Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tagcrumbs vs. review sites

While I understand that tagcrumbs, being a startup company, attempts to clarify in what sense it is different from review sites such as Qype or Yelp, I still find that from a long-term perspective, there are more similarities than differences.

The core idea behind tagcrumbs, as I understand it, is that it enables you to associate any resource to a geocoordinate (also sometimes called a place). Whether you have been to a specific place does not matter, so it is not only about sharing experiences, but also meant as a kind of geotagged moleskine.

On the other hand, review sites such as Qype started out as a kind of yellow pages enhanced with user-generated content that is associated to local places. Most of the places are imported from yellow pages data to make it easier to write reviews, but there are little constraints regarding the generation of new places (even virtual ones, which I personally do not care much about, but it does not really matter here). Important additions were events (associated with time or time periods) and guides (i. e. lists of places which enables users to generate tours).

In the three years that Qype has been online, it is possible to say that the focus was expanded from pure reviews to experience sharing. To claim that

Tagcrumbs has no thematic focus on reviews and thus supports a higher diversity of user-generated content. It's about all the little local discoveries and the insider knowledge around us

is correct from Tagcrumb's perspective, but I do not see in what sense the diversity of user-generated content is higher. Does this refer to content types, or to the semantics of content? Regarding the former, I see a wide variety (except perhaps the association of external links to geocoordinates, which should be constrained anyway for security reasons), and regarding the latter, what you write about should have some connection to the place you are considering, but again, I see little constraints.

And even if the diversity of user-generated content was higher, what would be the advantage? I do argue that sites operating on the basis of user-generated content need to invest some editorial work to make sure that what is contributed is in accordance with some set of requirements stated by the owner of the site, and in addition provide sophisticated means of search and retrieval (fulltext, categories, tags, associations etc.). The more content you have the harder it will be to find what you're looking for.

To sum up, I would see Tagcrumbs and Qype as quite similar in concept and focus, with the difference that the former starts out large (allowing a greater variety in the first place) and, as time goes by, will see the need to narrow down its focus, while the latter started quite small and is expanding its focus in order to perhaps attract more users.

1 comment:

Cornelius said...

Matthias, thanks for the post! Let's clarify a bit.

Your last observation is good, Qype started focused and is expanding on this and Tagcrumbs is designed as a generic platform first. Of course, our marketing over the next time will be more specific, too. Supporting vertical communities like diving or photography.

What does the thematic focus mean for Qype? Reviews are descriptions, maybe with a rating, mobile reviews are similar but shorter. But you review a 'object' which can be pretty much everything. Really? A good parking spot, a funny sign at a building, a camp site in the middle of a national park? Sharing experiences is what Qype and Tagcrumbs want but Qype should have no interest with their successful model to support the long-tail niche communities.

A different thought, Tagcrumbs is focused on mobile, pull your mobile phone out of your pocket and mark, remember or share a place which is broken down to the GPS coordinate not an address (Qype 99%). Each placemark/note is independent of any described objects and easy to filter, tag, organize and better suited for engaging mobile applications which have an average usage time of under 30 seconds!

There are many details that distinguish, in the end, Tagcrumbs is more like YouTube or Flickr with generic geo-referenced content instead of focused sites like local directories or travel communities.

I cannot move to Qype with all the notes and descriptions I have written on Tagcrumbs, there is an overlap but personal niche content is not suited for Qype.


P.S. Already added a Tagcrumb? ;-)