I recently just left working for an employer and wanted to leave an anonymous review of their organization on glassdoor.com pertaining to my experience working with the organization. What are the possible downsides to leaving an anonymous review, especially if it may contains some less than stellar remarks?
Yes, there are downsides.
- There is precedent in which people are held liable for negative reviews that contain defamatory content. The internet is not immune to defamation laws, despite widespread poor behavior online.
- Most communities are smaller than you think, and your negative comments are often traceable back to you. Word of mouth still exists.
- Your LinkedIn information makes it fairly easy to see if you complained. You left the job with similar responsibilities to those in the complaint, at a similar time, etc.
I think the first question is, as Christopher asked, is there any upside?
Everything it traceable as has been pointed out. If you make the comments, especially soon after leaving, if anyone bother looking there is a good chance they will know it was you. If they are bothered by your comments, there are ways to research it.
Next, how many people do you know that actually use services like Glassdoor? I know people who do, to laugh at comments. I know few who actually use it as a resource. In my circle, it is general considered a gripe board for disgruntled employees that has no real coloration to actual feelings of the average employee at that company. But former employees go there to vent. Doing so makes them feel better, but how does it really accomplish anything else? If I were to go, read a bunch of glowing reviews, I see that as paid employees trying to make their employer look good. If I see venting, I see just that, venting. I personally do not see it as constructive. You may disagree.
Yes, there is a downside. You're going out of your way, unasked, to maliciously write something derogatory that will be online forever. Whether they find out it was you or not I can't see how this says anything good about your personality or professionalism.
The fact that it's anonymous makes it even more shady. If you want to say something it's better to be upfront about it. Stand behind your convictions and words.
I'm sure you can find a way to rationalise it though.
There may be downsides to you personally but upsides to the pool of potential employees. There is a chance that you may get caught out and have the negative review attach to your reputation. Your industry and geographic location may influence heavily how likely any of this sort of downside will be. If you are a tech worker in San Francisco working for a large company, the chances are small that anyone would would try to find out who you are or that anyone would care. If you are a vinyl gutter installer in a 30,000 person town, the chances are probably about 100% you would be discovered.
There are upsides, but none to you personally most likely. Glassdoor helps the community at large decide on where to work based on reviews from people who work there. The information has prevented me from taking jobs in the past that turned out to be the right calls. If those insiders hadn't let me know that the grass was not greener on that side of the fence, I might have made a move I regretted. A free market for employment works best when the most information is available to job seekers.
If there are serious problems, it both ups your risks and, in my opinion, ups your obligation to post. For instance, if you know that the company likes to fire people before they reach the first big stock payout so they can save money, this is a good thing for potential employees to know, but it also is a statement of fact and may be challengable in court under defamation laws if it is not true. Saying "This place stinks" is hard to challenge with a defamation suit, but doesn't particularly point out what is wrong.
It is a hard decision. If you are completely selfish, don't post as there is little if any upside to you. If you are completely altruistic, post away and take the risk for making the world a more informed place. If you are like most of us, make a call based on how important you think the information is balanced against your risk of having it come back to haunt you in some way.