Google Launches a Recommendation Engine

Recommend places in your area, get recommendations in turn. Google has recently announced a new recommendation engine for Google Places — Hotpot. Hotpot is live now at http://www.google.com/hotpot/onboard. You’ll need to be logged in to a Google account to make recommendations, and when you first get into Hotpot Google will ask you for a nickname which will appear with your reviews (which will be publicly-available.)

Google defaults to where it thinks you are (incorrect in my case, but I’m okay with that) but you can change where you’re looking with your search query. I did a search for seafood in Boston and got a grid-type layout of Google Places results. Clicking on one of them takes you to the Google Places page. You can also provide ratings right from the search results, from 1 to 5 stars. (There’s also a “best ever” ranking available, but apparently you only get ten of those.)

You can also save places for later; once you save places they’ll show up in your “Saved Places” area, but they don’t get special visible in subsequent search results. For example, if I do a search for seafood in Boston and star a few places, those same places do not get noted in a particular way if I do an additional search for lobster in Boston and they show up again.

Of course, there’s a social element to all this. You can invite friends, see what places they’re recommending, and compete to see who’s ranking the most places. To do that you’ll need to have a public Google Profile.

The grid layout is interesting, but I can’t see anything that will make me more eager to use this as opposed to just finding business listings from a regular Google Web search.

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