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The Internet Spam

Search By.... Email? 138

cjjjer writes "The Register has a article on Yelp, the newest local search engine based on your local friends and businesses. Robert X. Cringely over at I, Cringely has another take on this new type of service as well. Seems to me a service like this will only generate a lot of useless emails that will go un-answered. Wait a minute, that sounds a lot like spam."
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Search By.... Email?

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  • Not sure, (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 2.7182 ( 819680 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:51PM (#10537480)
    but wasn't this an idea of IBM's in the early 2000's ?

  • by erick99 ( 743982 ) <homerun@gmail.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:53PM (#10537502)
    I registered at Yelp to see what it is like. You can enter recommendations directly which is pretty cool. If you ask a question it has to go to your list of friends, which may annoy them for all I know. I do not see a way to look at the list of recommended businesses in my town. I apparently have to ask first. I think it would be neat to print out a list of all businesses in my town that have been recommended. It may be too inclusive a list but I bet it would chop off the bad ones at a minimum.
  • Sounds kinda nifty (Score:5, Informative)

    by darth_MALL ( 657218 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:54PM (#10537514)
    Here's the breakdown FTA:
    "Suppose you want to find where you can drink the most romantic Mint Julep in town, or where to find the cheapest key cutter. You enter your request into Yelp, then nominate some friends who you know can be trusted not to jerk you around, or who really know a good tip. This much you might have already done, for sure, without Yelp! but like Evite, Yelp! takes care of the rest of the business. If your friends can't come up with the answer, it will then tentatively try friends of friends. Yelp! takes care of mis-spellings, and plugs into a directory at the back end, giving you an address and a map. And, overtime, becomes an authoritative information source."
    It will probably become quite effective once the useage gets high. Sign me up.
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:02PM (#10537614)
      It will probably become quite effective once the useage gets high.

      That usage factor is going to be very interesting, because in order for their system to works there needs to be an answer to every question asked, and to work well many answers per question.

      But where exactly are the answers going to come from since there's no direction reward for answering? There needs to be some sort of rule or incentive protecting the question-to-answer ratio, otherwise this system could colapse with piles of unanswered questions.
      • The other side is that not only do they have to answer the question, but they have to answer it honestly.

        I could see a situation where a whole shit load of people could just put all kinds of erroronous information into the database just to screw with people.

        i.e. "How do I get to the Bostom Museum of Science from Alewife". and they get back an answer something like "Take the Blue line to Fenway, then take the Red line to government center". Granted, you'd think people would just use the mbta's website or
        • So it will degenerate into ask slashdot?
        • Nonsense. Everyone knows that alewife is a fish, so you have to start from the aquarium...

          But i think the point isn't just here to there (which is easy to find online, though you're right, people don't tend to look if they aren't used to the medium) but 'where should i go while i'm in Boston to get some culture?' and then the answers will come back, obviously, heavily favouring a.) museums, b.) bars, and c.) the MIT biology labs.

          Maybe there will be a usefulness ranking system, so that your responses can g
        • i.e. "How do I get to the Bostom Museum of Science from Alewife". and they get back an answer something like "Take the Blue line to Fenway, then take the Red line to government center".

          For those of you outside of Boston... those dirrections are clearly incorrect to anybody local because Alewife is the western terminal station for the Red Line, you can't get on the Blue Line there.
        • I think it comes down to being socially responsible, remember the story posted a while ago on /. about posting incorrect articles on wikipedia that were not removed or caught until the author removed them. I think this is similar in nature.

          As a side note I had a friend that worked at a convenience store and would knowingly give false directions to people because he got tired of doing it all day.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by drgreg911 ( 741844 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:54PM (#10537516) Homepage
    It's about time somebody saved me the hassle of having to hit that CC button, my efficiency is going to skyrocket now.
  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MastaBaba ( 530286 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:54PM (#10537524)
    how how can it be abused by the sex industry?
    • You can ask your friends to recommend your other friends...
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

      by jonathan z ( 773057 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:29PM (#10537942)
      That's easy! You can have your network of (skeezy) friends rate all the local prostitutes for you; based on the well-known formula: (Sexual Skills)*(Attractiveness)/(Price)*(Number of STDs)=(Hookosity Index) (The higher the rating, the more preferable the hooker.)
      • You can have your network of (skeezy) friends rate all the local prostitutes for you; based on the well-known formula: (Sexual Skills)*(Attractiveness)/(Price)*(Number of STDs)=(Hookosity Index) (The higher the rating, the more preferable the hooker.)

