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Rating the Reviews, Reviewing the Ratings

November 28, 2008

We’ve had ratings and reviews available on Zenbu for over a year now. Recommendations are a natural part of everyday life – 

Where can I get some good Chinese takeaways around here?
Who is your dentist / plumber / hairdresser?

The ability to get feedback on an otherwise unknown business is extremely valuable. It is why good businesses flourish through word of mouth and bad businesses fail.

So it is with mixed feelings that we have just removed ratings and reviews from the site. I like the way this has reduced clutter in the page layout and I like the focus on the simple facts but I miss the potential that was offered by online reviews.

I simply wasn’t happy with the implementation or results. The uptake was slow and the signal to noise ratio was extremely low. Of 100 reviews 80 would be either the business owner posing as an employee to rave about themselves, or a slighted customer vehemently expressing their opinion. Now I do believe there is some minor value in both of these but it also leads us down the deep, dark rabbit hole of ‘editorial’, ‘owner’s right of reply’ & ‘libel’. Nasty.

There is beauty in the simplicity of Zenbu and the way it quickly provides you with the need to know factual details. That is something that we and our rapidly growing userbase definitely rates highly.


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