Honestly.com – Not acting so honestly

I hate to have my first blog post after over a year be a negative one, but I feel like these guys need calling out.

I recently received an email from a company, Honestly.com, that got me quite curious. I looked up the website to see what it was all about, and I saw that they are a way of reviewing former/current coworkers and business partners. Their tag lines are “Get the inside scoop on your potential boss, coworkers, or business partners.” and “Candid community-created reviews of business professionals.” I sort of expected them to be a more extensive version of CubeDuel (which was quite fun for the first few minutes), but with full reviews rather than just ratings…

Seeing this email (“Someone created a profile for you…”) after seeing what their company does instantly made me think that someone left a public review about me. Naturally, I was quite interested in seeing what it said, so I clicked through.

Bringing me to the site…

Step 1: Their only option is to Login with Facebook and give them your Facebook info and a list of all your friends. Kind of annoying, but I login with Facebook lots of places online, so whatever.

Step 2: Get your email address

Step 3: Try to get your email contacts

Step 4: Try to get your LinkedIn contacts (your Facebook friends weren’t enough apparently)

Step 5: At this point I think to myself that I’m done with all the “let’s try to make this web app viral by gathering as much info as possible” crap. Nope… the next screen is the best one yet.

As you can see, I’m so close to being able to see all these reviews about myself. See look – they’re right there on the screen already, just dimmed out and they say “Review text will be available after you like us on Facebook.”  It looks like there are already several reviews/rankings for me and as soon as I click “Like” I’ll be able to see them.

I don’t want to “Like” Honestly on Facebook. I don’t like them so far (they haven’t done a single positive thing for me at this point) and I certainly don’t want to broadcast to my friends that I like them. But as I’d also not like to connect my LinkedIn and leave reviews, I “Like” them knowing that I can fix this on Facebook immediately after.

So finally, the big moment of getting to see my reviews!!…

WHAT?!?! All that for nothing! So they sent me an email saying “Someone created a profile for you on Honestly.com” and there’s nothing there — what a bait and switch. Sure, you can debate the semantics of someone “creating a (blank) profile” vs. someone “leaving a review”, but they are clearly taking advantage of both me and whichever of my Facebook or LinkedIn’s friends that “created a profile” for me (a.k.a., probably just imported their contacts with no intention of all of them getting a deceptive email).

Bottom line: I think the idea is good and I have plenty of respect for investor Joshua Schachter of del.icio.us… but with a name like “Honestly” and a tagline of “Truth in reputation”, they should drop the sleazy and spammy tactics. If you’ve got a startup then by all means: use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to grow. But please, do it in a respectful and honest way.

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  1. jaya sankar v said,

    May 14, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

    its a good one

  2. anon said,

    May 14, 2011 @ 7:46 pm

    FYI, just because you ‘unlike’ an item (or remove it from your minifeed) on facebook… that doesn’t mean that it won’t still be broadcasted to all your friends.

    thanks for writing this post though, what an awful company.

  3. R said,

    May 14, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

    I noticed the same process and I remember making a mental note to never go back to that site again. Not only is it misleading, it wasted my time and betrayed my trust. I try to keep control of my internet footprint by not signing up on too many services and I felt really upset that there was potentially information about me that I couldn’t control that ended up not even existing. Horrible.

  4. Eugene said,

    May 14, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    Wow, what a bait-and-switch.

    Thanks for writing this post letting us know about Honestly’s sleazy tendencies.

  5. Willy D. said,

    May 14, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    I don’t like the idea of getting this sort of deceptive email that forces you to sign up with Facebook and divulge private information before seeing what somebody says about you. And they ask for LinkedIn too, WTF? I hate these apps that use Facebook for logging in without other options because it shares too much personal info with companies where you don’t know what they’ll do with that data. Don’t get me wrong, rating people seems like a neat idea but I think that http://www.dirtyphonebook.com putting everything out in the open is the better spin on this concept even if it is much more risque.

  6. Karl Hungus said,

    May 14, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    Thanks for exposing this scam – I will not be clicking on any emails I receive from this deceptive company. Honestly.com sounds like a big lie.

