Social Meets Local with Praized

praized-wordle I started my web career at a little local search engine called TrueLocal which was owned at the time by Geosign. Both are now, as far as I know defunct, though TrueLocal’s site is still seems functional.

About the time that I left TrueLocal, Yelp, Restaurantica and others were tearing up the local search scene with ratings and reviews. As the guy responsible for product development at TrueLocal, I was under considerable pressure from above to add similar recommendation features to the search engine.

I resisted because it just didn’t seem to me that ratings and reviews added any value at all to the local search experience. Random recommendations from “Joey37”, for example, didn’t mean a heckuva lot to me when I was trying to decide which restaurant to take the in-laws to for seafood.

The reason there is no value was that I have no idea who Joey37 is. Is he that guy that always finds something to complain about? Or is he the guy that always thinks the last lace he’s been is the “best place ever!”

So the development team at TrueLocal began exploring the possibilities of avoiding unqualified reviews like Joey37 but allowing ratings and reviews from people we knew. When my real friends rate and review things, I usually know exactly how much salt I’ll need to take with it.  The problem was, ultimately, context – or a lack thereof. Unfortunately, we never had the chance at TrueLocal to follow through on our research.

praized Last week, however, Praized Media, founded by Sebastien Provencher, Harry Wakefield and Sylvain Carle, finally took the wraps off their local search platform that’s been brewing for over a year. Funded by Garage Ventures, the Praized team has been slaving away in Montreal developing a truly social local search platform.

The result? It pretty much rocks! I was lucky enough to be the very first publisher to launch an API implementation of their platform using their own WordPress plugin – and some custom bits. I’ve also been using their Praize’n’raze Facebook application for about a week.

The secret sauce of the Praized recommendation engine is that it is context-sensitive. The Praized ratings made at one site do not appear on other publisher’s Praized sites. While that sounds like it limits the usefulness of the platform, it’s actually genius. Praized explains it this way:

a Praized installation on a vegan blog will have completely different restaurant recommendations than on a meat-lovers’ blog because the two groups have fundamentally different tastes.

The Praized team has been getting lots of attention since unveiling the platform and they deserve it – it’s a brilliant blend of local search and social media.

Congrats! to Seb, Harry, Sylvain and the rest of the Praized team on a job well done!

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7 Responses to “Social Meets Local with Praized”

  1. […] Colin Carmichael: “Social Meets Local with Praized“ […]

  2. Olivier says:

    What about a blog dedicated to a conference (where both vegans and meat lovers are welcomed) and a visitor looking for a vegan restaurant? It would be better to have several groups per community, and visitors being able to subscribe to groups (or tags) in their centralized Praized profile. A vegan would subscribe to the vegan group, and the conference blog would include both vegan and meat-lover groups. I’m not sure it often works to assume that visitors of a community share the same tastes. The community might be dedicated to something completely different than what a visitor is looking for in the yellow pages.

  3. Ryan May says:

    Nice find, Colin. Praized is very impressive so far. Thanks for digging this one up!

    Found one small issue that turned me off… a search for ‘restaurants’ in ‘guelph’ returned McDonalds, Harveys, etc. Always a pet peeve.

  4. Olivier: That’s a great point. I think, though, that the choices of a conference ‘tribe’ would be determined more by the content of the conference… if it was micro-brewers conference, for example, the choices would skew towards brew-pubs. Similarly, geek-conference would skew towards places with Wi-Fi. High ratings would be informed by what tribe members have in commmon.

    Ryan: Tell me about it. You know all too well how many hours we spent at TL trying to crack that nut – I think we got pretty close. One thing I decided a long time ago is that ‘restaurants’ is a pretty awful search term anyway – just like it’s a pretty useless YP category. More specific terms (steak, pasta, chinese) will get you better results. But you all that. ;)

  5. Olivier says:

    I’m not sure, I’m a geek but still I don’t always look for wi-fi for dinner, I’d rather look for opinions from fellow French citizens, but the conference is international.

    I think another problem for Praized would be the double identity: one for the community, one for Praized. It’s centralized at Praized so you have to register only once but still, you have to login at each community, I can’t imagine people will do that and non geeks will really wonder what’s going on and where they are. They don’t say if you can vote differently for each community or not. In some cases it would make sense (this is a good dentist), in other it wouldn’t (this is a good restaurant for a conference lunch, but not for a romantic dinner). So again, I think that the solution would be to forget about this tribe idea and to just use groups or tags instead. You’d see a list of groups, select a weight for each of them building a “tag cloud request” (for example, I want a Chinese restaurant that doesn’t have a nice decoration), and Praized would tell you what matches. Communities could provide pre selected groups, but I think people would use the Praized hub directly, or big heterogeneous communities like Facebook. Or if they want to have one tribe per site, then I’d suggest to remove the Praized login, it’s like a barrier really, nobody is going to vote, and to interface with the community login directly, forget about the Praized profile (or use a beacon?), and even let communities order Praized results as they wish, Praized being just a barebones flexible yellow pages web service. I’d prefer the “tag cloud request” myself, I think tags with a cool request interface – I’d see something graphical, with live results as you give more or less weight to tags (perhaps, on a multitouch pad, you’d pinch in or out tags, on Windows it would be an old fashioned scroll control) – could really help in local search, more than the appurtenance to a community. Not sure if people would take the take to “vote” for each tag and to create new tags though, compared to the super fast (once logged in) one dimensional digg-like vote. People who create tags that get used a lot could get some sort of recognition I guess, like the top praizers. There could be the tag of the day, encouraging people to praize or raze places they know with this tag, stuff like that.

  6. Tim Nye says:

    Thanks for mentioning Restaurantica and TrueLocal. I admit Truelocal has been neglected for a while, but all focus is on and its going very well. We are in process of US expansion but dont want to forget our roots in Southern Ontario.

    I need your help promoting Cambridge ontario because as you know there are several cambridges and ranking for ‘cambridge restaurants’ in google is a challenge. if you wouldnt mind linking to ‘Cambridge Restaurants’ with the text i would (as will other Canadians from Cambridge) appreciate that, and would be happy to help promote your newspaper or any other local cambridge content if you think is is appropriate.

    Thank you and feel free to drop me a line.


  7. […] July 9 Mashable: “Praized Offers Websites Free Local Search” VentureBeat: “Yet more local reviews, with the launch of Praized“ Greg Sterling’s Screenwerk: “Praized Launches ‘Distributed’ Local Platform“ Greg Sterling’s Screenwerk – 2: “Praized, YP and Social Media“ Montreal Gazette (Roberto Rocha’s blog): “Praized and the importance of community suggestions” Core77: “Praized – “Trust Your Tribes” Evans Ink (Perry Evans): “praize be” Montreal Gazette: “Local startup offers unique online guide” Alt Search Engines: “Praized Media introduces Local Search platform” Small BusinessSEM (Matt McGee): “Big Day of Local Search News: Localeze and Praized“ The Listio blog: “Praized: Integrated Local Reviews” KillerStartups: “ – An Online Rating Platform for Blogs” StartupNorth: “ – Local, niche, reviews and communities” Literalbarrage: “Kudos For Praized“ (Patrick Tanguay): “Praized Launches” “New Canadian blogging hub could be boon for social net savvy businesses” Canadian Business: “Praized Media Introduces First Community-Focused Local Search Platform for Social Media Sites” TMCnet: “Praized Media Intros Community-Focused Local Search Platform for Social Media Sites” Darby Sieben: “Praized Media Launched Yesterday” Colin Carmichael: “Social Meets Local with Praized” […]