Monday, April 05, 2010

"Unvarnished" website for rating "professionals" raises questions about online reputations for IT profressionals

The media stories today about the new “Unvarnished” website and its ability to let people make anonymous comments about other “professionals” – but apparently other “people” – certainly has raised a lot of concerns today.

Programmers and IT people have their own idea of reputation, partly because accuracy and integrity in I.T. is so critical to the very survival of most enterprises. In the decades before the Internet, there was an underground buzz on most people, with some of them eventually driven out of “the business.” I have heard “such and such” (no names here) called a “loser” (in one case when the person could overhear, soap opera fashion), and in other cases, when someone was fired, there was an appearance of an attempt to float the person to other departments of a company.

But now, programmers must wonder what they could find posted about them anonymously. Their “reputations” would center in several areas: “problem solving ability” and “IQ” (we used to joke about giving someone an “IQ test”) and sometimes “curiosity” (necessary to figure out how to get things done in non-linear OOP languages like PowerBuilder or Java), and absolute reliability on the other (does their stuff work when moved into production, can they solve production problems on the fly without help – a favorite mainframe question used to be about solving a dump without AbendAid).

The story reflects a dichotomy in IT: as companies get less stable, individual programmers and techies start thinking about original and risky ideas and business models. But a few of them take and work – but can put other people at risk.

I covered the story tonight in more detail on my main “BillBoushka” blog but it needs to be watched closely.

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