  7. Terry said,

    May 14, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

    I just added this example to Dark Patterns:

  8. Peter said,

    May 14, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

    Report them to spam databases!

  9. Dishonest said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 12:31 am

    Hey doofus!

    You got mail.


    Honestly… Serious?..

  10. Nathan Fiedler said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 12:36 am

    I once talked with a recruiter about a developer role there, back when they had their old name, Unvarnished. That name, plus the intended purpose of the site, anonymous reviews of others, was the most ridiculously bad idea I’d ever heard. LinkedIn recommendations are far more useful and meaningful than random, anonymous “reviews.”

  11. Anonymous Investor said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 2:42 am

    If every piece of your promotional strategy is a series of deceptions, you’re not delivering a product that people want.

    I don’t think very much of the founders, the employees, or the investors in this garbage.

  12. bah said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 4:44 am

    Very ironic they say they are called honestly!

  13. asdf said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 6:58 am

    Did you at least report this to Facebook since they basically data-mined your Facebook profile then left you high and dry.

  14. tedchhiiie said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 7:22 am

    thanks for exposing these assholes

  15. Kyle said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    Can employers leave bad reviews on their best employees? It would certainly help keep wages down, and reduce the prospect of them being poached. How about good reviews on bad employees: Maybe getting rid of the chaff will help the bottom line?

  16. totally some scammy indian company said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 11:35 am

    this is totally some scammy indian company.

  17. Kevin Peterson said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

    Sounds just like what Tagged.com got in trouble for. They settled for a slap on the wrist and agreement to be slightly less sleezy. http://www.webpronews.com/taggedcom-reaches-settlement-with-ny-ag-2009-11

  18. Christians digest for May 15th | Christians lifestream said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

    […] Shared Honestly.com – Not acting so honestly | Phil Freo – Website Design, Development, & Blog …. […]

  19. @Roebot said,

    May 15, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

    I posted some tongue-in-cheek and all very positive reviews of people I’ve worked with. The founder, Peter Kazanjy, deleted my reviews and banned me. WTH? I complained to him about deleting my reviews and banning me and then the dude wrote a negative review of me. http://aaronfulkerson.com/2011/02/01/honestly-dot-com/

  20. J said,

    May 16, 2011 @ 7:27 am

    I agree with everyone on the sleaziness but would like to point out that there is very well a way to enter the site without facebook. I didn’t try this particular one but I’ve come across this tactic for some other sites before, and when it prompts you to Allow or Don’t Allow using facebook to log in, you simply click Don’t Allow and it brings you to a “regular” sign up page. Try that, worked for me a few times.

    Tactics like that are shameful for any website though, the fact that it’s called “honestly” is just additional comedy.

  21. NipTech 087 – Du service et des hommes | NipTech Podcast said,

    May 16, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

    […] Honestly.com Not acting so honestly […]

  22. Mark Peden said,

    June 3, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

    I believe that honestly.com used my login credentials to secure my google contacts database and has sent ALL of my contacts the following message:

    Date: Tue, 31 May 2011 13:24:46 +0300
    From: mpeden [at] gmail.com
    To: kevin [at] usa.alcatel.com
    Subject: Hey Kevin

    Kevin hey, i hated going to work http://g.msn.com.br/BR9/1369.0?http://cnbc7.com/news

    I replaced the at symbol above to prevent spambots from capturing my e-mail, but you get the idea. I have almost 10,000 contacts in Google and apparently every one of them was sent this message and there was nothing I could do about it. All my friends think it came from me and there’s no way I can send out 10,000 emails to tell them it didn’t.

    Really sad actually.

  23. RonSmithe said,

    August 18, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

    Whoa, talk about strong arm tactics. That they force you to “like” them speaks volumes. I have also read that if you do create an account and later delete it, they’ll keep your personal info. According to their privacy statement “some information may remain in our records after deletion of your account.”

    Truth in reputation? More like: Reputation reveals truth. In this case, the rep of this company tells you how honest they really are.

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