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Feast: Norms revisited

For this research update I thought I would revisit the norms from the previous post and give you an update on how they stacked up against what’s really going on out there.

Norm #1: There are those eaters who live and die by restaurant reviews and rankings and will only eat at places that are well-reviewed.  These people also tend to leave reviews and comments more frequently.  For this group, I’m guessing that they will actively check Feast Rank before they go out to eat, if nothing else than to see if they agree with the rankings.  Unfortunately, it is kind of a one-way street.  There isn’t a great way that I’ve found to say you disagree with a ranking.

Result: As far as I can tell from the comments on Feast, Eater and Twitter, Feast’s bravado about being “The first word and final score on New York’s restaurant scene” (from FeastNY’s Twitter bio) has not gone over well within the foodie community.  Some of the most common reactions were exasperation with the format of the blog, the secrecy and accuracy of the ranking system, and general overexposure to the endless conjecture and speculation about NYC restaurants.  Here are some excerpts from comments:

TommyT: No idea where the numbers come from, but just looking at the Momos, on what planet is Ma Peche currently better than Ssam Bar, and Noodle Bar a 47? It’s not as good as Frankies 457?

Ben (Leventhal): Appreciate the feedback – The Ma Peche rating is a bug and we’re fixing now. Won’t have an official score until it opens.

Kinkistyle: The site design is kind of a mess yet at the same time has zero character. The concept is interesting but I feel exasperated just looking at it.

Truffledballbag: The top rating is “Epic.” This is one of the lamest things I have seen in a long time. Who the hell OKed “Epic?” They should be disposed of. I will never look at the FEAST site again.

Anon: Just what this town needs: another half-baked blog rehashing the same news, and another half-baked listings search engine.  Please, someone, somewhere, someday: make it stop.

Anon: as self-referential as most of the foodie press is, this thing really takes the cake. they’re running updates about updates to their rankings? good luck with that in terms of winning over new readers.

Anon: Looks like a elementry school web design project. truly thought out over several beers and designed over several lines.

what ??? RE: Anon: Several beers and several joints

Nathalie: Great daily blog entries. The Feast Rankings are a f#@!*ng joke though. Whoever put this list together is completely out of touch and definitely not actually involved in eating at any of these establishments. Whatever “formula” you’re using seems to be based on randomness above all else. Why not do a listing rather than ranking…you’re clearly not doing the leg work.

Joe_Coffee_NYC Yet another list, this time on NBC‘s new Feastsite: http://tinyurl.com/yajmauy

kasekaiserina The layout of NBC‘s Feast blog makes my head want to explode. The rankings, endless numbers, it’s like Dungeons and Dragons for food, no?

EatingLA NBC‘s Feast site launches in L.A with @foodgps and Carole Dixon contributing. But what do those ratings mean?http://bit.ly/9f93dV

Norm #2: Other food blogs like EaterGrub Street and Diner’s Journal will probably start integrating Feast into their coverage since the food blogs tend to have a sort of incestuous relationship.

Result: Eater has linked to Feast twice so far.  Interesting considering Ben Leventhal, Eater’s founder, is also the top dog over at Feast.  You’d think they would be more integrated, but since technically they are competing I think they will end up keeping the cross-pollination to a minimum.  According to BlackBook:

“We wish Ben well in all of his endeavors,” says Joshua Albertson, Vice President of Sales and General Manager of Curbed. When asked if the coverage of Feast’s launch on Curbed-owned Eater didn’t seem a little, um, excited (i.e. “all the glorious details have been released”), Albertson counters, “I wouldn’t say excitement is the right word. Of course, we’re interested in what they’re doing. We’ll link to them when they’ve got something good, and I expect that they’ll do the same.”
Well sure, the internet is built on links, right? But isn’t it a tad confusing to have Leventhal commenting on Feast coverage on Eater using an official-looking Eater admin logo and log-in? “Nothing seems paradoxical about this from an ad sales point of view,“ says Albertson. “Feast isn’t the first competitor to Eater in this space and it won’t be the last.”

