"Our team can solve this problem because we helped create it," Yabbly founder Tom Leung told Mashable.
The problem of which Mr. Leung speaks is the "useless"-ness of online reviews. He doesn't believe social media sites, Q&A sites or e-commerce site review threads are geared properly to aid consumers in purchasing decisions. As a Yabbly promotional video puts it, seekers of advice "wind up sifting through a sea of adorable cat pictures or navigating around egos competing for center stage."
The Yabbly website and app are currently in beta. The team behind the effort that Mr. Leung refers to includes a former Amazon engineer and a designer who worked on shopping apps for Target and REI. Mr. Leung was a product manager at Google. The app, according to a news release, nabbed one of the 11 social technology slots in the SXSW Interactive Startup Accelerator program.
Yabbly's answer to the online review problem, in a nutshell, is to alternatively provide a "thoughtful conversation" with peers who have experience with the product in question. More important to the company model perhaps is the motivation behind the answers given. Whereas online review threads are often infiltrated by reviewers-for-hire and verbose "know-it-alls," the model Yabbly reviewer is there for the "karma."
The company uses what it calls a "two-way Karma system." Reviewers gain merits for answering questions satisfactorily. These points are considered when they themselves have a question; they are connected with people they've helped before so the good deed can be returned. The objective is to form a more tight-knit community built on trust and mutual support.
Yabbly membership requires approval. The criteria for acceptance is not made expressly clear on the website but applicants are asked to submit a comment about a product they love. "One of our core values is thoughtfulness so please try to be specific," the company advises.
Of course, e-commerce sites such as Amazon.com built their review structure with the best intentions of tapping the power of the crowd. Time will tell if special interests will find a way to subvert Yabbly's best-laid plans.
Will Yabbly be more or less useful as a review tool to average online shoppers?