The Internet Said What About Me?
Articles and famous profiles, sure, but this is personal. PersonRatings.com is a website where visitors can anonymously review and rate other people. Unlike the famed and apishly simple HotOrNot, it’s highly personal with names and reputations on the line as the crowd rates a target’s intelligence, sexiness, classiness, and sense of humor, among other attributes.
Self-proclaimed Yelp for people, PersonRatings is intended to be an online reputation resource working against self-promoting Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Users can upload photos of the subject of review, write a bio, pay to run a background check, or set up an alert whenever a new comment is made about the person.
Call it Gossip 2.0, a streamlining of the horrors of JuicyCampus, though it seems the service is intended to attract hiring managers looking to get a good feel for job candidates. But just imagine if your jilted ex-wife and her bitchy friends got on there. Likely their opinion is different than your mother’s or your best friend’s.
This seems to be its chief flaw. It’s easily gameable, and as with many sites of the slipping away Web 2.0 era, it relies on people. Worse, it relies on people’s ability to be objective and fair. A grudge, a personal dispute, a desire for revenge or playing a prank can easily skew the rating. The same goes for the fanatic element.
For example, Jimbo Wales, who created Wikipedia, doesn’t currently have any friends at PersonRatings. He’s considered not very smart or sexy or funny or friendly, kind, classy or trustworthy. Kevin Rose, creator of Digg.com, on the other hand, is all those things and more, but not quite as wonderful as Adolf Hitler, who apparently lives in Georgia these days.
You can thank some anonymous commentators at Ars Technica writer Jacqui Cheng‘s profile for some interesting fiction. But then again she did sort of ask for vandalism in her piece about the site.
Technically, PersonRatings.com should be covered by the Communications Decency Act regarding computer services and user-generated content; so when the so-called wisdom of crowds gives over to digital character assassination, the site’s (probably) legally in the clear.
That doesn’t usually stop lawsuits, though, and if the site itself escapes defamation liability, some commentator somewhere some time in the future will likely stare down a subpoena.