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Companies Manipulate Glassdoor by Inflating Rankings and Pressuring Employees (wsj.com)
707 points by treebro 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 476 comments

I've had negative reviews flat out removed by a company that was paying glass door for some sort of premium service. I extensively reviewed the rules and reworded my comments and they were removed yet again. My points were fully factually true and were not anything too untoward (pay raises were promised to members of a new team, they never materialized, most team members left). For what it's worth, Path Forward IT is not a great place to work. advancement rarely comes with rewards and abuse of salary agreements abound(work all night to get a system up and running, they still require 8 hours behind a desk even if it would be unproductive. Flexibility works one way there).

> Flexibility works one way there

A former boss put it like this, "Sure we have flex time! You can arrive any time before 8 and leave any time after 6."

Let me guess, he laughed when he said it like he was super funny, too, right? Like when I used to ask one former boss which of the ten tasks he'd just assigned to me was highest priority he'd say, "yes!" and laugh like he'd just told the greatest joke and then run out of the room (seriously) before I could pin him down on an actual decision.

Agile coach I know noticed that when you turn the question around and ask on a scale of 1-5 how pissed they will be if you don’t get each done, you get some 3’s and 4’s which lets you prioritize things that are all priority 5.

(I like severity as a sorting mechanism too, which is 3 dimensions of data then)

Let me guess... retroactively the one that had the least work done turned out to be the highest priority when it came time for your review?

imo this is endemic in areas with poor job markets where there's really about 1 or 2 large employers. It's not just time to leave the company; you need to leave the whole area as well.

I worked in an area where the nearest competition was hundreds of miles away. When the engineering staff would question upper management and HR during annual meetings about competitive wages they would always state that we were extremely competitive for our location. After working there for nearly a decade and a half I moved to another state, about 300 miles away and my pay nearly doubled.

Doing my exit interview I stated that the reason I was leaving was because management had this goofy view of the world and it was the reason why we struggled finding talent. They felt that because there was no physical competition in the area they could pay a fraction of what their competitors in the field pay and still retain talent. They also felt that it was appropriate to create a convoluted scheme where you could never really get a promotion, just be given more responsibility w/ almost no increase in pay. (You can only move up a level if you have 1 or fewer "needs improvements" while the managers were told that all employees should have no less than 2 "needs improvements" as they should have things to work on over the coming year).

Most people I talked to about that whole situation would offer the "well why didn't you just move" advice not understanding that the pay was just enough to pay for room and board, college loans, and then choose to put the last few dollars into a 401k or into savings to escape that job. I opted for the former hoping I would work my way up to not have this problem. I made the wrong choice.

It seems like a really backwards view to see your company as the "only game in town". Physically, it might be true, but you're competing with remote only companies, and regional competing cities. You're also indirectly competing with hubs such as California or Seattle where jobs are plentiful.

This is a really interesting comment, thanks for sharing.

Remote doesn't always work for every sector of development. I had a huge cubical full of industrial hardware, had a lab with even more hardware, a plant for assembling and testing hardware, etc. We had a "no remote" policy because it just wasn't possible to get things done without actually being in the office.

And after spending years doing embedded systems, industrial control, communications...I was pretty much the opposite of a Web/Mobile developer. Trying to get a remote gig while having none of those skills was difficult (yes there are other industries that can do remote too, but what I was "good at" was not remote friendly tech). I had to create a side job, make a real world project and go around showing that I knew the tech just to get my foot in the door to places that would allow remote work.

After a company I was working for writing Windows Mobile apps for ruggedized devices went out of business, I got a contract with one of their former customers located in another state.

I had close to $30K of devices and ancillary equipment in my home office.

But that same dynamic is even more prevalent in non-tech sectors. My wife had two such jobs so far.

In the first case, the boss was quite explicit about abusing the scarcity of office jobs in the area (a cluster of small villages and towns). Forced overtime, late paychecks, bad working conditions and verbal abuse were all maintained by a simple threat - "where else will you go?".

In the second case, the job had decent working conditions, but the management had constant troubles finding wood workers (leading them to shutting down a promising department, in which my wife was doing design work), mostly because they tried to low-ball salaries - thinking that in this part of the country, there are lower costs of living and few other jobs for this kind of production, so they can offer below-market pay.

Both businesses are still thriving to this day, and still have mentioned problems.

If I was a slightly less calm person I’d have already beaten the shit out of my partners boss, he is making her absolutely fucking miserable though his ineptness.

I keep telling her to quit, we can live on my salary indefinitely while she finds another job but she won’t.

What makes it doubly annoying is that she is conscientious and has a work ethic.

I fucking hate it to be honest, you’d think by now large companies would have figured out the trickle down effects of bad management and have better systems in place to weed it out.

The first thing I’d look at as the boss of a large company is a) department sickness rates, b) department turnover rates

My wife was like this, staying at a job with a dipshit boss. I told her to quit because we could live on my income but she refused. She brought her stress home and it impacted our marriage for the worse. If I could go back in time I would work harder to convince her to quit.

It takes 2 to make an employment relationship. The employee has just as much if not more power than employer.

Personally, I can't put up with a sliver of bullshit from anyone without going postal on them. This is the reason I stay in consulting, setting my own rules.

Yeah, it's really rough. Most people just don't have a combination of confidence, stubbornness, willpower, and raw spite that allows them to uproot and seek out a better position for themselves.

I used to think that I could encourage and/or browbeat people into taking charge of their own destinies, but after years of a good 99.9% failure rate I'm not so sure any more. (For every 1000 downvotes/insults I eat on Reddit or elsewhere when I tell people to stop putting up with HR's BS, I get about 1-2 people who heed my advice and actually find a new job)

I think regular people just naturally can't fend for themselves, and maybe they need some form of protection..

> I think regular people just naturally can't fend for themselves, and maybe they need some form of protection..

Oh they can, but for regular people, a job is a privilege. It's not easy to find one, and a lot of people don't have enough financial reserves to afford a long search. The risk/reward analysis ends up leaning heavily towards staying.

My wife is pretty much the most conscientious / hardworking person I've ever seen, and despite all the abuse, it's hard to get her to quit. She feels quitting because of workplace conditions is like giving up, a personal failing for not persevering. That first job I mentioned got her near mental breaking point before she quit, and it took us two years to undo the damage. It got better the next time around, but she still needed an excuse to not feel like quitting because it's too hard.

> The first thing I’d look at as the boss of a large company is a) department sickness rates, b) department turnover rates

Oh, yes. If one of her bosses did that, he might discover that there's a high turnover rate + pretty negative opinion of the workplace in the region now, caused by one particular manager that's verbally abusive. But employees don't dare complain, because he and the boss are family. They just transfer or quit.

I can empathise because I've been in a similar position.

Had a medical issue at work, asked work for temporary and minor adjustments while I recovered and was told "if you don't like it then leave". Things got worse, and worse.

Ended up having a full-on anxiety attack, doctor said there was nothing they could do to help. "The best thing you can do is look for a new job".

I put it off for a bit more, then the boss started making a HR complaint every week. They were always dismissed as baseless "but we have to investigate every one". Imagine what spending two out of five days a week responding to HR complaints did to my work performance.

Went from "Exceeds expectations" to "Consider whether this team member is a good fit for the company" in the space of four months.

In cases like this, leaving is literally the best thing you can do. Take some vacation days to interview elsewhere, then hand them a resignation with the minimum notice period you can. Don't negotiate. Whatever offer or promises they make, stand your ground. Minimum contracted notice period, do a staged handover, leave.

My only regret is that I spent 2 months over my base notice period helping them do a managed hand-over. Didn't want to burn bridges but in hindsight, they'd already burned to ash anyway. I was just too far away to see that.

I wish you and your wife all the best, hopefully either her boss will see sense or she'll find something better.

It's not quitting. It's taking care of yourself.

Exactly. In Engineering, you are competing with Silicon Valley and NYC as well as the scrappiest folks in Sao Paolo, Lagos, Novosibirsk, Chennai or Zagreb. The best coders with the best management team wins. But only if they get paid to stick around long enough to reach production. Otherwise folk walk. Human expertise and intellectual capacity has a value; you've got to be willing to pay what the market demands.

I wish these market forces were a hell of a lot stronger

I seem to be able to get $250k+ in Silicon Valley and ~$200k in Seattle (which is almost the same after cost of living and state tax), but last time I looked in Tokyo I couldn't get any offers for over 15M JPY/year and even that was a stretch (150k USD at a 100-1 exchange rate, but more like 130k USD at the time)

Likewise, I haven't been able to rustle up any remote job offers for over $150k. I'd LOVE to work from home on a giant ranch out in Flyover, USA for the same mortgage cost as a grungy condo in San Jose, but not if it's going to set back my retirement plans by 10 years

And I've got a news flash for you remote-friendly entrepreneurs: You're competing with people paying $250k/year in the bay area whether you like it or not. Sooner or later some top-paying behemoth is going to put an elite 5 man team on it and make a product that puts your 50 person company out of business. By all means, try to lowball people into $120-$150k/year offers if you can, but if they're not having it, you should consider ponying up.

