how do you use review sites?

i recently realized how much review sites have become a part of my daily life. there are sites specifically for books, for food, and for travel, and then there are retail sites and threads and forums. there are so many opinions swirling around on the internets that it can become a rabbit hole that i fall into without even realizing it.

this got me thinking about how we use review sites in our daily lives. whether it be reading what others have written before purchasing an item on amazon or determining your next dinner out based on what people have said on zomato, these sites have slowly begun taking over the world.

in some cases, such as tripadvisor or zomato, i sometimes use these sites to help me determine a place to stay, attractions in areas, or where i want to eat. and i actively participate in both of these. when i eat out, places get reviews on both sites. if i stay in a hotel during my travels, i write about it on tripadvisor. i use the opinions of others to help determine where i go and what i do, so it’s only fair to share my opinions as well. right? and with tripadvisor, adding reviews and photos earns me miles with jet airways, so i am definitely not going to miss out on that.

i also use goodreads on a regular basis to rate and review books and to see what my friends are reading. it automatically connects to my amazon account, so when i finish a book on my kindle it asks me to rate it on the site. and if i read a print book, i’ll go in myself and add a rating both on there and on amazon itself.

but it doesn’t stop with just adding rankings and reviews. for me, it is even more fascinating to read what others have written. some people get really into their reviews and write essays on why they loved or hated a product, service, or place. but you have to know to take it with a grain of salt — sometimes a person hates a place for a singular reason, such as getting a hair in their food at dinner. things happen. but other times, when multiple people post the same issue, you can see if the management responded and / or took action about the complaint.

and it is always interesting to see how my opinions compare to those of others. for example, where i really did not enjoy hotel du lac, it has a pretty good rating on goodreads, and a few of the people on there absolutely gush about it. on the flip side, a place like taste of tibet, which i love, has an average zomato rating of only 3.6 [and yes, i know there is a nostalgia factor. but that still seems like a low score].

i also enjoy comparing reviews between sites. for example, when i was booking accommodations for my upcoming trip to sri lanka, opinions on tripadvisor varied greatly from opinions on or makemytrip. similarly, a few books had low reviews on amazon but high reviews on goodreads, and vice versa. some restaurants had a great rating on zomato but only received mediocre ratings on tripadvisor. there are so many people using so many different sites to post their reviews and opinions that the waters get really murky after a time. one thing i like on tripadvisor is that you can filter results based on if you have a friend [or friend of a friend] who has reviewed the restaurant, hotel, attraction, etc that you are viewing. goodreads does the same for people you are friends with or people you are following, so you can see how people you know rated books you might be interested in.

and this is only the tip of the iceberg. there are hundreds of other sites out there that i don’t even know about, which is probably a good thing. and while it is great to have feedback on which rooms to ask for in a hotel or what time of year to visit a particular place, it is also sometimes really nice to read a book without knowing what anyone else thinks of it so that you can form your own opinion about it.

sometimes i am embarrassed at how much time i spend reading reviews that other people have written, but a lot of times it comes in pretty handy. tripadvisor was a gold mine during my 5-week road trip last summer, and amazon reviews come in handy when i am ordering something sight unseen that i have no previous experience with.

in the end, i enjoy using these sites to gather information, but i always try to be unbiased when experiencing something for the first time. just because someone else loved or hated a place does not mean my opinion is going to match up with theirs. but its always a good starting point.

how do you use review sites in your daily life? do you only read reviews, or do you write them as well?


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