        But if they have 0 STD's you divide by zero and it blows up in your face. Then again, maybe that is the desired result...

      • (Sexual Skills)*(Attractiveness)/(Price)*(Number of STDs)=(Hookosity Index) (The higher the rating, the more preferable the hooker.)

        following precedence rules of math, this equation means that the more STDs a prostitute has, the more preferable she (he) is!!! :)
      • But your index has a flaw. What about the (VERY) edge case of the hooker having zero STDs? Does that make her hookosity infinite due to div by 0? Undefined?
      • I think your formula has a serious flaw, unless your Hookosity enjoyment is increased by a higher chance of getting STDs!!!!
    • "For a good time, call ###-####"
  • Try, just try to do something without bugging another sentient.
  • Screw this. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sketerpot ( 454020 ) * <sketerpot@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:56PM (#10537544)
    If you email me and a bunch of other people asking some stupid question that you want me to go to a search engine and answer, I'm going to block email from you. Do not spam me. This is the worst search engine idea ever. Die die die.

    And their page uses really sucky JavaScript; have they ever heard of using plain old hyperlinks rather than using javascript to open a popup window? It would make their site much more friendly to---irony coming---search engines. Real search engines.

    • Re:Screw this. (Score:2, Informative)

      by erick99 ( 743982 )
      I don't feel that way at all. If I get an email because a friend of mine is trying to find a shop that fixes Volvo's or a good place to get a haircut or where to buy a good filet mignon and I know of a good place(s), then I am very happy to answer.
      • Re:Screw this. (Score:5, Informative)

        by sketerpot ( 454020 ) * <sketerpot@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:03PM (#10537630)
        If the friend emails me directly and asks nicely, sure, I'd help out that friend. But if the friend spams lots of people with form letters asking stuff and linking to this site, I will get annoyed. This is just an intermediary for spamming with some self-promotion mixed in, and spammers should not be cooperated with.

        Anyway, this site looks like it was concieved and implemented by people who learned all their skills reading "HTML and Perl for Dummies" back in 1999. It won't last unless I've overestimated the intelligence of the average internet user.

      • Re:Screw this. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Babbster ( 107076 ) <aaronbabb@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:14PM (#10537767) Homepage
        The thing that bothers me most about the system, though, is the eventual anonymity of the requests. My understanding is that if it takes off, you won't just be getting e-mails from your friends, but from a friend of a friend of a friend of an acquaintance. I don't know about anyone else, but if I wanted to be Ask Jeeves, I'd change my friggin' name.
      • Alice wants to know about hair stylists.
        Bob wants to know about fishing sites.
        Charlie wants to know about CD's.
        Dave wants to know about guitars.
        Ethel wants to know about concerts.
        Frank wants to know about Volvo repairs.
        Gary wants to know about Vegas.
        Heidi wants to know about gyms. ...
        Zak wants to know about legos.

        And that's just on Monday.
    • Re:Screw this. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lukewarmfusion ( 726141 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:08PM (#10537700) Homepage Journal
      I completely agree. This is on par with people who send me all their email forwards. I will be as rude as necessary to get the point across that I don't appreciate crap in my email inbox.

      I, too, am happy to help a friend out when they ask for recommendations on a restaurant or whatever. But if they ask for the recommendation and end their email with "btw, I gave your email address to a few spammers before I sent this to you" then I will be very angry.
    • If you email me and a bunch of other people asking some stupid question that you want me to go to a search engine and answer, I'm going to block email from you.

      s/email me/ask.slashdot.org/g
      s/email from you/posts to ask.slashdot.org/g

      Hmm. Do you have ask.slashdot.org blocked from your homepage? (Not that the filters work or anything *cough*).

      Actually, this sounds pretty cool to me. I can filter mail quite well, and would not be bothered by such a thing.
    • Just give the WRONG answer...

