Comment rating system [Site]

2009 Jun 1
This evening I set up a rudimentary rating system for comments. The need for this capability has become increasingly great. Currently, only "Gold" members are able to vote -- I hope that makes sense to you. Similar to the thumbs up/down system, votes can be for or against.

Comments will now have the following labels:

* Questionable: At least one gold user flagged this as inappropriate
* Inappropriate: Several gold users flagged this as inappropriate
* none: Good to go!

An "Inappropriate" message will be shown in almost-white text so as to de-emphasize its content.

I'll be watching for hiccups but feel free to let me know if you notice any yourself. I sincerely hope this feature will minimize the need to comment on the integrity of others' comments.

2009 Jun 1
Sounds good

2009 Jun 1

2009 Jun 1
Excellent; that seems like an excellent way of managing the content without going overboard. I hope it works out properly.

2009 Jun 1
i like this. there has definitely been an influx of fly-by-night reviews making some pretty harsh accusations.

-how many votes does it take before the actual review/comment is tagged with "inappropriate"?
-how do you tell if you're a gold user? (this used to be shown in the forum)

re: ollie's -1, i know he/she has long been a critic of the rating system as it factors in the number of favourites/friends in addition to reviews posted. perhaps Fresh Foodie could incorporate the # of forum posts into a users rating to reflect their tenure?

2009 Jun 1

I like this concept. I'm not a fan of the rating system, and I agree that it should be more balanced, including things like forum posts and comments. For example, I have the utmost respect for Marc Lepine and Kevin Matheson, but they have only made one comment each, yet because they have so many favourite foodies, they are both gold members. I guess what I'm saying is that it's not truly representative of one's participation, but rather in part a popularity contest.

fresh foodie have you ever considered having a fifth status, for vendors? If someone like Kevin wanted to open a personal account, he could, but then he could also use OF for communicating and listening to what his clients have to say. It's Monday, so if this isn't well thought out on my part, sorry!

2009 Jun 1
I like it too - but how do I get to gold? I've been participating for a while, mostly in forums. But I'm not a fan favorite so my status remains at silver :(
OK I can live with this, but it would be nice to know that people who contribute on a regular basis would be able to participate in the site regulation too.

2009 Jun 1
I do agree that a vendor tag might be useful. As much as I might appreciate what a vendor might say, their promenence ought not give them the automatic ability to put the integrety of comments into question. Such a tag would also permit us to addess the vendors in a more direct and productive fashion.

2009 Jun 1
Neat! I went right to Simply Biscotti but see the comment I was thinking of has already been marked as inappropriate.

I agree that there should be a vendor tag. What's the formula behind gold/silver/bronze/newbie anyway? Or is it secret, like Google's pagerank? ;)

2009 Jun 1
I'll become a fan of you sourdough if you read a book on home canning and tell us whether or not you learned anything from it :-)

2009 Jun 1
doh! now you're making me work for it.

2009 Jun 1
The formula isn't entirely secret, Pam. My understanding is that it's based partially on participation, but largely on how many favourites you have (and in turn, how many favourites your favourites have).

So, for example, Kevin and Stephanie from Art-is-in have made one post. But they have five favourites, all of whom in turn have a lot of people favourite-ing them. So, in other words, there is a level of legitmacy to their profile, because the people who favourite them are obviusly well-liked and respected in the community (except for that Momomoto guy, I heard he went to Western...yikes). Anyway, because of this, they are ranked as gold, whereas Sourdough (who has one favourite at this point, but way more reviews) is a silver.

IMHO, the balance of the rating system hasn't been achieved, but I know that this is something that Fresh Foodie has been working on...

One of the advantages of the vendor rating is that it separates work from play. Kevin and Stephanie posted their experience at Oz Kafe a few weeks ago, and while it's a well-written review and has nothing negative to say about the restaurant, in other cases there could be opportunities for cross-marketing.

2009 Jun 1
So... I should try make people my favourite and I should favourite others just so I can vote? =)

2009 Jun 1
Not the only reason, IMHO. I have my favourites because I like to keep tabs on certain people (pete-in-ottawa...ahem). Also, because it's a good way to say, "hey, I respect you!"...