It’s true that every employer is competing in a global marketplace. The wealth-maximizing outcome is for the most productive programmers to work at the companies with the biggest money faucets to optimize. It makes sense for those companies to pay gobs of money for programmers from all over the world. And if paying them even more to move to Mountain View makes them 5% more productive, it’s worth it. This is definitely true for programmers that are working on systems that generate billions of dollars and get bigger every year.

On the other hand, there are lots of less-productive companies out there that don’t generate billions of dollars through carefully-tuned funnels, but who still need to employ software engineers. They can’t afford to pay $300k+ to thousands of people like the top companies do. But if they can find some solid talent who happen to have attachments to a lower cost of living area, or maybe are worse at interviewing, etc. they can get away with paying a lot less.

well, their plan seems to have worked out perfectly.

they got you for 15yrs on half the pay!

sadly the world is run by bean counters :(

Sadly, yes. They were not exactly wrong in their approach.

This isn't enough info to tell if you were being ripped off. Normally, companies pay more in expensive areas, but not enough to make up the difference.

If the pay was half, we might expect the cost of living to be a third. Was it? (that is: by moving you doubled your salary and tripled your costs)

That's pretty much how it's like in most cities in Europe apart from the few large tech hubs. If you burn yourself with a couple of bad managers you might not have anywhere else to go without leaving your family behind and being accused of job hopping so employees just have to put up with it.

At my second to last job I put up with a manager that had severe anger management issues and would swear at employees and throw things at staff. I left over 2 years ago. Since then he's been promoted. The company had also won several "Best place to work" awards in the past.

> and being accused of job hopping

As someone who has done, and still does, a lot of recruitment over the years I think people maybe worry about this too much.

What I mean is perhaps best illustrated with some examples:

- When you're fresh out of college/uni, it can be hard to find a job you really like, so in your first few years you might change job several times. No big deal.

- You leave a job you've been in for several years where you may have been happy and productive for quite a long time, but perhaps you're getting bored, need a new challenge, have been enticed away, or whatever. But then your next job turns out to be not so awesome, and neither is the one after that, so again you change jobs two or three times in a short period. Again, no big deal.

- The company your with restructures/gets taken over/relocates/makes redundancies and, without necessarily wanting to, you find yourself in a position where you need to find work fast. Again, you might not find a job you really like out of the gate and, again, no big deal.

These things don't bother me as a recruiter. What does bother me is a 20 year career where I can see you've changed jobs every year or two. It bothers me even more for management and leadership hires: I start to wonder if you're actually any good at anything, or whether your main talent is schmoozing and jumping ship just before the shit hits the fan (or just in time to take all the credit).

I want some evidence of periods of stability in your employment history, because this shows me that you're capable of committing to something for the longer term, which is when you can really make a positive impact. You're expensive to hire, and when I have hired you, I'm going to invest in your development and success (whatever that means for you), so I'd like to see some return on that investment.

DISCLAIMER: I'm fortunate to work in a tech hub that, whilst not large as a place, certainly has a lot of options in terms of companies to work for (Cambridge, UK).

What would you think of a candidate who job hops every year or two, but usually gets promoted after finshing a project before hopping to a bigger/better project?

In case of Europe, thankfully it's so dense and EU actually does invest in people transport (even outside the union). USA seems to be out of luck, and probably will need more regulation than the EU.

Unfortunately, this is how poverty spreads.

Because choices go down, companies choose to engage in substandard behavior because of captive populace. And those that can leave, do, thus slowly sapping the area of money and population.

I've seen a few places in the Midwest that did have potent industry. But through similar reasons, most of the people who positively contributed to their community are now gone.

I'm in an area with lots of employers, but 20 years ago I did some job-hopping (four jobs in four years between 95 and 99), and that STILL comes up as a negative in job interviews. If you bail on too many bad managers, you can find yourself locked out anyway.

At this point you should just have a >20 years ago section on there (I would label it "prior history" myself), and include projects you worked on. That's over 20 years ago. Unless you worked on something you really want to highlight, just fudge them altogether.

I am guessing you don't work in tech in the US though? I was a bit worried about doing a third "three and out" while looking, and 10 years prior in finance, it may have been an issue, when I was looking at tech companies, no one even batted an eyelash. One HR recruiter even quipped that these would be relatively long tenures in the startup world.

Oh man, I know what you mean - it's kind of crazy. When I'm at a company for more then 2 years, recruiters start joking that I'm an old timer and must be dying for a change! I'm all for moving when the time is right, but I like my job and looking for a new one is stressful!

In the Bay Area, it’s the opposite. Interviewers almost look negatively on being at one employer for too long.

Why couldn't you just say you worked at 2 places and not 4? Do people really check that sort of thing? Or omit 3 and say you ran your own business for those 3 years. If employer is too dumb to understand your reasons, a little truth bending wouldn't hurt.

Why do you even have that on your resume? I’ve been working as a professional developer for 20+ years, but no one cares about my first job writing C code running on DEC VAX and Stratus mainframes or my second job doing a combination of VB6 and C++ DCOM and MFC.

I was going to say why are you including jobs from 20 years ago on your resume, but you probably live in a place where they want CVs, right?

Good lord. I've done 3 jobs in a single year this past year alone and I'm hoping to do one more in about a year.

But in your case I wouldn't even put all those jobs on a resume' -- it's too far back.

>>> four jobs in four years

That does look not so good to me tbh. 2 jobs in 2 years would look ok to me. But I guess it depends.

I would try a pitch or thematic CV instead of a linear one

I thought you were going to say time to take the other undervalued workers and start a competitor.

I had a boss (previous) say everything is higher priority than the last thing I asked you to focus on.

In a year at that place no one finished anything.

Literally, they had 18mths on a project with less than a 1000 useable lines of code and a team of five.

I wrote a similar system on my own in 3mths doing it after work and weekends for a customer as a side gig.

I think they teach this at management retreats.

Something similar happened to me. I asked my boss for a raise and his response was "a kick in the ass, that ought to raise you up a little". My reply: I quit on the spot -- no two-week notice, I just left.

> My reply: I quit on the spot -- no two-week notice, I just left.

I think you might be my new hero: that's a fantastic response to a dick move. I just don't get people who treat employees like crap: it's no road to long-term success or satisfaction. Hope you managed to find something better afterwards.

My experience of being a manager and leader is that these roles, if anything, expose your own human fallibility like nothing else so there's no mileage at all in acting like a smartass to the people who work for you. A little humility goes a long way.

Also, thanks for making me laugh.

That ought to raise him up a little. Haha.

Wow, any more details? That must've been cathartic.

It's great to be able to do this but you need to have back ups first. So find a new job whilst "jokingly" suggesting to your boss you need a raise. Then you actually ask for a meeting and a raise and when he/she laughs you off as you knew they would you resign on the spot and go to your new job you had lined up.

With the hope that he/she will see their mistake and not treat the remaining employees that way.

The problem with this strategy is you can never go back.

> The problem with this strategy is you can never go back.

Reading all these stories about bad managers and stuff, do managers and employees take things personal in the US?

So if you leave for a better deal you actually will make personal problems between employer end employee?

Whenever someone under me quits for a better deal or another job that I can't match I tell them "good luck and thanks for the time you shared with us, if you change your mind, welcome back".

Same with salary negotiations, I usually ask them to give me "ammunition" that I can use against the higher-ups to get them raises, that is job offers at other companies, lists of stuff they have done and statements from other departments. Usually I manage to get them 5-10% raise but sometimes even more.

People work so much better if they are happy about their situation from what I can tell.

It isn't personal. There are situations where the manner of quitting make it unlikely that I'd want to work with you again.

If you joined, people on the team are helping get you up to speed on new tech, and you quit within two months before we even had a chance at a payoff for the work the team put in, that's off-putting because it's inconsiderate.

It's not illegal, and you have a right to it. But my team likewise has a right to work with people who are considerate of their time. And the business likewise has a right to ask me for positive value from hiring. So I'm going to pass on rehiring that guy.

Now, insta-quitting on being told that you're getting "a kick in the ass" instead of a raise is easily justified and if someone were mismanaged so egregiously previously I'd have no problem rehiring them. To be honest, no software engineer in their right mind would ever go back to a company where that was said unless it was for "fuck you money" so the situation just never arises.

Leaving for more money or a different kind of job is not a big deal. That's life and I'd expect a decent transition with work hand-offs and whatnot. No one will be upset about that.

Well it depends.

When we hire someone there is a six months probation period where both parties can terminate the contract without any questions or obligations. This is mainly to make sure that the new members are compatible with the rest.

So when I hire I do so with the knowledge that it might not work out but they won't be blacklisted by the whole company for that reason.