      • Actually, there is potential here. Is anybody else suddenly struck with an urge to write a program that will automatically reply to any Yelp spam with a random quote generated by Emacs' yow command? "I just had a MAJOR CONTRACT DISPUTE with SUZANNE SOMERS!!"
        "I left my WALLET in the BATHROOM!!"
        "I just bought FLATBUSH from MICKEY MANTLE!"
        "I love FRUIT PICKERS!!"
        "Yow!! 'Janitor trapped in sewer uses ESP to find decayed burger'!!"
  • Fad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:56PM (#10537555) Homepage
    This seems to me to be one of those fad type things. It'll never last. The first time you get a Yelp request it may seem interesting or cool. Then after a few more, you'll be sick to death of them and never answer the things.

    The great thing about google local is that it's all automated and immediate. This Yelp is going to be lagged which could be a real pain in the ass.

    The other thing is, why would you need Yelp! to ask your friends to recommend a restaurant or tailor or whatever. If they are your friends, why not just ask them to their face?
    • Re:Fad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:01PM (#10537609) Homepage
      So you can have not only your friends asking you stupid question, you can have THEIR friends asking you stupid questions, and their friends' friends, and their friends's friends' friends, and so on.

      This sounds like a really dumb idea. I don't mind answering the occasional question for someone I actually know and like, but this thing sounds like asking me to play tech support (or google) for a bunch of people my friends know, but I may not know, or even worse may know but not like.

      This is a solution without a problem. Finding most information on the net can be done much faster, more accurately, and with no chance of pissing off some random friend of a friend of a friend, with an ordinary search engine.
      • Re:Fad (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        So you can have not only your friends asking you stupid question, you can have THEIR friends asking you stupid questions, and their friends' friends, and their friends's friends' friends, and so on.

        Yeah, but after 6 iterations, you'll have Kevin Bacon asking you stupid questions.
    • The other thing is, why would you need Yelp! to ask your friends to recommend a restaurant or tailor or whatever. If they are your friends, why not just ask them to their face?

      Without knowing the implementation details, I can see potential benefits: Results can be cached and aggrigated within your group, and you can get friend-of-friend recomendations, potentially with an estimate of the liklihood that their ratings will agree with yours.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:57PM (#10537559)
    This system brings up an interesting e-mail marketing situation.

    When a site invites its user to "tell a friend" by sending a pre-scripted e-mail, the friend ends up getting an e-mail that looks a lot like a spam message, but it's not really a mass-distributed e-mail because it only goes to those whose e-mail addresses were turned in by other friends.

    So, the sending friend might think they're doing their friend a favor, while the friend getting the message would be within their rights to declare that they were spammed...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      lets see spam is properly termed as UCE so..

      Unsolicited ? check
      Commercial ? check
      Email ? check

      so yes as the recipient didnt request it it would be correctly identified as UCE aka Spam

    • It's kind of mass-distributed, depending on how popular it is. The exact contents may be somewhat customized per recipient, but in general it's one site sending out lots of emails to lots of different people who probably never asked to get those. I guess if they have a proper opt-out policy it may be "grey" spam.
      • Technically, a gmail invite falls into this criteria.

        More often though, with less reputable companies, you will get 5 or 10 variations over the course of a few days/weeks/months because one person gave your address.

        "Jane signed you up for xyz"
        "Hey, Jane signed you up"
        "Cooooooey, Jane wants a word"
        "Jane is getting lonely"
        "Jane is leaving town"
        "Last chance, Jane is going"
        "You'll never see Jane again"
        "..."
        "Janes Back!!!"
        "Welcome back party for Jane"
  • by tonsofpcs ( 687961 ) <`moc.scpfosnot' `ta' `kcabhsals'> on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:58PM (#10537568) Homepage Journal
    So I get ads from my friends, and only my friends, so If I'm looking for a new place to do something, tough luck? Seems kinda odd....
  • by VE3ECM ( 818278 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:58PM (#10537572)
    Do you and I *really* need a service where our annoying friends can spam us all day long asking us where to find the best pastrami on rye in town?

    Or the best dry cleaner?

