There is a new “When blogs work” post on Businesspundit that I just came across. Rob mentioned that he is less enthusiastic about blogging than he was a few years ago because the quality of the conversations has decreased. However, there are still conversations occurring, such as the one that resulted from this post about PeerSight. The founder was able to respond to criticism in an open environment. Relating this to corporate blogging- blogs provide a great way to for businesses to find out what customers are saying about them, good OR bad. Further, being able to leave comments provides a means to address misconceptions that people have about your company. There ARE conversations occurring in the blogosphere about your company. To find them, go to Technorati and search on your company name. The question is, are you part of the conversation? (The concept of engaging in the conversation is nothing new- just read Naked Conversations).

I may be spilling some of the beans before Thursday’s event, but part of being part of Zillow’s blog team is to monitor the blogosphere and find the conversations of interest that are happening. Where we feel it is appropriate, we respond in the comments section.

  • We admire Zillow’s willingness to comment & debate issues concerning its service.

    We have always said data (which we all want) is only valuable if it is fresh, complete and accurate. Just taking it verbatim from the public record will never be a guarantee of any of these qualities. Human double checking of this public data is necessary. Computers cannot self validate. But of equal necessity is the supplementation for unzillowables which are not factored into an owner’s published zestimate.

    Zillow’s efforts to deal with the fundamental problems with public data is admirable. I alos find it odd that zillow will publish a zestimate even if beds & baths are missing. This is critical data. Although the owner contribution to correct & supplement has risks

    it will fill in gaps in data BUT ONLY IF an owner chooses to take the time & effort to register & make the correct & complete entries. The reason for the time/effort involves the necessary ownership verification requirements. So it’s basically a chore.

    Still, Zillow can’t account for unzillowables like view, upcoming events (new highways, new zoning , etc), market conditions and market pool. They are simply not contained in public “facts” OR owner recalculation via the zestimator. For example, if a new four lane highway is planned to go right by the front door of a house (or a pig farm is moving into the lot next door)—how does zillow value this effect? How do they even know about it?

    An attempt to account for some unzillowables post-zestimate with the zestimator tool is also subject to accuracy & completeness problems. (Zillow’s “oohs and aahs” are unzillowables since they are not factored into the original published zestimate.) But someone must use a zestimator tool to enter all unzillowables accurately & completely. In addition, those changes may or may not be published.

    Ultimately, there are better starting points than zillow to value your home & its environs. An experienced professional coming to your home will give you a better value than zillow simply by SEEING your home to factor in unzillowables not present in the published data or input via a zestimator. A professional knows up to the minute market conditions & recent sales (recent sales won’t hit the public database for many months in some markets—-is your market one of them?)

    Still, despite Zillow’s willingness to comment, ONE question remains unanswered. So I ask you:

    Will Zillow allow and owner to “opt-out” of publication of their zestimate.

  • Drew Meyers

    j.f. sellsius-
    Thanks for the comment. I do believe David G and you have discussed everything mentioned in your comment in the comments of your own blog, so I do not feel the need repeat the points made. Regarding your question- I can say we are always listening to our users, both through our feedback submissions and through conversations occurring in the blogosphere, to make our product better. However, it is our policy to not comment on future product releases, but please consider your suggestion noted. Please e-mail David if you wish to continue to debate this issue further.

  • If an Owner Opt-Out is a future product release it will be well received.

    Thanks Drew.

    I would email David but for some reason we are not on his blog contact list. Other bloggers have informed me of their being contacted to examine new product releases. I assume this is a marketing decision to garner support in the blogging community, which is fine. Perhaps we are not on that list because of some belief we are anti-zillow, which we are not.
    We are pro-consumer. It is an understandable misperception.

  • Drew Meyers

    David’s e-mail is davidg at zillow dot com if you’d like to e-mail him directly.

    On the topic of a blogger mailing list- yes, we sometimes e-mail bloggers to let them know about a major release (such as our recent Z2 launch). However, if you read the Zillow Blog regularly, then the e-mail wouldn’t really give you any more information than what is on our blog. It sounds like you believe we let bloggers look at new products ahead of release, which is generally not the case.

    If you have any other questions, please feel free to e-mail me at drewm at zillow. Thanks.

  • What then is the reason for e-mailing selective blogs?

    How does a blog get on the mailing list?

    PS: Weird thing today: I was added to your MyBlogLog community.

  • Drew Meyers

    Please move these types of questions to e-mail from now on as they are not relevant for everyone reading this blog, but I will answer your question this time:

    To alert those that may not read our blog regularly when we release a major upgrade to our site. Related-did you receive my e-mail today?

    About the MBL community- it happens automatically if you view a blog a certain number of times unless you change your settings (I think)

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