If course if someone would scream at me and curse and storm out I'd likely not want to hire them again, but luckily that's never happened :)

Your approach is probably why your staff won't do this to you!

Sounds like you're actually a decent supervisor, unlike the examples presented in this thread.

I heard that an HR Person was mad at a previous company after I left, and claimed to my old boss I had exaggerated on my LinkedIn Profile to get the new job. I changed careers when I left to be a software developer.

The issue with the strategy wasn’t leaving for a better job, that’s fine. It’s quitting on the spot without notice.

If you've got a reasonable rainy day fund and are already in or willing to move to a tech hub it's probably pretty low risk.

You just quote "total break down in trust" caused by manager in the very polite letter you send.

Why would anyone say anything that incriminating? The reason your manager is incompetent is because his managers like him as such, else they wouldn't have promoted him.

What's wrong with a raise just to keep up with inflation? Are managers really this shallow to not understand cost of living goes up regardless?

I did exactly this once before, except I gave two week notice. I walked into the meeting knowing I had offer in hand but wanted to give my current employer a chance to do the right thing. The manager literally giggled and told me I may have to leave to get an increase. I had saw this company let several "rock stars" walk over money so I wasn't expecting much, almost felt bad for the manager cause he knew that corporate approach was laughable

I would have left on the spot too. It’s never taken me more than three weeks after I started looking to find another job. My record is walking off a contract at lunch Monday, calling a recruiter and getting an offer from what was then a Fortune 10 (non tech) company Thursday.

Admittedly, it may take me longer to find a full time salaried job making what I make now, but I’m sure I could find a W2 contract job that pays sufficiently in a month by calling a few local recruiters that I’ve worked with.

I’m no special snowflake. Jobs are plentiful for software developers who have kept their skills in line with the local market in most major metropolitan areas.

That's the daydream but by the time you lineup the new job asking for a raise doesn't seem so important.

"I think we need to talk to hr about your anger management" :-)

HR: "You're fired."

You: "The boss?"

HR: "No, you."

That brings back bad memories of my first day at a new job. We had discussed in the interview that they were flexible with the time I got there. On the first day, one of the first questions I was asked:

New Boss: "So, what time will you be here every day?" Me: "I thought we had discussed that being flexible as traffic can be unpredictable?" New Boss: "We are flexible on the time, but you have to be here by that time every day."

I made it 6 weeks.

This was the policy I implemented with my team and everyone thought it was pretty reasonable. It's basically pick your schedule, but stick to it. Otherwise scheduling meetings becomes unmanageable. That being said, I was also very clear about the policy during the interview process.

That makes sense. Employers save themselves a lot of employee dissatisfaction through honesty and transparency during the hiring process. If they misrepresent themselves, they end up with employees who aren't a good match as a result of decisions made on bad information, and who feel cheated to boot.

Edit: Some companies misrepresent their cultures because they know their actual behavior is unattractive to workers. Bolstering Glassdoor reviews by encouraging unusually satisfied (or otherwise motivated) employees is just another form of this. The strategy is successful at tricking employees into accepting poor working conditions while also demonstrating that the employer isn't worth trusting.

Core hours sounds like a more sensible policy to me.

Core hours worked well for me, until one office decided that their core hours would change due to high traffic. Suddenly an office that was only an hour earlier than mine was now leaving just after lunch. I had an office that was 11.5hrs off and we had a great setup where I would do night meetings one week and they would the other. The office an hour off of mine could never get their shit together to schedule meetings.

Core hours _should_ mean the core of the day, about 10 to 4, not whenever to whenever.

I agree. The worst part was one boss was in my office while the other was in the "one hour off" office. The local boss would get annoyed because I'd have to schedule something with the other boss who was already home when I'd get back from lunch. To "fix" the problem I moved my lunch back an hour but eventually that conflicted with local employees' lunch and meetings.

The way the place was run I was expecting one of them to suggest I just skip lunch.

I can't even remember the last time I had a productive meeting for work.

Everything that meetings at the places I've worked at, my entire life, should have been sent out in advance in /some/ format (today it'd be email) for review.

When you do that, you can also have a deadline for rounds of comments... 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc, up to a decision deadline where whomever's allowed to make the decision can make their choice with all the views and objections/opinions laid out.

There's literally no reason to ever /actually/ have a meeting of the kind that I've been a part of.

I'm pretty happy with this as well. I work 7-3, but I work those hours every day. I've walked out of meetings that have gone past 3 and no one has complained. It's been a great experience

Same here. What I did was creating an out-of-office calendar event for every day which basically blocks others from inviting me to late meetings. I stick very tightly to my schedule usually just +/- 5 minutes.

Can people just log into meetings remotely? This seems to work fine for us, in any given meeting we have people physically in the office, WFH, working remotely, calling in from the road, etc.

“Ok, I see. Noon, then.”

"Not a team player"

Wouldn't it have worked to say "I'll be here no later than 11:00 AM"?

I actually responded with "Let's say 10AM then." That was "too late - we need you here sooner - how about 9AM?"

I had that happen as well.

Dilbert cartoon:

Catbert: "Alice, the experts say you need to balance work and home life. You worked 80 hours last week... that's less than half of the hours in a week. Give us some balance, you selfish hag."

Alice: "This conversation took a nasty turn."

My first tech job had a CEO who was just like that. He required all engineers and QAEs to be in the office before 9 and stay until after 5 so that we could answer the phone, because we were also the entire helpdesk. He would usually call the office right at 9 to see who was there, because he was usually still home.

Reminds me of a startup I once worked for. It was failing and the CEO (who had money from a previous company) had the VP of sales take a photo of the emtpy office at 6pm to complain how we weren't "all in". This despite the fact that our pay was late and he was on a month-long trip to his vacation home in the south of France (we were a north american company).

It's remarkable how often companies expect their employees to be completely loyal and do a bunch of work for free, while also treating their employees like free labor and cutting them loose at the smallest disagreement.

I've started steering very clear of any company that talks about how important loyalty is, or how the employees are all 'like a family'. Biggest red flags for toxic management imo.

> It's remarkable how often companies expect their employees to be completely loyal and do a bunch of work for free, while also treating their employees like free labor and cutting them loose at the smallest disagreement.

There's lots of other imbalances as well like how you have to tolerate being mistreated so you can get a good reference, and you have to actively avoid mentioning negative reasons you left a company in job interviews to avoid being labelled a trouble maker.

Glassdoor was suppose to help with the above I guess.

How does Glassdoor make money? If they're not taking money from the people that use the site, they'll never be an unbiased source of information.

FWIW, as a driver/firmware engineer, I haven't ever needed a good reference from my former employer

I've just been giving out former coworkers' contact info instead, and usually they don't even get called. I'm guessing they call the former employer just to verify I actually worked there, but that's it

It's remarkable how often it works.

Colleagues at first job (fast food place): "Steve, I need a break!"

Steve (manager/owner): "I gave you a break when I hired you!"

Has stuck with me lo these 30+ years...

I heard a variation on this when it comes to owning your own company. You're the boss, you can work half days if you want - you even get to choose which 12 hours that will be.

Just like how every company offers work from home after 5 and on weekends.

To be fair, no employee ever checks Facebook or posts on HN during work hours (ahem)? It cuts both ways.

When you're an employee, you're paid for the time you spend at work. The productivity is not part of the equation in the contract.

Technically for a salaried "professional" job your not normally on hourly pay.

I ask every time and most jobs will tell you that they expect a 40 hour week on salary, if we want to be minute per minute pedantic I'm leaving at 10am every Friday.

That presumes there is something work-related that needed to be done during that time.

If you’re meeting your expectations, taking a 10 minute break to take a shit at work doesn’t mean you need to work 10 minutes at home.

HN is research time. Perfectly billable.

At my first job in Italy we used to stretch the lunch break a bit. The boss put a paper on the wall with a reminder of the official working hours: 8:30 - 12:30 / 13:30 -

"Do I get vacation time?"

"Work is a vacation. From poverty"

This reminds me of my former workplace where even though they tout having a "balanced work life culture", one of the VPs outright said that employees who "only work 8hrs/day" are lazy and entitled.

> I've had negative reviews flat out removed by a company that was paying glass door for some sort of premium service.

You don't even need to pay Glassdoor. At $PREVIOUS_EMPLOYER I managed to get a negative review by an employee who we'd let go removed just by asking them.

Don't be too horrified yet because it gets worse: I stand by asking them to remove it. The review was extremely negative and posted by somebody who, in the less than 3 months they worked for us, had been nothing but trouble: lazy, arrogant, obnoxious, demanding, complaining, entitled. Nothing was ever good enough for this person, and they absolutely slagged us off in the review as a result.

No company is perfect but the criticism was entirely unfair, so I asked Glassdoor to remove it, explaining why in reasonable detail. They could have refused and there would have been nothing I could do, but within a few days it was gone. Funny thing was that I wasn't even in love with $PREVIOUS_EMPLOYER myself at the time[1], but the review was so out of order that it simply pissed me off.

