Category Archives: Job Reviews

Glassdoor: Open to (a little) Criticism

The May 14, 2017 Business Section of the Sunday Boston Globe has a front page headline about Glassdoor titled Open to Criticism by Curt Woodward.

The author does not seem to know about (now deceased) jobvent.com nor did he think through what a job rating site can and should do.

The article inspired me to publish the Cease and Desist order I received in January from Glassdoor.

Here is my response to their demand.  I never heard back from them.

I receive web site statistics from my provider.  While the site has been inactive for quite a while, I saw an uptick in visits to the South Bay page before I got the demand letter, and notice that they continue, which I assume is continuing Glassdoor interest.

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.

 

 

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.

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.”