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Marrying Local Search, Social Networks, and User Reviews

looks like a couple of folks are trying to do it



7:28 pm on Apr 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I think it makes a lot of sense. The traffic statistics that some of these social networking sites are generating are absolutely stunning.

If a site can make user reviews of local merchants part of the regular behavior of these online social networks, the sky's the limit in terms of usefulness.

Personally, I think LinkedIn is going to struggle here, as the type of users that subscribe to LinkedIn - professionals, business executives - do not fit the profile of those that like leaving user reviews on the Web.


10:11 pm on Apr 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

clearly a social network can serve as a trusted source and checks and balances in the marketplace of reviews and ratings aggregation.

insider pages and judy's book are two important players to watch in this space. and from my understanding insider pages' LA beta has gone very well both in terms of reviews and advertiser aggregation. ~ doesn't hurt to be an idealab company.

social networking is going to be an important part of local search, and when combined with reviews, ratings, and proximity scoring in a pure search environment, it closes the loop in the real world of mimicking local consumer behavior patterns.

the central issue (no surprise here) is one of advertiser adoption and user destination/partner distribution value... or better put, having enough money to wait these two things out, ~ because you believe that your product fills a market void and has staying power...

review and ratings aggregation in a social networking environment is a noble, yet challenging cause. we applaud their innovation and dedication to making local search work for the user, and therefore the advertiser.


3:24 am on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"checks and balances" are key. Once the novelty wears off one will start asking: who is posting reviews and why. Just because there is a 'social network' does not give it any more validity. In my experience advertisers will write reviews about themselves to increase the ratings. While this would be a futile exercise if you were trying to influence ratings for a movie, a busy restaurant or a night club, manipulating reviews for a small suburban attorney is remarkably easy - just because there is a 'social network' does not mean that those reviews are manipulation-proof. Yet, the checks and balances are simply not there...


5:28 am on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

here's a couple of things you can do with user reviews + social network that you can't do with just user reviews:

- show me only ratings and reviews left by folks in my social network
- show me only ratings and reviews left by folks x degrees from my social network
- show me ratings and reviews from 'likeminded' users (likeminded determined by personal profile data + ratings behavior)
- show me a personalized 'trust factor' rating for every review that i see

i think the checks and balances can be there... but like anything else, it requires critical mass.


5:49 am on Apr 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

And how does this answer the problem of advertisers manipulating their own ratings? Because these sites do not track it - it does not mean that this issue does not exist. In my little area there are reviews posted on citysearch or tribe.net that I KNOW FOR A FACT have been posted by the advertiser themselves. Tribe is a social network and citysearch is not. Both are equally affected. Spam is spam.


10:18 pm on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm going to use our own site for an example:


Review is worded a little weird but OK. But I find the username of the person posting the review fascinating.

Is it him?

Is it somebody who wants you to think it's him?

Short of all review sites going to Amazon-style "real names" where the reviewers can offer up their credit card number and real name, how do you stop this?

Amazon has a few advantages most sites don't have. The main one being that you have to use your credit card with them anyway if you want to buy stuff.

[edited by: Chicago at 2:19 pm (utc) on May 3, 2005]
[edit reason] mypages, i am sorry but we do not allow promotional posts [/edit]


3:02 am on May 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That's him providing a description of the services that he offers. Technically speaking this is spam in my book - since it is not a "user review". Just like a book author on amazon reviewing himself.


3:53 am on May 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Right, I agree that it's most likely him. And I can cite you several other examples of this.

Because we require email verification, it cuts down on the number of reviews we get. But it also has really cut down on the amount of spam, too.

We decided to make the review that's displayed the last review, not the average review.

Why? Our hope is that if there's a bad business that posts good things about itself, somebody will be motivated to say the truth.

And vice-versa, if a good business gets slammed, that somebody comes along and talks about their good experience.

Good businesses have off days and give bad service. And there are some crazy customers. We hope the truth emerges.


5:12 am on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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one of these outfits are paying $100 per 40 reviews on craigslist.


6:01 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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$100 for 40 reviews sounds like a venture funded rate to me.

I know that Insider Pages is paying for reviews as well.


1:32 am on May 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I disagree in principle with paying for reviews. I would have thought that with them being a 'community' site their 'review conversion' rate per user would be quite high.


2:03 am on May 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Paid reviews?

I'm not sure I really understand this stuff, but reading this thread made me wonder if paid reviews could be seen as wandering into the realm of publicly publishing what might amount to "Secret Shopper" type reports in essence?

The difference being that most "Secret Shopper" type reports are carefully conducted with a clear set of guidelines for the "shopper" to follow and grade an establishment on. At least that how I understand them.

Maybe that's another topic, if so, pardon the post.


11:05 pm on Jun 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I too responded to those ads to get a feel for the competition.

$40 for 100 reviews isn't going to get anyone quality reviews.

I've tried that before to increase review density in specific areas, and 80% of respondants were scammers using multiple aliases. i.e. unusable reviews like "Had a great burger at French Laundry".

I think the going-rate to get people sufficiently motivated to post useful reviews is much higher.


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