Your situation sounds quite different, with objective grounds for grievance, so I can certainly understand the frustration.

[1] This is something of an understatement: I was by this point hugely disillusioned, but the review still offended my sense of fair play.

The problem is, "nothing but trouble" describes both genuinely problematic employees, and those that simply push back against toxic cultures or bad management. If you were already disillusioned, it's possible that it really was a bad atmosphere, and they were just less shy about calling a spade a spade.

I've also noticed that people tend to measure whether someone looks busy, not whether they're producing results. Some people will just start writing code, and they get called "productive". Others nip off for 2 hours to think it over and sketch out architectural diagrams, and then finish the whole task in half the time - but they're the ones that get called lazy because they weren't at their desk.

> "nothing but trouble" describes both genuinely problematic employees, and those that simply push back against toxic cultures or bad management.

For sure, but that's not what I'm talking about here: every now and again one makes a bad hire. It happened very rarely, particularly in product development where this individual was, but that's what this individual was - just a bad hire.

Now there were reasons why they were a bad hire that I think were perhaps not their "fault" (although fault/blame isn't a helpful concept here), which I'm not going into the specifics of due to #reasons, but the fact remains they chose to deal with that by acting out and introducing toxicity into their team.

What changes did you make to the hiring process to better filter such people out?

Every now and again you make a bad hire: even companies with the best hiring processes do. Hence the probation period, and letting this person go during that period.

Not to say we didn't do a retro to see if there were improvements that could be made, but you're never going to be perfect at hiring.

What you do need is robust processes, and the appropriate culture to support them, to deal with the situation quickly on the rare occasions when you do hire someone you shouldn't have.

(Btw, bad hires are extremely costly, even at entry level, not just in terms of hiring costs or productivity, but in terms of the effect they have on people around them: they can be a serious morale drain and, whilst their departure often leads to a bump in morale, the effects can be quite long-lasting. A bad hire in a leadership role is positively dangerous, because you multiply all of the above - and actually it becomes likely you'll lose people who work for them - and on top of this you risk serious erosion of trust in those more senior leaders who hired the person in the first place, which leads to further problems with retention.)

Glassdoor is basically workplace Yelp. It started out useful for job hunting, now it's also a gamed system with pay-for-PR.

FWIW, Yelp advertising has no effect on reviews. Allegedly some sales reps claimed that they could manipulate reviews, but such claims would have been empty threats/promises. This has been tested in court several times; see e.g. the 9th circuit's opinion on Levitt v. Yelp! Inc:

> the business owners pled insufficient facts to make out a plausible claim that Yelp authored negative reviews of their businesses

(I interned at Yelp in 2009.)

Edit: This is what Yelp says about it: https://www.yelp.com/advertiser_faq

This is untrue, no matter what Yelp says about it. I used to run a small business. We had small-town drama, and some left a review saying we gave them food poisoning (we did not serve food of any kind). Yelp refused to take down the review for over a year. Then a salesman called, offering advertising, and we said Well gee, we'd love to, but this review... and it was gone. We didn't even have to pay for advertising, just had to play hard to get with the sales guy.

> ... no effect on reviews

Looking now at the web UI, can you offer any insight into how "Yelp sort" -- the default -- decides which reviews to push out the back pages?

I didn't actually work on the systems that score reviews and filter out certain ("not recommended") reviews, so I'm not sure what signals went into them. I would guess recency, photos, account age/reputation, etc.

I had some other reasons for believing it was impossible for sales reps to manipulate review scores, but my memory is very foggy since this was ~9 years ago. Sorry if I made it sound like I had more insider knowledge; I edited that out of my comment.

Yelp not authoring negative reviews is significantly different than offering tools to hide real negative reviews.

I should have quoted the district court's ruling, which goes more in depth. They weren't convinced that changes to the plantiffs' rating were related to their interactions with Yelp:

> The SAC purports to document fluctuations in plaintiffs’ overall star ratings that apparently correlate with their advertising decisions, but it in actuality only provides select snapshots of plaintiffs’ overall star ratings. [...] Chan’s mixture of positive and negative reviews fluctuated over time irrespective of the activities complained of in the SAC, and in the absence of a more complete picture of Chan’s reviews, the court cannot equate a few drops in overall star ratings to an implied threat of harm from Yelp. These fluctuations could just as easily be the result of planted ads by plaintiffs, the functioning of Yelp’s automated filter, or negative attacks from competitors or former employees.

What is so strange about this is companies like Yelp become utterly useless.

Having completely destroyed the value of their brand Yelp still gets traffic at least until the next briefly honest startup shows up.

FWIW, Yelp advertising has no effect on reviews

There was a New York Times article a few years ago saying otherwise.

I tried to Google it, but... Google. Perhaps someone else will have better luck.

It’s far worse though.

You’re going to eat another meal in 6-24 hours. Glassdoor is affecting people’s lives and livelihoods.

I've had this happen as well! Basically I think they use the removal option as their revenue model....until people figure out that their reviews are not accurate.

Next-level revenue model: users can pay to read removed reviews.

Somebody give this guy a raise.

I've often thought about setting up a scraper for sites like this and republishing the deleted content.

You would be sued, probably successfully, into oblivion. The terms of service [1] for Glassdoor are pretty clear that you agree to not:

Introduce software or automated agents to Glassdoor, or access Glassdoor so as to produce multiple accounts, generate automated messages, or to scrape, strip or mine data from Glassdoor without our express written permission;

Copy, modify or create derivative works of Glassdoor or any Content (excluding Your Content) without our express written permission);

Copy or use the information, Content (excluding Your Content), or data on Glassdoor in connection with a competitive service, as determined by Glassdoor;

Interfere with, disrupt, or create an undue burden on Glassdoor or the networks or services connected to Glassdoor;

Now, since reviews are public information and not hidden behind an authentication wall (i.e. no account signup required), there is a compelling argument that you can scrape the website without having technically agreed to those terms and conditions. In particular, the robots.txt [2] for Glassdoor does not disallow automated crawling of the /Reviews/ endpoint. But this would still likely result in a protracted lawsuit, even if you ultimately win.


1. https://www.glassdoor.com/about/terms.htm

2. https://www.glassdoor.com/robots.txt

Didn't LinkedIn just lose a court case over very similar anti-scraping terms? Offering something publicly on the internet, then attempting to block certain uses using your ToS seems like Glassdoor being an Indian giver...

Hence my second paragraph, yes. You’d definitely be sued, and it would definitely be expensive. You might not lose.

If you are sued by someone and win in the US, do you not get your legal expenses covered by the entity suing you?

Also, you can probably just set up the scraper and webpage in another country or something.

> If you are sued by someone and win in the US, do you not get your legal expenses covered by the entity suing you?

often yes, but you actually have to win the case first. the idea is that you run out of money and give up before you get there.

Recovering legal fees is not automatic just because you're innocent.

You still have to pay the legal fees up front, then hopefully get reimbursed later.

One could still go to archive.org There's quite a lot of snapshot. Indeed they are not interfering with Glassdoor per se.

Double dip surprise(?) - they'll still have ads around them.

I just went over to glassdoor, curiously after signing up a dummy account they have a banner claiming:

"Your trust is our top concern, so companies can't alter or remove reviews."

But, I noticed from a past review that there is some kind of 'approval' required. So, yes it seems they can remove reviews by not approving. Sigh.

Worded like that, it seems it doesn't rule out Glassdoor doing it on a company's behalf.

If I remember correctly the approval was likely automatic. So, I suspect you could pay to have certain keyword filled reviews automatically be disapproved--obviously this would only be used to filter out swear words or proprietary details of the company.

I don't understand why you would want to be a shitty boss.

Not only is it good karma but it's good business.

Loyal employees are awesome. Any bump in the road and they have your back.

Maybe when you're some massive megacorp it makes sense but I hope I'm never to the point where I have to run a mathematical calculation on whether it makes sense to treat people with respect.

Because the type of people that tends to stick at middle management positions is the one that's good at kissing ass to their bosses. Now if you're stuck kissing ass all day, for your own self-esteem's sake you need to show power over someone less "important" by making them suffer. There's no logic here, no mathematical calculations done, just petty emotions and selection bias.

The Peter principle is a very powerful force.

But would megacorps try that? Working in one, we fully expect that vast majority of candidates know someone on the inside. Hence, cheating on glassdoor and such would logically only add "liars" to whatever their insider friend would tell them. Not a great deal, if you ask me.

Edit: having gone through the article: none of the companies here are close to "megacorp". The biggest one seems to be SAP.

And then Glassdoor refuses to remove reviews that are obviously irrelevant. I noticed a review for SurveyMonkey from someone who takes panel sruveys (i.e. absolutely not someone who works there) and after it was flagged I got this response from Glassdoor:

"Thank you for flagging the post titled “survey taker” for additional review. We take our Community Guidelines very seriously. Before any reviews are posted on Glassdoor, our moderators review them to ensure they meet our Guidelines. A manager has reviewed the post you flagged and decided it does meet our guidelines. Therefore, the post will remain on the site."

