What do tags taste like? Dinnerbuzz may give us an answer. Think of the site as 43Meals: it’s a collaborative restaurant reviewing system where diners tag each restaurant review with tags like “outdoor”, “beer”, “excellent” etc. (Nothing has yet been rated delicious.) Each review also includes a rating.
The idea of using tags as a reviewing tool has lots of potential, since it offers the possibility of finding restaurants that meet a particular appetite for pizza, Persian or patios. Every city in the database gets its own page, which shows you which restaurants are being most frequently tagged in that city. And Dinnerbuzz gets full marks for offering XML feeds on each tag and city page: never again will you be the last to hear of that great new cafe in Menlo Park.
There are a few implementation hiccups: while you can search by tag (and even multiple tags) you can’t search by rating. But I’m not interested in finding a Mexican restaurant, I’m interested in finding a good Mexican restaurant, so I want to be able to limit the results of my tag search to restaurants with a certain minimum rating. And ratings alone aren’t going to pull me into a restaurant: I want to have some description that tells me why I might want to go, what I should order, and how I’ll feel the next morning. I’m guessing that the Dinnerbuzz gang was more excited about coding than eating because the reviews that are on there so far are mostly limited to tags and ratings.
The other challenge Dinnerbuzz faces is the challenge that folksonomies place on any site: until you get to a certain critical mass, the wide variation in how people use tags means that there’s an awful lot of noise and chaos. For example, I’m not sure how useful the tag vibe is in identifying possible dinner spots — yet it does produce a couple of results. But if I search on Indian — and who doesn’t want a curry at least once a week? — there’s only one result so far. This is a site that won’t be useful until there is a whack of people using it — and that could take a while. Meanwhile Dinnerbuzz may want to provide some gentle encouragement to tag restaurants with the information that folks are most likely to be seeking: ethnicity/genre; special features (patio, delivery, etc); and with a consistent set of qualitative tags like bad, mediocre, ok, good, excellent (right now this seems to happen strictly informally).
If Dinnerbuzz could hook up with structured blogging we might see bloggers helping to populate its reviews. I’d love to see Dinnerbuzz accumulate a useful set of reviews for Vancouver but I think that will happen fastest if it can integrate with existing review sites like VanEats.
If you like your yummies metaphorical rather than literal, check out Yummy, now in alpha testing. It’s a collaboratively tagged collection of PDFs on a range of topics, with a transparent business model: any of the PDFs can be printed and shipped to you by Print FU. If the PDF you want isn’t there you can upload your own.
Yummy might be an interesting way of finding PDFs, but heck, I can do that on Google. What would make me really happy is if Yummy had a set-up that let me store all the PDFs that are cluttering up my hard drive on their site, and made it easy to print from there without downloading the PDF in the process. That would provide folks with an incentive to upload and could quickly turn Yummy into an awesome virtual library.
Meanwhile, both Dinnerbuzz and Yummy remind me that how much I’d like folks to standardize the address syntax for tag-specific pages. To give you a sense of the variation, here’s how you’d find the tag page for “beer” on a few sites:
Could we all just give del.icio.us credit for its first mover status (and its very nice, simple URLS) and adopt the common syntax: http://www.yoururl.com/tag/whatever
I want to be able to go to any tagged site and know how to find the tag page I’m looking for. For that matter I want to be able to add any RSS feed for any tagged site to my aggregator without having to check the URL first, so again, let’s follow the del.icio.us example: http://www.yoururl.com/rss/tag/whatever
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.