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Why Opentable reviews are best


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As many of you know, there's a freaking million places to get customer reviews about anything. Needless to say, I pay more attention to restaurant review sites than most. As painful as it can be at times, I'm sort of duty bound to comb them to see what people are saying about my places. It can be humbling, satisfying, frustrating, and everything in between. As a matter of practice, I find that I have to put aside the fact that many people can be bitter a-holes hell bent on grandstanding and making a bigger deal than they should about a guy's livelihood. After all, vague dissatisfaction does not make as interesting a read as being the victim of abject failure on the part of a restaurant.


Ultimately, when I come across such a review, I need to worry more about what we could have done to avoid the meltdown rather than get annoyed that someone seems to be blaming me for all their life's woes.


At any rate, I digress. Besides the fact that people seem hell bent to polarize as much as possible, these reviews are limited in utility also by the fact that it seems every restaurant out there trends towards about the same amount of overall stars. In other words, you go to these sites looking for insight and walk away with the rather useless data that each restaurant in your area is capable of delivering total bliss, complete failure, everything in between, and all seem to do so at a rate that earns them a rating of "very good".


None the less, if you're gonna do it, go to Opentable. First off, the manner in which they gather their data is bound to give (at least places who use opentable which is growing pretty rapidly) a far larger sample size than others. Every time you dine using opentable, you are sent an e-mail request to rate the place. This, btw, also insures that the reviewer has, in fact, dined there which is another problem with on-line reviews. Reviews both good and bad can be nothing more than a friend or enemy of the restaurant owner making things up.


However, perhaps more important than the sheer number of reviews, the middle is better filled out. I find that places like Yelp or Urban spoon or City Search are filled with reviews written by people who were so elated or so pissed by their dining experience that they just had to run home and say something. Of course, there's those who just feel hell bent on reviewing each and every business they ever patronize (I noticed a guy who rated Dos Perros on Yelp also rated the local airport).


However, since Opentable diners are solicited, someone who had a nice enough or just below average experience might think, "What the hell" and knock out a quick review with their morning coffee. There's also not the culture of "celebrity" blogger mentality that seems to pollute the other sites so the reviewers aren't trying to earn fans by writing over sensationalized pap for effect. Just some person who likely dines out enough to have an idea of what is good and what isn't saying what they liked and what they didn't.


At any rate, FWIW

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