For purpose of this answer, I am considering  (a) Websites with user-generated reviews (Think Yelp, IMDb) (b) Websites  expert/critic reviews (Think Zagat, Consumer reports) (c) Independent review blogs (d) Websites for which reviews are not the primary business (Think Facebook, Google). However, I have excluded businesses like Amazon and Expedia, which include reviews for products and businesses that they are selling.

Here are some popular monetization models for these sites.

  1. Advertising: This is the most popular form of monetization for review and rating websites. Usually, the "reviewed" side advertises to review-readers/writers, like restaurants advertising on Yelp, lawyers advertising on Avvo or movie studios advertising on IMdB. However, in some cases, businesses other than the ones from reviewed side of the platform may also target review-readers. For example: MTV shows their own ads on ratemyprofessors.com (You don't expect professors to advertise to their students, do you? :)). Independent review bloggers also use advertising, usually through content ads through Google AdSense or similar means.
  2. Subscription services to customers: Some websites may charge a subscription fee for access to their content. Examples include: consumerreports.org and Angie's List. With so much free content available on the internet, this model usually works only if the content is either premium (written by experts) or scarce.
  3. Affiliate marketing: Some  review websites get paid by reviewed business on a CPA (cost per action  basis). Examples of these include websites like nerdwallet and  creditkarma, which get paid by the credit card companies. Many  independent review bloggers also use this model.  There seems to be some  conflict of interest here, but most reputed websites manage to draw a  good line between the advertising side and review side of their  business.
  4. Licensing review data: User-reviews are very important criteria for consumers to make purchase decisions, and hence many businesses may be willing to pay for using review data from these platforms. Potential customers for this model include reviewed businesses (Example: Hospitals paying healthgrades.com to use ratings in their ads) and other advertising platforms (Example: Google licensing product rating data from TrustPilot, Bizrate and StellaService among others.)
  5. Selling premium account services to businesses: Another  possible source of monetization is selling premium account services to  businesses. The services may include enhanced listings, ability to  include curated content (instead of just user-generated content), and  opportunity to connect to reviewers among others. IMdB Pro and Yelp  Business account come to mind as some examples of these.

    (Last two are relatively less common monetization methods)

  6. Sale of review guides: With the decline of print media in general, this is not a very popular monetization method. Similar to (2), for this review model to succeed, the content needs to be premium. Zagat used to be a premium player in this field, but lately, they have gone primarily digital. Zomato in India also publishes print guides.
  7. Indirect monetization by keeping user on your properties: For businesses like Google+ and Facebook, the purpose of reviews is not really to monetize the reviews page directly. However, these review pages keep the users on their properties longer, and eventually, this may result in few additional ad-clicks.

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Answers by Amit Bhatnagar on Quora on May 14, 2015

Yelp is often categorized as just another website for restaurant reviews. Most of the existing answers reflect the same line of thought (To be fair,  the question was originally asked in 2012, and Yelp is definitely a bigger player in Local than what it was three years ago.) I see Yelp playing in at least the following categories, and in each category, it has different competitors:

  • Local Search engine: People do not think of Yelp as a search engine, but a good number of times they are using Yelp exactly for what they would have used a search engine a few years ago: "Indian restaurants in San Jose, CA", "cheap hotels near me" etc. This is true for other "vertical search engines" like Amazon for retail.  Eric Schmidt recently identified Amazon as its biggest search competitor (See: Google's Chairman Says Amazon — Not Bing — Is Its Biggest Search Competitor) Same logic applies to Yelp for local searches.
    Key competitors in this space: Mostly Google, and to a smaller extent, Bing and Yahoo.
  • Providing free digital presence to local businesses/ Local Advertising: Now these are two apparently different categories, but for online advertising players like Yelp, these are actually two steps in the same strategy: Make it easy for local businesses to own a basic presence on the Internet and then, provide enhanced presence through advertising.
    Yelp with its 2.2 MM claimed businesses is a sizable player here. However, Facebook with 30MM+ SMBs online (And this number is from June 2014) is a much larger player. In fact, majority of Facebook's 2MM active advertisers are local/SMB advertisers. Finally, while Google does not disclose its SMB advertiser count and number of claimed Google+ pages, it is safe to assume that is is the largest player in this field.
  • Restaurant/hotel reviews: This is the obvious category that most people put Yelp into. Key competitors in this space: Zagat (Acquired by Google),  Google+, Urbanspoon (acquired by Zomato), TripAdvisor, etc. Out of these, Google+ is the most underrated player because of its perceived failure as a social network. However, with G+ reviews  integrated in Google search as well as Google maps, its content still gets a good number of eyeballs.
  • Other local reviews: While it's true that restaurants account for the largest share of Yelp reviews, as high as 59% of reviews are from other verticals. In terms of share of reviewed businesses, non-restaurant businesses represent 79% of Yelp. (Source: Yelp's last 10K filing : SEC Filings )