2009 Jun 1
Nor mine... I'm mainly on this site to give reviews and to see where I should go to eat next! p.s. what is the etiquette for talking to people who are from OF? For example, I'm at the Landsdowne Market every Sunday, and I work at Casa Nicastro for fun on the weekends, and have run into some of you guys... e.g. Spud Guy at the market and Pan Bagnat who I made a sandwich for on Sat =) What's the scoop?

2009 Jun 1
Re: getting to know your fellow foodies...

I don't really know of there being much etiquette. I've gone for lunch with Pete-In-Ottawa a few times now (just as a spur of the moment kind of thing).

SweetTooth, who works at the Candy Store in Westboro yelled at me as I walked in one day "you're Lady Who Brunches". That was just strange.

I like to make it known that I know you...he heh heh. But I don't go out of the way to do so, I guess.

2009 Jun 1
wow wow wow Pete layin the mack down!

you just confirmed my suspicions that he is the definitive Ottawa Foodies PLAYA. dude has a bevy of women on his favourites list!

2009 Jun 1
"re: ollie's -1, i know he/she..."

Are you implying that you've met a female "ollie" before? ;)

Sorry to be "that guy" but the user rating system is little more than a popularity contest. Cliquey-ness is just about the opposite of what I consider a good community to be all about.

I'll also mention again that I think most members here have enough discretion to see the good from the bad. I can't imagine anyone taking most of the "one and done"-rs very seriously at all.

I still like this place though. :)

2009 Jun 1
HAHA Pete is DEFINITELY the resident Ottawa Foodies PLAYA. Don't tell his wife and kids though :)

I'm never sure if people recognise me or not. I'm definitely open to real-life encounters with other Foodies though!

Maybe anyone who shows their face at an OF meetup should get a 'Gold' rating (do you like how I brought us back on topic? Oh yes.)

2009 Jun 1
Interesting concept re: the rating system - it could be worthwhile to implement a similar system with the forum.

People I've seen/recognized from OF, usually while kicking around town buying groceries, getting coffee, etc: Pam, LWB, Mousseline, Da Butcher, SweetTooth, FF... and I think that's it!

2009 Jun 1
ollie, you're right about the user rating system being nothing more than a popularity contest. But it's the only measure we have and it seems to be fairly reliable. A one-off poster who is abusive and borderline illiterate is not going to have many fans, whereas someone who provides constructive content or is recognized as a professional will quickly acquire fans. The approach isn't perfect but I honestly can't think of a better one aside from benevolent dictatorship. The only improvement I can think of is to ignore number of comments completely and go entirely with number of fans but that would make it even more of a popularity contest (probably an ideal situation for the site and its content but perhaps less ideal from the perspective of those who are not so trusting of popularity).

I don't think there's anything inherently cliquey about the user ratings. I have only rarely seen people using their user rating as a platform to talk down to others, and while I hate to see that happen, I consider it an unavoidable price to pay for improved quality of content.

You're also right about most members here having enough discretion to see the good from the bad and ignore the one-post ranters. My job would be easier if we could leave it at that but the audience of this site reaches far beyond the contributing membership. A little bit of censorship can go a long way to maintaining the high quality of content we've become accustomed to seeing here. Also, when people perceive an injustice they feel the need to act. Previously, this action has taken the form of comments defending the vendor or slamming the poster. With the comment rating system those comments are replaced by a simple button-click that reduces the noise in the comment section and provides a deterrent for future similar posts.

Pam, I keep the user and comment rating algorithms a little bit secret because doing so makes it harder to circumvent -- and of course it's subject to change at any time. I'm pretty open about the factors being used but I avoid giving actual numbers.

re: tagging certain users as vendors. It's a cool idea, but it sounds like it could be an administrative nightmare. How do vendors prove to me that they are who they say they are? Maybe easy if their email address is the same as the restaurant's website but what if they're or something? I think the active vendors here have been doing a fantastic job of responding to comments users have had and I don't necessarily think that giving them a label would improve their ability to do that. I'm not a big fan of elitism, which is why you don't see "admin" under my name here and why you probably won't see "vendor" under anyone else's name. If enough users deleted me from their favourites I would lose my "gold" user status just like anyone else. I know this paragraph is kind of all over the place but at least you know what I'm thinking. ;-)

Thanks for your feedback everyone!

