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FEASTing on restaurant reviews

As I wrote in my previous post, I will be pursuing NBC’s new restaurant review aggregator/blog, Feast.  In future posts, I will conduct my research on how the site works by using places in the neighborhood where I live (Morningside Heights) as a test.  I plan to talk with restaurant-goers as well as restaurant management and servers to see if they’re aware of the site, whether it’s relevant to them, if they try to influence the ratings, etc.  For now, here’s an overview of what the site is and how it works:

Elements of the site

The site was founded by Ben Leventhal, the same guy who started Eater, a popular and renowned food blog.  Feast includes blog, maps, videos, photos, and a searchable database of restaurants.  Social media is also incorporated, allowing you to make your own list of preferred restaurants and see others’ lists as well.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/blogs/editor/2010/02/a-first-look-at-nbcs-feast.html#ixzz0gDQ7DgUD

Feast Rank

According to Broadcasting and Cable, “Feast features a scoring system that brings together a wide range of reviews, ratings and opinions and produces what it calls a definitive score known as the Feast Rank.”  The Epicurious post does note that Feast has not disclosed either the sources it aggregates from OR how the sources are rated.  Supposedly heavy-hitter critics like the NY Times’ Sam Sifton and New York Magazine’s Adam Platt have the ability to “move the needle” more than a Yelp review, but it is not clear by how much.

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  1. ElzbthMllr 10:31, Feb 22nd, 10

    This is very interesting stuff. I’ll be curious to see if you can learn anything about how the rankings are set. It’d also be interesting to rank your own views of certain restaurants against what others think. The tough point is I think so much of these kind of reviews are subjective, so I wonder to what extent it will be possible to standardize information, opinions etc. Also, it might be tough because this is a newer site. I think the benefit of these sites grow over time, when you have more and more reviews, so it’ll be interesting to watch this from the beginning.

  2. Leslie 12:52, Feb 22nd, 10

    As Elizabeth mentioned, it could definitely be a fun experiment to rank your reviews against others. Maybe do your review vs. Yelp vs. Feast? I feel like taking a restaurant on Yelp with a lot of reviews should lead to a fairly fair review of a restaurant. It would be interesting to see how that overall Yelp review compares to what Feast spits out.

    I wonder why Feast has chosen to not reveal where it aggregates its info from and how they score it? I feel like explaining this info would help to promote its legitimacy. Maybe for PR reasons they wanted to wait and reveal this at a later date, and the info will be given out soon? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

  3. Harris 13:33, Feb 23rd, 10

    They may have a right to keep their algorithm secret, but if there is a formula that can accurately translate diverse aspects of public opinion into solid ratings, I’d be extremely curious!
    Especially how it deals with restaurants that are only popular in or only cater to certain subcultures.