I wrote a Glassdoor review where I stated that the company had asked us to write positive reviews. I wrote this review a year or so after we were asked to put up the positive reviews. Someone who worked at the company wrote a counterfactual response to my review that it had never happened; we were never asked to leave positive reviews according to this person. It did happen though. I wonder if the person was a new-hire who wasn't aware or if they were being intentionally misleading.

There's no recourse to leave a response to the Company's response, so they got the last word in the matter. It's always kind of bothered me that they got to set the facts like that.

Blind is rapidly becoming the new glassdoor.

Blind? Sorry, never heard of it -- what is it?

This tells me that Glassdoor is completely untrustworthy, just like Yelp.

I wish there was some sort of business model for an honest review site that protected against this sort of naked corruption. Does anyone have any ideas?

I'm also interested in this question. Here's a half-idea for discussion purposes:

Review sites must be free for readers and reviewers. So, the revenue either has to somehow come from

1. end-users indirectly (like how HackerNews helps YCombinator attract quality investments)

2. a group that has users' best interests at heart, as well as a financial incentive (google's personalization helps readers find relevant searches as well as helping advertisers target... maybe not a 100% perfect example but you get the idea)

3. a diverse array of paying customers such that no one interest overpowers the others.

Any ideas in Glassdoor's context?

Why must reviews be free?

Tech magazines used to do reviews (of gadgets), and they ain't free to read? at least, not the trustworthy ones.

Are you talking about print publications?

As far as I know Consumer Reports is the only one that does this still. Consumer Reports is a nonprofit, and they're run like a media company. Their staff research and write the content, pretty well!

I don't think this would work for user-generated content -- who would pay to be able to write an anonymous review?

I do think user-generated content is necessary for job reviews; you can't buy the experience of being an employee off the shelf and subject it to objective tests, like with technology products.

It doesn't have to be paid to write - but you have to pay to view the reviews just like you'd have to pay to read a magazine.

How would the authors know they could write a review if they can't view the site?

Isn't that trivially solvable by telling them on the landing page?!

Consumer Reports.

As I mentioned in my comment below, how could this possibly work for job reviews?

Consumer reports writes reviews by ordering products off the shelf and testing them with their own staff.

How could that work for reviewing the lived experience of other companies' staff?

User-generated content is the opposite of Consumer Reports.

> negative reviews flat out removed

And if wording or details were the issue, they could at the very least leave the review score, as a proof of their good faith. Nope.

I guess that's less effort for the executives than just "stop acting like a jerk"...

I think in a lot of those cases, they don't even know they're jerks and couldn't believe they are.

I'm reminded of Burroughs...

“Thou shalt not be such a shit, you don't know you are one.”

I've witnessed similar on two occasions. These were typical flakey SV recruiters were completely unprofessional and disrespectful of my time.

In fact the experience was so bad in each of these that I really felt compelled to write a review in the hopes that others might avoid also wasting lots of time.

Both reviews were taken down within 24 hours of being posted.

> removed by a company that was paying glass door for some sort of premium service

Is there any proof of this? Source?

The reviews were deleted seconds after they were posted and their profile has a icon that indicates they pay glassdoor for additional services. A coworker that also left had the same experience I did when he posted his review.

Everyone should review them then.

That's still not proof companies can delete them, though. There are other possible explanations.

The YELP business model!

By and large, GlassDoor ratings are no longer a good measure of how well a company treats employees; they now measure, mainly, whether a company has the ability to engineer and maintain artificially good GlassDoor ratings.

GlassDoor, in short, has become a textbook example of Goodhart's Law:

  "When a measure becomes a target,
   it ceases to be a good measure."[a]
The same phenomenon is known in some contexts as Campbell's Law:

  "The more any quantitative social indicator is
   used for social decision-making, the more subject
   it will be to corruption pressures and the more
   apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social
   processes it is intended to monitor."[b]
[a] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law

[b] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell%27s_law

You are correct that companies' direct incentive is to optimize their ratings.

Don't you think that's correlated with improving actual employee experiences, though? I agree they're not the same thing. But if they spend HR effort to improve the ratings, that means they're looking at the feedback, and presumably they will try to address some or part of it where possible.

Essentially, the fact that people optimize metrics doesn't mean that the whole process is hopeless. Anyone who has built metrics systems will agree that you can rarely measure the exact thing you're looking for -- the ideal is to get as close as you can.

> But if they spend HR effort to improve the ratings, that means they're looking at the feedback, and presumably they will try to address some or part of it where possible.

No. In any control loop you have two ways of reducing error.

One is the arduous business of actuation. Doing things. Soul-searching. Working hard. Investigating. Listening. Making it better.

The other is to lie to the sensor. This is always easier.

From the controller's POV, it's indistinguishable.

Don't both ways happen? Surely you don't see the world as completely black-and-white?

I said it's easier to deceive the sensor.

The way you avoid this problem is to avoid creating the incentive to subvert the loop.

I am fairly confident that every metric, target, index, goal, KPI or score that has ever been connected to money, power or fame has been subverted. As far as that goes, yes, I see the world as black-and-white.

Glassdoor scores are tied to ability to hire. It's easier to game the scores than to not suck, especially since "horrible place to work" is going to correlate strongly with "dubious ethics".

> a textbook example of Goodhart's Law

I had never heard of Goodhart's Law by name until about 45 minutes ago, while listening to an episode of Planet Money that originally aired last November. And here it is again. This is one of the more striking examples of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon I've experienced in recent years.

Once I learned about the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon it seemed to pop up everywhere.

It's spreading on HN this past week, you could say it's viral.

I just saw it in another thread today and am seeing it again here. It's pretty apropos for what I'm dealing with at the company I'm at right now too.

sorry, this is off topic, but it's impossible to add a comment to the discussion in which you participated at


where you discuss with one of the authors of the excellent paper "Towards Understanding Linear Analogies"

you are discussing ELMo and specifically word senses i.e. "leaves" which has multiple senses (departs, foliage, ...)

I recently stumbled on a paper from 2016 (modified 2018) which IMHO gives a lot of insight, but I had to read both the old and the new version (I recommend reading v1 first and then the newest)

They illustrate how for example the word "leave" in word embeddings, is in fact simply a linear combination (with coefficients on the order of 1) of the true positions of each individual sense i.e. "leave" = A"leave.1"+B"leave.2"+... with A,B, ... constants close to 1. Theres typically less than 10 for a single word.

These reside in the same vector space as the word embeddings, and they illustrate how these sense vectors can be retrieved from the shallow word embedding vectors by sparse coding!

The paper is at https://arxiv.org/abs/1601.03764

Again I recommend reading first v1 then v6

Interesting. Based on a quick glance, it seems this would answer the question I asked in that thread about whether it might be possible to get word-sense embeddings via two simpler transformations: first a transformation to the space of word-sense compositions (e.g., via GloVe/SGNS), and then a transformation to the space of word senses. I'll take a closer look. Thank you!

correct, the flow of information is:

corpus -- word2vecOrGloVe--> word embeddings v_w in R^n

word embedding --sparsecoding--> sense embeddings v_s in same R^n

the sparse coding process gives the constants A_ws and senses where subscript w is a word index and s is a sense index, so that:

word vectors v_w = sum(A_ws v_s, s)

and for each word w most A_ws are zero except for a few s values

1) polysemy: a word w can have multiple senses, namely those sense vectors with index s where A_ws is nonzero

2) synonyms: a sense s can have multiple synonyms w, again those w where A_ws is nonzero

so the result of sparse coding gives for each word, a couple of indexes of the sense vectors, and for each sense the corresponding indexes of word vectors... and of course the sense vectors themselves.

so that to find say a synonym of "leaves", you just look at the sense indexes corresponding to that string, then you look at the different words indexes for that sense, and they will refer to the words "foliage" but also "leaves" of course and possibly others...

I also believe that once you have the sense vectors, in theory a second pass through the corpus should improve results if the context of each focus word is used to determine the closest sense vector compatible with the focus word... so that in effect word2vec or Glove extraction is run on the senses instead of the words

for the sparse coding they used SMALLbox, and I am still trying to better grasp how exactly the sparse coding works, and what prevents the A_ws and v_s to reduce to the trivial solution v_s = v_w and A_ww = 1 and A_wx = 0 for x differing from w...

You don't say! I used to work as an engineer at a truly awful little company, the worst I've been at, and when I left I gave them a scathing review. Not long after, several new reviews popped up. Here are some choice excerpts, get a load of this:

> Pros: > For anyone reading these reviews, take it from someone who has been at this company for over 10 years, some people just like to use these review sites as a sounding board for their own distorted views of a company where they obviously were let go for good and obvious reasons.