2009 Jun 1
Chimichimi, I don't think I've met you, so please do say hi next time you see me around! That goes for anyone else too -- it's fun to mix up "real" and online worlds.

2009 Jun 1
FF - we have not met, I will make sure to say hello next time!

2009 Jun 1
how are people recognizing other users in public when they dont have actual photos of themselves in their profile?

mental image of what chimi and Da Butcher look like -->

i did at one time have a photo of myself, but i thought it might be in my best interest to take it down. Pete-in-Ottawa might have started asking me out for lunch dates! ;)

2009 Jun 1
LWB - I have no comeback for your Western slagging. ;)

And clearly I should be posting as an actual picture of myself, just so Ottawa Foodies I haven't met face-to-face yet know what the heck I look like. (Or maybe it's time for another trip to Pub Italia?)

2009 Jun 1
Monty - I guess you've seen Da Butcher's van, then, haven't you? It's eerily similar to what you posted.

2009 Jun 1
*pub italia, pub italia*. seriously. i only know what momomoto looks like because one of us added the other to facebook (only after much kujoling on the part of sweettooth), and i can safely say that his profile picture isn't quite a spitting image of the real deal.

the western slagging is only because i grew up there. if i was from ottawa, i'd go to western. and then move back to ottawa.

i dunno. i'd be interested in planning some sort of meetup. were there such things once upon a time?

2009 Jun 1
works for me boss

2009 Jun 2
I've been to two "meetups" (screening of the film Waitress and a small night at Pub Italia), but any subsequent attempts to organise something have largely fallen by the wayside (see cabane a sucre road trip thread). I'm definitely up for another Pub Italia night, someone just name the date/time (erm...not June 18 to 23...I'll be in Seattle).

2009 Jun 2
And yes, I must append every sentence with a parenthetical statement (heh).

2009 Jun 2
Pam: I use parentheses so often that I made a note of it in my profile (not that anyone looks at that thing).

Anyone else game? Perhaps a new thread would be best...

2009 Jun 2
I doth protest Brunchlady and Pam. And Monty.. when did you want to go for lunch?

2009 Jun 2
Hey. I'm not the one who called you a mack. Dare I say you cause more trouble with the waitresses?

2009 Jun 2
All this talk makes me think I need to post more in the forum and fewer reviews! :)

2009 Jun 2
Why you can get a date with Pete too? ;)

2009 Jun 2
"I don't think there's anything inherently cliquey about the user ratings."

Only in the sense that the rating is determined by popularity. Anyway, glad you took my comments for what they were: feedback. I'm not in any way trying to undermine the system.

"Currently, only "Gold" members are able to vote -- I hope that makes sense to you. Similar to the thumbs up/down system, votes can be for or against."

How about opening it up to Silver members as well? That makes more sense to me since everyone is allowed to use the thumbs up/down system.

2009 Jun 2
I will do my part by adding you as a favourite, Ollie, in the hope that you'll get a gold rating and be able to cast your vote without having to change Mark's programming ;)

2009 Jun 2
Well lunch would be awesome. But sometimes I just go through periods where I forget all about posting my reviews and contributing. lol.

2009 Jun 2
To keep Ollie company, i'll reiterate my aversion (from last yr?) to the olympic-style ranking system in effect here. But, again, like Ollie, its difference in opinion feedback, not (deep) criticism or personal attack.

Personally, I don't mind the proposed "rudimentary" comment ranking system as much, but wonder (off the top of my head) whether the system would benefit from some basic criteria to mitigate against an increase in "noisy" inappropriate rankings? I'd just as soon see flagrant "spam" as a sharp increase in posts that are flagged-as-inappropriate for reasons that may be personal in orientation. Spam often (not always) takes less effort to detect (and ignore), imo, and as long as its ignored, it floats to the bottom faster.

Monty: hahaha ....

