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Label collectors

Have you used any website or app that shows you hundreds of options for what you are looking for? It could be Flipkart for products, it could be Practo for doctors, it could be Booking for hotels, it could be Zomato for restaurants, it could be Play Store for Android apps.

The thing they all have in common is that they give you hundreds of options for whatever it is that you are looking for and then provide reviews and ratings to help make your decision in picking the right one for you.

The reviews and ratings are all opinions and experiences of people who have already encountered the product or person or service that you are now thinking about trying out for yourself. While the reviews are text in the long form, ratings are easy to understand numbers on a fixed scale which are extremely helpful for comparison between the available options.

Since reviews are long form free text and can go into the hundreds for every listing, it is impossible for a user comparing her options to read through all of the reviews available. Hence, these sites that aggregate the listings provide cues in terms of labels for every review. If the review is that of a hotel, the labels will indicate things like 'service', 'location', 'value for money', 'cleanliness', etc and if the review is that of a doctor, the labels will indicate things like 'wait time', 'friendliness', 'experience', etc.

Many of the owners of these listings, which could be the management of the restaurant or the hotel, the doctor, the seller or the maker of the product being sold, will try to perform well on the labels they care about. This is because they know that a majority of their customers come from these websites and apps and they know what labels they need to acquire in order to attract the kind of customers that are profitable to them. While only some of them do not care about attracting customers. They do things in the way they believe ought to be done irrespective of what labels they acquire. They come with an opinion on how things ought to be done and if that means alienating some potential customers, so be it. They serve only those that come looking for what they offer.

This keeps the entire ecosystem of the customers, the aggregators and the service providers in balance.

When you think about it, we chase after labels all our lives. The kind of apartment we live in is a label. The kind of friends we have is a label. The places we work at and study at are labels. The places we hang out at are labels. The things we call our passion are labels. The photos we put up on social media are labels.

While many of us are pandering to what we think will attract more customers (that is, please more people), only a few do things because that's what they enjoy doing.

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