'It seems like your thong is showing'

NiceCritic anonymous message in GmailLast week saw the launch of a curious web-service that isn’t an obvious web worker tool, but may just prove to be a useful communication feature amongst other tools.

New York marketing director, Erik Riesenberg’s NiceCritic enables users to send anonymous messages to coworkers, essentially to ‘communicate difficult thoughts comfortably’.

The service enables users to select pre-written messages from nine categories, including…

  • cubicle etiquette
  • neighborly advice
  • personal hygiene
  • appearance
  • general behaviour
  • anonymous praise
  • office behaviour
  • sports etiquette
  • thoughts for schoolmates

Each category lists several templates messages that can be delivered via anonymous email to recipients in a safe, embarrassment-free and constructive manner. Preventing senders from editing the outgoing message seems limiting, confining users to templates provided by the service creators, but perhaps centralizing etiquette in this manner prevents the service from being malicious…as long as new templates can be submitted and vetted transparently.

Riesenberg describes ‘cubicle etiquette’ and ‘personal hygiene’ as the most popular categories – areas which suggest that web workers may not be the target audience. However, with most web workers functioning in isolation, it arguably becomes more difficult to understand the context of remote coworkers and actually more difficult to broach a sensitive subject when deprived of the surrounding context and trust.

It’s certainly a curiosity and one wonders if it’s more a marketing exercise to glean clean email addresses for advertising purposes.

Regardless, anonymous messaging can be useful but perhaps with some abuse protections – incurring a micropayment per message might restrict abuse and encourage only really very neccessary messages. Anonymous messaging seems a more natural web worker fit as a feature of a broader service…perhaps NiceCritic is more useful as a Gmail Labs feature.

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