Brownbook.net is the free local business directory that anyone can edit. We created it to allow millions of people all over the world to collaborate and build a comprehensive and powerful business directory to rival the centrally produced alternatives. Like Wikipedia, which greatly inspired us to build Brownbook.net, its open to anyone to make contributions, for free, at any time. Brownbook.net takes information that’s in the public domain and organizes it for everyone in the form of business listings, plus it lets business owners promote their businesses online to help win new customers.
We also recognized the needs of business owners to take some control of their listings to restrict how much others could update those listings, but we didn’t want to ‘break’ the model of collaboration. The answer was to allow people to continue to collaborate in the creation of new listings and updating existing listings, but to provide a means for business owners to ‘claim‘ their listings to lock in changes thereby becoming the caretaker of that part of the overall site content.
One of the driving principles that we set out with, and that still holds true today, is that everything we do should be FREE or ALMOST FREE. These days we’re all so used to getting everything on the web for free or ‘almost free’ that we reasonned we had to do this. That’s why its free to use Brownbook.net, and free to add your business listing. When you claim your listing to take control of. Even customizing your listing with photos & videos, detailed marketing information, logos, external widgets and functionality, and getting a highlighted listing costs nothing.
Claiming your listing does more than lock it down, it also:
– puts a face and personality behind your business in the form of your user profile, and it lets you connect with your customers and prospects more deeply than ever before. How many times have you heard the phrase ‘people buy people’
– sends you an instant alert email every time anyone reviews or tags your business, without you having to monitor the site, so you can know what they’re saying and get great testimonials to use with future customers
– optionally allows you to customize your listing with photos & videos, detailed marketing information, external widgets, your logo, in fact just about anything you wish
– get a highlighted and bold listing and search results priority
So, claiming your listing is the first thing a business owner should do to take control of their listings.
But we also implemented a whole load more measures to help protect business owners without stifling bonefide contributions. Here’s a quick summary:
* Any contribution – even if made by an unregistered user – is identified in our system by the user’s email address. No-one can make a contribution without us having at least that information about them. That makes people accountable for their contributions and allows us to block vandals.
* Inherent in every page is the ability to report any user, report a listing, and report a review. This allows anyone, including a business owner, to report to us any abuse by any user. The actions we can take against users include an email a warning to the user, suspension for a period of time or indefinitely, blocking a user by email address (preventing further edits), blocking a user by IP address (preventing access to the site). Plus of course we can intervene and correct vandalism if it’s brought to our attention.