    Or whatever...
    There's always going to be someone who uses Yelp! 10 times a day and annoys you to no end.

    It happens already: go take a look in any live journal [livejournal.com] community.

    • Do you and I *really* need a service where our annoying friends can spam us all day long asking us where to find the best pastrami on rye in town?

      They already have this service :
      Craigs List [craigslist.org]Great way to waste time. If you really want to be afraid, look in the psych forums.

    • It's a cute idea, but it's going to be abused really quickly.

      If there's ANY regularity to the message formats, look for the spammers to adopt it.

      Also, can you think of a better way to collect real email address than by sending out crap and collecting the "on vacation" bounces?
    • Can you elaborate on your comment on livejournal communities? I'm active in a number of livejournal communities on topics like space exploration, neuroscience, and local activities, and I find them to be a great source of discussion and ideas. Sure, there's the occasional lame post asking for homework help or something, but in most discussions the signal-to-noise ratio is pretty good.

      In any case, it's not like someone is forced to be a member of a particular community. If they think a particular community
  • by DigitalNinja7 ( 684261 ) * on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:59PM (#10537578) Homepage
    This just screams "give me valid email addresses so I can sell them to spammers!" This service is retarded, just use your email client.
    • This just screams "give me valid email addresses so I can sell them to spammers!"

      But it says "Yelp! will not share email addresses with third parties." You don't think they'd do that do you? After they said they wouldn't? That's just... immoral.
  • "Yacking" (Score:3, Funny)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:59PM (#10537580) Journal
    The Internet, it turns out, is mainly about searching and yacking.
    Where I come from, 'yacking' is standing around and gossiping. What does it mean in this context? I couldn't figure it out from TFA.
  • But if I want to ask all my friends a question, why can't I just send a group e-mail? If I need a recommendation, why wouldn't I just go to one of the myriad of review websites out there? I realize that a lot of successful businesses started by scratching an itch you didn't know you had, but I don't think there is going to be a particular demand for this one. If people are already capable of easily answering these questions, where is the incentive to change?
  • That's the sound that any of my friends will make as I beat the living snot out of them if they start sending me stupid emails.
  • question (Score:4, Funny)

    by scaaven ( 783465 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:08PM (#10537701)
    Question for yelp: "How can I help stop spam?"

    Answer: your friends don't know, so the question is forwarded to everyone on Earth.

  • by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdot@jg c . o rg> on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:12PM (#10537742) Homepage Journal
    Here's my problem with Yelp! from a local search perspective. Most of the "friends" that I email with are nowhere near me, the people who are I actually talk to in person or on the phone.

    Emailing my circle of friends in the UK, Japan, Germany, etc. isn't going to get me a good recommendation on a New York dry cleaners.

    John.
  • So I can ruthlessly mutilate the brain cells I wasted on this article. Is it just me or was that article written with so much energy that it reminds you of Tom Sawyer trying to get people to white wash a fence? *bangs head* minutes of my time was wasted on this, people. Minutes!! It reminds me of why I *hate* "critical thinking" in the social sciences.
  • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:21PM (#10537842) Homepage
    Call me a sceptic if you want, but I think that this "service" is going to get blacklisted by the DNSBLs etc so fast it's untrue:

    U nsolicited? Check!

    C ommericial? Check!

    E mail? Check!

    That spells "spam" in my book. I think I'll just add an entry to my SMTP access list now, and get it over with:

    yelp.com ERROR:"554 Use Google, you dumb fsck!"

    That should do it. :)

  • heh..
    I am not at all worried about this.. mark it as spam in yahoo and gmail, mark it as spam in my filters..
    then it will just be another junk mailer with a few people who might use it.

    not to mention that yahoo and gmail also happen to be major search engines I doubt I will ever seen one land in an inbox of those web-based accounts.

    next...
  • http://www.capescience.com/google/index.shtml is doing this for long time.
    Very effective if there is no browser handy.
  • isnt this like craigslist type sites only without the friendly, relaxed online, nospam good things about it?
  • ...for revenge.

    Send a few to your ex (or your spouse), asking where the best place is to get laid...

