Released in November last year, Mashable added a great summary of Google Hotpot in their article here; Google Unveils Hotpot, a Recommendation Engine for Places.
"Hotpot takes all of Google Places‘ ratings and reviews features and adds a more personal touch. Currently, Place Pages mostly aggregate review data from sources such as Yelp. With Hotpot, users will be encouraged to rate and review businesses directly from their Google-linked profile. Users’ ratings and reviews are tracked with a counter at the top of each profile, and likes and dislikes are remembered and used in Google’s recommendation engine."
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Author: Alice Cheetham