The Boogie Man Award of 2010 goes without question to the bedbug, reports of which have been an almost daily occurrence in the national press (WalletPop included). One website that has found sudden fame is Bedbug Registry, a crowd-sourcing site where the public can post about hotels and apartment buildings in which they encountered the little blood suckers.
Bedbug Registry, a project of programmer Maciej Ceglowski, has actually been in existence since 2006, since he was bit by bedbugs while in San Francisco. There are more than 20,000 reports in its database covering the entire U.S. Maps are offered for major cities.
The question -- how much credence should you give to the data from this site?
Understanding how these reports are gathered is a good first step. Posters are allowed to add their stories anonymously, and the reports are not vetted except for inappropriate content. Should a hotel management or apartment landlord protest a post, the moderator will add the word "Disputed" to the post and invite them to provide evidence that the problem does not exist (an exterminator report, for example), which will also be added to the post. Only with the author's consent will a post be taken down, with one exception. On occasion, reports more than two years old about places that have had no subsequent reports will be taken down.
Is the bedbug increase real, or is it just being reported more vigorously? In a recent interview, Jeffery White, research etymologist for BedBug Central, confirmed with WalletPop that the bugs are indeed on the increase, so some sort of way to predetermine which lodgings have this problem would be very useful for the traveler and renter. It's just the kind of info that the Internet is best at gathering and disseminating.
Bedbug Registry might be a good place to start, but one would be well advised to maintain a bit of skepticism. Certainly, one shouldn't presume that hotels not on the list are free of bedbugs, or that some on the list haven't dealt successfully with the problem. Still, it's worth a look if you don't care to share your bed with a parasite (and we don't mean your spouse).
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