YellowBot: Early impressions

While earlier Web 2.0-ish local sites have been dealing with shifting sands, new sites continue to appear. YellowBot is among the latter, and appears to be hanging its hat on tags.

What’s to like about YellowBot? Here are a few things:

  1. Tags are generally a good idea
  2. YellowBot has bought nationwide base data from Localeze, which means I don’t have to wait for users to build the site
  3. It has pre-seeded the tags
  4. Its location input box has a “suggest” feature that finds matching street addresses in real time, which I haven’t seen before

What’s not to like?

  1. The pre-seeded tags are a bit hinky, which makes them less useful. In fact, the site’s data seems shaky overall. More on this below.
  2. Despite the somewhat cool street-address feature, the location “suggestions” work rather weirdly. (Try typing in an address.)
  3. The site has virtually no user content, even in places where I’d imagine it should, such as its hometown of LA. It has imported some reviews from CitySearch, Zagat and possibly elsewhere, but this seems inconsistent.
  4. The editorial tone of the site is exclusionary, or possibly just dumb.

The tone is a problem because it’s grating and counterproductive. Maybe I’m getting too old, but I refuse on principle to rate anything as either “rank” (1 star) or “off the heezy” (5 stars):

This tone is echoed in the FAQ:

Tags are the flava … of YellowBot.


Is it possible that some people think this is cool? I suppose so, but I can’t imagine YellowBot will get lots of reviews of lawyers and lawn-care services (both of which it touts on its home page today) from such an audience.

Other things will be harder to change. There’s the whole chicken/egg problem of sparse user content; I’ll post soon about that general issue.

And then there’s the data, especially as reflected by tags. I suspect that YellowBot bought its pre-seeded tag content, and the UI really plays it up. Some of it is useful, the rest … not so much.

As a minor example, my brother John runs a hot-dog joint on Hollywood Boulevard in LA. Skooby’s is famous for its hot dogs. YellowBot’s tags for the place, none of which appear to have been contributed by users, are as follows:

Bar Food – Burgers – dining – food – Pizza – restaurant

OK, I forgive the absence of “hot dogs.” But “burgers” and “pizza” are actively wrong. John serves burgers in his quasi-nearby Hermosa Beach location, but YellowBot doesn’t have that listing at all. He doesn’t serve pizza anywhere. If I search for “pizza” and get directed to Skooby’s, I’m being misled.

(I’ll find lasting consolation in LA’s best hot dog, fries and lemonade, of course.)

Some of the YellowBot tags appear to have been entered from Yellow Pages ads. Others are just a mystery. Here’s one medical place in Leesburg, VA:

And another:

It’s not just tags. The number-two result for a search on “doctor” in Leesburg, VA, is listed as follows:

Jackson River Orthopedics PC
I-64 Exit 21
Leesburg, VA

This business isn’t in Leesburg. I-64 goes nowhere near here.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have to look very hard for examples like this. I’m hoping that YellowBot will work out these kinks before long.


  1. Hi Laurence,

    Thanks for checking out the site. I’m glad that you (basically) like it. :-)

    We just launched about a month ago, so our user base is still building up. Curiously a lot of our users aren’t actually in Los Angeles. The joy of launching nationwide from the beginning!

    We are continuously improving the tags we are showing on the site. Sadly the data providers that have data for the whole country have a good bit of not-optimal data. Over time our users, the business owners and improved magic (we’re keeping some dual quad-core servers busy doing this …) are going to help. We welcome data corrections and suggestions. 😉

    On the language thing: Yes indeed — that is still a place-holder until we figure out what to put there. Blame the crazy programmer at the desk next to mine. 😉

    What was “weird” about the address input thing? That it’s “guessing” cities when you start entering the street address?

    We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with when you launch.

  2. Thanks, Ask — I’ll be watching YellowBot with interest! We have slightly different approaches, but it’s great to see others who are working hard to make local/social a reality. (I’ve e-mailed you separately about the address-input thing.)

  3. Yellowbot is a scam. It lists people’s personal information as “businesses”. They just scrape other site’s listings or have purchased spam lists or mailing lists. Nothing but a lame attempt to rip people off. They also don’t respond to any requests to have personal information removed from the site. Avoid this website.


  1. Local is weird « Think Locally - [...] got me to thinking: In reviewing YellowBot last year, I included a screengrab of what I portrayed as a mistake—YellowBot’s tags…