> [skipping forward a bit]

>The truth is that every company will inevitably come across a "sour grape" that was not meant to be part of that companies future. Its just a shame that instead of trying to improve themselves they waste time trying to justify their irrational beliefs and convince themselves that writing negative reviews will somehow fortify their distorted view of what actually happened during their time there.


>Former employees that sit in dark rooms and write negative reviews in between shifts at the local convenience store.


Then they separately put up some absurd propaganda reviews. This one was titled "Sunshine, Unicorns and GumDrops," if you can believe that:

> I have been with Snowbound for quite a long time(about 10 years) and I have been meaning to write a review. I am inclined to agree with the "like a family and home away from home” reviews. At least on my side of the office it’s the land of Sunshine, Unicorns and Gumdrops. We like to work hard but also have a good time doing it.

Then they had another one titled "Like a family", here's an excerpt~

> You aren't just a number or a body behind a computer screen. If you're going through a personal issue, …

Yeah, like when I was fired and the CTO coldly told me "We can do better than you." This is the same guy who I watched stroke a waitress's hand as he passed her a tip during a company lunch outing and tell her "You have a smoking ass."


There's another review titled "home away from home," and another called "long time here and worth it," but you get the point.

Since you opted to reveal the company's name (Snowbound software), I went ahead and read the reviews on GlassDoor.

Your review is very emotionally charged and with very few facts or examples, which makes it difficult to take seriously.

Since you were fired I can understand why you would write like this, but it is a bit ironic considering the article is about manipulating reviews.

Yours is scathing indeed, but not in an insightful way and just seems like an attempt to bash the company (1 star, all reds, only pros are low pressure environment and parking?). I can understand why the company would want to defend itself against this with actual facts (they state increased revenue, staff seniority, customer names).

Anyways take whatever you want from this comment, I'm just a neutral observer with limited information, but I don't think Snowbound's positive reviews show manipulation

I did not mean to reveal that, it was an oversight by me.

> Your review is very emotionally charged and with very few facts or examples, which makes it difficult to take seriously.

I wrote the review more than a year after leaving the company. I wasn't feeling very emotional, I was just trying to be descriptively honest. I'm not sure what you're looking for. Transcripts of specific dialogues between employees? I explained the way things are there pretty truthfully, and five years later I still feel it's objectively accurate. The problem is the personalities and there isn't much more to it than that.

> just seems like an attempt to bash the company (1 star, all reds, only pros are low pressure environment and parking?)

If you had worked there this might stop seeming like an exaggeration.

> I don't think Snowbound's positive reviews show manipulation

If you can't see the manipulation going on there, it's hard for me to imagine a set of reviews that you would consider manipulation.

The negative review was informative enough. Political, negative work environment and old, dead tech. Blah blah.

It's the context that is particularly damning. Whenever you see a heartfelt negative review surrounded by obviously fake or reactionary (do you really not see that?) positive reviews, that is a red flag. It is not uncommon.

I totally disagree. When I read reviews (on Glassdoor or anywhere, really) I try to discount any emotionally charged content and focus on the factual elements of the reviews.

I mean, "Political, negative work environment"? Every single group of humans since the beginning of time has a level of political interaction, so when I see comments about things being political I pretty much discount them unless there are some level of specifics. I've also seen folks make the "political" charge when what was really at issue is the person didn't communicate or work well with others, and it takes a level of emotional maturity to realize why this is important.

> factual elements of the reviews

What facts can you really share though? This isn't a court situation, where evidence is scrutinized and held up to rigorous standards. So what are you really expecting? Transcripts of conversations? Financial documents? I don't really understand what kind of "facts" you would be looking for.

Reviews are all about "how was your subjective experience there." If the answer is "awful, the company treated me poorly," then that's a legitimate review. Why would you discount it?

Because there is a big difference between "awful, the company treated me poorly" and something like "I got 4 consecutive quarters of positive reviews, including a bonus and a raise, but then when there was a change in management I was let go with the reason being 'poor performance'." Something like that would let me know the company is immature with respect to how it managed employee growth.

That's a great example of a specific factual incident!

But, A.) you don't know if these "facts" are true, so they shouldn't really add much weight, and B.) not all situations come down to something so specific and citable. Sometimes, people are just really obnoxious to be around, and they're rude and impatient and temperamental and it's a daily thing and that's all there is to it, and you can't really boil that down to such a nice clean sentence as in your example.

Just because there's some numbers doesn't mean it's factual.

Annecdotal, not factual. And both should be treated with same level of scrutiny.

> Annecdotal, not factual.

Anecdotes are not the opposite to facts. They are only opposites to whole facts.

oh shit that actually happened to me! man thanks for validating my terrible experience with my last company :P

People are naturally political, that's precisely why professionalism was invented, and a key function of a manager is to shield their people from the politics higher up.

> Every single group of humans since the beginning of time has a level of political interaction

You don't say.

"Political" was my word to sum up part of a lengthy Glassdoor post made by someone else which does not use the word at all. Feel free to substitute whatever word is least prone to cause you a mental hemorrhoid flare-up.

Would you say it's fair to oppose "political work environment" with "meritocracy?"

So you support politics and lots of people don't. And that may make them politically immature but politics is a very common skill compared to technical and raw work skills.

Individual reviews are ultimately worthless on a site like Glassdoor. You'll never hear both sides.

I've found that it's relatively accurate for bigger companies, though, give the larger number of reviews. Individual reviews are simply 1 data point and worthless on their own. Good employers are often typically awarded in other ways, like local best places to work lists.

Much like on Amazon - more people look at the star rating vs the reviews as the indicator. Sadly these can be gamed, but for the most part I've found major companies to be represented correctly, in my experience.

It really depends. I try to view Glassdoor like the way I read amazon reviews.

I'll see a bunch of "good" reviews. They do me nothing.

Yet those bad reviews have a trend that the battery hatch clip keeps breaking off and they had to do hacks to make it work. ... Or the multiple Samsung refrigerator water filter were fakes and leaked all across the floor (0).

In a office setting, it's the similar thing. There will be a lot of good, but the details and consistency of the bad ones are the thing to watch.

(0) https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Da29-00020b-1P-DA29-00020b-Re...

While his isn't great, the other reviews absolutely look planted or suspiciously good.

All the bad reviews are from former employees and all the good ones are from current employees, yeah I'm gonna call bullshit plus even doubt a bit your neutrality about the matter.

Yeah, an employee fired from my previous employer basically wrote the same negative review on any site that he could. Including the goddamn Yellow Pages. In that review, he alleged several things that were just simply lies.

Yes, I eventually left as well, but I left because there was a better offer from another company that my previous employer couldn't match. They were sad to see me go and it was hard to leave because they were a good group.

Run from any prospective employer who tells you, "we're like a family." They mean it an all the worst ways. Feuding, dysfunction, racist uncles, getting kicked out of the house.

I just sat through a company wide "Sensitivity Training" at my company (which I'm very much looking forward to leaving, and leaving a review for,) where "We're a family" was repeated ad nausium. I was a little shocked that this was coming from HR and Staff. It was almost a cultish call and response of bullshit.

The reality is, we're not family. I don't have to be sensitive to my family. If I don't like them, I can say and do as I please. If they don't like me, the same. I don't have to care about their feelings, I don't have to accept their life choices. I don't have to see them every day. I don't have to accomplish tasks with them. I can quarrel with them, and eventually they may choose to forgive me because of kinship, or not. Point being, there are precisely zero commonalities between family and work peers. And there shouldn't be.

The contrarian jerk in me really wanted to yell an epithet during training and say something along the lines of "What, if we're a family, I'm the racist uncle that your dad keeps inviting to dinner despite his offensive tirades and uncomfortable leering at your sister. Deal with it."

You'd probably have more effect mentioning that the sensitivity training is insensitive to people whose families are abusive, especially given significant groups of minorities are disproportionately affected.

(Personally as an adult who continues to deal with difficulties regarding abusive family, I would feel highly uncomfortable with "we're a family" rhetoric- this is the exact rhetoric abusers use when abusing their family!)

> I would feel highly uncomfortable with "we're a family" rhetoric- this is the exact rhetoric abusers use when abusing their family!

You're right to feel uncomfortable; this is not coincidental.

You're absolutely right (and also on point for why I prefaced with 'the contrarian jerk in me.') I think I'll email exactly this to HR now.

If HR ever asks specific groups(as a way to dismiss you), feel free to bring up LGBTQIA+ and CSA (child sexual abuse). That tends to really light a fire under some asses.

> The contrarian jerk in me really wanted to yell an epithet during training and say something along the lines of "What, if we're a family, I'm the racist uncle that your dad keeps inviting to dinner despite his offensive tirades and uncomfortable leering at your sister.

LOL. But in general I very much agree. Equating a workplace with a family is gross, and a bit cult-ish. I do think the workplace (and the world) would be a better place if we all tried to love each other like we do our own family, but there's a whole lot of other things family brings that would make the workplace a nightmare, the least of which is widespread manipulation, power struggles, mooching, and non-stop drama.