2009 Jun 3
Way to undermine the system Momomoto! ;)

2009 Jun 3
Fresh Foodie I know you mentioned this is a rudimentary system but would you consider opening up the voting system to silver and bronze members eventually? Newbies and one-time posters still wouldn't be able to vote until they get a medal so we could still screen out rants. I joined this site mostly to participate in the chit chat and also for the reviews so adding friends falls by the wayside. (I am also not a big fan of this friend thing since I feel it's too much of a popularity contest but that's just my opinion.) Just a suggestion...

2009 Jun 3
monty- haha thats hilarious! That does look like my van!! Ive since had a haircut from the time of photo.

momo- My hippy wagon got sold last summer :(

2009 Jun 3
Jeffery, when did you and Scott take a road trip? :)

2009 Jun 3
Mousse - we never got out together, though we both did some solo foraging! Reminds me, I should drop off some gifts for you ;)

2009 Jun 3
mousseline, your calling people by their real name kind of just blew my mind... i'm not used to the real world and the internets meeting. it's very discombobulating

2009 Jun 4
Mousseline & LWB - Just my 2 cents... I didn't get the comment at first... thought it was some sort of insiders joke (infact it still might be).

Ok, I may be old school, but when it comes to using Members real names here on OF (or in any on-line community) I am totally against that... people maintain their privacy on-line for whatever reasons they choose (otherwise they wouldn't have a User Name, they'd use their real name that they use in the 3-D world). Revealing one's true identity to another member is an "act of trust", afterall lets face it not everyone on the internet is who or what they say, and stalkers and those up to no good, can see us, without us seeing them... I think we should do more to be aware of that... knowing someone's true name is a privledge, not a right, and certainly not something to be taken lightly or bandied about carelessly. Especially, in light of the fact that we know many members here are sharing with us openly while at the same time attempting to keep their personal lives seperate from their professional lives. Hopefully, we can respect that.

2009 Jun 4
Yeah, I'm with F&T - proper netiquette is to use people's handles, even if you know their real names

2009 Jun 4
I agree with Winnifred and Igor.

...although I do prefer to use real names in private messages.

2009 Jun 4
And then there are those losers who don't have cool internet handles...

2009 Jun 4
one never knows...Pam could be the handle for someone who adores cooking spray. but i doubt it :(

i mean, i sort of know some of your names from looking at profiles, but if you haven't revealed your name, that says to me perhaps you don't want it revealed...all said, i agree with FF that the private is private and as such using a user's real name in a private message isn't sooooo bad.

2009 Jun 4
Believe you me, Pam, I have great regret as a result of my internet handle! ;)

2009 Jun 4
Yup, I'm another loser who put down the first thing that came to mind when asked to come up with a "handle". I just wanted to take a look around - who knew I was joining a community? If only I'd taken the time to come up with a catchy handle, I'm sure I would've achieved that exalted gold status by now. :-)

But to come back to the topic at hand... it's reasonable that a community has some leaders (elders?) who try to ensure that community standards are maintained. The traditional approach in online communities is for the owner/head honcho to appoint a few folks as such, and give them the necessary additional privileges to deal with miscreants. I can understand why FF would not want to go that route, though. Using the rating system is not ideal, as popularity does not necessarily equate with having good judgement and being community-minded, but most likely it will work out just fine.

2009 Jun 4
Well, to anyone who I've offended by calling them by their name instead of their 'handle': sorry. Other places I hang out this is common practice, IF the person has their name clearly stated in their profile or if everyone knows what their real name is anyhow.

I'll remember in the future not to do that here.

Edited to add: First name only of course! I've never hung out anywhere where you'd call someone their first and last name. That would be ridiculously formal anyhow. :p

2009 Jun 4
Ah, internet.

It is a personal preference for a lot of people to not have their actual names mentioned, and I can appreciate the desire to keep some separation between real world and Ottawa Foodies World.

(You guys can call me by whichever. It's fine with me. I'll do my utmost to keep myself from using the names of people who want to keep them private.)