Norm #3: Some chefs have been known to vent on twitter when they are unhappy about a particular provider or have other restaurant-related grievances.  I wouldn’t be surprised if those who are already using twitter as their megaphone will complain (or celebrate) their Feast rank as it becomes more well-known.

Result: Unfortunately not too much to report on this one.  My sense is that the community is fairly skeptical about the whole thing and there are still acknowledged bugs in the ranking system (See Ben’s comment above re: Ma Peche).  Another quote from BlackBook:

“Real-time samplings of a thousand half-formed opinions are useful to political pollsters, but not necessarily to somebody trying to figure out whether it’s going to be Motorino or Maialino after the show. It’s hard to see why it would be any more reliable than Yelp or Citysearch, which to me are most useful when it, because you can follow specific commenters, functions most like a regular review,” says Jonathan Gold, the former New York critic for Gourmet magazine who went West to LA and on to become the first food writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

As for our experiment with Hungarian Pastry Shop, please post a positive review on Yelp if you have not yet!  At my last update, there were 107 reviews and there are now 111.  Still no ranking on Feast.

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5 Comments

  1. ElzbthMllr 14:50, Mar 5th, 10

    This is all very interesting. Have you figured out the connection between NBC and Feast? It seems totally random that they’d be doing this site, so I’m curious if you’ve figured out anything there. I spent a bit of time on the website and I have to agree with some of the above reviews of the site. I think it’s really confusing, poorly organized and just generally not very user friendly. I wonder how much it will catch on, is there any info on the websites traffic over its first few weeks?

  2. HoniehLayla 16:04, Mar 5th, 10

    A -

    I LOVED THIS COMMENT:

    Anon: Just what this town needs: another half-baked blog rehashing the same news, and another half-baked listings search engine. Please, someone, somewhere, someday: make it stop.

    I really want to know what the relationship between NBC and the Foodie community is. What compelled NBC to create such a site.

    Also, why would they find a need to create ANOTHER aggregator, to just rehash, relist, compilate, etc etc a bunch of reviews.

    If there was RICH, UNIQUE, NEW CONTENT… then I would consider it a success. I feel as though sometimes these such are just recycling more and more old content from the web.

  3. Ryan 16:49, Mar 5th, 10

    I think they have an interesting idea, however, poorly implemented. Still, I would think that people still trust sites like Zagat, Yelp, Citysearch, Restaurant.com, and others. I agree with Elizabeth, what is the relationship with NBC and Feast? If you could find out more about the inner-workings between the two would be very insightful. It’s almost like Feast is trying to separate them self from the pack of other restaurant review sites by stealing/taking the reviews and coming up with the grading system based on the reviews of other sites and integrating them onto one site – Feast.
    Also, I checked to see what ranking Feast gave Mamoun’s Falafel and it got a 62. Now, I don’t know to what scale they are using, but that place always has people and the price for a falafel sandwich is amazing. Personally, I’d rather read reviews than a number grade.

  4. Leslie 20:04, Mar 6th, 10

    I enjoyed the comment Honieh mentioned, as well. Why did NBC think it necessary to make an aggregator for food sites? What did they think they were going to do better than what was already out there? Did they just think b/c they could slap “NBC” on it that it would automatically make people trust/want to use their site?

    I am surprised by how upset people seem to be about Feast! Did anyone have anything good to say about the site?? There seems to be good reason to be upset, though. I’m not sure I particularly like their little motto that you mentioned is in their Twitter bio, since they are just aggregating other sites’ reviews.

  5. Harris 06:23, Mar 7th, 10

    I have a crush on whoever said this:

    “Real-time samplings of a thousand half-formed opinions are useful to political pollsters, but not necessarily to somebody trying to figure out whether it’s going to be Motorino or Maialino after the show.”

    I would rather rely on a friend or a trusted blogger’s personal opinion than a mathematical formula. It is a better experience even if you don’t like the restaurant, in fact, especially if you want to argue with your friend about it when you go home :)
    Humans do not behave rationally, and mathematical algorithms cannot measure the experience of going to a restaurant.

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