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Google Hotpot (google.com)
155 points by abraham on Nov 16, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 71 comments



I actually really like this product and think it's a genius move on Google's part.

Yes, they're late to the party, but what really stuck out to me was the fact that Google had a list of all the locations I'd asked for directions to in the past, by merit of the fact that I have Web History turned on. I don't have an iPhone or Android Device, so the fact that I had all the restaurants I might want to rate placed right in front of me was incredibly appealing.

As minor a detail as this seems, I think this slingshots Google into the venue-rating space. If I were Yelp, I think I'd actually be worried now.

EDIT: One thing that's a little weird, if you click on the comments area, it takes you to a blank page. See http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=9906659489061041176...


If I were Yelp, I wouldn't be worried - reason: think Google's other failed attempts: buzz, latitude, video (before acquiring Youtube) etc. Google is best at Search, no doubt, but there are certain areas Google engineers just don't get, which is more of the result of its corporate culture and strategic focus. Especially since Google seemed to have failed at creating social-based products many times in the past, whereas review sites like Yelp, is very social.

Of course there are exceptions, like Gmail and Maps. But the mere fact that Google is entering my market wouldn't make me worry. Keep calm and carry on!


saying "there are certain areas Google engineers just don't get" doesn't exclude Google engineers from "getting" an area in the future


Sure, but at least until now we haven't seen the tipping point for a change in Google's product design approach.

In any case that wasn't my point, my point was that as an entrepreneur one shouldn't be deterred by the mere fact that a big competitor is moving into your market


Yeah, people who tried and failed over and over again cannot succeed in the future. /sarcasm


It's so good it's scary. In 5 minutes I added a ton of friends and reviews.


I've been looking for a service that does this exact thing. Give me personalized recommendations on restaurants so I can stop trying to comb through mountains of sometimes non-sensical, irrelevant Yelp reviews to decide what new restaurant to try.

A lot of comments here have complained that this has been tried and done. My question is, where? Does Yelp already do something like this? I went on Yelp a few days ago looking for this exact service. I'm not a Yelp user, and I just wanted something quick and lightweight that would give me recommendations based on my preferences. Found nothing to that effect. In order to contribute at all, I have to write a full review for a bunch of restaurants.


I've been using it for years, and I have never seen any sort of collaborative filtering on Yelp, even though it has become simple to implement. I actually think they might do it in response to this.


If you refuse to sign up to sites, you aren't giving them a fair chance.


The only people who give a startup a truly fair chance are the founders' parents. Everyone else skims, misreads, jumps around, and then tells their friends about a verdict formed mostly on misconceptions.

Great consumer businesses optimize for this behavior.


That was really insightful. Where's the Temple Grandin[1] of designing web experiences and UIs for Joe Blub? Complaining about not getting a chance to show off what you do is just complaining about your poor understanding of the behavior of the internet herd that's trampling all over your website or app. Stop whining, start designing. See also Luke Wroblewski's ALA article "Sign Up Forms Must Die"[2] from nearly 3 years ago and compare[3].

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Grandin

2. http://www.alistapart.com/articles/signupforms

3. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5271434/ns/business-consumer_new...


I disagree. When site doesn't let me view what is behind the login page (what will I gain after the sign up) or even doesn't give me any idea about what the site is all about (like in the case of Google's HotSpot), then I don't have any reason to sign up...


Thanks for the link. This is the first Google product launch I can remember where I have immediately liked the interface.


Agreed. I've never bothered to write a review on Yelp, but this interface was quick enough that I found myself writing a couple on here.


Yeah, Google hasn't really seemed to be trying interface-wise since GMail. I hope this points to a broader shift (perhaps the entirely metrics driven interface design that that guy who quit Google was moaning about is gone?)


And it works well on Opera as well on Day 1. (Unlike Wave)


Clever name. Hot pot is Chinese family-style fondue where everyone takes some meats and vegetables and puts them into a communal boiling soup bowl, waits for a while chatting, then pulls out something delicious. I'm definitely interpreting it favorably, but it fits the service very well.


That was exactly what I thought of when reading the name. Hotpot is great, lets see how well the recommendations will be.


As a Westerner who has partaken in Hot pot, I will agree that the name is an excellent idea emphasizing the social side of food (Hot pot is a BIG cultural event where it's popular).

However, I quit asking what I was eating after I was informed the first two items out of the pot were Pig Blood Tofu, and pig intestine. While the experience was unique, I don't know if I would describe it as delicious ;).


I guess everyone has to have one of these too :/

Is it just me or is anyone else sick of seeing the same features being developed on different platforms? Can't google and Facebook fill different spaces?

