All posts by Frank

check out is a well done “rate your employer” site dedicated to “Improving the workplace for women”. It has a simple and elegant design, is bare bones in functionality, but has enough to get started and to build support.

After I enter the name of my employer, it asks me to anonymously rate the company, from 1 to 5 stars, for Paid Time Off, Flexible Work Hours, Ability to Telecommute, Maternity & Adoptive Leave, Family Growth Support, Equal Opportunities for Men and Women, Female Representation in Top Leadership, Management Opportunities for Women, Salary Satisfaction, Learning Opportunities, Sponsorship or Mentorship Program, Social Activities and Environment, Wellness Initiatives, and The People You Work With.

It then asks for a review, “In your words”, with some guidelines and cautions.  Its asks demographic questions, including gender, race, marital status, children, education, and age.  After that, it asks for my email and offers to let me see my employer’s “score”.

It shows me the aggregate scores for that company, and any comments from other people plus my own.  The only action offered is to “keep in touch”. Text on the results page says, “Help us get stronger  – The more ratings we have, the stronger the scorecard.  Spread the word!”

This is a good effort at a “reputational” system, a system that seeks to influence employers by affecting their reputation.  Questions about time off for childcare are missing from most traditional rating and review sites, and are a welcome and important addition to the content.

says-us : Ratings and Reviews give us Knowledge


And From Knowledge, We Get Power!

We expect to be able to find peer ratings and reviews for jobs, employers, products, and services on the Internet.  These ratings and reviews empower ordinary people relative to owners and managers of corporations and other institutions.

But most rating and review systems are run by people with corporate and other institutional interests.  These systems are like privately owned and operated 18th century toll bridges, better than nothing, but of uncertain construction (Face Book & Google), with ulterior motives (Glass Door), and built for and dedicated to profit (Yelp).

Face Book’s and Google’s logic and algorithms are proprietary, secret, designed to monetize your life.  Glass Door is dedicated to helping employers to find employees.  And Yelp has been accused of removing negative reviews for advertising dollars.

People who rate and write reviews are taking the time and effort to inform the rest of us about their experience and the value that they did or did not receive.  They are helping us to get power from knowledge.

We propose the creation of a system for standardized and fair ratings and reviews, built with open and free software, without hidden agendas.  Users will be able to be anonymous, and we will integrate relevant writings and media with the possibility of taking further action (from anonymous complaint to coordinated action).

We will start small and grow based upon your support.

Rating & Review Systems

Rating and review systems have begun to create a transparency about what does and does not work for us in the organizations that affect our lives.

From 1 star to 5 stars, and from “this company should stop treating its employees like robots” to “this is the best company I’ve ever worked for”, rating and review systems give people a way to influence employers as well as product and service providers.

We learn what our co-workers or co-consumers have to say about a job or school we are considering.  We can find out if others are dissatisfied or satisfied, about a job or service.  And we can express anonymously our own experience and opinion.  Rating and review systems can help us meet important needs around work, school, health care, transportation, government, etc.

Businesses spend money to manage their reputation.  Some negative ratings have caused companies to improve conditions for employees and improve products and services in order to boost their reputation.  A good reputation helps to gain customers and employees, and a poor one can hurt.

There are hundreds of rating and review systems.  Most of them are part of businesses that use ratings as a way to attract customers. Some hire people to go online to boost their ratings. Employment sites, like Glass Door, allow reviews, but their focus is on helping companies, including those with poor reviews, to recruit new employees.  Companies like Yelp have been accused of removing negative reviews.

There are scattered non-profit sites designed to help one particular group, like potential union members or abused migrant farmers.  But there is no for-profit site that can be trusted to keep the trust of users, and no not-for-profit site that tries to be helpful beyond its target population.

We at propose to create a trustworthy, not-for-profit, rating and review site that can be used to tell the truth about our experiences as workers and consumers.  From these ratings and reviews, we can see what needs to be changed, where, and by whom.

Future releases will allow people to contact each other, to propose action, and to find helping agencies and institutions, including those advocating union, political and economic action.  We will move from anonymous complaint to coordinated action.



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,,,, and 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


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 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    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.”


We need your ideas and other forms of help.  Here are some questions we are currently considering:

Job sites focus on helping employers to recruit.  To attract potential employees, they allow limited rating and review functionality, which includes “pro” as well as “con” job features.

Question 1:  Should Says-Us include pros as well as cons in reviews?


“Collaborative management”, rarely identified, has leaders who listen to employees and who engage in dialogue to discover best solutions and practices.

Question 2: Should Says-Us give a focus on collaborative vs authoritarian practices?


A great job, with good leadership, can produce poor product, or product that is socially destructive.  For example, Monsanto employees may be happy as employees, but producing Round Up is killing the earth.

Question 3:  We want participation of consumers as well as producers of goods and services.  Should Says-Us ask about usefulness and quality of product as well as job quality?