This week Yellowpages.com added user reviews to their directory service. Much like Yelp, the new system allows registered users to post one- to five-star reviews of local establishments. I decided to compare experiences using both sites to see how they stack up.
Round 1: User registration and benefits
Registering with Yellowpages grants you a few small perks, such as 100 slots to save your favorite establishments. You also get to save personal addresses and keep track of your last 20 searches. Yelp goes a little bit further with a friends list, a small counter under your name with how many reviews you've written, and a profile page with all your reviews. You can also list your favorites, but Yelp breaks it down into what's in your neighborhood and categories for your favorite places to eat, drink, and shop.
Round 2: Browsing and writing reviews
Oddly enough clicking on a business listing after a search in Yellowpages pops up in a new window. Clicking the Review button opens up yet another window. If you're keeping track, that's three separate windows you need to manage to get to the review page. From there you can rate it using the star system and add your 2 cents. Searching on Yelp is made easy by letting you search by city or ZIP code. You can also see your recent search locations or add your own location presets, helpful features if you're using the service for work and home.
Searches aside, Yelp provides a much richer writing template, letting you see other users' reviews and adding a spell-check button to (almost) idiot-proof your reviews. When you're done, registered users can tag your review as funny, cool, or useful. The cream of the crop gets featured on Yelp's front page and noted on your profile. Yellowpages has a neat feature to directly respond to a review, essentially making it a forum. Both services have maps, but Yellowpages has a neat bird's-eye view feature that lets you see satellite photos at a slight angle.
In the end, Yelp provides a social network combined with a system that rewards users for sharing their experiences. The reviews on Yellowpages just seem tacked on. You could review 100 places a day on the service and get no real sense that other people appreciate it, whereas with Yelp you have the option to make friends and get a reputation for your work. It goes without saying that Yellowpages can (and likely will) improve their rating community, but if I were to pick from the two right now, Yelp is the clear winner.