Profile: DinnerBuzz

Company: Dinnerbuzz

Launched: June 2005

What is it?

Dinnerbuzz is a new service that allows users to provide feedback on restaurants, bars and coffee shops. It leverages user-provided metadata (including tagging) to allow others to easily find and read content on restaurants.

In their own words, “Dinnerbuzz is designed to make it easier for you to find a place for dinner (and drinks) (or coffee). It’s a social guide to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. When you post, your tags are shared with everyone. Tags make it easy to find places you might not have known about before. And since Dinnerbuzz enables you to filter tags locally, finding interesting places (and people) has never been quicker!” Link

So, what we have with Dinnerbuzz is a new social networking site that leverages user tagging.

tangent begins…

We note two emerging trends in the web 2.0 space.

The first trend is the huge proliferation of new social networks/tagging services and the difficulty as a user in keeping up. The second trend is the “problem” with user tagging.

With regard to the first trend, we’ve all been thinking about it, and John Battelle pointed it out in a recent post (discussed here previously) – “it’s a pain in the ass to keep creating social networks, maintaining groups, tagging, sharing, etc. It’s a habit I’m not sure the masses will ever get into, at least in a way that is driven by pure selflessness.”

The second trend is the “problem” with user tagging. People need an incentive or they just won’t do it (see our profiles on CelebrityFlicker and feedster“if a web 2.0 service is going to add user tagging, especially anonymous user tagging, they better provide one heck of a good incentive for users to do it (see Delicious, Furl, etc.) or else they will get bad data.”)

These will sort themselves out over time, with winners and losers, but new companies thinking of adding these features, or basing themselves on them, need to think forward or risk being a loser.

Back to Dinnerbuzz: Is there an incentive for user tagging? We’ll wait and see.

…tangent ends

Reader Experience:

Anyone can search Dinnerbuzz for restaurants and read reviews. There are a number of great search options. Every city has a set page, and from there searches can be done by tag (like “mexican”) and/or rating (up to 10). Once a sufficient number of restaurants have been rated in a city, it could be a very useful way of searching for a good new restaurant.

RSS feeds are available for everything, from monitoring a single city, restaurant or user’s reviews, to reading new reviews as they come in. For instance, you can see our profile and reviews here (we really, really like El Tarasco in Manhattan Beach – I’m trying to figure out an angle where I can call it “web 2.0” and profile it here :-)) and there is a big fat XML button right there in the middle of the page. This is all very well done.

Publisher Experience:

Once you’ve registered (simple, no captcha or email verification), you can post your own reviews. The first step is typing in the restaurant name and location. Dinnerbuzz uses the yahoo mapping api for local search.

Submitting a restaurant consists of entering its name and location, adding tags and comments (free text) and rating it from 1-10:

If Dinnerbuzz can’t find a perfect match for your restaurant it suggests a few close matches. If there are no close matches, there is an option to add a location.

Overall, adding and reviewing a restaurant is a good experience for US locations, but there are two problems (one easily fixed). First, the options include all yahoo local search options, so you see real estate brokers, plumbers, dentists, etc. for close matches (no idea if this is “fixable” within the Yahoo api constraints). Second, if there are close matches, there is no “add” button if one of the matches isn’t correct (easy to add this).

Key Features:

– great integration with Yahoo Local data
– search by tag, rating or tag+ rating
– every city has a city page, users can then sort by tag and/or rating
– easy submit of new location
– publishers can add new location if no match with Yahoo Local
– RSS everywhere (yeah!)

Needed Fixes/Features:

– ability to add or delete entries
– expand “add” functionality when there are close matches (not just no match)
– add friends and see/subscribe to their reviews
– fix non-restaurant data in close matches

Dinnerbuzz is a cool experiment and most of its obvious flaws are easily fixed (and they are adding features) If they can tie it in with other social networking services it could become a very useful service over time.


Tag Cloud
You’re It (“It may not seem like it matters SO much now but once we start building all of our daily information tools around tag subscriptions it will make life a heck of a lot easier.”)
Lost Boy (“Wonder how far until we reach the tipping point where its more cost effective and easier to build new social content sites, similar to these efforts, from data that’s already published, wild on the web, than growing a community from scratch. Personally I don’t think we’re actually that far away.”)
John Resig (“I think there’s a lot of potential for this service, there’s RSS everywhere which is nice because I’ve been looking for some way to pull my latest dining experiences into a feed”)

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