Lots of people are trying to build Yelp-type applications for social services. That’s not Open Referral’s role. There’s a range of reasons why:
First, information about human services is a lot more complex, variable, and sensitive than restaurant data – and unlike restaurateurs, many human service providers might not see the benefit of being listed in a Yelp for Social Services. This is a problem that simply doesn’t correspond with conventional supply-and-demand market dynamics that make Yelp possible. (Note that many restaurateurs don’t like Yelp either but they have no choice but to be listed there because it has come to dominate restaurant searches.)
Second, we want this information available in many channels and applications – including Yelp itself! Plus Foursquare, Google Places, Facebook, etc! Yet even these wouldn’t meet the needs of every user in every situation. Resource directory data should be itself a public good, freely ‘remixable’ by anyone, not trapped within any one company’s interface.
There are a range of other reasons why we don’t think this problem has one simple ‘Yelp for Social Services’ answer. Check out this talk for more insights, and email [email protected] to discuss further.