    Key competitors in non-restaurant reviews space: Google+ (again!), Angie's list and HomeAdvisor (Home & Local services), healthgrades.com (Health), Groupon (Local Retail), Rent.com and apartmentrating.com (Apartments), etc.

  • "Closing the loop": This refers to Yelp's focus on being the transaction platform in addition to being the discovery platform for local businesses. Yelp identifies this as one of its three strategic priorities (other two being Mobile and International). With the launch of Yelp platform and acquisitions of SeatMe and eat24, Yelp now plays in field of online food delivery, table-reservation, booking appointments, etc.
    Key competitors in this space: OpenTable (acquired by Priceline), GrubHub, MyTime, etc. Not surprising, now Google is experimenting with this too. (News from last week: Whether you’re craving deep dish pizza or pad thai, starting today you can… ) Facebook is a relatively smaller player in this with its Partnership with OpenTable, but because of its penetration of the local market, it has the potential to go big in closing the loop.
  • Social: Yelp is not your traditional social network, but it does compete in the specific case of social check-ins. However, unlike other categories above, where Yelp is a leading or at least a significant player, in this category, it is at best a challenger. Foursquare is the original category defining leader for social check-ins, but I believe now Facebook is the more popular option especially with photo check-ins and group check-ins getting very popular.

Overall, considering its strong presence across almost all the categories noted above, Google is Yelp's biggest competitor. Facebook with its significant penetration in local advertisers can be considered the second most significant competitor.

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Answers by Amit Bhatnagar on Quora on February 1, 2015

No. Facebook does not charge publishers for a share/post to Facebook button. Here is the official link: Share Button. On clicking on "Get code", you will get a code snippet that you can include for free in your website. If a user decides to use a "Share/like" button, that is a win-win for both Facebook and the publisher, and it does not make any business sense for Facebook to charge for this feature. 
 
In fact, on Allrecipes, if you wait for the full page to load  (The page load time is definitely more than usual.) , you will see the FB icon appearing in the list of social plugins.

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Amit Bhatnagar on Quora.com on November 24, 2014

Here are some metrics that I would want to know about to measure user-engagement for a file storage and sharing platform similar to Dropbox:

  • Unique user accounts (UU): Technically, just the number of sign-ups is not a user-engagement metric, but this is definitely an important success metric, and a foundation stone for future user-engagement.
  • Active users (MAU and DAU): A health UU metric is good, but what matters most is how many of these come back frequently. Monthly Active Users (MAU) and Daily Active Users (DAU) are two most popular measures, but depending on your needs, you may have a different level of granularity.
  • Upload frequency: For a service like Dropbox, I would like to know how frequently users are actually uploading files to their accounts. An even stronger indicator can be how many users have set-up automatic sync between their devices and the service.
  • Content access frequency: Another good user-engagement metric is how frequently the uploaded content is being accessed. This will include downloads and users accessing their content directly on site and others accessing users' shared contentthe  ettteteee.
  • Storage used: Another user-engagement metric specific to this case would be how much storage is being used. If active users are using up a good share of what is available to them, that is a good sign.
  • Upgrades: With so many free storage options available, if your users decide to pay you for more storage, they are definitely engaged!
  • Referrals: If users consider your service good enough to be referred to their friends, they definitely like your service. Even if they do this for additional free storage, this is still a strong positive, as this indicates theirs interest in using your service more.
  • Device-mix: The mix of devices from which your service is being accessed can tell you a lot about how they intend to use it, and how strong you can expect the future engagement to be. I would definitely want the device mix to have a good representation of mobile (smartphones/tablets), as this indicates users' interest in accessing your service on the go.