Family as a reference is horrible. Everyone has a different family dynamic and experience. Some families have unconditional loyalty, others have abusive controlling members, the list of dysfunctions is endless. The cult should be formed around "a team" that has shared values and operates upon agreed acceptable behaviors.

Never had that though I would be tempted to mention my great great Uncle who was a off course bookie in Birmingham UK between the wars - yes that era Peaky Blinders is set in.

In the US this is like having relatives that worked with Al Capone

But people from bad families join less bad families like gangs because people need a family. Nothing wrong with having a family feeling at work but more along the lines of "superstore" or star trek vs full house

> Some families have unconditional loyalty, others have abusive controlling members

Don't those two usually come in pairs?

That's assuming that loving each other like our own family would be loving in a loving way, and not in an absolute deep down rage love-to-hate way. But yes, I agree with your sentiment. We're all just people trying to make it and a little love goes a long way.

Remember that HR exists to keep the company out of trouble. If everybody has gone through sensitivity training and later someone gets in trouble for doing something insensitive, they can blame the person instead of being accused of having a toxic environment.

> where "We're a family" was repeated ad nauseum.

You should view such comments with the same eye that you would view a someone that is always saying 'I love my wife/husband'. Companies either walk the walk or they talk and won't shut up.

I also am strongly allergic to the "family" analogy with the workplace. It should not be analogized to that - even though management sometimes likes to do it.

You can leave a company, or the company can lay you off, or re-org and divest your department. After a year, you will not go to the company picnic. Just won't happen. Not a family.

> You can leave a company, or the company can lay you off, or re-org and divest your department. After a year, you will not go to the company picnic. Just won't happen. Not a family.

Just as a small anecdote: this can happen. I do go to occasional picnics and parties my previous company chooses to make open to former employees. I'm already looking forward to an upcoming office-warming party, as I expect to see a bunch of old colleagues I really enjoyed working with.

There was not a single asshole during my time there. I resigned (over a year ago) to get some fresh challenges, so no bad blood either.

Same. I worked at a small (at the time) consultancy and I will stop by just to visit on occasion. And I'll be invited to several events. It might be a little different because as someone who worked for them, I am inclined to recommend them to where I work. And to recommend other people who used to work for them who have also gone on to other things.

I can’t believe it took me to read this comment to realize this has been exactly my experience in those environments. Thank you for putting it that way, it clicked in me and now I’ll make a mental bookmark of it for future reference

Indeed. Run twice as fast from companies that lament not being able to pay you as much as competitors, but claim to compensate with a "family" atmosphere.

This can also often mean that they intend to try to replace your actual family in terms of how your hours each day are spent, which for many is unacceptable, no matter how shiny-happy-euphemistic "like a family" may sound.

Former employees that sit in dark rooms and write negative reviews in between shifts at the local convenience store.

Wow - that sounds amazingly petty and vindictive. These people must have been a pure mindfuck to work for.

Thank you for posting that, so that people looking for information about this company (Snowbound Software) can be adequately informed about what to expect in engaging in dealings of any kind with this shop.

Right? They proved my point far more effectively than I could ever have done.

This is nothing more than my own opinion, formed over 25 years in software: look forward, not back. If you find yourself venting on a site like glassdoor stop and think it through. Yes ostensibly the point is to help others avoid a similar experience, but the reality is that relationships between employer and employee are so fraught with subjective qualities that it's very hard to say how generally applicable your personal experience is. If you can confine yourself to statements of fact - they have this policy or don't have that one - then that may be actually helpful. Having a bad experience with an employer, especially one that results in involuntary separation, can leave a lot of emotional baggage for you to deal with it. I'd say the last place you should deal with it is in public on a review site.

How could someone write these words you quoted and not see the irony? I could understand wanting to respond to a scathing review you felt was unfair but it's one of those things as a normal person I would probably stop half way through and move on. Did this guy really keep going and post under different accounts? You're lucky you got out of there when you did.

That "Cons" is possibly the worst thing someone could post.

That they hold a grudge when someone left is a _huge_ red flag.

Like everyone, I know lots of divorced couples. If you listen to the man, his ex is 100% to blame. If you listen to the woman, her ex is 100% to blame.

So when I hear a rant from someone about their ex, their boss, etc., I nod sympathetically and think to myself "I wonder what that person would say about you."

Agreed, I do the same.

That said, for what it's worth, I've worked at five companies now and 3 out of 5 were great. The fourth is the one discussed in this thread, and the fifth had 3 hours of meetings per day for every engineer.

A previous employer would do the same thing. They would astroturf reviews whenever they received a bad one.

Yeah, I left a negative review for a startup where I worked, and it was the first review (I actually had to create an entry for the startup in order to leave the review). I tried to be balanced about the things that attracted me there in the first place, and the kind of person who might be able to last a while there, but noted the downsides that drove me out.

Within a month, four more reviews, all 5-star reviews with "cons" sections like "none" or "I don't like this particular office snack" popped up for this company that had existed without reviews for years, all of which were very obviously in the unusual and quite-recognizable writing style of the head sales guy (who was constantly recruiting because of his habit of scapegoating his 3-or-4-person sales team when the company did poorly, and thus firing and replacing all of them), down to his particular mannerisms that I hadn't heard from anyone else (with the same wording appearing in multiple reviews).

I flagged these reviews as obviously by the same author, one who was an "executive" employee of the company, and that I was willing to provide samples to prove it. I've since re-flagged those reviews a few times before realizing that Glassdoor has no interest in responding.

Since then, it appears that the same guy has taken to requiring his new hires (of which he has many, due to his high churn rate from firing and replacing every single BDR/SDR regularly) to write at least one glowing review on Glassdoor, which has grossly inflated the company's score.

The lesson I learned from this experience was to skim positive reviews looking for dangerous euphemisms ("more than just a job" means "no work-life balance", "like a family" means "unprofessional (and often backstabbing) working relationships", "fast-paced" / "driven" / "high-performer" means again that no work-life balance exists) count the number of negative reviews as a health indicator, and read negative reviews looking for repeated themes to identify real problems.

For example, a smallish (50 or so people) company I considered in my last job hunt had several negative reviews that contained phrases like "CEO conducts a whisper campaign against employees he doesn't like", and "getting on the CEO's bad side is easy and damning", while positive reviews said things like "not everyone can adapt to our flat structure" or "it's not for everyone", or "if you can learn to fit in, it's great". That sent the clear signal: there is no real reporting chain, just the CEO's capriciousness, and the CEO plays favorites (or "unfavorites") arbitrarily and heavy-handedly. The verdict: avoid this company.

As with any source of user-submitted reviews online, you have to learn a certain degree of cynicism in order to arrive at an informed decision.

This article kind of misses the entire point; Glassdoor and the rest of these "professional review" sites sell reputation management services to the company. They use the negative reviews to push other high margin services to the companies. The only one who should care about Glassdoor being gamed is Glassdoor executives; anyone looking for a honest and balanced review of a company workplace on Glassdoor is already getting a manufactured picture.

It's the same business model as the Better Business Bureau and Yelp. It's a manufactured perspective.

As a devil's advocate, how can a company expect to be viewed impartially if the only folks who review them have tempers raged enough to motivate them to leave a poor review in the first place? How can I, a potential employee, trust said-reviewer wasn't let go due to Silo'd mismanagement, personal issues or a company pivoting?

I'd rather a platform that lays out exactly what the working conditions would be for most folks. Time in/out of office, salary merit increases or profit-sharing, draconian work-attire policy, etc.

You need to leave a review if you want to access the data in the site. This motivates people to leave a (neutral) review.

So it is not all ranting, and I'd say most companies have good (realistic) scores and reviews

They don't check if you actually worked for the place reviewed. You can leave a review for any company to gain access. Sorry GameStop, for my neutral review even though I never worked there.

Remember: Reviews are written by the kind of people who write reviews

Or reviews are written mostly by people who had a bad experience yelp or glassdoor - same thing. Look at a few profiles. They have nothing but negative reviews.

Their policy on negative reviews seems pretty decent.


Their Legal Action section sounds vaguely threatening.

> Also, if we feel strongly that your lawsuit is primarily intended to chill free speech, we may take extra steps to let the world know what you are up to.

"may" is such a weasel word.

If you're a cellular company, "may" means "will". "If you are in the higher tiers of data use, we may throttle your bandwidth".

If you're Glassdoor who sells reputation management and HR services to the very employers being reviewed, "may" means "we're paying lip service to our critics".

May throttle doesn't necessarily mean "will throttle." The company is giving itself the latitude not to throttle, or to not throttle exactly at the data cap.

In other words, you can't rely on that throttling if you're, say, connecting to some cloud service that's charging you by the gigabyte to transfer data.

No, it doesn't, canonically. But it equally can. Witness Verizon, throttling first responders in California wildfires. At 3.45am. Despite their verbiage about usage limits, above which "may be throttled depending on network capacity", it was obvious that after limit+1 bit, regardless of network capacity, you would be throttled, no ifs, buts or may(be)s.

