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Excellent concept - but one major Caveat. Why in the world would you publish it for all the world to see?

Keep it internal to the company - you have an expectation of privacy from your employer and this post just ruined it completely.

I hope they got written signed releases from every one of those folks whose private info they broadcast to the world.




Seconded. Hard to imagine all employees signing off on this release for the sake of a HN article. But I hope that they did. I would be very upset if my salary were published unbeknownst to me.


You would only be upset because you currently work in a company with a culture that doesn't value transparency as a core value.

If you worked in a company like Buffer or GrantTree, you'd be wondering why others are so secretive about their salaries, and find yourself more and more disliking the idea of working for a company which is not transparent.

Habit is a powerful thing. Change your surroundings and you'll change your habits.


If you've never understood the idea of "privilege" before, your attitude of "oh what, this doesn't work for everyone else? It works for me!" is something that gets discussed a lot. Some examples of the many, many situations people can find themselves in where public salary disclosure would be a major problem:

- You have family members who have substance abuse issues. It's common for addicts to steal from family members who they rationalise can afford it.

- You're in an abusive relationship, and your spouse steals your money. Hiding part of your salary may help you feel independent enough to get out.

- Your kids' friends find out how much you earn, and bully them.

- All the rest of your family are part of a religious organisation that demands a tithe. You've lost your faith, but it would tear your family apart to leave.

- You have family who live in a country with a much, much lower standard of living. You support them financially, which is known in their community. Now their neighbours know _just how much_ you're worth, exposing your family to the possibility of kidnapping or extortion.

- Your name is Google-unique, and identifies you as part of a group that is stigmatised on the internet. If your identity leaks into your internet activities (e.g. via Google's real name policy), another major vector of harassment is exposed.

Just a couple of things off the top of my head.


I understand your concerns, however there are so many people who already have their salary info public. For example government employees including military. There is already some idea if you know what someone does. If I work fast food, everyone knows I am going to earn around minium wage. Most people know a ballpark figure for most jobs, I have a doctor friend an administrative assistant friend, nurse friend, police friend, and someone who works in retail. I know about what they all make income wise and they know about what I make as well.


does that make it right?


"Why don't you borrow money for a car from Cousin Ricky? I read online that he has a fancy job in San Francisco paying him $98,433, he can't say no."

"Why don't we break into this guy's apartment? I read online that he makes $98,433 and he should have some expensive stuff in there."

"Hello Sir, sorry to call at dinnertime but I'd like to offer you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy the timeshare of your dreams. You should be able to easily afford it on your $98,433 salary."


Why would you use salary to determine if someone is a big spender or not? Look at their car / home and see if it's worth the risk.


What a bunch of HacknerNews groupthink nonsense or at the very best, hippy dribble. You think it is just some sort of cultural problem for someone that they may not really want the whole world to know what they make? It's one thing for the echo chamber here to be way outside of reality ... it's another to think it is normal.


Perhaps you've got this backwards? People who are attracted to transparency go to companies like Buffer.

It's perfectly legitimate for people not to want to share their salaries on a public website.


> "You would only be upset because you currently work in a company with a culture that doesn't value transparency as a core value."

You don't have anywhere near the information necessary to make that claim. Honestly that came across as pretty arrogant.

I'd also argue that a company can be transparent and still understand that some people more private than others. Whether YOU would share your salary with the world isn't material - your employer shouldn't do it unless you've signed off (and I'm sure these people have if anyone involved has a shred of common sense).

I wouldn't want all my love letters and emails published. I wouldn't want my thoughts tapped and broadcast to the world. There's a line somewhere where transparency for the sake of it is either not helpful to the company or a simple invasion of privacy.


I work at a pretty conservative company, and even I wish salaries were open, at least internally. I don't believe that salary should be determined by how effective of a negotiator you are, but rather what your skills are worth to the company. If you knew they were low-balling you compared to your coworkers, how would you feel?

I wish job postings more often had salary information, too. How am I supposed to know if an interview is worth my time when I don't know if the pay will be higher or even competitive with what I'm making now?


How much do you get paid? I don't see a blog post on GrantTree publishing employee's salaries. (I didn't spend a ton of time looking though, so apologies if I did miss it)


There are some posts describing our pay scale in my commenting history, and everyone in the company knows exactly how much everyone else is paid - though I'll grant you we haven't gone as far as writing a blog post about our pay scale, but perhaps we will some day!

As for me, my cofounder and I both take out the maximum we can without paying lots of unnecessary tax in the UK, which adds up to about £30k per person per year, net.


"You would only be upset because you currently work in a company with a culture that doesn't value transparency as a core value."

So you are saying that when buffer hires someone they are aware that transparency = "we may publish your salary some day"? And that everything is an open book?

Hard to believe that is the case. Or that people didn't feel under pressure to go along with (as some research has show) what they previous may have loosely agreed to (See Cialdini "consistency" principle).


"You would only be upset because you currently work in a company with a culture that doesn't value transparency as a core value."

This isn't the case (at least for me). The reason I wouldn't want my salary published publicly because people may treat me differently based on how much I get paid. The same problems may be true in a company, but at least internally you can control (through hiring) that people are mature enough to handle that information.

More importantly, I don't want other corporations (specifically their marketing and sales departments) to know how much I make.

I may want some people in my life (including corporations, perhaps) to know how much I make, but I want that to be my choice, not my employers.


Agreed. I think this should have been anonymized outside of Buffer.

There are so many possibly repercussions with family, friends, and outsiders, in addition to the things brought up by other posters re: poaching, etc.

I personally wouldn't want my salary revealed publicly because my family would treat me differently as a result (I know this from experience).

If this idea spreads, it wouldn't be long before someone comes up with a way to API this data into something like LinkedIN or Monster. "Joe makes $100k at CompanyX - is it time for a change?"

Internally to the business though, this seems to have a lot of positives. I'll be interested to see how this evolves at Buffer.


I think it's bad that they are essentially publishing whether an employee opted for additional stock or additional cash. Should it be a red flag that the CTO turned down stock in favor of more cash?


Why should it be a red flag?

Statistically speaking, you're more likely to make more money by getting a bigger salary now instead of a big payday that may never happen. Statistically, very very few companies will be large enough for employees to cash out.


Federal Government employees have their pay publicly visible, at least many of them. Some Universities do the same. I'm not sure why this is so mind-blowing for some.

Also, keep in mind that they clearly set the opposite expectation about privacy with their employees and (from what they say), cleared it with everyone first.


Given the fact that federal employees are paid by tax payers (the employer) then the tax payers should know how much they are paying them.


http://open.bufferapp.com/introducing-open-salaries-at-buffe...

(wait for it to load and take you to the specifically linked comment)


They might as well force the employees to disclose what they spend the money on.


It's not hard to guess what a software developer is making these days (hint: a lot).


Yes, but $120K, $240K, and $360K are all "a lot" to different people, are all plausible software dev total compensation numbers, and yet people would still perhaps think differently if they knew their friend made 1x, 2x or 3x $120K.




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