[update: Yelp now has this restaurant as closed, Google, Bing are not there yet; the Ravenna Blog picked up the news via the link on this post 10/27/2010]
Last night, I visited my friend Sheila, owner of the Himalyan Kitchen in Ravenna, Seattle. She told me the sad news that they were going to be closing the doors today (so we managed to have one final meal there). Currently, Bing, Google and Yelp all have listings for this restaurant (I show Bing's below). It is very likely that all three sites (Bing, Google, Yelp) have acquired this listing from the same source as they all associate it with a spam url as the home page for the property (restaurant spam domains are one of the most obvious problems with vendor sourced data for listings).
The web is actually chock full of signals indicating the presence of this fine ex-establishment.
- UrbanSpoon (again with the spam url)
- Seattle PI (essentially acting as a micro local aggregator)
- Seattle Weekly (which uses a link to UrbanSpoon to establish the identity of the restaurant)
A key challenge for providing reliable local and mobile experiences is the quality of data that describes our world. The web provides great signals for stuff that is out there, but there is no delete button. Consequently, reasoning about and discovering negative information (direct or indirect assertions relating to the falsehood of some assertion) is going to be a key art.
As for now, the clock is ticking - who will assert not exists(himalyan kitchen) first? Of course, I'm hoping the Ravenna Blog gets there first...