According to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, writing reviews and rating services online is becoming a civic act not unlike traditional forms of public service.

Posting information about products and experiences as everyday as hotel stays (”Generally all my reports are shower-related,” he said) helps other people make more educated purchases, he said during a panel session Tuesday, and can ultimately lead to better customer service when large numbers of people weigh in on social-media forums.

“The only way these sites are going to work is if people start participating in the millions and tens of millions,” Newmark said. “Participating in these sites is an act of compassion, in some sense patriotism.”

He mentioned incidents in which online complaints against Dell and Comcast got their own nicknames — “Dell Hell” and “Comcast Must Die,” respectively — and eventually reached those companies’ top ranks. “The idea is that people online, when you aggregate enough numbers, will help each other out to get stuff done. That actually works,” he said.

Click here to read more on this story from the Wall Street Journal.