2009 Jun 4
Adding on to Momomoto's comment. It's not really about privacy from other foodies, it's about privacy from the Google's of the world (and the people at the other end of those nefarious queries). I don't think it's wrong to think that it's 'ok' not to have my every comment that I've ever muttered attached to a digital logbook with my name on it. I once mentioned this to CitizenRon (I think he has a new handle now), where I'm fine giving out my name, if someone thinks I'm hiding behind my handle, via a personal message, but I think it is perfectly respectable to use a pseudonym for everyday chatter. Speaking of respectable, has anyone noticed that almost every phrase on this site can be googled (and found), but that some forum topics don't respond to googling? For example, grab the first sentence from most forum topics, and that forum is the first hit; but grab the first sentence (or other random sentences) from the recent O.J. forum topic, and zippo, nada, nothing! Time to put our tinfoil hats on?

2009 Jun 4
Sorry to anyone who was offended. Chimi is on my facebook and I'm accustomed to using his actual name about half the time. Da Butcher has met several others from OF so I didn't think of it at all at the time, I was just really amused by the photo and
Monty's comment....

BTW, I have mentioned it before in another topic, but "Hi, my name's Teri."

2009 Jun 4
once and future

i've had a few in chatrooms mostly soulsearcher
but they were all followed by 9962
here I just wanted something quick
I agree with Pete in many ways
mostly I hate being Googled

and if you really want to know me, it can happen
just gotta PM me

2009 Jun 5
Actually, that reminds me. Chimi, I should add you on Facebook some time soon. I will MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

2009 Jun 5
Yeah sure, I'll add you now!

2009 Jun 7
Anyone seeking background on this can refer to the thread on the introduction of the Gold/Silver/Bronze ratings at

Same discussion really, and concerning the clique-y-ness (aka. popularity-contest) aspect of the rating system, its interesting to note that both threads degraded into the "popular" contributors making plans to go for food/drinks.

I stand by my initial comments on that old thread concerning the rating system - basically that the integrity of comments themselves should be rated by the community instead of the the popularity of the user that posted them.

2009 Jun 7
And to undermine my own lack of support for the user-ranking system, I just added fellow dissenters Ollie and Itchy Feet as favourites of mine...

Good times..

2009 Jun 7
The way I see it, if you care enough about this site to express dissent about the user ranking system, then you certainly meet my qualifications for being able to rate comments. And anyway, you're now achieving popularity in your anti-clique clique -- it's no different from what everyone else is doing! :-)

2009 Jun 7
EVERYONE is welcome to go for food/drinks...hence "OttawaFoodies" I might mention that neither time did any actual meetups happen :P Apparently we're all talk, no walk.

2009 Jun 7
I think it is a really good idea to monitor the integrity of comments and I have used the thumbs up/down or favourites rarely--mainly because I'm not very computer/internet savvy. Also I can go for a some time without commenting at all when I am busy with work or home projects. Do appreciate all others efforts (especially FF). Again there have seemed to be some downright nasty postings recently, and I would prefer to know if others deem them inappropriate.

2009 Jun 8
bwc - I do not understand your animosity towards social groups, since that is essentially what Ottawa Foodies is. You say that you think comments should be rated on integrity, but I was not aware that comments could have integrity. People (who make comments) can have integrity, and how better to evaluate that integrity than to meet them in person? I'm not sure how a discussion about the reliability of a Foodie's comments or reputation is somehow foreign from the idea of meeting them in person.
Of course, anything I say is not to be believed, as I belong to the dreaded cabal that encouraged people to actually meet in person.

2009 Jun 8
@Pete-in-Ottawa: +1

2009 Jun 8
I have some questions regarding the rating system and the Gold members who label a comment "Inappropriate" or "Questionable".

Is there a rule that the Gold member must have actually visited the restaurant before labelling the comment?

Is reviewing a comment similar to reviewing the restaurant? What if the restaurant is truly bad and all of the reviews become labelled as "Questionable".

Is this becoming a review system on top of another review system? (are we reviewing a person's ability to comment? Some people may not be able to express themselves in writing as well as others and their comments come out sounding harsher than they might have wanted..)

Is this system to protect Ottawa Foodies from a slander lawsuit?

2009 Jun 8
My understanding of the "mark as questionable" button for Gold members is that it's to be used to distinguish comments that have very little basis (ie. evidence, details from the users visit) or could be shills, from those which are clearly not.

