Creating controversy as I rate in the travel categoryFeb 20, 2008 (Updated Sep 22, 2009) Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Everybody has his or her standards for rating travel reviews—particularly those that have already been heavily written about—and these are mine.
Katherine Noll and Tracey West - The Ultimate Official Guide to Club Penguin: Revised and Expanded from the Ultimate Offical Guide to Club Penguin - Vol 2
As my sixth anniversary on Epinions arrives, the aspect that weighs most on my mind is the travel category. It seems I continue to create controversy in the travel section—if not making enemies. I'm the maverick vertical rater because I refuse to rate old reviews on the standards members used in 2000. (Vertical rating is concentrating on the reviews posted under a single topic.) Before I go on a big trip, I like to go through the reviews on the city I plan on visiting and while I've gleaned some good insight on attractions I wouldn't find elsewhere, I'm also disappointed to find tedious repetition or the type of information I'm not looking for at all. Everybody has his or her standards for rating travel reviews—particularly those that have already been heavily written about—and these are mine.
One of the things that bothers me is when a review that is supposed to cover a whole city focuses on a single topic, such as an attraction, restaurant, hotel, or store. My immediate knee-jerk reaction is to rate these Off Topic (OT), but after generating some ill will a few years ago as I vertical rated Toronto, I had to reconsider a few things.
After one reviewer became understandably upset because I was downrating his otherwise Very Helpful (VH) restaurant reviews under Toronto, I changed my tactic. After all, in 2000 we didn't have the option to request new topics and members were told to drop them in the cities of their location. Members were also permitted to post multiple reviews on the same topic and many posted several under the same city. (Now we are limited to only one review per topic except in the member section.) In addition, for whatever reasons it has, Epi HQ refuses to list restaurants outside of the United States. Epinions has developed quite a bit since 1999, giving writers more privileges than they had when this website first launched. In 2002, Epi HQ offered some hatted members the position of category lead and gave them the ability to add new topics to their respective categories. Since then, when a writer wanted to write about a topic that could not be found in the catalog, she could request that it be added. Any reviews on a single attraction posted after 2002—especially those that already have their own topic page—I have been rating OT. The older ones I would just refuse to rate at all. Members didn't want to move them because they would have to delete them from their original spot and lose everything they had earned.
However, last year that changed. Epinions has given members the ability to move their own reviews without losing their histories. This feature can be found on the same line as the update and delete link for every review. Now there is no excuse for a hotel or restaurant review to remain on an off-topic city page. New topic pages can be created for reviews already posted and they can be moved. Since then, I've had no hesitation to click the OT button again. I consider it a "tough love" rate and have changed it when they have been moved. However, I have been absolutely perplexed by the members who have objected to my recent OTs. If the member thinks this through, there is no advantage to keeping a restaurant, hotel or single attraction review under the wrong topic. Users looking for that information are going to look for it on its own topic page. If users weren't members before 2002, they aren't going to think to look for those reviews under a city. When a review is off topic, it loses hits. Epinions receives no extra points for it and the writer loses income share. I also find from my own experience that the payout for restaurant reviews is better than travel, probably because that category sees less traffic. (I will probably continue not to rate any restaurant reviews on cities outside of the U.S., because as far as I know Epi HQ still declines include international locations in that category.) If nothing else, clearing out those off topic reviews would give writers the opportunity to post one that is on topic if they haven't done it already.
The most irritating travel reviews have to be the ones that tell us the sites there are to see in a city without any details of the writer's personal experience visiting them. While providing this information is important, many simply repeat information that can be found in a guidebook or promotional website. From what I understand of the early days of Epinions—when the royalties were much more lucrative—members were trying to post as much as possible to be awarded hats for even more income share. Some were unethically posting about places they had never been. C'est la vie. If there is no indication of having been there, I will click the Not Helpful (NH) button. I will downrate if a review concentrates more on facts I can easily find on the attraction's website.
The more I Read, Rate and Comment (RRC) in the travel category, though, the more points I find disturbing. Many members like to write about the locale they live in and that's fine. The more time spent observing an attraction, the better the writer is in her accuracy and capturing its true ambiance. Having her take on an attraction she's spent plenty of time at is valuable to the Epinions user. On the other hand, in reading a city, state, or country topic with a lot of postings, I'll inevitably come across one that talks about what it's like to live there (and it's usually denegrating). The travel category is for people planning vacations, not for those looking to relocate. Certainly there must be other websites meant for that.
Another pet peeve of mine is the use of second person narrative. Some writers will say you should go to the half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square for the best ticket prices in the West End. Stop giving me orders. If the writer went to the half-price ticket booth and found some real good bargains, great, but I'll make my own arrangements, thank you. There are several plays that don't sell tix through the half-price booth I may prefer to attend. Tell your experience in first person, since those are the details I'm looking for. Second person can sometimes be offensive when the writer isn't careful.
What makes a really good travel review is when a writer describes his personal experience visiting the place. CR01, Travelgall, Ifif1938, and GaelKM are a few who do this well. In the travel category, a city or hotel can have over 200 reviews, but each one can be different and engrossing because no visitor has the exact same experience. Some may enjoy the company at the local pubs while others are arrested for urinating in public parks. Some will deal with surly managers or find a chambermaid who was extraordinarily attentive. Were the prices reasonable? Were the sites worth seeing? How did the visitor like the weather? While no one expects a member to write at great length on the various attractions of one city, comparing and contrasting them make a much more helpful review.
Another way to make a travel review more interesting is to find a slant, particularly in those city topics that have already been heavily written about. People travel for different reasons. Some people like architecture and visit a city to appreciate its buildings. Others enjoy history or botany. Yet others look for the night life. Giving the city a slant no one else has is an excellent way to approach a city review. On the Chicago topic page, someone wrote a review in search of the Windy City's best pizza, which was really fun. One of the reasons I like focusing on haunted destinations, hotels, and restaurants in my reviews is to find something different to say. Be creative, find a theme, but explore more than one attraction when writing about a whole city. These are the reviews I usually enjoy the most.
I apologize to the folks I upset while RRCing their city reviews. In the writers' workshops I participate in, we are as brutal commenting on each other's manuscripts as Gordon Ramsay is about his kitchen nightmares. I doubt I will be forgiven, but above are my reasons for doing so. There might actually be a few people out there who agree with me.
|Read all comments (13)|Write your own comment|
Ads by Google
Become A Decide Member Save Hundreds Of Dollars A Year. Use Our Unique Price Predictions!
How To Evaluate A Decision eHow How To Evaluate A Decision Tips From People Like You
2.5% FIXED Mortgage Rate No Points. Nominal Fees. 2.5% APR Compare Lenders. Get a Free Quote