Problem with TripAdvisor et al
I posted this comment on the Florida site; but I feel it has more validity here.
TripAdvisor, has the tourist area restaurants and hotels, etc petrified. We returned last month from a 4 week trip to Germany and Italy. Almost every hospitality business; restaurants/hotels/rental apts/etc. all asked us to please give them a good review on TripAdvisor. This is the first time that I noticed the intense pressure on establishments for "a good review". I think the value of these review sites is being compromised. I find more success for what I am seeking with Blogs i.e. Katy Parla, Elizabeth Minchelli and their ilk, than the mega sites
I don't put much faith in Trip Advisor reviews, and I do follow Katie Parla. And of course Maureen Fant. But I find the Trip Advisor Forums quite helpful; there if someone mentions a restaurant in the context of a post, you can at least see if the person is a regular poster rather than a shill put up by either the restaurant or its competition.
I use Tripadvisor very often for hotel and activity planning, but not for food or restaurant choices. Chowhound rules for that! I had one hotel out of many ask me to post a review to boost their Tripadvisor presence, but they didn't demand that it must be good.
Im noticing a lot more local (meaning italian and local people) traffic on Italian restaurants on tripadvisor Some of its intelligent, some not so, and shilling is an issue, but the fact is that as with yelp it cant be totally discounted as a source. I wish there was so much traffic here that I did not need to look at tripadvisor etc but the fact is that in some areas there is very little chowhound comment
As you say, a lot of comment is being sapped off from discussion boards onto personal blogs, as people seek more personal expression and also to monetize their expertise. In addition to Katie, Elizabeth etc. there are other italian blogs worth visiting via google translate.
I comment on the tripadvisor hotel area occasionally when I have strong feelings about a place and either there are not a lot of comments or there is something to add, also on google and booking.com. I cant say that any of the places we have stayed recently have asked us to post a review, however.
I actually love TripAdvisor, especially for their hotel ratings. Agree that restaurant ratings are more hit & miss, but they're a great source when CH doesn't have many suggestions (internationally there's often a limited number of posters). Like Yelp, I take TA reviews with a grain of salt but they've helped me find a lot of great places that I wouldn't know otherwise, especially when one has to put location as a major factor when traveling. One super valuable resource for me is the traveler photos, either of hotels or restaurants, and not just what people say.
I've had a few places ask me to post a rating, and while it slightly bugs me, I understand it from a business perspective -- all businesses need advertising and if they have happy customers, then they should get the word out. It was strange when I was in Mexico and it seemed like a lot of restaurants, excursion companies, and hotels prominently posted their TripAdvisor rating in front, but I'll continue to use it, just like I continue to use Yelp, as a supplement to CH.