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New Community Site Offers Views From the Trenches 71

roby2358 writes " TrenchMice is a new community-moderated website that provides 'inside opinions and insights' about businesses and employers. But instead of the reporting bias toward management and venture capitalists that is so common in the mainstream media, on TrenchMice the opinions and information come from posts by the people in the trenches. Users — who can post anonymously if they choose — can provide topics, scoops, or comments, and there is a thorough rating system. To keep the site from turning into a 'whack-a-company' fest, users build up 'Cred' (something like Karma) as they provide insights on companies and employers. The site is based in Seattle and most of the early content is about Seattle companies, but they have ambitions to grow nationwide, with a goal is to see if a site based completely on open-source technology, and rigorously community moderated, can run on a pretty much automatic basis. Could be an interesting model for future social sites if it takes off. Full disclosure: I know these guys and have posted on the site, but I don't work for them."
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New Community Site Offers Views From the Trenches

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  • Less FUD (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DotNM ( 737979 )
    Looks like this could become a good thing.... learning about the reality versus corporate-spin FUD
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This may well be a good thing, but ultimately it's just a slashvertisement for some lame website... consumerist.com does a pretty good job with this sort of stuff anyway, and "community" is just so 2003...

      So, for something more interesting and relevant... how well do yuo know your BRUCE SCHNEIER FACTS [geekz.co.uk] ?
  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @03:09PM (#17964438) Journal
    Employers had a site like that about employees?
    • They already do (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HomelessInLaJolla ( 1026842 ) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @03:15PM (#17964482) Homepage Journal
      It's called the major media. When you watch the politics headlines on CNN, or read the business section in your local newspaper, or consult your favorite website for the latest stock tips you are being given a look at how the employers want you to see their companies. From those points of view the trench mice are rarely mentioned as they're ultimately not important to the profit margin, stock price, or corporate merger goals. If the trench mice are mentioned in the major media you can be sure it is only to fulfill the poster child requirements. Corporations, like casinos, need a few superstar good stories and a few superstar bad stories just to keep the PR windmills turning.
      • I think you missed the OP point entirely. What if there was a community website for HR departments, managers, and project leaders to post about their employees and what they are doing "in the trenches"? Joe Coder showed up 30 minutes late today, Jim Engineer is consistently missing deadlines, Bob Soandso did a great job delivering for our latest product launch, etc.
        • by Stugots ( 601806 )
          I think there's a larger point that you are missing. All of the entities listed in your second sentence are employees themselves. So employees (which includes "managers," "project leaders," and even "founders") writing about conditions in their company isn't societally recursive, while what you're suggesting would be.

          Nobody -- HR manager, project leader, etc. -- is prohibited from registering on TrenchMice and rating their company.
        • Might be useful. If a boss writes shit about a programmer showing up to work 30 minutes late, I'd instantly realize that the boss doesn't understand programmers or programming, and he's not anybody worth working for.

          Anybody who bitches about a programmer showing up 30 minutes late to work had better not bitch when those same programmers decide to punch the clock at 5 PM sharp instead of working the problem until they fall asleep.
    • by Joebert ( 946227 )
      Don't sites like Monster.com fall into that category ?
    • You can Google anyone and find out more than they put on their resume, stuff that can be taken out of context if seen that way, stuff that they do outside of work that has nothing to do with work but may attach stigma to them depending on biases of whoever's doing the search, etc. A difference here though would be that there aren't others to collaborate (and therefore validate or invalidate information based on peer review) on such information such as on the web site in question, but hey, it doesn't seem t
  • Why does someone always feel the need to let us know how it's going "In the trenches" ?

    We know how it's going in there, it sucks, why do you think we sent you ?
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @03:17PM (#17964498) Homepage

    What's the point of this site? I'm not flaming, I'm just not totally clear on this. Is this supposed to be a forum where the low guy on the totem pole offers his "insight" into where the company should be heading? Or is it a "vent about your lame boss" site?

    The reason I'm asking is: Who will read it? Who is the intended audience?

    I just went to the site and saw a bunch of names of people I've never heard of, and with almost 100% probability will never hear of.