For example, one comment that has been recently marked questionable was for Jak's Kitchen:

The (new) user stated this "terrible service, awkward layout, way overpriced portions, never going back".

What makes this questionable to me is the user didn't state any details, but rather made gross generalizations about things that are usualy very subjective. Had the user said that the waitress was rude when asking for the bills to be split, or the narrow spaces between seats were difficult for both servers and customers, or that two strips of bacon on a two egg breakie was unreasonable, then perhaps this review would have more clout. The fact that the reviewer is new is something that I factor secondary, especially if they make several comments.

Just as it's possible to mark a review as questionable, other Gold members can mark it as appropriate. So, if Fresh Foodie thinks that, no, this review is rather reasonable and fair, he can tag is appropriate, as can any other Gold member.

I hope this makes sense...

2009 Jun 8
witchypoo: i don't think it's intended to be used to challenge/dispute legitimate reviews, but rather to point out ones that are a) fake, slanderous, no basis b) shills from owners/employees

2009 Jun 8
PIO, i won't speak for BWC and not to drag this into a pedantic discussion, but integrity is often used to describe inanimate / non-people things, inc. systems, data, collections of thoughts, etc. I think when people refer to the integrity of comments, they're thinking about its "truthi-ness", consistency, its internal logic, its capacity to be judged without reference to the person that submitted it. That's how i read BWC's (and other's) intent.

Second, and still not speaking for BWC, i didn't detect overt hostility toward social groups in his post(s). Perhaps his use of the word "degraded" suggested this? The semantics of that word aside, i read his take on this as observational, less than hostile. I didn't get the sense he was saying getting together is bad ... just that it was interesting how the thread "degraded" (evolved / devolved / turned) into a social planning event.

To speak to a point i think you're raising (perhaps not directly), i don't see any necessary relationship between one's sociability in the "real world" and the critique I (and others) raised, in a very soft (and ever softening) way, re. the social ranking system in effect here.

(Edit: i made a couple slight refinements to the above in the past couple minutes ... darn work distractions!)

2009 Jun 8
@ Pete:
I guess that there is some confusion concerning what is striving to be, and the role that user contributions play in achieving that. The question, as I see it, is whether it is intended to be an "information resource" concerning food and restaurants in Ottawa, or whether it is an "online community" of individuals who talk about food and restaurants in Ottawa.

The value that I personally find in ottawafoodies is as the former (information resource), and thus would prefer that efforts to build reliability and trust into that information be based directly on the content itself. I think that a "did you find this review helpful" style of system does a better job of supporting positive contributions, and shading negative ones. That way, it doesn't matter who wrote it - just what is said.

I also recognize that it isn't up to me.

There is value in the "online community" aspect of the site. Totally great, and totally useful. Creating grades of users based on "favourites" and popularity is a great way to support this - but it is not the same thing as curating the information on the site.

Also nothing wrong with meeting in person. I wasn't trying to sound hostile at all (itchy feet's interpretation was spot on).

2009 Jun 9
Don't worry itchy feet, I don't think we need to make this discussion podantic. I recognize yours and bwc's goals, and think they are quite laudable, I just disagree that they are likely to be attainable given the format and resources available to OF. It's difficult to run a site without some form of policing, and I think FreshFoodie ( technically I can't speak for him..) would rather not spend all of his time moderating comments. As for the mechanism.. I'm not sure I semantically see the difference between 'did you find this helpful', versus 'mark as questionable' as both seem to be working towards the same ends. I think your concerns about the favourite list being used to rate gold/silver/bronze status are quite valid, but it's an imperfect system for a difficult problem. I think in fact that newer users ( 1 year old ) are at a disadvantage, as the favouriting system popularity seems to go in cycles. I believe most of the people who favourited me, (or who I favourited) did so long ago... perhaps they regret that now, but just not enough to unfavourite me. Ultimately, I don't believe that all comments can be purely judged on their own merit (as you suggest) and that knowing the context of the user is valuable. I would be much more likely to trust a bad review, of a restaraunt I like, if it came from someone who I believe is trustworthy. A great example are the current 'one time' posters for sushi places. First someone says it's good.. then someone says it's terrible. Grammar and writing ability aside, I can honestly say I don't believe a word either one says, not because there is some inherent lack of integrity of their words, but my lack of trust in the reviewer's sincerity. I apologize to both of you (itchy/bwc) for the length of this post.. I had a coffee and a donut in front of me that distracted me from the clock...

