Utility focussed

Bumblehood : “The Next BIG Thing” or “A Wheel Being Re-invented” ?

bumblehoodWe are talking about Bumblehood . Bumblehood is a community-driven portal which provides a knowledge base about countries and cities worldwide.

Giving a brief description about this startup, Bumblehood is a community-driven portal(although most of the community features are currently on hold, scheduled for second half of 2009) which already contains an enormous amount of content, ready to be expanded and enriched. Bumblehood provides a knowledge base about countries and cities worldwide – covering topics ranging from geography, economy, politics, history and popular culture, to useful facts about landmarks, organized tours and transport services, as well as information on local businesses (restaurants, hotels, etc.), useful to both local citizens and global travelers.

Launched in the mid of february this year, the total investment up to present date in Bumblehood have exceeded 1.3 million € (angel, institutional and self-funded capital). Considering the amount of content that the batalion of content writers behind Bumblehood has created uptil now, the money spent so far seems justified to us.

bumblehood-snap

The BumbleMap platform is the software backbone that powers Bumblehood (what MediaWiki is for Wikipedia is what BumbleMap for Bumblehood) and offers many new concepts in WYSIWYG wiki and semantic data organization using the topic maps paradigm presented through a clean, non-intrusive interface.

So far, so good. But we came across many issues while getting our hands on Bumblehood.

Novelty : Bumblehood is basically meant to provide users with enormous amount of information where end users will also contribute their knowledge. But such a service was already started by Jimmy Wales in the year 2001 and 8 years hence, every single creature on internet knows that non-profit web service…Wikipedia. Quiet recently, there was a similar kind of service launched by Google called Knol, which grabbed a lot of buzz in the beginning but is currently one of the poor performers of ‘Google Family’. The reason is very much the same. ‘Re-inventing the Wheel’ isn’t required anymore.

We already have an enormous amount of poorly organised information on the ever-expanding world wide web. The need of creating a free single handed information source on the web has already been fulfilled (Thanks to Wikipedia). The need is to create an organiser for the spilled information on the web. (Search engines are, in a way ‘Organisers’, trying to re-organise the content on the web as per the ‘Relevance Quotient’).

In case of Bumblehood, there has been enornous money and efforts put in by the team, just for recreating the same old stuff. Was it really required ? We reckon it wasn’t.

Search Relevance : There is a navigation menu on the left side of the website apart from the usual search option. We spotted a section through the navigation menu where few hotels in egypt were listed. We searched using the keyword ‘Hotel in Egypt’ and the results weren’t encouraging. It seems they have just started off and still need to work hard on their internal search indexing.

Business reviews : Bumblehood offers users to contribute their personal experiences on anything that they came across so that others will be benefited from that information(such as restaurant, product..etc) but Yelp has been aggressively accumulating the same user reviews for almost 5 years about everything one could think of. If we already have Yelp then what’s the use of doing the same stuff again.

And if Bumblehood wants to be yet another competitor to these monstrous services (Wikipedia and Yelp) then the chances of being the Next Big Thing are bleak.

One more thing that we have noticed is that the content is seriouly enormous on Bumblehood but the links aren’t SEO optimized at all. As any ‘content major’ website relies heavily on search engines, the things are looking strange in this regard. For instance, a wikipedia article on ‘Cuba’ has a URLhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba (SEO Friendly) but a similar article titled History of Cuba’ on Bumblehood has a URL http://www.bumblehood.com/article/QuAt1fnGQu6iFehOtBkgIA

We may be sounding too critical about Bumblehood (and might be proven wrong as well) but this is what we reckon…rest you decide !

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Boro Milivojevic

    April 16, 2009 at 4:29 am

    Dear Mr. Sharma,
    thank you for your thorough review of our portal.
    I really appreciate your effort and time and I am glad that you mention Bumblehood name and compared us with Wikipedia and Yelp, two companies I personally admire and learn from.
    Your article posed some questions about our goals, so please, let me answer some of the questions asked in your text:

    Note: links and complete text can be found on my blog.

    Why Bumblehood is NOT Wikipedia?
    I have to be bow to the Wikipedia project all the way to the ground, and I have been doing that for years already. My friends know how big a fan of Wikipedia I am and how much I have learned from that project. It is probably the best thing that happened to the Internet lately (with all respect to the others). But no, Bumblehood does not want to compete with Wikipedia, we don’t even dream about it. Bumblehood is simply different from Wikipedia.
    And I will tell you why:

    1) Encyclopedia style (Wikipedia) vs. Local guide for places and businesses (Bumblehood)

    Targeting particular groups of users on Internet has always been the holy grail of the web visibility, buzz, and a search engine optimization. Wikipedia made it successfully and nowadays it became de facto the place where to look for the facts and the details about any topic human can think of. But it is NOT a guide!
    Webster world dictionary defines a guide as “a book giving instructions in the elements of some subject”, while encyclopedia is defined as “a book giving information on all branches of knowledge”.
    When people travel somewhere, they will not take an encyclopedia with them, but rather take the guide to instruct them about the topic and the neighborhood of the topic they are interested in. The same applies for a person who needs information about particular business or product – he/she will not take an encyclopedia to find a fitness studio in the neighborhood. He/she will rather take a systematically organized guide (yellow pages or something similar).
    There are many differences between encyclopedic style of writing and writing for a guide. Anyone who already had an opportunity to travel somewhere knows the difference between the factual texts and guide texts written in personal, interesting and sometimes “spicy” tone. The thing is pretty much the same with any topic described in encyclopedia or guide.
    Bumblehood is a travel guide portal and we do not plan to become an encyclopedia.