    I've seen sites with "critical mass" hurdles. But for this site to *begin* to have meaningful data to a majority of visitors, it would need millions of viewers.

    • Neither (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HomelessInLaJolla ( 1026842 ) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @03:19PM (#17964510) Homepage Journal
      Check out the site. It's just a different way for people to pass news. CxOs, directors, and VPs meet each other and pass insider trading tips on golf courses. Employees often meet at the local Subway, Starbucks, or by the water cooler. The site isn't a trash-your-company site and it's not a major media outlet. It's an internet water cooler.
      • well said. The only problem I see as a potential user is this - a water cooler is free, while this site has three tiers out of which two are paid. And that means there are three water coolers - I can use only one if I am not a paying user.

        This site may have a good potential, but I am already disappointed.
      • A way to anonymously break NDAs and leak trade secrets?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've seen sites with "critical mass" hurdles. But for this site to *begin* to have meaningful data to a majority of visitors, it would need millions of viewers.

      hence the reason it was posted to slashdot
  • In the same vein, Recruiter-Rater [zhrodague.net] is a site for rating recruiters, and for jobseekers (and HR professionals) to rate these agencies. Help fight jobboard spam!
  • How can I trust the user submitted comments if site allow them to post anonymously? How do they verify the truthfulness of the posts. Competitor can just pose as ex-employee and trash the target company.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Anyone can post anonymous comments. But to post major pieces of information about a company ("scoops"), you have to be a member of the site. And if you're a member, other members rate your credibility.

      So any _one_ piece of information can be wrong. But short of using only face-to-face meetings with people who carry three forms of identification, that's _always_ true of any online information source. The value comes, I think, from the "wisdom of the masses" (I didn't coin that phrase, I read it somewhere
      • If you allow user to broadcast unverified information about a company, it's called rumor. And people love sensational headlines, to which slashdot is not immune neither. And therefore, such site will not be useful if I can't trust it. ya, at most you can call it web water cooler.
    • by jwp ( 12109 )
      Competitor can just pose as ex-employee and trash the target company.

      Or, Employer shill can pose as an ecstatic employee and pump it up.
      • That reminds me of this company called Vector which prays on the insecurity of the lives of college students and people just coming out of high school. Basically they give you "free training seminars" (where as real jobs are required to pay you for training) and during which one of the exercises they give you is to write down as many names as possible. Then they make you go out and sell Cutco knives to as many of these people as possible after getting you all excited about their product by lying to you abou
  • Can you mod an entire website with "-1, Troll" ?
  • way to be fired
  • Not viable... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:21PM (#17964992)
    A few years ago I knew of a woman who started writing about where she worked. She avoided referring to the company or anyone there directly. However, she was so specific with details that fairly quickly her coworkers discovered this blog. It probably wouldn't be a big deal if she weren't insulting her coworkers constantly and inadvertently disclosing some sensitive information. Needless to say, soon enough she was out of a job.

    That brings me to one of the problems with this kind of site. I don't think many people feel comfortable writing about their employer, especially if it's something negative. More importantly, however, do most people even have the time or inclination to bother with this? If they're already exhausted from being down in the trenches they're going to want to dwell on work in their free time.

    If there is a bias towards management in the media it's because those guys are the people making the decisions. They're the ones who matter, they're the ones with the money and guiding the company. Obviously every employee is important and there are countless stories of incompetent managers. But that's irrelevant. The person down in the trenches is simply taking orders. For obvious reasons people want to know what companies are doing. It's easy to be informed because the information is readily available in most cases.

    The only way I see for such a site to be effective is for it to have a unique hook. Fucked Company is one example that comes to mind. The information regarding layoffs and company closings is easy to gather. And any affected employee could easily share information. But most importantly, there was an emotional draw to the site. It made people want to visit and more importantly want to contribute.

    At best this TrenchMice site will turn into a rant about companies. Usually the only people driven to comment are those who are unhappy with their situation. The ones who are happy see little need to contribute and likely are preoccupied with other things anyway. And if it ends up being mostly negative I don't think management is going to be too happy about some site disparaging their company.

