Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yelping in Philly

I wanted to write something today but didn't have any good ideas. A lot of the time, the blogging bit is inspired by something stupid or spontaneous that just somehow seems catchy. No such luck today, but still had the inkling to write, so I sat here for a while starting at this empy space and all I could think of at first was complaining about something. There's always plenty to complain about, Idaho wolf hunts, the economy, how disappointing I'm finding Obama's handling of the health care debate, but how productive is that?

So, I decided I'd point out how much I've gotten into Yelping recently, and I think I'm being creative there. Back in San Francisco, Yelp is taken for granted since it's a homegrown site everybody uses and the saturation level of reviews is high enough that most everything's got a gazillion reviews. As a result, I got used to making about 90% of my local consumer decisions using Google Maps and Yelp (and they're integrated of course) as my resources, but due to the abundance of opinions never felt like contributing my own.

Not so in Philadelphia. Here Yelp is still catching on comparatively. There's decent coverage, but not depth of reviews and you hear a lot of businesses don't know what it is (whereas they advertise their Yelp-savviness by sticker in San Francisco) so I'm finding a niche in promoting the technology and making it richer by bringing to bear my considerable, ahem, taste and opinions on the Philadelphia consumer market. So far I'm pretty bar and restaurant focused, as is a lot of the general blather online (evidenced by the surplus of banal Twitter and Facebook status updates about eating (who cares you're eating a sandwich)), but on Yelp at least it's solicited rather than forced upon.

But, to branch out and contribute usefully to the collective discourse in areas of life more fraught with import than the simple and regular filling of bellies, I've got reviews coming on a framing shop (results TBD), a barber (it takes a month to know how good a haircut is) and a home contractor (the first I've ever employed). I'll be thinking critically whenever I purchase a good or service and think the next guy might benefit should I pay it forward. Would this be a good forum for spreading the word amongst newcomers to Philly about the ugly necessity of automatic witholding of the dread Philadelphia Wage Tax and ensuring your employer's got your back there?

So I'm thinking big, but won't always blog about it, so I've embedded the Yelp map of my reviews on the right nav. I hope you'll follow.

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