Other review sites and increasing trend of one-off reviews/reviewers?
I have been on CH for over 10 years now but since moving away from a major metropolitan area to a much smaller town (albeit still one with a population over 1M) with less of a CH presence about 6 years ago, my perusal of UrbanSpoon and Yelp reviews has steadily increased to assist in augmenting my local restaurant knowledge. I read CH more now for other boards than my local one but read Yelp and US only for local reviews.
Now, I have never been one to give much credence to a solo glowing review or slam of a restaurant either way, but it seems to be that there are a LOT more disgruntled one time "reviewers" out to slam a restaurant based on a single dining experience than previously over the last few years. It almost seems that the individual is so affronted by the single (worst) experience that it becomes his/her mission in life to slam said place on the innerwebs (sometimes with the exact same review on Yelp and US). Is it just me or am I just getting more cantankerous in my old(er) age? And what really jerks my chain is when the "reviewer" starts off with "I have been here x number of and formerly loved it" or "I eat all over the world" or even "I'm a foodie (ugh)" yet the person has never written any other reviews, good or bad, on the site(s). This drives me bonkers.
Alternately, there are a few “reviewers” that provide glowing reviews of a place which come off as shilling. I can deal with that. What really gets my goat is some reviewers only review the same place over and over and over, making that one place sound like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. And those tend to be for places that basically suck.
I admit to having been a disgruntled one-time reviewer of a place. The food and service was so bad I couldn't imagine ever going back to give them my business and money again. I do try to be fair and say something nice - server was polite, atmostphere was lovely - but I don't feel the need to give them another chance when the first impression was that bad.
That being said, I do agree that shill reviews dominate. A new-ish local place had about a 50% rating on one site. The "bad" reviews all mentioned the same things I experienced (no prices on beer menu with prices being $1-$2 higher than you'd expect, lackluster service, host drinking at the bar instead of greeting at the door). One of the "good" reviews in particular caught my eye. It was full of exclamation points, used the word "wow" in the title, and then went on to say that all the negative reviews must be jealous owners of nearby restaurants.
Around here, we call those posts "Agenda Posts", as in, the poster has an agenda and it isn't just to share information with their fellow hounds about their dining experiences.
We remove the really egregious ones, so if you see them on Chowhound, please Flag them and so the moderators can take a look.
yeah, I'm not really lumping CH into the mix as the mods are pretty quick to delete them unlike on other sites.
I do believe some such reviews (on other sites) have some validity. I am just annoyed that most such posters wait to spam the internet until they have a beef. Where are the ones that while not obvioulsy glowing, read like the poster signed up because their experience went beyond the norm and they enjoyed their night out.
I think there is a different way to think about yelp reviews. Think of it as crowd sourcing. You take the overall view of all the reviewers glowing and not glowing... look at the distribution of reviews, to get a sense of what the restaurant is capable of doing. Seeing a lot of "bad" single visit reviews is a signal there may be a problem. Furthermore, if its bad enough people are probably not going to want to return...