The trouble with quick reviews and star ratings
Even better, the highest-rated restaurant in New York City as of 12/14/09, per clicking Restaurants & Bars > New York City ( http://www.chow.com/restaurants/regions/18/new-york-city ), is apparently a Thai place in Westchester ( http://www.chow.com/restaurants/793899/full-moon-asian-thai-restaurant ).
This restaurant has all of eight "reviews," four of which are, in their entirety, "Great Experience **** The food was great. Must go restaurant," all by the same poster. Three were essentially uncritical praise, and the last was a question whether anyone had eaten there yet.
Of the three reviews praising the restaurant, one contained the comment, "I do not know why people kept saying there is no Pad Thai. It listed under Signature Hot Dishes," which is odd, since the absence of Pad Thai is not mentioned by any of the other reviewers. Rather, it's apparently a response to an existing Chowhound thread ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/664874 ) -- perhaps by a frustrated restaurant owner? -- which was posted as a Quick Review instead of to that Chowhound thread, so there are now two parallel discussions.
Jean-George, Shake Shack, and Sripraphai, you have some serious catching up to do!
Yes, I'm sickened. You cannot imagine how hard the moderators and I worked, for the better part of a decade, to keep this place free of that sort of crud (it's so insidious; the truly harmful stuff isn't as patently obvious as these silly spammy plays).
I just pray that this effluent doesn't backsplash too dramatically onto the message boards....though with the conspicuous linking from there to here, it certainly will to some extent. The moderators will do their best to stanch that flow, but it obviously affects their morale when things are changed to make their efforts to keep Chowhound honest and useful harder rather than easier. Decisions like this feel crushing to them - sort of like shooting spitballs at Sisyphus as he tries to ascend the mountain carrying your heavy baggage.
I'm just curious as to what is the point to your post. Do you have suggestions to make that section better or want the star stuff to go away. You have to pick your fights and do the serenety prayer
"... grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference"
From this quote in a recent East Bay Express article I am guessing that star ratings fall into the first category
"Jane Goodman, the editor-in-chief of Chow.com, explained, "Yes, you can get a really nuanced vision of a restaurant or a type of food by wading through 200 posts, but I also think that it's asking a lot of people — and frankly it's asking too much of me, as a user, to do that."
The only problem I have with all this is that a light went off reading that. It explains the abysmal software for the forums. Why put any dollars into a part of the site the Chow staff doesn't want to use. Why listen to the posters who do use the forums in terms of the software difficulties?
When using a word like "wading", it may seem that it doesn't matter what is waded in.
"Chowhound Comes of Age" in the East Bay Express (Berkeley, CA)
So people can make a choice to eat at a restaurant based on reviews by hit and run posters writing stuff such as "Great Experience **** The food was great. Must go restaurant,"
Or read the threads (very few of which exceed 20 replies and often less) and pick up the nuances of dining greatness.
I would only be interested in changes that would capture the best of both worlds.
This star thing makes me sad.
I don't understand what the value of stars is to people who come to this site to discuss food. If a reader wants to really understand why a restaurant is/isn't a good choice for them, then they should join in the conversation- or at least read what others have contributed. If they don't want to actually learn anything, but look at stars or numbers instead, then they can go to Citysearch or Yelp or Zagat or whatever. I agree that both types of information can be useful, but I don't agree that stars are useful for chowhounds.
I guess what saddens me is that Chowhound is slowly losing the very qualities that drew many of us to it in the first place.
Jfood thinks the 5-star rating is idiotic. The beauty of CH is the dialogue. By creating a five point rating system brings this site into the same category as Zagats, worthless. If people choose a restaurant by checking a single data point on a 5 star system they are not a CH.
I'm not a fan of the quick reviews or the star ratings either. There area too many reviews that are made by posters I have never heard of, and they have not posted to a thread, but the jump in on a restaurant and rave giving it 5 stars. Chowhound has always asked us to please not send recipes privately through the email, but share with the whole community, and these people on the quick reviews area not even trying to do that, not with recipes, but you know what I mean. If I posted and said that I really liked this restaurant and just gave you a link so you could see my post on Yelp, or a blog, instead of elaborating on CH, well I don't think that would be fair. It opens us up to a bunch of people that may, or may not, be recruited to post reviews and then be done with CH. So wrong.
Oh, and squid - love your example. Sad but true.