2009 Jun 9
hi PIO, i didn't mean to suggest context, inc. knowing something about the individual's posting history, can't be useful in judging the merits of a comment. In practical, every-day terms, its something we do all the time, and that's the role the user's history plays for me (more than his/her ranking) and even more important, previous comments from other users (the whole crowdsourcing aspect). Nonetheless, sometimes ideas / comments (etc.) can be judged for their "integrity", and there are people who look to internal logic first -- that's the more narrow (and i guess, pedantic / philosophical) point i'm responding to.

And yes, i'm completely at ease w/ the idea that FF requires some sort of system, however imperfect, for his administration -- i've said this before, as others have, no arguments on that. Also, no counters to the idea (not raised by you, but "out there") that this is FF's site & he's free to do whatever he wants! Even more important, i'd be among the first to acknowledge that constructing and implementing said system is a far more difficult job than deconstructing / critiquing them, and for me, in a lot of cases, imperfect pragmatism trumps pedantry. If FF had added them as features to the system w/ no request for feedback, i'd probably never have said a word. And frankly, having stated my case last year, i barely think about it now: its just part of the water we're swimming in here.

So, even if i have suspicions about the underlying logic, I have no deep commitment to subverting FF's system, no bigger "goals" at stake here. i'm primarily compelled to respond on the topic now is to keep people company as a reminder that there's more than one "dissenter", and to respond to what i "detected" (perhaps foolishly) as false correlations or assumptions bubbling just below the surface in these threads, e.g., people who critique the "community" or "sociability" ranking systems are themselves asocial.

As to the topic that started this thread, FF's implementation of the "questionable" feature, i simply asked if there's some basic criteria we can all refer to? Again, if FF simply wanted to implement his own criteria, i'd have no issue (in a practical sense). But, as it stands right now, i'd be a bit baffled if i had signed up for a new account, wrote an honest (albeit critical) review, see it marked as questionable but have no place to turn to understand the rationale. (I do acknowledge attempts by LWB, Tiana, etc. to draw out newbie posters.)

Lastly, no one should ever feel compelled to apologize to me for the length of their posts! :-)

2009 Jun 17
Now that I have seen this in operation, I must say that I support the results whole-heartedly. It seems to be working out appropriately in my opinion.

2009 Jun 17
My thoughts exactly Jagash

2009 Aug 27
Question about the 'questionable' button: Does one have to give their reasons *why* something is questionable? I mean, obviously if I go along marking everything as questionable, then my participation in this forum is questionable.

But, Shag Me raised an interesting comment in the DiVino Wine Studio, asking the person who flagged Bon Vivant's review as questionable to out themselves and explain why it was questionable.

In this instance, I could see how, after bonvivant's comments on the Urban Pear were marked questionable, that someone else could look at the DiVino comments and flag them: They are a bit vague, as is bonvivant's review of Metropoltain, which has also been flagged.

Originally, I think the flagging system was designed so that we needn't have bickering matches in the reviews section and that we could keep things to the forum. However, the point brought about by Shag-a-delic (sorry, it's Pete's fault it's so catchy) would cause a re-emergence of this sort of thing, and removes any sort of anonymity of the user who flagged it (I don't know if Fresh Foodie intended it to be anonymous or not)...

Anyone else care to comment/speculate?