    It's an interesting idea, but I don't see it as too viable in it's present form.
  • Actually, I think you'll find this site [kuro5hin.org] had that little thing going first... ;)
  • Anyone else realize Scott Adams now has a new source of inspiration?
  • As far as I can tell, the site charges for the ability to post a "topic". A "topic" is how you start a new thread on a new company. So, it's requiring people pay for the privilege of starting a thread about a company. Sounds like a thin veneer on an advertising board to me.
    • by Stugots ( 601806 )
      No, you're wrong. A bronze account can create topics, and it's free.

      What is true is that you can't create topics as a bronze account immediately. You need to build up your "cred rating" a little bit first, which you can do by posting scoops or comments that other members rate favorably.
      • If that's the case (and it's not clear based on the instructions), then there is still a problem. Someone knows about a company they want to post about, but probably not about the other companies that are already there. How is that person supposed to build up "credit" in order to post? They probably no nothing about the companies currently posted. It's a chicken-and-egg problem. The site won't get current news with this model because the actively rated group will be small.
        • by Stugots ( 601806 )
          http://www.trenchmice.com/account/compare [trenchmice.com] compares the account levels, and it does say that a bronze account allows for topic creations... Maybe it needs to be clearer?

          The scenario you raise is certainly possible. If that user finds absolutely nothing else to comment on in the entire site, then I agree with you that he/she won't be able to easily build up cred. OTOH, the site is seeded with lots of pacific northwest companies. So one would hope that the chances of this scenario happening are small for wh
        • by Stugots ( 601806 )
          We listened to your comments, and those of some of our users. We came around to your point of view that the bar was being set too high for new topic creation. And so we've changed the policy for new topic creation. See http://www.cogitooptimus.com/2007/02/11/new-rules- for-topic-creation/ [cogitooptimus.com].
  • They use port 81 (Score:2, Informative)

    by hda ( 311214 )
    ... for javascipt and css. Port 81 is not considered a 'safe_port' on default squid configurations. Though visitors behind a proxy not allowing http requests through port 81 still see the content, the rendering of the pages is very confusing. The postings on that site appear near the bottom of the page.
  • /. surfing and future recreationation are as red beans to rice
    1. trenchmice could improve its game by letting companies submit their save files.
      1. Currently things aren't this way.
        1. Real world recreation counterpart in virtual competition: Some Utah cafes [time.com] where people go to get a bight to eat and socialize. One in Seattle has an xbox and there is a highly probable possibility that other places do as well. There's a price shock: visitors get the opportunity to game the valuing system and difficultly make apprai
  • "Seattle companies, but they have ambitions to grow nationwide, with a goal is to see if a site based completely on open-source technology, and rigorously community moderated, can run on a pretty much automatic basis." Say what?
  • Subpoenas will be flying like confeti. A lawyer's dream come true.
    • by Stugots ( 601806 )
      Hmm. Do subpoenas fly like confetti at /.? Digg? Epinions.com? The scores of restaurant review websites?
  • I took a look around the site and found the whole thing...underwhelming.

    Am I missing something here? (not trolling; honest question)
  • But instead of the reporting bias toward management and venture capitalists that is so common in the mainstream media

    Venture capitalists? Did this story fall through a 1999 space-time rift?

    (Pud, is that you?)

    Full disclosure: I know these guys and have posted on the site, but I don't work for them.

    OK, which one(s) are you sleeping with?
  • Vault.com [vault.com] tried this with their message boards in the late 90's. It failed spectacularly because disgruntled employees would post personal attacks against management on the site (accusations of illegal behavior, affairs, etc.), which would cause the companies to threaten law suits, etc. In extreme situations, managers who had been attacked on the site started posting offensive / racist postings, which led to even more lawsuits, harmed the site's reputation etc. In the end, they had to close off the messa
  • Fuckedcompany.com (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Fuckedcompany.com. Next...
  • What would prevent this site from being used by the companies for astro-turfing?
    • by Stugots ( 601806 )
      They could try. But if their information was incorrect, it should be "modded down" by the other users of the site.

      The same question can be asked of slashdot. Yet many come here every day...

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll