Neighborhood Rating Site Sparks Controversy

David Bates / October 8, 2013-1:36 pm

Part of GhettoTracker's rating review of Greater Boston neighborhoods.

Part of GhettoTracker’s rating review of Greater Boston neighborhoods.










Walk Score is a popular real estate site whose rating system for locations is almost a part of the urban real estate lexicon. The popular site considers a location and describes what’s nearby, transportation choices and what locals are saying. And although the Walk Score has begun to include many more things about the neighborhood, there may be some things about a neighborhood that are left unsaid, like “is it safe?”  That tricky question was apparently the inspiration for David Foster to create a site where folks reviewed locations based on safety, rating them as safe, above average, average, below average, or unsafe.  Reviewers also had the option to leave a comment.  

The site,, debuted in mid-September and of course its name as well as the randomly generated picture on the home page– which was often of minorities– caused a hubbub. Many media outlets ran stories questioning whether it was racist. The developer pulled the site from the net and considered changing the name, but in an interview posted on the site’s blog said that after he talked to his team and considered the customer feedback the site was generating, he decided not to change the name. The site was put back up and the the fact that it had gone off-line briefly was attributed to it being in beta.

This site says it can “help you determine which parts of town are safe and which parts are not” and that such information can benefit “ students, traveling professionals, people on vacation, anyone moving to a new city, and it can even help people become more familiar with their own city.”

GhettoTracker has reviews for more than 100 Greater Boston locations, but is the site’s name reasonable or racist? You be the judge.