Unfortunately, users must login with Facebook to engage most of the really intriguing and useful site features, and BlockAvenure asks for quite a bit of location info:
- Your hometown
- Your location
- Friends’ hometowns
- Friends’ locations
- Check-ins shared with you
Block Reviews can be posted anonymously, and the site is surprisingly free of anons posting angrily in all-caps about how much they hate a particular restaurant or shop.
I first searched for the address of my Brooklyn apartment, expecting to hear other BlockAvenue-users pointing out that I sure do have a million hipster coffeeshops around me. Turns out there are also loads of registered sex offenders in the neighborhood! Um, thanks? BlockAvenue seems to pull location and business info for Google Maps and Google Places, so I’m wondering if there’s a Google Sex Offender Registry as well.
BlockAvenue layers a Google map of the neighborhood with location Pins, providing info about a specific laundromat, bar, or coffeeshop (I live in a hipster neighborhood, ok?), and BlockReviews, where users can share their impressions on the neighborhood. The difference between “Pins” and “BlockReviews” is not made terribly clear to users, I attempted to leave a review on a Pin, without success. A user can, of course, mention a great local hotspot in a BlockReview, but without the addon of a block-by-block rating system, BlockReview would be nothing more than Yelp, Google Places, or dozens of other user-generated reviews. Hopefully some of the usability kinks will be sorted out by the official launch, and more features will be added to distinguish BlockAvenure from so many similar collections of location-based reviews.
The beta of BlockAvenue can be used on a PC right now, with a mobile app coming soon.