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Yelp for World Benefit

What might it look like to ask the 'global crowd' to rate and review the businesses they interact with according to the lens of innovating for world benefit?

Photo of Ashley Jablow

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I loved Charlotte's inspiration around Yelp – so much so that I wanted to build on it!

As a Yelp user myself, I know how valuable the Yelp community's feedback is in helping me make my own decisions about where to eat, get my car serviced, where to shop etc. And, as someone who knows a few small business owners, I know how much Yelp ratings matter to a company too!

One important element of this challenge is to surface great stories of business innovations that benefit the world – and what better way to do that than through a global crowd of people who could report on their experiences and stories, on the go?

Like Yelp, I'm envisioning both a website and a mobile app where anyone can submit a review of what they see in their own community.

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UPDATES (11.13.12):

Great suggestion by Kirk Soderstrom: the desktop version of Yelp for World Benefit should include a link to the top community reviewers, with scores and details for how and what they review (very similar to Amazon's top reviewers). This will help ensure transparency and hopefully quality in the reviews submitted by the community, without needing an army of staffers to review and vet the posts one-by-one.

Another great one from Jonathan Levine: In addition to businesses having a page where people can share reviews, let's make some of this page editable by companies so that they can share the latest details on their world benefit efforts. Maybe this could even be like Quora, where community members could ask questions directly of the company, and the company could respond? This would be a great way to make this online platform more of a conversation than a reporting tool.

How does your concept celebrate, identify or inspire for-profit businesses that act as agents of world benefit?

For instance, say I go to my local Starbucks and notice that a barista has taken some sort of innovative action to make the local community better – maybe he's found a local farmer to take away coffee grinds to use on their farm? I start talking to the barista about this action, and I'm impressed: not only is he responsibly disposing of a waste product that can be used to cultivate a farmer's field, but it turns out so much of this excess coffee waste is being diverted to farms that Starbucks' own waste collection costs go down. Thus, through this partnership he's saving money for Starbucks and doing something good for the environment.

As we're talking, I realize that this barista really deserves kudos for his creative action. I pull out my phone, open up the Yelp for World Benefit app, and add this story to the review database. Not only can I add the story (aka: my review), but I can rate how valuable I think this innovative partnership really is.

Similarly, just like Yelp, if I had an experience with a business that was particularly bad – or not 'aligned' with innovating for world benefit – I could also go on to the website or app and review the business too.

Now here's where I could use the community's help:

1. What would inspire users like me and you to upload these stories and rate the businesses we interact with regularly?
2. How might we recognize or celebrate the businesses with the highest ratings?
3. What might we 'give' to users who do the most reviewing? (I'm thinking of the Yelp Elite system of rewards, special event invites etc - see more here http://www.yelp.com/elite)
4. What might motivate businesses to care about their Yelp for World Benefit ratings?

What will it take to scale your concept so that its reach is global and widespread?

The beauty (and success) of Yelp is that it relies on network effects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect) to drive engagement. This site and app I'm envisioning would need to harness this same kind of energy and global scale in order to really work.

Right now Yelp is location- and language-specific, so this site would need to do the same. In this way, the site is both local and global.
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Photo of Phillipp
Team

Hi Ashley,

love your idea. In fact, we loved this idea for a while, and started http://www.wikirate.org. Would be great if you can check it out (and maybe to start contributing something..). It is only in alpha though, so don't be surprised if its buggy or user experience is not too sexy yet...

Cheers

Philipp

Photo of Ashley
Team

Wow! Very cool Phillipp! How are you finding the site going so far? Any learnings or takeaways that you'd like to share here? Maybe the community has some ideas to help grow your site as well!

Photo of Phillipp
Team

Hi Ashley, it is a bit early to have real takeaways, since we don't even market yet our alpha site, as it needs a bite more work.

One thing I can say is that going from a vision to having a real site requires a lot of persistence. Building up a team of co-conspirators is the most helpful to bring you through it. Then just working on getting something real sooner than later is most important - set up a non-profit entity (not as difficult as you may think, and you don't need a lawyer for that), write a concise description of your project, find partners for implementation and dissemination etc.

To your project: I like the idea of rewarding innovations and personal responsibility on a local scale. Instead of building a whole new site, maybe you can convince Yelp to integrate your features? They already have comment functions, maybe just adding a badge or some icon to that comment that highlights its relevance for the Yelp for World Benefit program, thus making it searchable, you can filter just for those etc.

If you want to go into actually reviewing companies holistically and fairly, I invite you to check out Wikirate more thoroughly. It is a great time to join the site since your feedback now will shape how Wikirate will ultimately look like.

All the best to your endeavor!

Photo of Ashley
Team

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reflections Phillipp – I think you've hit the nail on the head about building up a team of advocates and being persistant. And I love the idea of partnering with Yelp! Thanks again for chiming in with your input.

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