If you love TripAdvisor user reviews, then you'll adore BedBugRegistry.com -- or just the opposite.
BedBugRegistry has about 20,000 consumer reports of bedbug incidents and names the hotels where the alleged incidents took place.
As a consumer and hotel guest, I'll make sure to consult the registry the next time I get ready for a hotel stay.
But there are some potential problems with the site. Like TripAdvisor, BedBugRegistry accepts anonymous reviews and people can post their tales of bedbug sightings and bitings without any corroboration.
In the site's FAQ , the question is posed -- "How can you be sure these reports are true?"
And the answer:
"We can't -- this is the Internet! All our bedbug reports are submitted through the site, and have not been vetted for accuracy. We do our best to flag posts that have been disputed, but we remind our readers to take things with a grain of salt.
"Some reports are posted by malicious tenants. Some are posted by evil competitors. Some are posted by hypochondriacs."
For some of the hotels cited, such as the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue in Manhattan, you can Google or Bing the hotel name and independently find news reports to confirm alleged bedbug incidents.
On BedBugRegistry, "Fed Up" and "Clara" tell of alleged bedbug incidents at the Waldorf.
Consider Clara's story:
"Submitted by "Clara " on 10/09/2010
"I stayed at the Waldorf in August and now I have bed bugs in my house. I was gone for three weeks on vacation and when I came back -- itching and welts on my arms. It had to be in the Waldorf because during my vacation I shared a room with two other people and they do not have itching or reports of bed bugs!!!"
Clara plays Sherlock Holmes to try and solve the mystery of her itching and welts, and determines the Waldorf Astoria was the culprit.
No proof -- and it may well be true -- but here's her report for the world -- including potential hotel guests -- to see.
Reports stay on the site for two years unless a hotel convinces BedBugRegistry that the review had no merit.
But, for many of the hotels cited on BedBugRegistry, there are no news reports to consult to figure out if the review has any merit.
As with TripAdvisor, hotels have the right to respond to posts on BedBugRegistry, but many complaints go unanswered, leaving it up to the reader to assess the validity of the stories.
There is a dispute process if hotels feel they've been called out unjustly, and reviews sometimes are removed or labeled "disputed."
In true social media, Web 2.0 style, BedBugRegistry comes with Yahoo Maps, which pinpoint other alleged bedbug incidents nearby.
And, if you still are looking for a hotel stay, there are Google ads from Booking.com and HotelPenn.com, and even a search widget from Kayak.
Take a look at this image:
BedBugRegistry is the work of computer programmer and writer Maciej Ceglowski, who says the site is "a way of getting vengeance against bedbugs after a traumatic experience in a San Francisco hotel."
PoynterOnline points out that hotels have threatened to sue BedBugRegistry.
But, as TechDirt notes, BedBugRegistry may have all the legal protections it needs from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects interactive computer services from libel actions emanating from the reviews of its users.
That's the same law that protects TripAdvisor from many lawsuits.