Saturday, 2 December 2006 mini review

Met Sokratis Papafloratos of, which I'd heard of before, at the London Firefox 2 launch party. So I checked out his site. This post is more of a first look or mini-review, with a few thoughts, than a full review.

Trusted Places seems a good idea, building on the social networking concept, and involves people rating and reviewing venues (restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres, museums and other venues) in different cities and towns. Of course, as with any other reviews site, its growth will depend on good people writing and continuing to write good reviews - and people increasingly using the site after getting to know which reviewers they trust.

Again, you have to give your postcode when you register, but unlike Zebtab they've got a clear privacy statement on the registration page clarifying that your postcode won't be visible to others or shared.

They have an interesting if slightly complex rewards scheme to try to get people to write reviews and invite friends to register, etc.

It's early days yet, but about 1000 people have registered as I write, which ain't bad as I gather it's not been going very long.

It'll need some sorting out though. E.g. at the moment "Top Cultural Places" includes the Lahore Kebab House in Umberston Street, which has had just one review (click on the pic above for a bigger one to see that). Clearly an independent arbiter is needed if and when differences arise as to what's "cultural"! Though maybe I'm being unfair on the Lahore Kebab House, which may well be the hub of the local community. What do I know.

Plus, there are loads of existing and well-established sites with user reviews of restaurants etc, e.g. London Eating, so they face some stiff competition.

To me the main issue with a reviews system/site (whether of pubs, films, music etc) is how a particular reader can know they can trust a particular reviewer - which depends on how closely their tastes match. This is a toughie because similar tastes in say food don't necessarily mean similar tastes in clubs; even people who are friends don't share tastes in all areas.

Sokratis said they've got something planned to help people find others with similar tastes by tracking their favoriting (my verb, not his!), and to me that is the most interesting aspect of the service and the logical way to develop social networking sites, if it can be sufficiently refined - so I mean to keep an eye on Trusted Places.

If they can pull it off so that people genuinely are guided towards reviews that they will feel they can personally trust because of the way Trusted Places has appropriately "matched" them with others with similar tastes, that to me would be a big step forward.

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