You search the Internet for reviews of restaurants, movies, stores and gadgets. But how would you feel if someone could search the Internet to look for a review of you?
Well, get ready for the critics because a new Web site launching next week invites users to do precisely that. Like a RottenTomatoes.com for people, PersonRatings.com lets anyone anonymously rate and review anyone else, from friends and family to enemies and strangers to everyone else in between.
Following in the footsteps of sites like RateMyProfessors and RateMDs, the founder of PersonRatings said he hopes the site will be a clearinghouse of information on millions of American adults, giving users the opportunity to read about and rate others on a range of qualities, including sexiness, smarts, trustworthiness and humor.
"People are the No. 1 interest of other people," said Jeremy Stamper, the CEO of Topic5, LLC, the company behind PersonRatings. He said he wants the site to be a "one-stop shop" that puts ratings on every single adult American in one place.
Just as you'd read reviews about a new bistro or camera before handing over the credit card, PersonRatings will let you read about others' experiences with people before going on a date, hiring a new babysitter or taking a new job, Stamper said.
Not only does the site let "collective knowledge" serve as a check on behavior (scammers and cheats, you'd better beware), he said it satisfies the little bit of vanity in each of us.
"Everybody deep down kind of wants to know, like when you leave a party, 'what are they saying about me?'" Stamper said.
After a recent spate of blog posts and radio interviews about the service, Stamper said he noticed a boost in profiles and traffic to the site.
Indeed, over the past couple of days, a few members of the Twitterati have created profiles for themselves and invited friends and followers to have at it online.
One Twitterer, "roLOLOdan," posted, "There's now an anonymous Web site called http://www.personratings.com/ As an experiment I'd like to see how you all rate me," and directed readers to his new profile.
"CharredCat" quipped, "The final and true purpose of the Internet," with a link to his own page.
But not everyone rated and reviewed on PersonRatings.com actually wants to be there.
To seed the site with content before its official launch, Stamper said PersonRatings purchased profiles of people from a data company that scraped information from MySpace and other social networking profiles.
Even though the people behind those profiles didn't choose to create a profile on PersonRatings, now that one has been created for them, there's no going back, Stamper said.
"We won't remove it. The reason for it is the value of the site is having open information about people. Obviously, people who don't want their information on there are going to be some of the more valuable," he explained.
Stephanie, 26, an account manager for a New York marketing firm, said she was taken aback when a Google search about a month ago led her to a PersonRatings profile with her name and picture.
According to the site, Stephanie is a 2.88 out of 5. She's rated a 1 on trustworthiness, but a 5 on sexiness, and a solitary commenter left behind the message, "She's pretty."
Her profile doesn't include anything especially damaging, but Stephanie would rather it didn't exist at all.