The truth is out there, but getting it from the people closest to you isn’t always the best approach when trying to figure out life’s little problems. That’s why the inventors behind a new website that relies on advice doled out by complete strangers are trying to offer people guidance without the bias.
“We are trying to help people at a crossroads with very human problems with advice from someone that isn’t emotionally attached to your situation,” said Don Naylor, one of Unbiased.me’s creators. Naylor said they are currently working on turning the concept into a mobile app.
“We would hope that people would use the app to get rid of the existential crisis in their lives, or just get some simple reassurance that a decision that they are going to make is the right one,” he said.
Currently a website, Unbiased.me works by letting users type in a conundrum and ship it out to other users. Keeping their identity completely anonymous, an answer to their query is then sent back within a day or less, hopefully helping users make a decision without relying on a heavily-weighted opinion from a close companion.
“When you ask a friend something you get one kind of advice. They know you, they don’t want to hurt your feelings, and sometimes can sugar coat it,” said Craig Silva, who handled much of the app’s design. “But when you ask a stranger—anonymously—you get blunt unbiased feedback because they aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings and be completely honest. An unbiased person has an easier time seeing something for what it is.”
When asked if they were concerned if future “answerers” who sign up will hand out poor advice to those using the app, Stephen Cocchiara, one of the developers, said “definitely,” but “we’re only human.”
“When you receive advice from anyone in your life you don’t act on just the one piece alone. When we bring on an ‘answerer,’ we want to see that they have some ‘life experience’ or have received some bad advice in the past that they learned from and can share with people submitting their questions,” he said.
Eventually, as the app expands—right now it’s in the concept stage—there will be a “rating system” integrated into the design, so people can avoid those soliciting ill advice. The trio also plans on weeding out anyone abusing the system.
Besides tapping into the brains of the general public to cultivate strangers’ opinions, perhaps the most ambitious part about the group’s project is the fact that they pulled it together in under 24-hours.
According to Silva, over the past year the three creators of Unbiased.me have worked on “one idea or another,” ranging from a coffee delivery app to one that lets “weed smokers” connect with each other. But because they would beat these ideas to death, run into development costs or complex business issues, and often over think the angle and approach, the group could never quite launch a final product.
Frustrated with their lack of progress on former projects, they challenged themselves to sit down, get to work, and hammer out a cohesive app and get it off the ground in one day.
“We had the idea for Unbiased.me…so we made it happen,” said Silva. “This meant sketches, a website, ideas for the future, and most importantly a working prototype where people could actually begin to submit question and receive answers.”
Naylor said when the idea came up for the website and app they saw an opportunity to take the bull by the horns, and get it done quickly without any roadblocks preventing the launch.
“Setting the 24-hour goal was a great way to get us motivated and added a fun element to the project,” he said. “We definitely thrive on solving problems and overcoming pressure, so in the end it made about a month’s worth of work able to be jammed into one work day.”
Right now, Unbiased.me can be accessed via the group’s website, as they have rolled out a “soft launch” so people can ask a question and get a response. Moving forward, Unbiased.me plans to create the actual native app, and at some point in time will expand with features like personal accounts, a way for users to browse previous questions by category, and a way for users who answer questions to be rewarded either financially or otherwise.
“There’s a massive human element to this, but I trust that people will use it and be honest and helpful with one another,” said Silva.
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