I speak, here, metaphorically, of course. I don't really think Epinions.com is the devil, per se. It is definitely a devil, however. What makes it so evil is that it is an electronic community of would be critics-without-a-clue, striving to one-up each other in reviewing trivial products and dwelling on minutiae to the point of nausea. They divide themselves into these areas of emphasis such as electronics and travel and have created hierarchies of advisors and leads who jockey for the position of who can be the most obsequies to each other and abusive to innocent people who are new to the site and actually think the purpose of the site is to cite your experience with a product or business. Epinions.com confirms the adage that "opinions are like assholes, everyone has one." And many of the people who review other people's reviews at Epinions are.
I stumbled onto Epinions.com innocently enough. I like to travel. And there are lots of helpful sites out there like tripadvisor.com that allow you to review hotels and destinations. Basically you can read about people's experiences at a hotel before plunking down your credit card and staying at a dive. A reasonably intelligent person can weed out the reviews that are obviously written by a person with a bone to pick and those written by someone with useful information to share. This works fine with tripadvisor.com. You simply write a review, the check it over for nasty language and links to porn sites and then they post it. It's as simple as that. Not so with Epinions.com. Epinions.com is a community. An being a community, they have standards. So you can post a review there, but then the review is rated by "the community." It's not unlike a village stoning if you are new to the community and don't match the style of the "leads" or "advisors."
Do I sound bitter? Of course I sound bitter. I wrote one review of Disney's Grand Californian. It was a nice review. I liked the place. I didn't know they don't like nice simple reviews. Apparently these people don't really get out much and need much more information than the average person. I got these patronizing comments like, "I'd rate your review higher if you provided more detail such as was the room clean." Was the room clean? This was a Disney resort. Disney has a reputation of having six people swoop out of the bushes with brooms if you drop a gum wrapper. It would seem to me that a clean hotel room would be a given at a Disney resort. If it wasn't I probably would have stated that right up front. But what really galled me was that the same person wrote, "If you revise your review based on my suggestions, e-mail me and I'll reread it. Hang in there!" Okay, lady, I'm a professional writer. I don't need somebody who changes bed pans for a living patting me on the head and telling me to hang in there, that eventually I'll get a "very helpful" rating from a bunch of geeks who have risen to the top of the toilet bowl in a community of OCDs. I mean these people write reviews of paper shredders and Miller lite beer for god's sake. Believe it or not, when I'm not babbling on in this Blog, I get paid to write.
Okay, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I read some of their reviews to get an idea of what they thought was a helpful review. I have never seen such mindnumbing minutiae in my life. We're talking how many towels were in the John and how many parking stalls were in the parking lot. That's not a review, that's cataloging, people.
And you start seeing pattern. All of the regulars review each other's crap and then gush over each other. The only time I ever saw bad ratings was when some new reviewer made the mistake of writing a review. And sure enough they got the same comments, "Provide more detail and let us know. We'll read it again if you revise it to our standards." What are these people, "The Stepford Wives?"
Now, I'm not saying that everyone at Epinions.com is an obsessive compulsive pencil necked geek, but if the pocket protector fits, wear it.
I'm sticking to tripadvisor.com. They don't judge you there.
But that's just my opinion.