for the company,” Olsen said. “I was told by a manager that my former employer requested that Yelp do something with the negative rating.”

For years, Yelp has faced accusations and even legal fights over the issue of whether companies can pay their way out of negative reviews. It has firmly denied such allegations. “I want to make it 100 percent clear that there has never been any amount of money a business can pay Yelp to manipulate reviews,” said spokeswoman Hannah Cheesman.”

….

“Companies can also ask Yelp to consider removing certain reviews if they violate the site’s terms of service. Such terms set out that users must be at least 18 years old and cannot be “writing a fake or defamatory review, trading reviews with other businesses, or compensating someone or being compensated to write or remove a review.” Revealing confidential information is also barred.

Some sites and blogs have a policy of never removing negative reviews. Such a policy has the advantage of presenting unvarnished opinion, but allows those with an ax to grind to unfairly tar companies and individuals, often anonymously.”

(Notice who gets to decide “unfairly”  – ed)

 

From wired.com:    Yelp Accused of Extortion  BY      02.24.10

“Yelp, the online review site, is being accused of extortion in a class-action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles this week.

The suit alleges that the site tried to get a Long Beach veterinary hospital named Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital to pay $300 a month — for a minimum 12-month commitment — to suppress or delete reviews that disparaged the hospital.

The popular San Francisco–based site Yelp is one of the leading sites for consumers to post reviews and comments about their local businesses and services. It touts its integrity with the slogan: “Real people. Real reviews.” The company was founded in 2004 and has spread throughout the Unitd States. It launched in the United Kingdom and Ireland last year.

But according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court (.pdf) for the Central District of California, the site manipulates the reviews, and therefore a business’ ratings, through an extortion scheme that offers to remove a business’ negative reviews or relocate them to the bottom of a listing page where fewer visitors will see them, if the business purchases a monthly advertising subscription.”

Questions

We need your ideas and other forms of help.  Here are some questions we are currently considering:

Job sites focus on helping employers to recruit.  To attract potential employees, they allow limited rating and review functionality, which includes “pro” as well as “con” job features.

Question 1:  Should Says-Us include pros as well as cons in reviews?

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“Collaborative management”, rarely identified, has leaders who listen to employees and who engage in dialogue to discover best solutions and practices.

Question 2: Should Says-Us give a focus on collaborative vs authoritarian practices?

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A great job, with good leadership, can produce poor product, or product that is socially destructive.  For example, Monsanto employees may be happy as employees, but producing Round Up is killing the earth.

Question 3:  We want participation of consumers as well as producers of goods and services.  Should Says-Us ask about usefulness and quality of product as well as job quality?