Buzz was late. Hotpot is late. Where is the innovation Google? Slept on Gmail unification. Wave was awesome but released the wrong way.

Google is starting to make the same mistakes Netscape made. They should stop trying to be another Facebook and continue doing what they do best.

I already have Facebook and Twitter. Give me a better online office app and keep kicking ass with Gmail and Search!

I'm just saying ;)


I guess they should have never done, gmail, chrome, search, advertising, mobile OS because someone else have done it already.

As long as they are pushing things one step farther I have no problem with them entering existing or even saturated market. It pushes everyone else to innovate instead of settle for mediocrity. Chrome has done that to the whole browser ecosystem, it shaked everyone up from their sleep. They might not do it every single time, with every single product. But there is no way to know if they will change the langscape, if they don't try it.


Pavs, I totally agree with you. Gmail, Chrome, Search and iOS were late. I was all over them when they came out too.

I was all over Wave and still think they should have slowly integrated its features into Gmail.

I was excited to get my hands on those first releases but I'm just not feeling any of their new stuff.


It's not like they don't have money to burn on trying new stuff. Plus, it keeps their creative and intelligent employees interested and enthusiastic.

Part of the attraction of working at Google is being able to work on projects such as these. If they Google stuck to doing search and nothing but search, many of their more creatively minded employees would probably leave in droves.


From an interview with Dave Lifson, CEO of Postling:

"I've only been to the Valley half a dozen times, but what I've noticed is an extreme disconnect between the early adopters in the Valley and reality for the rest of the world. In the Valley, everyone seems to have a 3-second attention span: once something's "old" it's no longer interesting or valuable. The problem with that is that companies don't get built overnight; it's a long, slow journey that requires constant focus on who your real customers are and what problems they face, regardless of what TechCrunch says. Some of our users have never heard of Yelp and most have not heard of Foursquare, and it's important we constantly keep that in mind when we decide which features to prioritize."

http://techcocktail.com/launching-nyc-startup-dave-lifson-in...


GREAT point. I thought that was just with my users.


There is no reason they can't keep doing "what they do best" while augmenting their products with a social aspect, it would help discoverability and should be a valuable signal for search.


http://www.google.com/support/hotpot/

Google Places and Hotpot isn’t just about telling others what you think. It’s about discovering new great places based on your personal tastes and preferences. Once you’ve rated places and added friends, start looking for recommendations of new places to try on Google Maps.

Next time you’re looking for a new dentist, hair salon or restaurant search on Google Maps to see what your friends have to say. Your Google Maps search results will be prioritized according to your preferences. Then you’ll see explanations from friends, so you can find the right place for you.

So like yelp, I guess. Was I supposed to know that already? The linked landing page has only the barest hint about what it is, and you have to be logged in to even see that.


It's pretty silly that Hotpot doesn't use the geolocation feature in some browsers.

Also, it's kind of bizarre that even with the non-standard design, you can just tell this is a Google product by the colors, font, and spacing of elements.


My first suggested search was my home address, which is set as my default location in Google Maps.


There seem to be a lot of rough edges here.

Is there a way to load more items to review without reviewing five? Otherwise, it's easy to get stuck if it pulls up a list of things you don't have an opinion about.

When I click on the number of reviews, it loads a mostly blank page. I'm assuming something going wrong because I would expect to see the reviews there.

The Google Maps tie-in is also confusing. Now it seems to show the things I've rated first, which is a bit weird, since I already know about them. When you rate new things in the Maps search results, nothing appears or changes dynamically to indicate that you've done so.

Also, my favorite restaurant seems to be missing, but maybe that's a good thing. :)


I like it that the "best ever" rating is limited to 10 (will possibly be dynamic over time), so trigger-happy folk who tend to hyperbole will actually have to think before going "BEST EVAR!!" indiscriminately.


Dont know the reason, but I actually typed 5 reviews after seeing the link. I have never done it on Yelp or Urbanspoon. I wish if they could display reviews from other anonymous users, instead of just my friends.


This is unbelievable - the site isn't working for me!

I tried loading on Chrome and Firefox (Chrome says there's a redirect loop, Firefox gives a similar error.) I've also tried clearing my cookies, doesn't seem to fix it.


Try signing out and signing back in, loading in an incognito window, etc. (especially if you have an apps account).


“Have you tried to sign out and in again” is the new “Have you tried to turn it off and on again”!! :D


You're not alone. I have the exact same problem.


Same, in Safari 5 on Leopard


Am I the only one to get "This webpage has a redirect loop." ? even after logging out from google accounts


If you are using Chrome you might try the "Remove cookies" extension. I found this solved some Google Account issues in the past.


well, I tried that, and every variations of browsers, google accounts and proxies I could think of, and redirect loop is all I got.


