Peeple: Why the app offering Yelp-like reviews of people is no biggie

Like everyone else, I was shocked and dismayed to learn of the app expected to launch in late November called Peeple, which would allow users to rate people.

The idea is that through crowdsourcing reviews of a people (personal, professional and romantic), the good people would receive more stars and rise to the top, the bad people would sink, and life would be better.

Like a business on Yelp, you can’t opt out, as the Washington Post wrote this week. Once your name is on Peeple, it’s there to stay, unless someone violates the app’s term of service.

One co-founder, Julia Cordray, told the Post:

People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions. Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?

If you want to see the founders “journey” as they create the product, they have made an ongoing video of their exploits:

Cue the howls of derision.

B-b-but, let me offer a counter-view.

Let’s assume this app does see the light of day and gains traction, both doubtful. (The Post claims the app is valued at more than $7 million, but I paged through Peeple’s site, which is now down, and the slide show of investors shows a lot of family, personal trainers and school friends there. Not a lot of Silicon Valley muscle there).

Is Peeple the worst idea ever? There are, as Cordray points out, many places where we are rated “lite.” Think LinkedIn, Facebook (the “likes”) and any service platform — Uber, Airbnb, Urban Sitter and so on. On Nextdoor, people talk about problem neighbors by name, even speculating that life will improve once mortality takes some people away.

In other words, this sort of rating and discussing is already happening on many platforms. Peeple will just be part of the noise.

What makes Peeple better than Secret or Whisper, two anonymous, local chat apps where people also discuss people (Secret is no more), is that you have to use your real name to rate anyone.  You must also prove you know the person by having that person’s cell phone number.

A few more controls, per the Post:

Positive ratings post immediately; negative ratings are queued in a private inbox for 48 hours in case of disputes. If you haven’t registered for the site, and thus can’t contest those negative ratings, your profile only shows positive reviews.

So the incentive here is to ignore Peeple to keep any reviews positive.  In other words, don’t go to Peeple’s party and everyone will only say nice things about you.

It’s hard to see how Peeple will take off.

Above: Photo illustration from MCT archives

 

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