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I’ve been a fan of Yelp for a long time – it’s quickly becoming my go-to site for reviews similar to how I always check TripAdvisor for hotel reviews without ever using Google. Unfortunately my experience with Yelp over the past week has me wondering whether I can trust what Yelp spits out on their SEO-rich business review pages.
Since I am new to Austin, I like to check out reviews for the local businesses (mostly eateries) that I am considering visiting. Yelp seems to have a page for every business in the world so it is an easy to use site compared to other review sites and it also seems like Yelp users have more similar demographics. I use Yelp on my PC and also on my mobile phone and tablet. Yelp helped me find the best pizzeria in Austin when I had a craving for real NYC pizza.
This past week I learned that there’s another side to Yelp — the section on each business profile known as, “filtered reviews”. I always assumed that Yelp had some mechanism in place to weed out spam reviews (e.g. 10 reviews of the same car wash from the same IP address located at the car wash, 14 reviews of Taco Allen all from one IP in India, etc.). You can read more about how Yelp filters reviews on their blog including a cutsiepie video. Claire Cain Miller at the NYT covered the launch of filtered reviews last year.
My First 24 Hours With Android and Virgin Mobile and Why Apple Currently Has Won The Experience Battle
When I was a youngster, I busted my butt at the supermarket every week. And about once a quarter, I bought the new Nike Air Jordan sneakers. These sneakers were crazy expensive and my mother would yell at me (mainly because people were robbed for their Jordans in NYC) that I shouldn’t spend so much on sneakers. But I remember that even though they were expensive, there was something magical about wearing them. I can’t dunk a ball (though I was good at the three) but walking around Brooklyn in the sneakers just made me feel a bit cooler than if I bought just the basic sneakers.
When people ask me why the iPhone has been so popular, I reply by saying, “it’s the white headphones.” I only owned an iPhone for three weeks when it first launched because there was no AT&T signal in my apartment building in Manhattan. When I returned the iPhone, I went with a Samsung ACE which has Windows 6 Mobile. The phone has been great, it handles email great, phone calls with Sprint have always been rock solid and I like the keyboard. It’s a great utility phone, but it doesn’t have the white headphones.
I’ve taken two flights with Virgin Atlantic in their Upper Class service (I used points back in the day when the points from Delta transferred – it was sweet!). The experience from the second I arrived at JFK and LHR was absolutely amazing. Virgin Mobile has tried to copy the “look” of Virgin Atlantic but I am not sure the experience offered is the same.
I am not an Apple fanboy, but there is no doubt that when you buy an Apple product or visit one of their stores, it’s like slipping your feet into a pair of Air Jordans. I think Apple has realized that making a phone is easy, it’s making an experience that is much harder. These mobile devices are attached at our hips, in a purse, a fanny pack, or a belt clip night and day. And so the experience is so important today with technology. I bought an Apple iPod Touch during the holidays on Amazon and just opening the packaging made me think the device was made for the experience.
I will admit that I don’t know much about pregnancy except some work with the material that goes inside baby diapers. A new site aims to offer advice on a variety of pregnancy situations with data provided by others. Wiser Pregnancy, created by the Wiser Together group, provides scientific answers to the following question, “What others have done in my situation?”
Instead of the typical Q&A site which provides a general answer to pregnancy questions, Wiser Pregnancy allows you to select who you are using a variety of sliders and then the resulting answer is targeted to your selections.
The site also offers a tag cloud (as seen below) that can be refined on a variety of categories including pregnancy complications, symptoms, tests and birth preparation. I’m not usually a fan of tag clouds as they are too ”techy” but in this case it works well. Content can be filtered by pregnancy week and trimester. In addition to the customized content, Wiser Pregnancy offers a variety of content in a traditional online format.