It says the page is not available in my language. Where does it infer my locale from? I have set USA as my location in my Google account and preference for en-us in Firefox.

Hey Google, I don't want all pages to be in my language. Show them in English, please.


Hmm. Rated 4 places, but the counter kept saying I'd rated 2. Reloaded page and only 1 rating showed. I clicked stars, wrote a paragraph, and rated the subcategories, and "published".

If it didn't save all that, I'm never using it again.


It's properly counting the places I've rated, but it's constantly taunting me, saying "Rate 4 more places to get new recommendations". Since 11 > 4, I think they ought to eliminate that bad message.


I reviewed 11 places in maybe 10 minutes or so. The UI is simple, intelligent & addictive. Brilliant approach to quickly catch up with the qypes, yelps & foursquares of this world.


I love the counters. It turns rating into a bit of a game :)


This places the venues front and center and relies on a community of friends to generate any real interesting recommendations. What made yelp so successful was the community involvement.

This really feels like a recommendation engine based on your google profile and not a place to really get a feel for restaurants in your area.


The problem I have with sites like this (and any restaurant review site in general), is that they always include national chains in the reviews/recommendations.

Really, do you need to read a review of the McDonalds on Main St. vs the McDonalds on Park Ave., before deciding what you are going to eat at dinner? Why not just group all McDonald into one place.

Not to mention that, due to limited palates, funds, or whatever, places like Olive Garden, Chili's et.al. always end up in the top ten places to eat. Over 5-star restaurants, or even genuinely better local restaurants in the same category/price range (in my city at least).

/rant


This is cool, though I still don't have a way to offer a correction to a piece of data. One of my local restaurants has the address wrong in Google Places and I've yet to find a way that I can help correct it.


On individual venue pages there is an "Edit this place" link.

Example: http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=2313806217463839235


Ah.

I was expecting a full read/write interface within hot pot.


What I want is to email friends for their recommendations and have someone parse their prose and put it on a map for me. Friends ask friends for recs all the time and its tricky to google each place, put it on the map, figure out if you're near anything recommended when you're on the go. So just take what google already does with the survey forms, stick that in a simple email you can send to friends, and their recommendations automatically get pulled together into hotpot.

I wanted to build this but Hotpot has too much of a head start.


Dunno if it works that well. I rate two or three sushi places (along with Chinese, Thai and American joints) and now my recommendations page has nothing but Japanese restaurants. In IR, this is called a diversity problem.


In the recommendation system space, it's called a sparsity problem (and/or a cold-start problem). You basically need to continuously feed it more data about your tastes for it to start doing a good job.


Wait a month or two. They'll have more reviews in their database, and they'll have had time to tweak their recommendation engine.


Sure, or it will go the way that Wave and so many other products before did. Or it will linger in zombie obscurity like Notebook did for so long. I'm not too worried about it either way.


holy crap I didn't want to and ended up writing up a bunch of reviews... bravo.


Hotspot would have been much better. What's a hotpot?



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_pot

Well, it could mean lot of things in broader sense. Thats probably the reason Google choose this name instead of more obvious/common 'Hotspot'. Hotspot is synonymous with wifi hotspots which is not the reason for this website.



Let's hope so.


Sounds too much like HubSpot


Oh, goodie, another Google service I can't use until it works with a Google Apps account. Looks like they really need to fix Google Profiles…


Generally I have two browsers -- chrome for google apps, and safari/firefox for everything else. The latter is logged into my normal gmail account.


I've done the same: I'm just shocked by how badly broken the google apps support still is (no profiles or youtube while logged in, even with multiple accounts enabled?), given that they have actual paying customers using google apps.


Am I the only one who feels that six rating levels is too many? I'd rather just say "go there" or "don't go there".


Going to agree with you on this one. Viewing ratings is always questionable considering one person's 3 is different from another person's 3. On the other hand, the review system is supposed to be personalized, like Netflix. All it does is map you to those with a similar taste and recommend to you restaurants that you've yet to try that others with similar tastes have tried. The more you use it, the better it gets.


Probably a dumb question: Are the reviews private (or only shared with friends) or public like other sites?


The reviews are public, but you choose a nickname to identify you (you're not identified by your Google account). The "friends" feature lets you get recommendations from those people. In addition, a friend sees your Google Profile name and picture, not just your review nickname.


Does not work for me. http://imgur.com/j6bta.png


Very funny ... HotPot is a Suki restaurant in Thailand - http://www.hotpot.co.th/




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