A Question of Trust

So, Angie professed her skepticism on book reviews and questioned the credibility of review sites in this RTB column and asked:

“… how do you…as an author, reader, or even a reviewer feel about reviews?
What sites and magazines do you trust and which do you avoid? Do you find
yourself depending more on blogs or do you still turn to review sites? And for
places like Amazon, do you look at the reviews on a book? And in what
circumstances do you think an author or someone else should get a review
removed?”

Like her, I’ve grown to mistrust review sites, and would only give the Amazon reviews a cursory glance if I were undecided on an unfamiliar author (as in new to me). I tend to read up blogs nowadays, going for those who have similar tastes, for a balance of opinions. I’ve found that most, if not all, bloggers are brutally honest. But then again, these are still subjective views. After all, every reader has different opinions about the same book, and it’s almost impossible to find someone who loves every book you love, and hates every one you do. I do take exception, however, to having a readers’ review removed … unless it’s downright malicious or slanderous in nature.

As Helen Kay sums it up very well in her post, you can’t please everyone, because we’re all unique in our thoughts and reactions.

Reading all the various comments and blog-hoppping trying to catch up with all the action, it struck me that this debate somehow mirrors another that is happening in the travel industry as well.

There has been many travel forums and hotel review boards springing up in the past year, and even more aggregator and travel deal sites popping up all over the shop, that it is bewildering to the not-so-seasoned traveller trying to find out more about a particular hotel/ restaurant/ attraction. How would you know if a review wasn’t planted by a supporter/ partner of the establishment?

As to that question, Ed Perkins has this to say in his article on the proliferation of hotel review sites for the SanFrancisco Chronicle:

“But all of the other sites suffer to some degree from “too small a sample
size,” as the statisticians would put it, to be truly reliable. All too often,
your only source is one individual traveler whose report might or might not be
reflective of your viewpoints. After looking at a recent set of traveler
comments on airlines and seeing some economy cabins I know to be cattle cars
described as “comfortable,” I’m a tad suspicious of any amateur evaluations. ”

His advice? Look at few more ‘good sites’, sign up and submit your own reviews. More as a matter of information sharing, you ken? Chances are, you may just be able to provide a fresh perspective or end up colluding with the general opinion of the ‘critical masses’.

Balance is the keyword here, I feel, whether it be a hotel, book, restaurant/ food or movie review. One man’s meat is another’s poison, as the saying goes.

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