On Reviews and Reviewing

I’m a fan of reviews and thoughtful criticism. I also like to write reviews, but I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to do with them.

Various websites offer a home to random reviews. Yelp has decent local coverage. Of course, it turns out that Yelp has a strange business model which calls its reviews into question. (Allegedly, they extort local owners: “pay us $300 a year to suppress this negative review” that a real person may or may not have written.) Friends have pointed me at Angie’s List as an alternative for contracted services, but it turns out that they have similar problems.

So what’s the big deal? Review websites are just a collection of reviews. Well, my participation becomes a feature of that website. The utility of a review website is determined by how much information it can give you. Unique user opinion is useful, and therefore no reviews is not useful, one review is something, and ten reviews is pretty good content. Therefore, why would I want to drive traffic, via my tiny participation, to a sketchy service that shakes down the people, manufacturers, and services I’m trying to review?

It’s just a drop in the bucket, I know. My drop.

I’m going to post my reviews here. I know, on my own blog! What a thought. In the case of book reviews, I’ll keep up with GoodReads. If I find other places where the reviews fit well, I’ll put them there as well. The internet’s a big place with a ton of content, and little websites get washed away. However, the stronger voices do eventually get through… whether I’m one of them or not.