Hi, please

NBC is getting into restaurant reviews?

I’ve come across an option that I think look interesting, and I’d like to see what the class thinks:

It’s called Feast.  This restaurant review aggregator from NBC New York has just launched today.  According to Eater, it  ”has two main components— a restaurant news and video blog in the Eater/Grub Street/Fork in the Road/The Feed vein and a meta critic platform. The first part is straightforward; the second is where the bells and whistles come in. Kind of like a Rotten Tomatoes for the food world, the site’s algorithm takes in reviews from all over the web—from the Times reviews to blogger buzz—and spits out a number, ranking every restaurant in the city anywhere from Dicey to Epic.  Rankings change daily based on new reviews or buzz, and the heavy hitters like Sifton and Platt have a greater ability to move the needle than the little guys.”

As we’ve been discussing in class, algorithms are not the same as real social interaction.  Can a restaurant-reviewer-algorithm-number-cruncher actually reflect people’s opinions on restaurants?  Also, what is NBC doing getting into restaurant reviews, anyway?

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10 Comments

  1. Leslie 16:22, Feb 18th, 10

    Looks like a cool site. I agree with you though- seems weird for NBC to be getting into restaurant reviews. I wonder what spawned this idea? Also, I wonder if people will trust NBC to give out reliable reviews? It would be interesting to see how quickly (or slowly) people flock to use this new site. Sounds like an interesting topic to me!

  2. HoniehLayla 17:23, Feb 18th, 10

    I almost think this site might not be successful because it is backed by NBC making it too “commercial.” I wouldn’t necessarily use someone who is seen as a television network help make my choices on which cute french restaurant I would like to dine at tonight….

    Algorithms are definitely not in any way similar to social interaction, but it’s the closest computer calculation that could infer human behavior..

    I think testing the site out itself and seeing if it is accurate in its information would be a nice experiment.

    Actually back tracking and seeing if the information they are aggregating is accurate, produced in real time, etc.

  3. Alexandra 20:12, Feb 18th, 10

    @Leslie just to clarify, NBC isn’t actually doing the reviews themselves, they are aggregating other reviews that come from Yelp, NYT and NYMag reviews, etc and using an algorithm to rank them. Sorry, I guess I didn’t do a great job of making that clear! Nonetheless i think it’s kind of an odd field for a news organization to get into.

  4. Leslie 09:20, Feb 19th, 10

    ohhh ok gotcha- yea still odd for NBC to be doing, and people would still have to trust them concerning the restaurant industry, to a certain degree.

  5. mushon 09:18, Feb 20th, 10

    Interesting topic. Do you have a strategy to make sure the analysis you’re providing is based on your own research rather than aggregation of existing online critique?

  6. Ryan 14:40, Feb 20th, 10

    I think this is really interesting what they’re trying to do. I’m extremely curious how their algorithm calculates reviews. I’m thinking how do they account for the personal remarks. To me, the personal remarks justify the ratings, which in turn are really helpful to see what the person actually thought about it apart from just some number system. I think its a great idea to aggregate and consilidate all the data out there into one review site.

  7. Juliette 20:11, Feb 20th, 10

    I am very interested in your results as I love the restaurants in NY and use a lot NYmag for its restaurant review.

    But to make it more personnal I would recommend a different approach maybe based on the point of view of restaurants on all those websites.
    For instance do they pay a lot of attention to the load of websites that reference them? Do they watch their rank? Are they trying to have control over it in any way? and speaking about Feast are they aware of this new tool?

    Anyway I am definitely interested in Feast and would find really useful if it turned out to be a very relevant tool to pick the restaurant you are looking for among the gazillion of places offered by New York!

  8. Alexandra 18:07, Feb 21st, 10

    @Juliette I think you have asked some good questions, especially about the restaurant’s point of view, whether they are aware of this new site already and if they take it seriously.

    @Mushon In terms of my own research, I am thinking about covering this two different ways: checking out the ratings for restaurants in my neighborhood that I already go to often and asking diners about their opinions and experiences, AND talking to the restaurant’s management/servers/hosts to get their views on NBC’s Feast.

  9. ElzbthMllr 18:51, Feb 21st, 10

    I really like this idea. I think there is a lot to be learned about the increased desire for metrics for aggregating data online and I think doing an in-depth study of this site might be a good way to go about doing that. Good luck!

  10. DanJee 15:41, Feb 23rd, 10

    Very interesting. Algorithms to take into account all reviews from the web. I wonder how systematically sound the algorithm is and what they are using to evaluate these reviews. I know the for social media these machines can linguistically evaluate positive, neutral, or negative reviews, but reviews they are evaluating are often very short. Being that these reviews will involve long articles, I wonder how they are doing this. Or if they are using any specialized vendors who are capable of performing this.

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