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Judy’s Book Makes Me Want to Yelp

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In my July 25th post, I mentioned one of my favorite sites, Judy’s Book, a site where users can review the best (and worst) businesses in their area. The site is visually pleasing, with useful features such as a trust score and the ability to post reviews you’ve written directly to your blog, but the real draw is the very active community. I’ve found a few gems in my area that I wouldn’t have known about without this site.

Unfortunately, the very thing that makes this site so great might also be its downfall. Lately, some JB users have taken to flaming each other, which in itself is bad enough, but for those of us signed up for notifications, it can really clog up the inbox with ugliness. (I discontinued notices today, which is a shame because I like to find out about new places.)

I’ve also noticed a real increase in posts that don’t seem to about reviewing businesses or products at all, but rather a “what do you think about this (insert topic du jour)”, or even worse “please add this person to your friend list”. Ironically enough, people with a “Trust Score” of 8 or over are invited to apply for the “City Editor” designation, however, I don’t think it actually involves editing. That’s a shame, because some editing clearly needs to be happening here.

The “City Editor”, or CE, designation is also causing me some angst. I’ve been a member of JB since May of this year, I believe. I’ve written 37 posts since then, 9 of them “official” reviews. I’ve had my eye on attaining the CE, but I’ve been focusing on quality versus quantity. However, it seems that JB is more interested in the opposite. Consider the user that had been a JBer for one week (!) but made City Editor. According to JB’s help pages, a user has to have a Trust Score of 8 before applying for the CE program. Trust Scores are calculated “by looking at more than a dozen factors, including:

  • How many reviews and comments each member has written at Judy’s Book
  • How many questions each member has asked at Judy’s Book
  • How well-respected the member is in the community, as indicated by their total readership and the length of their membership at Judy’s Book”

In this case, the user estimates her post count for that week as being somewhere in the neighborhood of 250. (Can you get carpal tunnel in a week?) I’m not sure what algorithm JB is using, but I’m gonna take an educated guess here that post count is given much more weight than other factors. This might explain why there are so many nonsense posts popping up.

After receiving an automatic notice the other from a JB user that looked to have been copied directly from a chain letter, I decided to check out the competition. So far, the only other reviews site I’ve turned up is Yelp. I haven’t had too much experience with it yet, but my initial findings are:

  • Judy’s Book has a nicer interface
  • Yelp has a cool mapping feature that Judy’s Book doesn’t
  • The quality of the Yelp reviews are better
  • Yelp has a mobile site so that reviews can be accessed even away from a computer. (And you know how happy that makes me now that I have a shiny new MDA.)

I think that JB can overcome these issues if they decide to incorporate some editorial standards. If not, I’ll just Yelp!


1 Comment

  1. stephanie says:

    Hi Dani,
    Just wanted to say that I came across your blog and thought you calle out some pretty interesting insights about Judy’s Book.

    I work for Yelp and with any luck we will start to gain some traction out in Houston in the near future. We hope the community out there finds Yelp as fun and addictive as the folks in SF (our headquarters) as well as other big cities like Chicago, Boston, NY, LA, Seattle, DC and San Diego.

    We’re excited that you like Yelp Mobile. Would love to hear any additional feedback that you might have about it our main site. (feedback@yelp.com) We’re always looking for ways to improve.

    Happy yelping!


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