The (Un)reliability of Local Data

There’s an interesting post on the reliability (or lack thereof) of local data over on Greg Sterling’s blog that is very relevant to ConsensusBest and any other site dealing in any kind of “where” data. Helping people find the best products is just half the value we hope to provide. The other half is helping people find those products in their local stores, since most people still prefer to make most purchases live and in person.

So how do we get our local store data? For now, it’s a result of the tedious and time consuming task of having our editors manually pull that information from manufacturer and retailer Web sites. It’s not bulletproof. We caution people to call ahead and make sure stores stock the items they claim they do. But we’re pretty confident that the location and phone information is accurate (and we encourage anyone who sees errors to point them out so we can correct ’em!). The upside for our users is that, as with the proposition of the whole site, we’re saving them time. The downside is that we are limited in how quickly we can expand our geographic reach.

Here’s the comment I left on Greg’s post:

It’s not for nothing that all those travel guide books pay college kids to speed through 10 countries in two months to try and fact check, making sure that cool, cheap pension is still at 10 Rue Garcon. Quality local data comes from going out and getting it. Yahoo and Google both make it pretty easy for local mom and pops to update/correct their info and, especially outside the big cities, it seems that almost no one takes advantage of this.

Sooner or later, we may have to buy or partner to get data feeds, but there will always need to be some human element of quality control.


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