If You're Worried About Peeple, Just Wait 15 Minutes

If you don't want a 'Yelp for People,' you don't have to have it.

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Oct 1 2015, 5:00pm

Image: Peeple/Facebook

Have you heard? There's a "Yelp for People," and it's called "Peeple." It's coming out in November and it'll let you give a star rating and a review to the people you know, be they romantic partners, colleagues, or people you know from your daily life.

Understandably, this has inspired the hype machine to kick into full gear. The hot takes are all over Twitter and Facebook (admittedly this is one of them), there are hundreds of articles about the app on Google News, and there has already been controversy and an (inconclusive) internet investigation into whether the founders actually received funding from the Canadian government for its development. The app was even featured on Good Morning America Thursday.

Getting "rated" without your consent sounds dystopian and perhaps terrifying but let's be real: We've seen these sorts of attention-grabbing apps before, and they are rarely able to sustain any sort of momentum.

The absolute best case scenario for the app is that your one weird friend who still uses Foursquare will still be using it to review her barista in nine months

Yo, the app that allows you to say "yo" to anyone and not do much of anything else, raised a million dollars in funding last summer, inspiring all sorts of discussion about how ridiculous Silicon Valley had gotten. It skyrocketed to the top of the app store, then went away. It peaked at #1 on the app store, it's now languishing at the 600th most popular social networking app, according to App Annie, a site that tracks iOS and Android apps.

Ello, the privacy-conscious would-be Facebook killer, inspired a frenzy to grab invites but never managed to hold on to its users. Same with Diaspora, a decentralized social network.

Livestreaming app Meerkat is genuinely useful but appears to have lost the battle to Periscope, which recently also fell out of the top 100 apps in the United States.

Except in the cases of megahit apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, the popularity and hype is impossible to sustain. These are services that are truly useful and gained popularity because people actually want and need to use them, not because a tech blog told them to or because it seemed like an Onion article come to life.

Lulu made for a good happy hour conversation or two

What, really, is Peeple offering? It's possible to imagine a few instances in which it'd be useful—maybe as a prescreen for a date, a way of putting someone truly awful on blast, or I suppose it may be useful for would-be employers. But in the vast, vast majority of cases, do you really want to put your personal feelings about your coworker or a failed date on the internet using your real name?

For Peeple to succeed, it needs users to buy in. Not just the tech blogs and the curious, but the masses. There's no evidence that's happening. Peeple has just 450 Facebook likes and the vast majority of people commenting on its page and on articles suggests that people pretty firmly think this is not a good idea.

If you don't register yourself, only positive reviews will show up (because unregistered people can't "defend" themselves against negative reviews), which sounds like it will immediately kill the founders' stated purpose for the app: To allow people to do "research" on the ones they'd interact with.

This isn't the first attempt at a people rating app. Lulu, which allowed women to rate and review men, had a very brief moment back in 2013. Most people I know signed up, checked it out for a second, and then deleted or forgot about it. It made for a good happy hour conversation or two.

This, I suspect, is what will happen with Peeple. Lots of people will download it the day or two after it launches, then it will be forgotten. It'll be brought up in a couple years when someone else tries something similar.

The absolute best case scenario for the app is that your one weird friend who still uses Foursquare will still be using it to review her barista in nine months. Worst case scenario is that the hype machine blows over before its November launch and no one uses it at all. What seems more likely?