In addition to the absolute values of these metrics, the ratios of some of these metrics (Examples: MAU/UU, DAU/UU, DU/MAU, Upgrade/UU etc.) can serve as excellent indicators of user-engagement.

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Amit Bhatnagar on Quora.com on June 23, 2014

Not all examples below are from my field, but just some random thoughts from a variety of fields.

"ab + c ==> ab + cb"

This expression is true for many cases where 'b' is contagious and/or where 'a' acts as an agent for spreading 'b'.

Some examples:

  • Technology: A virus ('b') infected website a is visited by computer 'c'. => Both 'a' and 'c' are infected with 'b'.
  • Marketing: Person 'a' impressed with product 'b' tells his friend 'c' about the product. => Both 'a' and 'b' become users of 'c' (Word of mouth marketing)
  • Medicine: Person 'a', with an infectious disease 'b', comes in contact with person c. => both 'a' and 'c' are down with 'b'
  • Society: Religious preacher 'a' preaching religion 'b' meets and manages to convince person 'c' => Both 'a' and 'c' believe in 'b' (You can replace religion with any set of beliefs)

You can extend this logic to many other sets. Some more examples:

  • Matchstick, fire, candle
  • Teacher, Knowledge, Student
  • Happy person, Happiness, Happy person's friends (Not true for everyone, but perhaps we all have met at least one person, whose zest for life is contagious)

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Using Excel, the numbers are: 616, 637, 677 and 696. This sums to 2626. So the answer is 626.
/* I know this approach was not what you were looking for, but can't resist using Excel when I have a spreadsheet open. 🙂 */

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This is mathematical proof, but I guess this is fairly intuitive too..
 
Line up the series of numbers from 1 to (n-1) once, and in reverse right below that:
    1    +     2 +     3     + ……………….+ (n-2)  + (n-1)
(n-1)  + (n-2) +  (n-3) +………………… +   2     +   1
 
Adding these vertically, these are (n-1) pairs of n…. So the vertical sum is n*(n-1), and since this is twice the sum that we originally wanted.
 
So, required sum is n*(n-1)/2 or n choose 2.

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That does not really appear to be the case.. I looked for some father-son pairs from Cricket, and I could find both cases..  Here are some cases, where both father and son have same dominant hand:

  • Peter and Shawn Pollock: Both Right handed
  • Vijay and Sanjay Manjerekar: Both Right handed
  • Lala and Mohinder Amarnath: Both Right handed
  • Chris and Stuart Broad: Both Left handed
  • Colin and Chris Cowdrey: Both Right handed
  • Iftikar and Mansur Ali Khan: Both Right handed

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Amit Bhatnagar on Quora.com on April 8, 2013

Thanks for the A2A.. This is something that I always thought about when I saw this image, and finally, this question made me do some research..
 
First, this image is not from India. Not even from any of the other test-playing nations. This image appears to be that of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman:
 

Even I thought that this may be from some place in India, but after a bit of search, I landed on this blog: Twitter Cricket Sign-In Page, and after closely comparing the architecture of the mosque and the background hills in the two images, I am almost sure that the building in the Twitter homepage image is this mosque in Oman.
 
Yes, it would have been definitely surprising if Twitter, being a US-based company, used this as their only homepage background. I tried different browsers and tried reloading the homepage multiple times after deleting cookies. As it turns out, this is only one of at least three images that Twitter uses as its homepage background.
 
Here are the three images that I could find currently being used as Twitter homepage background:
 

 

So, Twitter backgrounds have three distinct themes: nature, modern life/city and people (or maybe countryside, first world country, third world country). Any way you look at it, the combination appears more representative of the diverse Twitter population than just a group of young Cricketers!
 
I think even this combination does not represent Twitter well; I would expect a theme of conversation or human interaction. But perhaps, most of Twitter's frequent users are perpetually logged in to Twitter on their mobile/web, and hence, Twitter does not care too much about the homepage images that are shown to users only before logging-in or after logging out.

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Amit Bhatnagar on Quora.com on March 14, 2013

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