July 12, 2005
Like the soapbox of olden days, one of the grand promises of the World Wide Web has been the ability for every man, woman and child to not only speak out, but to be able to reach anyone with similar interest. All right, let's face it, your Uncle Homer isn't going to have quite the reach of one of the well-paid pundits on or, but as the explosion of blogs clearly demonstrates, there is a very democratizing element to the Internet

We here at try to do our bit with our Forums, message boards that include the feature, You Review. Have a car you like -- or hate -- here's the place to speak out.

While we normally don't go out of our way to promote the competition, Consumer Reports has decided to add a similar feature to its own website. That's pretty momentous, in that it requires this lofty institution to acknowledge other folks have valid viewpoints that might compete and even conflict with what is determined from on high at Consumers Union's headquarters. What we find worthy of note, however, is the sophisticated search capability built into the new Consumer Opinions page. It's all well and good to hear what other folks say about the car you like, but CR is letting readers narrow the search down to an incredible level. A mom looking for a minivan for her three kids can automatically skip by reviews posted by a company using the van for airport shuttle service. She can even specify reviews posted only by mothers with children the same age as hers.

The downside is that you have to be a paid subscriber to participate -- but in the first three months, a prototype version of Consumer Opinions has drawn 3000 reviews.

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