Millions of dollars are flowing into dot.com start-ups that provide the public a place to read and write reviews on just about anything local… restaurants, stores, etc. Some include: insiderpages.com, judysbook.com, riffs.com, yelp.com, and zipingo.com. Blogosphere comments swirl around their relative merits and their mangement ups and downs… hard to hear the true tune through the din.
Front Porch Forum does local review too, but it’s a different model… the reviews are requested and then the reviews come from nearby neighbors. So (1) the reviews are demand driven, and (2) there’s credibility because the advice is coming from the person around the corner with his/her real identity provided. And this is only one of many uses that our neighborhood forums are supporting… classifieds, community organizing, news, etc. It all adds up to helping neighbors connect and foster community within neighborhoods.
In our first city (Burlington, VT), we’re hosting 130 adjacent neighborhood forums that in sum cover the entire metro-area. Five to ten percent of the local households have joined in our first few months with dozens of neighborhoods in the 20-40% range and a couple exceeding 90% already. And it’s all driven by word of mouth and a spinkle of local media attention.