My two suggestions for Wiser Pregnancy are:
- Get some doctors on board – it will give the site’s content even more credibility
- Remove some of the sub-forums until the forum grows in usage – it’s better to have 2-3 sub-forums that are heavily used rather than 100 sub-forums with 0 posts
One of the new baby sites (Kidmondo, Baveo, TotSpot, LilGrams, etc.) should partner with WiserPregnancy as the audience is a perfect tie-into the baby sites. Get the expectant parents into the system before they give birth.
Wiser Pregancy is based in Washington, D.C.
We first covered NY-based Lil’Grams back in November 2007 when they launched a private beta of their baby service. Today the so-called baby book for modern parents, Lil’Grams, goes live. Messages posted on the service by parents are called “grams” and are sent to the network that the parents setup. Lil’Grams is one of the nicest looking web services I’ve seen in a long time – this is especially important considering how much time a parent will spend inside the service.
Lil’grams pushes the grams to the network in the way the people in the network wish to receive them. I spoke with co-founder Gregarious Narain who explained that some people might want email notifications, others may want messages on Facebook and (gasp) some might even want Twitter direct messages.
There are a variety of grams including:
- media gram – for a photo or video
- food gram – “hey look little billy kept his cheerios down”
- word gram – “mom check it out billy said his first word – twitter!”
- story gram – “billy went for a walk today in the park and ate a hot dog”
We’ve covered a bunch of baby services including Kidmondo, Baveo, babyZbook and TotSpot. Lil’Grams is offering only paid plans with no free option. Most of the other services offer a free option and monetize with advertising, affiliate revenue or by partnering with other services that charge a fee. As I mentioned to Gregarious, it will be interesting to see if the other baby services follow suit with paid plans. Just like in other industries, someone always has to be first and then the others typically follow along.
Continue reading “Lil’Grams Publicly Launches a Baby Book for “Modern Parents”” »
Whether serious or for fun, there are times when you need quick A/B feedback. For example: Do you prefer plain bagels or poppy seed?; Do you use Twitter?; or Is design A or I better for posting scraped content?.
PickFu is a new website that offers a quick way to get A/B feedback. You setup a question (an example of Mac or PC is displayed below) and then the PickFu community replies to the question. You can either make a question public and have the community respond/listing in the question directory or make it private where you must share a link with those people who you want to see the results.
They offer a page with the current demographics of their responders which seems pretty diverse. The only question that’s missing is location – I’d want to know where the responders are when testing an application. The responders answer the questions via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.
Each question posted on PickFu costs $5 for 50 responses. What would be great is to be able to select the audience that will see the question in cases where you want to test against a specific audience (e.g. people over 60 with no college degree, women under 21 in Australia). Perhaps an extra fee gets you audience targeting.
Found via the NY Tech mailing list, here’s something I haven’t seen before. It’s called Swaxy (might be considered NSFW) and they sell tech products. What makes Swaxy different than the other sites selling tech products is that each product comes along with a video of a woman in a bikini “promoting” the item. Swaxy describes their service as. “Beautiful hot girls, great cool gadgets and amazing prices.”
I can only assume the site is real as they have a checkout for purchases. There are five “Swaxy girls” currently and they note that they are looking for more girls who want to win prizes and make money. Swaxy isn’t going to get me away from Amazon or NewEgg for my tech purchases. I honestly don’t know what to make of this so please leave your thoughts in the comments.
Here’s a video of one of their products for sale (might be considered NSFW):
A new aggregator has launched today named StartupTicker. The idea behind StartupTicker is to aggregate startup news from around the world. It’s a really simple website – just a listing of the latest posts on the startups that they track. I’ve found it to be a great way to find stories to share on CN.
Founder (and good friend) Darren Stuart tells me that 1,000 startups are currently in the aggregator with more being added everyday. Apps for the iPhone and Android mobile devices are coming soon. You can follow the service on Twitter and Friendfeed as well.
What’s nice about StartupTicker is that all startups are on the same playing field – valley darling status doesn’t mean extra coverage. If you have a startup, you can submit your blog here. I’m not sold this could be a business by itself, but it could be a good way to get people into Darren’s network where he can push other apps in the future.