    2) Flat structure (Wikipedia) vs. hierarchically organized structure (Bumblehood)

    Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, a flat structure of documents without real hierarchy and neighborhood-connectivity. Bumblehood is a hierarchically organized knowledgebase targeting one area of the human activity at the time. While Wikipedia targets all topics in the world, ranging from science to religion and philosophy in a flat, one article topics, Bumblehood tends to structurally organize geo-location knowledgebase about any point of interest in the world. So, the flat system without the “neighborhood” component of Wikipedia cannot be the compared to the hierarchical world of Bumblehood.
    While some people will say that Wikipedia has categories, organization and hierarchy, I claim (and open discussion about that topic on this blog) that Wikipedia’s structural organization is inefficiently set up in later phases of the project and it does not have structural and semantic rules which can guarantee a good systematic organization.

    Let’s take an example: City of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia (an autonomous community in northeastern Spain) and the second largest city in Spain can be found in English Wikipedia. If we take a look at the categories in which this city is placed we will NOT find category “Cities in Catalonia” nor “Capitals of Spanish Autonomous Communities”. Although, if we take Munich, the capital of Bavaria (a state in southern Germany) we WILL find categories “Cities in Bavaria” and “German state capitals”.
    This example shows ambiguity and incompleteness of the Wikipedia’s categorization system and justifies semantic topic approach used in BumbleMap knowledgebase platform. It is just much more powerful and provides better systematical data organization.

    3) No local businesses (Encyclopedia) vs. Local business directories (Bumblehood)

    Wikipedia does not allow business promotion and most of the businesses are not present on Wikipedia. It is just not something what Wikipedia does. Full stop.
    Bumblehood on the other hand takes into account any geo-location in the world, including the local businesses. But those businesses are not scattered around, they are systematically and hierarchically organized together with the local guides, providing the full picture about one geo-location (neighborhood, town, region, country).

    4) Plain text editor (Wikipedia) vs. full WYSIWYG editor (Bumblehood)

    Jimbo Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, decided to run a simple study and found out that “the most active 2% of Wikipedia editors, which is 1400 people, have done 73.4% of all the edits”. Let’s face it – to edit Wikipedia you have to have the extensive knowledge of a complicated and user-unfriendly markup language which is used to contribute the content. It is not a secret, and although Wikipedia’s markup is a very powerful tool, it is just too complicated for a non-experienced user who is used to WYSIWYG environments of modern text editors. Wikipedia’s editor seems to be coming from the age of “terminal WordPerfect”.
    On the other hand, Bumblehood WYSIWYG editor is easy to use – open the document, edit it, see what you are doing and close it when you are done.
    Not only that guide content is editable using WYSIWYG editor, but also information about the local businesses, which makes Bumblehood a unique place on Internet. Hopefully our contributing community will appreciate this part. You can check it yourself on Bumblebee testing environment.

    5) Non-profit (Wikipedia) vs. for-profit (Bumblehood)

    While Wikipedia is a non-for-profit foundation not allowing any promotional activities and business placements, Bumblehood is a joint stock company. Wikipedia’s way has many advantages and I personally love what those guys are doing – who wouldn’t support free knowledge distribution. But many obstacles and growth problems which Wikipedia is facing right now (and most probably there will be even more in the future) start to worry many of us.
    On the other hand, for profit companies like Bumblehood, have more possible sources of income which can provide a long term stability and development. I wonder what would have happened to Google, Facebook or YouTube being non-profitable organizations? Their costs are just too high for that model. Let’s hope Wikipedia stays for long, long time.
    Although Bumblehood is a for- profit company, we have already put all our content under the Creative Commons license and as long as I am leading this company, the knowledgebase we gather will always be free for everyone. This is the dream I strongly believe in.

    About Search Relevance:
    You are completely correct, we still need to work hard on our internal search indexing. The good news is that most of the work is already done and will be seen in couple of weeks with our new major release.

    About Business Reviews:
    Yes, we want to compete with Yelp and I think we have a product which is capable of doing that. Let’s not forget that Yelp is completely oriented towards USA and Canada, only experimenting with other countries. Looking at Bumblehood and Yelp and comparing the infrastructure of our two platforms, it is to be seen if we will succeed to gain the momentum. But we will try, that I can promise to you.
    Let’s stay tuned…

    Boro Milivojevic
    Bumblehood CEO

    • Prashant Sharma

      April 16, 2009 at 9:05 am

      Thanks Boro for this descriptive justification of some of the issues i raised in the post….
      Your explanation gives me a strong smell of determined approach of all you guys….
      Carry On…Keep Us Updated !

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