Google is starting to use the community here to try and improve the database. Because Google buys databases, gets feeds from other local search engines and IYPs and crawls for local information it’s arguably got the most comprehensive local database out there. (Yahoo! and MSFT would probably dispute that.) But until now Google has not directly involved the community in updating and improving the database other than business owners themselves.
There are basically four local databases and everyone in local uses one or more of these (in addition to crawling):
These databases have varying degrees of latency and inaccuracy and I’ve heard people complain about each of them (except GeoSign actually). Yahoo! Local for some time has sought to use the community to improve the quality of the database and update listings.
Involving the community is critical to augment the commercial databases and Web crawling and enhance the accuracy and freshness of the local database. There are obviously additional benefits that go to engagement and user-generated content. But what I’m saying now is that it’s almost a necessity for purposes of accuracy.
You can have tons of bells and whistles, but if your data is limited or inaccurate then all of that functionality doesn’t really matter.