If you haven't had yelp.com pop up recently in a Google search for a local business I'd be surprised. Here in San Francisco it happens all the time. Yelp allows people to post reviews - and although most people immediately think about restaurants, it is a fantastic resource for choosing other vendors where trust is important. I'm talking about auto repair, plumbers, contractors, doctors, and dentists.
This is a great tool if you have recently relocated to a new city and don't know many people... how do YOU pick a dentist? The Yellow Pages? Ick.
Lately, I've been utilizing a few of the other features within Yelp. They have a forum at yelp.com/talk where people can post questions and get answers from fellow "Yelpers." The forums are VERY active. One recent post titled, "Arrogant inlaws. how do you deal with them," received 46 responses in the first hour alone. Yelp Talk topics are obviously not limited to business reviews.
Another useful section is on local events at yelp.com/events. Besides searching within posted events, you can sort by date, category (including music, fashion, food, charities, etc.), most popular, and my favorite way to sort, free. People can post comments about the event and you can see if any of your Yelp "friends" are planning on attending, for whatever that's worth.
There are a lot of postings in the events section if you like to get out. Today, a Tuesday, is showing 20 events near San Francisco including everything from an AC/DC concert to a bike light giveaway.
Of course their bread and butter is still restaurant reviews; but when I recently had to plan a birthday dinner for 15, I found that using both the review section and the Talk section I was able to pin down exactly what we were looking for. Thank you yelp, I'm a fan.