We've been watching with some interest - shall we say - as AOL attempts to secretly prepare for a MapQuest social network called mqVibe. It hasn't been announced yet, but we've been able to connect enough dots to figure out that it's a neighborhood social and business network. UPDATE: And it launches tomorrow.

Our intrepid gumshoe at Fusible.com has poked around some more, and now we have specifics about the kinds of features we can expect to see on mqVibe. It will sport tight Facebook integration, and it will combine reviews and popularity votes on neighborhoods and businesses into a "vibe score." AOL really is going to take a shot at Google Places and Yelp.

No, we didn't get an invitation. I guess we've been working too hard to blow mqVibe's cover. But denverpost.com did, and the embargo goes up early tomorrow morning.

JB at Fusible.com took some good guesses for other URLs around mqVibe and then viewed the source. By looking at the elements visible in the code, he uncovered tons of specifics about mqVibe's features. Here are the highlights he found:

  • The subtitle for MQVibe is "Neighborhood Hotspots, Rankings & Reviews".
  • The site will be integrated with Facebook. The Facebook page for Neighborhoodvibe will be located at: http://www.facebook.com/NeighborhoodVIBE
  • You will be able to invite your Facebook friends to vote on hot neighborhoods and local hotspots and post items to your Facebook wall.
  • Neighborhoods and hotspots will receive a vibe rank that you'll be able to vote up or down.
  • Each place in MQVibe will be described by its vibe score and its underlying factors. These factors are based on crowd-sourced user behavior and physical characteristics of the place, such as the category and location of local businesses, density, features of the urban geography, and demographics.
  • You will be able to quickly search by neighborhood or city according to a search form on the home page.
  • MQVibe appears to be or is in alpha testing, according to a "Send Alpha feedback" link that appears at the top of several internal pages http://about.nvibe.com/help/report-issue/
  • The Report Issue page offers some of the most telling information about the site's features (shown in the picture above). Using the Report Issue page, users can: suggest a hotspot, or correct a hotspot name or boundary; suggest adding a business that is missing; suggest a correction to the details of an existing business; report an issue with the ranking of a local business; report a business that is closed is still in the rankings; and report an issue with the neighborhood scores (Vibe Score, Walkability, Popularity, Edginess, etc.).
  • Neighborhoodvibe will be the website's blog and will use WordPress as its publishing platform. The blog will be located at http://nvibe.mapquest.com/.
  • The placeholder page for MQVibe online help can found at http://mqhelp.mapquest.com/mqvibe/.
  • A link in the footer refers to MQVibe as "Business Center".

Something Cool is Coming...

"Something cool is coming to your neighborhood," the mqVibe splash page reads. Really? Are any of the above features going to stand out? As we wrote when we confirmed mqVibe's existence, Google has a lot of these features, and they're already live and in use.

The Facebook integration could be interesting, since so many local businesses use their Facebook pages to interact with their customers, but that just makes AOL dependent on Facebook. Google is offering businesses something more tangible, though: a point of sale. Both Google Offers and AOL's Patch Deals can compete to give local customers the best deal, but AOL's hurdles to get users to adopt this service are so much higher.

What do you think? Does mqVibe have a chance? Share your thoughts in the comments.