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Wikets: Fastest review site in the West

Here's a new way to make quick recommendations for the products and services you like. And maybe make a few pennies for doing so.

Wikets, like Oink, lets you rate dishes inside restaurants. Also books, stores, or anything else. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

There's yet another social reviews service launching today: Wikets. Actually, it's one-half check-in app and one-half a reviews site, and not fully either. Still, the design works. The big question, though: do we need yet another mobile product and venue reviews app?

Wikets lets you "rec," or recommend, a product or location. You can add commentary to a rec, but you can't score it, unlike Oink (review), which gives you a four-point rating system. Like Oink, though, if you see something on Wikets that you want to bookmark, you can it to your wish list.

Wikets CEO Andy Park told me that a rec, "is not a review or a check-in." It is designed to capture the little nods of approval you have for products and services as you live your life. More importantly, it gives you a way to discover your friends' recs as you go about your day.

There's a lot of commerce baked into this service. If you view a friend's rec for, say, a camera on Amazon, you can click over to the site from Wikets to see and buy the product; or if you see an iOS app reviewed, it will take you straight over to iTunes. Wikets has feeds from several stores and gets good product data from them. Wikets also gets the affiliate revenue from sales made via the app's recs and it passes some of those affiliate kickbacks on to the Wikets users, via a points system.

Users--both buyers and recommenders--earn a point for every dollar of a purchase made, and those points will be redeemable at a penny per. But more importantly for Wikets is the data value of these rec points. "A rec is worth more to a retailer than a checkin or review," Park says. While I don't completely agree with him, I do see the point that this data could be valuable to retailers and marketers, who might want to find good ways to rewards their most influential fans (as measured by the points they receive for particular products).

"Merchants will be able to pay for the right to reward customers," Park says. They'll also get analytics. It should open up a "very genuine" dialog with customers.

But before Wikets starts generating valuable data, it's got to get users on board and reccing products. As I said, the service is good. I've seen no faster way to give products approvals that your attached social network friends can see (as with many other social services, you can connect your Wikets account to your Facebook network). And the discovery service for finding a product or a venue nearby is straightforward.

I give Park points for building a service that can capture and record fleeting recommendations, and that makes them easily searchable, but I just don't know if enough people will start using this service for generating these nano-reviews instead of the systems they're using now: Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, and so on. And then there's the high-profile Oink, which has less commerce built in but is more fun to use.

Mostly, I'm not sure about Wikets' use of kickbacks to get people hooked on the system. It's been tried before: It was part of the original model for the user reviews site Epinions, which launched in 1999. These bribes seem unnecessary. People desperately blab online about their sandwiches to earn little more than momentary Twitter ego boosts or fleeting feelings of Facebook belonging. I think that's actually a more addictive experience than earning money. I'm curious to know what readers think. Chime in below.

Rafe's rating: Wikets

  • Product quality: Three out of five stars. Very good system for leaving fast nano-reviews, or "recs" for everything from media products to restaurants. Ability to earn money for your work. But the transaction system interferes with the social purity that other products in this space have.
  • Business quality: Four out of five. As with Oink, the business value of Wikets is in the data it collects. Wikets gets affiliate revenues, too (and kicks back only a portion to its users). But Wikets won't be able to make money from the data stream if users don't love the service and use it instead of other existing recommendation platforms.
Note on the Rafe's Rating scores: These are solely my opinions, informed by my experience reviewing consumer technology products and covering startup companies over the last 20+ years.