Why a review site that forces you to write in haiku is a good idea

Think Yelp, but Haiku
No long reviews, which means no
tl;dr

Haiku Review initially comes off as a gimmick, and a risky one at that. If a new music site promises you nothing but bagpipe covers and you hate bagpipes, you're not going to get a lot of mileage out of it. Yet here, the haiku format is supposed to be a welcoming feature, not a barrier to entry.

The proposed app, which is currently little more than the start of an idea on Kickstarter as dreamed up by a trio of Texans, wants to cut down on lengthy reviews without entirely cutting out opinion. We went back-and-forth with Stu Hill, one of the aforementioned Texans, about why forcing people to essentially bang out Yelp poetry isn't the worst idea ever. (And yeah, we're mentioning Yelp a bunch, but that's because Stu and his crew are positioning Haiku Review directly in the social reviewing behemoth's path.)

You Want To Write Poetry, You Just Don't Know It Yet

"While a Yelp review does a great job at reviewing a place, I don't believe you necessarily want to read your friend's 500-1,000 word review," Hill told DVICE in an email. A haiku, of course, can't ever be long. Haiku Review's blurbs follow the traditional 17-syllable structure, with five on the first row, seven syllables on the next and five again down below — like our little haiku up above.

Enjoyed where you just ate? Did you find some out of the way store you've fallen in love with? Hill's formula is designed to be low pressure, using word economy and structure to inspire you in much the same way as Twitter's 140-character limit: you give your rating, hammer out 17 syllables and you're done. If you remove yourself from the idea that at haiku has to be witty or profound it starts sounding a little better. That, and Haiku Review's app is there to make it painless according to Hill, who said "with the help of our app, we hope to build a pretty elegant Hakiu helper that will help you navigate your 17 syllables."

Suddenly, the concept behind it is starting to make a lot of sense. Reviews will always be short and punchy, which'll make the places your friends dig (or hate) an easy and quick read. The unique format lent by a haiku won't take anything away from your 17 syllables, and it may even transform the mundane into something more, as a haiku is wont to do.

In fact, writing a haiku may just be easier than a full review on Yelp and similar sites, the latter activity being something Hill says he is interested in but has never gone and done. "[A haiku] also takes the open-endedness out of reviews," he explained to us, "With Haiku Review we're setting the parameters on syllables, and giving people a defined space to play in, and we believe that inspiration might actually get more people reviewing."

Gambling On Kickstarter

So, how can you get the Haiku Review app? You can't — not yet. As Hill puts it, he and fellow Texans Brad Alesi and Wes Hendrix aren't venture capitalists in Silicon Vallery, but rather "agency guys in Dallas, Texas." They're letting the citizens of the Web vote with their Kickstarter dollars as to whether or not the idea will ever get off the ground. They're asking a lot, too: $65,000 by January 21. ($55,000 of that will go toward building the app, with the remainder covering Kickstarter fees and rewards and the like.)

"We've been taking some heat for $65K, and we know it's a massive number. Trust me, we know," Hill told us. Why so much? As Hill sees it, they could ask for less and "make a sketchy product that has 45 updates [and] lose people's interest as soon as they download it." That, or Haiku Review could "ask for a whole bunch of money… but, use it to make the best product you can," adding "we feel confident we can."

We asked him what that app would look like, and Hill said one that makes sharing a priority, with said tools to make haiku writing as easy as possible and Instragram-inspired sharing with your friends within the app:

"Within the app you'll be able to follow friends, and see their haikus ranked by most recent and most popular. We're also planning on a feed of your friend's activity (similar to Instagram) where you can see where you friends have been, and enjoy their haikus. A lot of our sharing idea come from the idea that the Haiku is content, and content worth sharing."

The big question now: is the Haiku Review is worth Kickstarting?

You can see Hill and his fellows introduce the concept in the video below, and click the following link to head on over to Haiku Review's Kickstarter page. (If you're reading this, you've gone too far.)

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