One of the easiest things to do when writing about being a consumer is to “go negative” and stay there. Finding good places to spend your money, and not feeling regretful about having spent money, are both very difficult. It’s extremely easy to want to rant about the bad experiences we’ve had (I’ve already done it once on this blog!). Take a look, for instance, at The Consumerist, which in many ways has a lot of great information for consumers — the only downer being that nearly every article is a complaint (emphasized by the black-and-red “Dracula” design, and the “Consumers Bite Back” tagline). I think it’s natural that consumers have complaints — in many ways, businesses hold power over them — but I don’t think it helps to complain as much as it would to find a solution for each complaint.
In building Wesabe, we’ve wanted to allow people to express frustration with the businesses from which they buy, when they’ve had bad experiences — but not to make that the emphasis of the site. Instead, we’ve taken the view that we should shine a light on the merchants that are stars, and simply ignore those that are terrible unless you ask about them explicitly. If you go looking for information about a business our members think is terrible, you’ll find that information — but by default, what we show you are the great deals and the great companies we know about, in your area and for your needs. The default view will be positive. Likewise, if you go to talk about businesses, we’re going to steer you first to tell us about the ones you love, or the replacements you’ve found for the ones that you didn’t like.
There are a million small ways that you can affect the feel of a site while making it — the same way that the words you choose in your writing subtly change the feel of what you write. We’re always in favor of the truth (as the members of Wesabe see it) being easily available — but when we have a choice, the first step will be to promote the businesses that do well for their customers.