  • "It cuts down on stupid email traffic. You want the respondents, not the "I don't know sorry's".

    me: Hey Yelp, how do I cut down on stupid Yelp email traffic?

    Yelp: I don't know, sorry.

    We can't stop them! They meme business, err, I mean "mean".

  • Calling all of your in NY - anyone know where the little falafel place is (sorry, forgot the name) that has the hot Kim Catrall lookalike waitress - no, not the one on the next block from Grays Papaya (the wairess there is a frumpy *&^@ - this one is closer to the Staten island ferry terminal, but I know you can't drive there easy because of the one-way streets - you can get there on foot in about 15 minutes - and oh - you'd remember they have this incredible chilli relish....I think the waitress is cal
  • what stops someone from getting a bunch of questions and spamming the people that emailed them asking for help? If they emailed you first its not unsolicited.
  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:43PM (#10538120)
    There must be somebody here who can do a reasonable imitation of the style of artwork they've got on that front page. I want to see the conclusion to that storyboard. Preferably involving a long, heavy wooden pole labelled "cluestick".
  • Man, did they ever miss the boat.

    In fact, they were at the bus station waiting for a train.

    All they really needed to do was to index each and every Slashdot entry ever made ... 'cause you KNOW that all the answers given here are both accurate and intelligent.

    Professor Irwin Cory (the self-professed world's foremost expert on everything) ... WHERE ARE YOU?

  • Here's my advice: Move the communication mechanism from the inbox to somewhere else ... perhaps a tab in an instant messaging app, or perhaps a stand-alone tray app itself. Yelp messages showing up in your inbox will be resented ... but if an icon were to show up in my taskbar, I might consider clicking on it to see what a friend needs. Bottom line, I want to respond to "Yelps" on my schedule ... not on theirs ... and a message at the top of my inbox is too intrusive for me to find the service appealing.
    • Two responses. One, this is ideal for cellphones with email. Add in the email addresses of friends' cellphones and it becomes a useful social network. Two, why not just filter yelp email into a separate folder and look at it later?
      • "Two, why not just filter yelp email into a separate folder and look at it later?"
        • You can do it ... I can do it ... but probably 3/4 of everyone you and I know wouldn't have the first clue how to set that up. To succeed, this needs to appeal to the masses.

        • I think filters will be the next thing simplified for the simple people, now that we've already got spam filtering done that way. If only it would be encryption... but that's some ways off. I just got the gpg plugin mostly working with my squirrelmail though, so I guess there's hope :P
  • But they won't read mail from Yelp. I've already told Plaxo never to approach me again. Yelp! is even worse.
  • When... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rikardon ( 116190 )
    ...is Slashdot just going to bite the bullet and make a Cringely icon?
  • Unintelligible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BarryNorton ( 778694 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:53PM (#10538244)
    I suppose it's perfectly in keeping with the terribly-written article on The Register that we're offered snide opinion on something here without having even been told what it is. (And worse, misled that this is some kind of search engine.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The perfect sociological solution, from the spammer's view, to the address collection problem. Sure, the internet user hides his or her email address. Sure, they put on all kinds of technical blocks. Sure, they're wary and won't stupidly write their email address into any form that asks for it.

    But they will give their email address to their mom, and their mom WILL type it into that form.
  • by titaniam ( 635291 ) * <slashdot@drpa.us> on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:17PM (#10538554) Homepage Journal
    I own a number of domains, and all the email addresses point to my inbox, after being run by the trained bayesian spam filter I wrote. I just tried Yelp, listing some of my aliases as friends, and the emails went straight into my spam directory. So I suppose most people with bayesian filters will never see a Yelp message (unless they have whitelists). I am happy I will never see one again.
  • Oh great (Score:4, Informative)

    by GoClick ( 775762 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:30PM (#10538708)
    yet another way for my friends to sign me up for spam, like those stupid e-cards or birthday reminders. Just enter your friends and well send them an email about this... along with viagra ads. It's so rude to put anyone else's email into a website (other than webmail I suppose)
  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dfj225 ( 587560 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:44PM (#10538901) Homepage Journal
    What makes this something that I couldn't do with email sent the old-fashioned way(or a cell phone) and local.google.com, map quest, or some other service?

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