Michael Hussey, the founder and former CEO of the Web site Rate My Professors, weighs in on the new Peeple app and where he thinks its founders went wrong. (The Washington Post)

Peeple, the so-called “Yelp for people,” was a concept so bad it seemed unlikely to ever come to market. But to our surprise, the app that wants you to review all your relationships is now launching March 7 — albeit with a slate of enfeebling changes.

[Everyone you know will be able to rate you on the ‘Yelp for People’ — whether you want them to or not]

The new Peeple will still allow you to publicly rate your bosses, baristas and exes, according to the Calgary Herald. But in this iteration, all those people would have to opt in in order for you to review them — and, if you say something nasty, they can hide the negative comments. In other words, Peeple is basically LinkedIn endorsements … plus some PR baggage.

“I’m really grateful for that global viral feedback that we got,” Julia Cordray, Peeple’s co-founder, told the Herald. “It was almost like conducting the world’s largest beta test without beta-testing.”

Or, when Cordray found herself on the receiving end of the unsolicited personal feedback that Peeple promised to dole out, she realized there wasn’t so much to feel good about.

[‘That sounds absolutely awful’: John Oliver discovers Peeple]

In its original iteration, which Cordray described to The Post in October, Peeple was intended as a “Yelp for humans”: a ratings platform that would let anyone post public reviews of their acquaintances. Like Yelp, Peeple planned to use a five-point scale that would permit positive and negative comments. Peeple also wouldn’t let anyone opt out, regardless of their circumstances: If a victim of domestic abuse or stalking wanted to get off the app, Cordray told The Post, the victim would have to join and then flagrantly violate the app’s terms of service.

But that inability to opt out, and the significant risks of abuse, provoked outrage from tens of thousands of would-be Peeple users. A petition to ban the app garnered over 7,000 signatures in the week after the Post’s story ran, while parodies like“Sheeple,” “Meet Peeple” and “People for Peeple” slammed the venture as “the world’s dumbest app.”

Cordray deleted dozens of negative comments from her Facebook page before taking the page down. Peeple’s Web site appears to have experienced several DDoS attacks. Cordray says she and her family have received death threats.

All of this only shows why the Internet needs Peeple, Cordray has insisted — not the Peeple she originally pitched, but a revised platform devoted to making the world more “positive.”

Her new app will do this, she told the Herald, by allowing people to “safely manage their reputations”: solicit reviews from coworkers and friends, then hide the ones that don’t agree with them. (Cordray has also suggested rolling out a paid feature that will let users see hidden reviews, but the app isn’t launching with that service, and it’s now easy to delete your account if someone says something unflattering about you.)

Why anyone would sign up for such an app, particularly given the number of popular and pre-existing alternatives, is something Cordray has yet to explain. As she told the Post in 2015, a Peeple “with just nice reviews would be skewed — it would be pointless.” Then again, we’ll take a pointless app with low potential for abuse over a useful app that seemed destined to incite it.

 

 

“As an empathetic female entrepreneur in the tech space,” Cordray said in October, “it’s important that we operate with thoughtfulness.”

Note: A version of this story originally ran in October 2015, when Cordray announced she was rethinking her app. It’s been updated with the news that the redesigned app is coming to market.

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