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May 14th, 2000

I don’t like Citysearch much.

A little over a year ago, Microsoft’s online ventures were expanding by leaps and bounds. One of those ventures was Sidewalk, a custom city guide for many of America’s major cities. When it came to Chicago, I was initially put off because, well, it was from Microsoft. But I started using Sidewalk and quickly turned to it for movie times, restaurant recommendations, and lots more. It was a handy, useful site and one I recommended to everyone.

Apparently no one listened to me, because Sidewalk turned out to be as successful as Crystal Pepsi (I drank it!) Now, going to any Sidewalk site redirects you to Citysearch. In two words: Citysearch sucks. Here is my list of reasons.

1. The front page is overly cluttered and makes it difficult to find anything. I know it’s trying to be a portal, but there is something elegant about not shoving all of your content on one page.

2. Carpoint once had a veeery smart search on its front page. You’d type in just the name of a car, and it’d take you to its info page. Citysearch needs an equivalent badly; it takes too many clicks just to get to, say, movie information.

3. Some things are broken! Once I found a theater, I used the (thoughtful) option to find restaurants in a 2-mile radius. The resulting page had no data. Yay! No restaurants!

4. Large animated ads running down the right side of the screen – ick. They’ve toned down on these a bit, but still.

5. For some reason, the pages are very wide. I know that you can’t support everyone, but I’m running a rather large window on 1024×768, and I still need to scroll right. I feel bad for those with lesser resolutions.

What’s that? I’m complaining without making recommendations? Not yet, I’m not. First, make it fast and easy to find movie, restaurant, and theater times/locations. Front page, separate search boxes, bing bang boom. Then, make sure your pages work. And, rework the interface. Make it simpler, smaller, and out of the way. After all, sites like these are supposed to be about information, not wading through ugly yellow menus! -pm

Posted in Technology

DATE: Thursday March 30, 2006 -- 7:13:16 am
I recently wrote a citysearch review about a bad experience at a restaurant. This was no small feat since citysearch now limits all reviews to 150 words or less. Within a day of my review, I received an email from the "CitySearch Ratings Team" ( saying that the review violated their "content guidelines" and had been deleted. My review didn't contain profanity or anything other than a comment that the food and the service were disappointing (in less than 150 words), so I have no clue which "content guideline" had been violated.

In asking around, I found that there are a lot of other people with the same complaint. Positive reviews of certain restaurants are posted but any negative reviews of the same restaurants are deleted.

I wonder how citysearch generates revenue. I've noticed that there are more and more listings for fast food establishments and fewer listings for smaller restaurants. Do the restaurants listed on the site pay for the listing? Why is it that positive reviews seem to linger on the site but negative reviews seem to be deleted?

I agree, there has to be a better site out there that has dependable, impartial reviews and is better organized without all the fast food places to scroll through.

FROM: Stefani [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday July 5, 2006 -- 10:46:11 pm
This is true! Same thing is happening to me!

I had a horrendous nightmare experience with a local veterinarian -- Kindness Animal Hospital in Wheaton, Maryland -- which resulted in a state action against the vet. It's a matter of public record.

I posted a negative review on Citysearch and it keeps getting removed, they don't even write me to tell me why. I have tried wording it many different ways, with and without the PUBLIC RECORD legal findings.

I don't see what possible good a ratings site is if it accepts ONLY positive ratings.

Can we sue them?

Colin December 28, 2006, 12:53 pm

Glad to know I am not the only one that thinks Citysearch’s reviews are questionable. I reviewed a restaurant in NYC (Virgils), I personally was not impressed and felt that there were alot of issues regarding quality, quantity and value. Anyway, I did not use profanity. However, about one hour after I wrote the review I get an email telling me that the review did not conform to the content guidelines of Citysearch. Needless to say I no longer trust citysearch to be an objective source. They are obviously led by the wishes of the businesses that advertise with them.

cadster January 10, 2008, 9:57 pm

I agree! i googled content guidelines after my very true and profanity-free negative review was removed twice and found this thread. i’m really dissilusioned about citysearch not being objective and can’t wait to get the word out!

David G. August 19, 2008, 6:11 pm

Same thing happened to me – nothing offensive in the review. Only difference is, I didn’t get an email, Citysearch just deleted the review!!

I will never use them for researching a restaurant again now that I know they aren’t objective.

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