Want to find reliable local businesses? Yelp! believes it’s the answer (as do about three dozen other sites).
Yelp!’s approach is just a tad bit different from sites like Tribe.net, in that:
– The UI is purely activity/task driven. Users are either ‘Looking for a [business type] near [location]’, or are ‘Recommending [business name] located at [location]. Yes, there is an “invite your friends” option, but beyond that, the service is very focused. In that sense, it reminds me of Evite.com.
– It leverages a database of well-defined business names and locations (while still permitting users to add anything not in the database) for recommendations. For example, I sent myself a request, and then recommended “Starbucks near 95126” in my reply; I was immediately presented with several dozen Starbucks locations to choose from, which obviously reduces the work I need to do, and improves data integrity (i.e., there aren’t 42 versions of the same exact business in the database).
– The obligatory “search existing recommendations” is waaaay at the bottom of the screen; no category crawl/browse is provided. This will probably evolve if/as their database of recommendations grows.
Like all of these services, Yelp allows you to vet the business by seeing if a given recommendation came from a friend, friend of a friend or simply another Yelp! user.