I thought that too, except for this:

> Ask Your Employees to Leave More of Them. We encourage you to ask your employees to leave honest reviews on Glassdoor.

I personally see this as manipulating and watering down. It's not an ethical problem IMHO, but I'd rather hear from the people that were motivated enough by their love or hate to go out and leave a review. Also as an employee, I've had an employer ask me to leave an honest review, and there is no question in my mind what they really meant :-)

Previous employer (a large division of a very large software company) had signs up in our offices that actively encouraged reviews.

The selling point was that it would help make it easier to get quality coworkers. Kind of made sense, but it was still shady.

I wonder how it would change things if there was a question on the review, "were you asked by your employer to leave a review?"

"Jennifer Peatman, who headed Roostify’s human-resources team at the time many of the negative reviews were written, surmised they came from disgruntled former engineers who she said didn’t have the coding skills the company believed it needed.... Ms. Peatman said she left the company a month later, in December 2017, because of what she called poor leadership"

So I worked at Roostify and none of these engineers were fired. They all left for greener pastures. I think it is hilarious that Jenn can leave because of poor leadership, but when engineers leave and cite poor leadership it is because they suck.

My approach to Glasdoor reviews is similar to my approach to Amazon reviews... ignore the positive reviews, and focus on the negative ones. Now, "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence", but a large number of negative reviews is a strong "stay away" signal. A small number of negative reviews is, more or less regardless of the positive reviews, a "neutral" indicator to me.

I interviewed with a company just last month that had a string of awful Glassdoor reviews - all mentioning the same internal problem.

During the on-site interviews I asked multiple employees about the situation. They had no response, but I got a call from the HR director shortly afterward wishing to clear the air about my questions.

Her explanation was that 1) the internal employees don't read Glassdoor so they weren't aware/able to answer my questions, and 2) it was one disgruntled employee that bombed the multiple bad reviews all over the site.

This all just raised more red flags, so I walked. I have no idea how they can fix this situation. But I agree - a slew of bad reviews signals some kind of problem, but now it's up to you to do the legwork and sort it out.

"No response" as in "I don't want to/can't comment on that" or "I have no idea what you're talking about"?

90% “no idea”, 10% “oh there was this one guy that quit for {completely different reason}”

Amazon's "most helpful negative review" feature is good. Most 1-star ratings tend to be zero effort and are a useless chore to read, but if the product secretly has lead or is prone to early failure or whatever, that will almost certainly be highlighted in the "most helpful negative".

Right, or a review that includes positive and negative feedback is also more credible.

> a large number of negative reviews is a strong "stay away" signal. A small number...

Unfortunately that's unreliable, because negative reviews are removed, so numbers are fake.

Unfortunately that's unreliable, because negative reviews are removed, so numbers are fake.

Right, but there is no one signal that is definitive (IMO). So looking at this is just one part of evaluating a prospective employer.

That said, I have seen negative reviews on Glasdoor, so we know they don't all get removed.

I like to read the negative reviews. You can usually get a sense if the person is just disgruntled or has a legitimate gripe.

Nitpick: Unless you're confusing "evidence" and "proof", absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Proof: http://oyhus.no/absence/index.html

That site is pretty pretentious...all you have to do is replace it with, "absence of proof is not proof of absence."

Fair enough. But in the colloquial sense, the meanings are close enough that nobody has any trouble understanding the point.

I didn't apply for a job based on the reviews. Wasn't that they were 'all bad' - were pretty mixed with no standout embittered ex-employee, nor sudden influx of positives. Just reading through them a common complaint got made pretty often - and as am currently annoyed by similar issue with current job, decided it wasn't worth the leap.

For digging through amazon reviews I recommend to use



Unfortunately a similar service for glassdoor doesn't seem to exist.

I don’t go by the quantity, I look at the details of negative reviews. If the worst complaints are just nitpicks or the negative reviewers seem like someone I wouldn’t want to work with, I usually think the company is pretty good.

Glassdoor is a joke. I left negative reviews for FigureEight (previously Crowdflower) and they immediately went into review and were then deleted. The positive reviews there are so obviously fake. ("cons: only one shower") lol.

They have had several rounds of layoffs and yet their reviews stayed positive. Only now I see a few negatives are creeping through the cracks as I'm sure the onslaught of negative reviews is much greater than what's posted.

Anyway, stay away from FigureEight, they have extremely shady employee practices and have to be one of the worst companies in SF I've experienced or witness. The only condolence I have is I see the entire C-team has been fired or left. It's a dumpster fire.

Anyway, yeah, Glassdoor is trash.

They also sell your data now:

"We have updated our Privacy and Cookie Policy with changes to how we use and share information.

Among other things, our updated Privacy and Cookie Policy: Allows Glassdoor to share data with Glassdoor affiliates. Subject to user visibility and control, permits Glassdoor to share a user's Profile or resume with prospective employers when a user creates and saves a Profile and uploads a resume, and allows Glassdoor, or a Glassdoor affiliate, to recommend a Glassdoor user (and that user's Profile, resume or resume extract) to an employer with a presence on Glassdoor or a Glassdoor affiliate's site.

You do not need to take any further action upon receiving this email. By continuing to use our services, you agree to the updated policy. You can also update your account information at https://www.glassdoor.com/member/account/settings_input.htm. Thank you for being part of the Glassdoor community.

Who are Glassdoor affiliates? Glassdoor is now part of Recruit Holdings, a leading HR company. Glassdoor affiliates include Recruit's family of companies. Sharing data with Glassdoor affiliates will help improve your experience and visibility in finding a job you love."

Do any such services not engage in similar practices? Including LinkedIn? I'm kind of dismayed at the state of the modern application process, where you typically have to give your info to one or more third parties instead of being able to submit directly to the company/recruiters.

It's amazing, because I used to (naively perhaps) trust Glass Door reviews. Then I started at Canopy Tax and heard in almost every weekly company meeting, an encouragement to go on Glass Door and rate the company. They would also brag during those weekly meetings about the current Glass Door rating. The "Glass Door" rating was also reviewed in the meeting, with lamenting over any negative reviews that would pop up. After that experience, I started viewing Glass Door with a very skeptical eye.

Overall Canopy Tax was a good place to work (for someone that meshes better with the culture than I did). I have many friends still there that are very happy, but I did find that Glass Door manipulation to be pretty distasteful.

If anyone from Glass Door is reading, please go back to your roots! You were such a valuable resource for me in the past, and an important force to help balance the power differential scales.

I think monetization is the problem here and this is why they moved towards removing negative reviews. We should invent a platform where altering past is not possible and not incentivized financially.

What’s amazing is that it’s 2019 and there are still people who trust online reviews written by people they don’t know! Show me one online review system out there that is not gamed in some way by the entities that stand to gain or lose money due to the content in the reviews.

> it’s 2019 and there are still people who trust online reviews written by people they don’t know!

I feel it's an extension of the old "innocent until proven guilty" thing. In the Western world, especially in the United States, we have this belief of trusting unless we are given a very high confidence level reason not to. It's this belief that is being taken advantage of via online review systems. We do not doubt them by default because it would be mean or rude to doubt the entity behind the review (entity meaning person or bot).

But what happens with your "innocent until proven guilty" when you read a negative review about a company and believe it without any proof?

I think ratemyprofessors is a fairly decent online review system. Even without the scoring, just hearing peoples descriptions of how the prof teaches is quite beneficial

Im curious how you felt this was "manipulation". No one said "if you have something good to say, leave a review", which is common in retail, but moreso, it was just "go leave a review". Yes, the company is proud of its reviews, and yes, obviously there will be skoff over bad reveiws. How is any of this manipulation?

It's manipulation of the glass door rating because it alters the organic state of reviews. You're not getting a baseline of reviewers that were motivated enough by their experience to go out and leave a rating. If every company were doing this same thing, then for the candidate looking for insight it would still be reasonably easy to get a fair comparison. With some companies manipulating the results and others not, it's not a fair comparison.

To claim that it was not manipulation, it seems to me that you'd have to argue that the reviews that were created under this encouragement would have all happened anyway, without the encouragement, which I find to be a dubious claim.

I wonder, if a product manufacturer were encouraging their employees (that were themselves users of said product) to go on Amazon and review the product, would you consider that manipulation of the Amazon reviews?

Ok, I understand you now. You feel its manipulation because you now have "noise" from people who wanted to stay silent. Thats fair, but, I mean, this happens everywhere. Restaurants, mechanics, dentist offices, apps, retailers, all ask for reveiws. Some even enter you into a "sweepstakes" of sorts for one. What your saying is the review system as a whole is inheritely flawed. An example of goodharts law, sure, but not sure any of this is glassdoors fault. It also becomes "normal" as more companies do it. At a certain point, that might be manipulation, but at least they aren't manipulating what is said in the reviews.

Yes, agree 100%


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