True enough, the Unvarnished team is looking to add passionate, extremely talented engineers to our technical team. Are you one? Do you know one? Read on to learn more…
The Unvarnished Challenge
To help folks understand this opportunity better, below is a hypothetical conversation with you, a talented, passionate, hard-working engineering type, who might just be interested in joining the Unvarnished team.
Job Candidate: “Engineering a meritocracy”, what the hell does that mean?
Unvarnished: Well, maybe we start by describing Unvarnished…. We are public. candid. reviews. of people. Yelp for professionals. Or put another way LinkedIn marries Yelp and has a love child. We’re trying to bring how reputation works offline, into the online world.
Job Candidate: You guys are crazy! Why are you doing this?
Unvarnished: We’re doing this because the Internet needs us.
The Internet can be a murky swamp of information and right now the working professional’s reputation and thus his livelihood is hostage to this cesspool. A Google search on a professional does a horrible job telling you whether he will be a good business partner, a productive employee, a fair-minded boss, or a team-player colleague.
Furthermore, you could be a highly productive, highly skilled product manager, engineer, or business development executive, but the Internet and the world have no way of knowing that.
Our job is to wire reputation into the Internet and weave performance, capability, and merit into business decisions. We want to be the directory of professional meritocracy, ensuring that excellence is properly recognized and that there is real market incentive for improvement and high-integrity behavior.
Unvarnished: Well, that’s why we’re talking to you! But let me give you a bit of a teaser, based on how we think about these things…
Sophisticated activity measurement: In the aggregate, the reviews
have to be professional, helpful and accurate. But what is the UI that will promote these values in all actions users taken on the site? How do we intricately measure every minute activity users take on the site? How do we quantitatively measure whether the behavior we see matches with our qualitative values? How do we incentivize productive behavior, and censure unproductive behavior? If our reviews aren’t accurate or professional, we miss our big opportunity. There’s a ton of engineering to instrument the site so that we can measure every action taken, in order to intelligently design the Unvarnished experience.
Engineering diversity into viral loops: No Unvarnished review is wrong per se, but each comes from the reviewer’s own perspective. This means we need balance in our reviews and a lot of them. The professionals being reviewed need a way to effectively get the word out about the great work they do, and recruit their fan base to come testify to their excellence.
But we also need to encourage independent voices to speak up on those they worked with to provide the complete spectrum of perspectives. What viral mechanisms work best in this kind of environment? Which ones are too aggressive? Which ones lead to a diversity of opinions? Which ones result in content that meets UV values? Bottom line, we need an engineer who can build effective, flexible viral loops that result in massive content creation from a diverse set of perspectives.
What is the reputation of the reviewer? Did they work together? Was he a boss or a colleague or employee? Are reviews by this reviewer generally helpful to the community? How has this reviewer themselves been reviewed on the site? What is the influence that this reviewer generally has on Unvarnished and online generally? Where do the reviewer and reviewee sit in the ‘review graph’ in relation to each other?
The algorithms that weight each review are crucial to ensuring accuracy and fairness in the Unvarnished reputation system. The engineer that hacks away on this will need an analytical and mathematical disposition, and will savor the opportunity to spin reputation algo gold from a diverse and dynamic landscape of noisy, imperfect data.
The Arms Race: outgaming the gamers – When you are running the world’s de facto professional reputation system, you will inevitably be subjected to individuals (or groups) who try to game the system. Fake accounts, astroturfing campaigns, carpet bombing reviews, sniping individuals for revenge, gaming reputation for whole companies, outright SPAM… the list goes on.
In order to maintain a meritocracy in reputation, we need to stay one step ahead of the folks trying to game the system. This isn’t just any random review site we’re protecting here, the reputation of a reputation site is our single point of failure, and our fraud/abuse systems must protect the site’s reputation for accuracy and professionalism without filtering out legitimate content. We pity the engineer that signs up to take this on
Job Candidate: Damn! You guys are pretty ambitious. Is this getting any traction?
Unvarnished: Well we only launched a few weeks ago but we’ve already catapulted into a nationwide news & media conversation.
Take a look at some of the coverage of our launch:
Unvarnished: You’re right. We’ve got a seriously high bar for the engineers we bring on. Tech smarts and sheer intelligence are
absolutely at the top of the list. We get most excited about the
candidate that truly impresses us with what he knows and how he
thinks. But we’re also looking for the folks that get passionate about what we’re doing… engineering meritocracy into human business decisions, from hiring to partnering. It’s a bold venture and we only want to work with those who are as bold as we are!
Job Candidate: Got it. I’m amped. This is so crazy, and you guys
are so crazy I can see this working. What’s next?
Unvarnished: Well, the most important thing is that you’re amped.
You’ll need to use some of that amped-ness because we don’t just let anyone walk into UV offices… well at least until they’ve completed our patented Unvarnished tasks and questionnaire. So here goes:
1) Make sure you have an Unvarnished profile. If you haven’t already gotten an invite from someone who’s already on the site, please email email@example.com and we’ll get you dialed in.
Make sure to get at least 5 reviews of yourself (the request review feature works well for this). Spend some time on the site, look at some reviews, do a few reviews of other people you may have worked with.
2) Tell us about your experience with Unvarnished. What did you like about the product? What could be done better? What areas need the most help, and what do you think is completely missing?
3) What technology topic or tool has been on your mind recently? What are your thoughts on it (the geekier the better)?
4) What tech areas are you most comfortable with? Which are the areas you know little about but want to do more with?
5) Show us your code ☺ Anything will do… side projects you’ve worked on, entrepreneurial endeavors that haven’t quite worked out, whatever you’ve got.
6) Engineering Task #1. What’s your programming language of choice? Why? Please implement and send us a search algorithm which locates a position of an integer within int array. If you are multilingual please provide implementation in two languages. Explain your implementation, and the pros/cons associated with it. Please provide an ability to test.
7) Engineering Task #2. Given two int arrays A and B of arbitrary length remove B-elements from A. Both A and B may contain duplicates. Can you do the same with string arrays? If you are multilingual please provide implementation in 2 languages. Again, explain your implementation, and its pros/cons. And please provide an ability to test.
8) If you were to start working at Unvarnished tomorrow, which of the UV projects or tech areas described above would be most interesting to you and why? Or is it another area that we didn’t address at all?
9) Please email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve gotten this far, we’re definitely impressed! We look
forward to hearing from you, and maybe even working with you. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at:
(With extreme thanks to Unvarnished advisor Travis Kalanick for his amazing help with this blog post!)