Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yahoo! yellow pages: the problem with being mostly right

Yahoo's yellow pages flopped big time today.

I used it to find a local business. The number was right, and so I sent my wife to the address, using the handy map link.


They moved some time ago. Many miles away. I am in deep doo-doo; ergo so is Yahoo.

From a systems perspective, this is a fundamental problem with a 'mostly correct' solution. Google's algorithmically constructed local search service is even less reliable, but ironically that's not a problem. It's easy to discover that Google's data is stale; so I've never trusted it the way I used to trust Yahoo.

Yahoo's listings have a corporate feel, as though they were updated, validated and maintained. They probably are, but I suspect the paper yellow page listings are still substantially more accurate -- if only because businesses aggressively maintain their paper listings.

Sigh. I hate the paper yellow pages, but maybe I'm stuck with them again. Certainly I can't trust Yahoo's directory service, and the cost of validating what I find may push me back to a solution I thought was dead 10 years ago.


Anonymous said...

How about confirming the address with a phone call? I do it even when I use the print Yellow Pages. The problem is not just "stale information" on the part of the publisher, but also the fact that businesses today change adresses, hours, etc., more frequently than they used to. It would be nice if Yahoo incorporated an option for users correcting information, but considering their social-leanings I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually do that.

Be a part of the solution, not the problem!

JGF said...

I haven't done that with the paper yellow pages, it's a step I thought I could avoid. Maybe you're right that the paper pages are no better, I haven't used them very much for years. My wife, however, swears by the old books.