Shouldn’t we have a Yelp for Social Services? Why aren’t you trying to build that?

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.

Second, we want this information available in many channels and applications – including Yelp itself! Plus Google Places and Facebook! 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 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 to discuss further.

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