08 OCT, 2015

Now Peeple is Just a Bad Recognition App

You couldn’t turn on any news channel in the past couple of weeks without hearing about a controversial new app called Peeple, which was described by founder Julia Cordray as “Yelp for people.” The app would let you rate (1 to 5 stars) and review anyone in your life—an old boyfriend, a past employee, or your noisy neighbor. The public backlash was so swift and so overwhelming that the functionality has now changed. People can no longer be rated without joining the site, and comments must be approved by those who are being commented about before being posted. Cordray insists she meant it to spread positivity only; anyone who’s ever read through an online article’s comments section was skeptical.

The app seems to have more in common now with LinkedIn endorsements than Yelp, where business owners cannot have negative reviews removed unless they are deemed fraudulent. So basically Peeple has now become a recognition app for the world—because who’s going to join only to approve negative comments about themselves?

As a company with 15 years’ experience building and maintaining recognition programs for clients, we seriously doubt this app will catch on beyond some early buzz—here’s why:

  • Recognition programs only thrive if implemented within an existing culture or ecosystem. On LinkedIn you have a group of professionals who are all looking to better themselves professionally through networking and the exchange of information. On Facebook you keep up with your friends and family. In a company you have a group of people all working toward a common goal of moving the business forward. It seems Peeple is relying on individuals to sign up out of curiosity and/or a need for validation.
  • There is no incentive to participate. We’re not even talking money here—let’s go back to LinkedIn. When you endorse or recommend someone on LinkedIn, you might be doing it out of the goodness of your heart, but most of us are also doing it to get a recommendation in return or to build professional good will. When you send someone a recognition at work—whether through a group email or through a formal program—you’re doing it to give credit to someone who deserves it for their hard work, and also to strengthen your relationship with your co-worker. In the case of Peeple, what’s the motivation? Will it even help the person you’re recognizing, let alone have a personal benefit?
  • There is no clear point. Any app or website that gathers reviews and/or recognition has a purpose. Recruiters can check a prospective employee’s LinkedIn references for more information about their backgrounds. Diners can check Yelp to see if the new restaurant in their neighborhood is worth checking out. Corporate recognition programs are aligned to core values and goals that companies want to encourage and promote in their organizations. It’s unclear at this stage what Peeple is trying to do beyond “spreading positivity.”

Until the people behind Peeple come up with some better reasoning, we give this app one star.


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