Will Ng over at MiSoapbox posted recently about waiters who blog about their bad-tipping customers. Like it or not (and lots of people don't), everything is getting rated these days. From RateMyProfessors.com, where students can anonymously post comments about their teachers, to online ratings about lawyers, doctors, auto repair shops, real estate agents...well, just about everyone. Except meeting planners, at least, so far. Hotels, of course, have been dealing with this for a while with sites like this one.
Is this a good trend? I tend to think so, even if it's a little scary to give all sorts of potential whack jobs the potential to smear your work. In my experience, these things tend to be self-correcting. You get one really bad rating, say, from someone who is just never happy with anything, but it's ameliorated by other ratings by normal people. And if you deserve a bad rating, well, you need to know that, too. Just whatever you do, if you find your work being rated poorly, don't go all sock puppet about it and create a fake identity to protest your innocence, as the New Republic's Lee Siegel recently did. As he found out, this goes strongly against good netiquette.
This new openness does bring with it some new challenges, but I think it's a good thing, overall. It's really no different than the age-old word-of-mouth—it's just that that mouth went electronic and global, instead of staying in the neighborhood.