2009 Aug 27
i marked bonvivant's review as Appropriate (which removed the 'Questionable' flag)

the review is bad. if it had stopped at "one of the most over-rated restaurants in town", then yes i'd say it might be deserving of a Questionable rating. however bonvivant has noted his/her reasons for the poor review, and has been twice. he/she also has numerous other reviews.

stand by my comments earlier in the thread re: the Questionable flag "i don't think it's intended to be used to challenge/dispute legitimate reviews, but rather to point out ones that are a) fake, slanderous, no basis b) shills from owners/employees"

2009 Aug 27
yeah, i only saw it after that business, and I agree with monty that although it was a bad review, i would not have marked it as questionable myself

2009 Aug 27
Wow.. I was really confused by that. bonvivant's review was marked appropriate, but Shag-a-delic's was marked questionable. Is it questionable to ask if it's questionable? ;-)

I did not mark that one as questionably, but I will out myself regarding the other two reviews bonvivant gave for UP, and Metropolitan, which I DID mark as inappropriate. The reason for UP was simply that the review did not review the restaurant. The reason for the Metropolitan one was related to the comments about the steak tartare being the same as the hamburger (duh?), but not cooked. Unless bonvivant works in the kitchen (or maybe knows someone who did), I expect it would be pretty hard to make that statement with any reliability... and thus was speculation reported as fact. If bonvivant does/did work in the kitchen, then it's a shill posting. I just don't understand people who feel the need to make up ( I use this term loosely, as what they say may be true..) information about how a food item must have been treated in the kitchen, when they could just simply say "I've enjoyed steak tartare at many places, several in Ottawa, and this product did not meet the standard of quality I've come to expect from this normally delicious dish" I find that when a review speculates on how or why a food is not what they expect ( by God, the kitchen must have been infested with mongooses to produce a food that tasted like that! ) they are not doing a service to the validity of their otherwise reasonable opinion of just not being satisfied with the food.

2009 Aug 27
Wasn't me either.

But, I agree with Pete-in-Ottawa on the other two Bonvivant Reviews (particularly the one for Urban Pear, which has been discussed elsewhere at length... A critique from streetside is NOT a Review). And I too had some issues with the Hamburger / Steak Tartare comment (like how would anyone know what went on in the kitchen?). But I didn't take any action on it, figuring like Pete did that technically steak tartare and hamburger are one in the same... now whether the kitchen staff actually broke down a preformed hamburger patty that is difficult to know.

As for the particular Review on DiVino Wine Studio... it started out poorly, but improved in that there was enough info (although I would have preferred even more) to back up the comments.... hence I didn't have any issue and therefore didn't take any action. What I will do though, is go back to DiVino's for another visit and compare notes against my previous visits (that happened when they first opened). So interesting enough a Good Review can promote others to visit, but also sometimes can a Bad Review (curiosity).

LWB - As for the purpose of the "Questionable / Inappropriate" button, I see it similar to Monty's interpretation... (a) Fake, Slanderous, No Bias or (b) Shills. Where things get a bit iffy of course will be deciding "when" something is Questionable... BUT I also believe that most Gold Members have been around long enough to just sort of know by their gut when something just doesn't jive... of course in the case of DiVino's I'm also willing to take on the task of Researcher. LOL


2009 Aug 27
so if my 'appropriate' trumped Pete's 'questionable' - shouldn't i have a PLATINUM rating or something? Fresh Foodie?


2009 Aug 27
Now Monty.... don't go spreading tales. I already said I did not label that one questionable, and most of you guys know that I'd own up to it if I did. On the other hand, if you trump my rating, maybe you get downgraded to bronze instead ;-)

Seriously though, the questionable rating works pretty good as far as I'm concerned... in that the 'appropriate' votes count against the 'questionable' votes so singular opinions of gold members cannot adversely colour the reviews. Now normally I'd be totally against a Platinum or Diamond rating for Monty, but I'm still hoping for an invite to some sample some of his smokehouse I say.. promote away!

2009 Aug 28
Once again, the Questionable/Inappropriate rating is much like the thumbs up/down rating for vendors. It is (intentionally):

* anonymous
* dynamic, in that other users have the ability to right wrongs
* lightweight, to reduce clutter in comments (but clearly not the forums) ;-)

I still think it's working very well in general! Discussions like this one are worthwhile, both to increase understanding of the feature and to flush out any potential problems.

2009 Aug 28
FF - I think the dynamic nature of the Questionable/Inappropriate system is what attracts me to it so much. I love the idea of a whole bunch of, errr, "people like us" (read: nerds) feverishly clicking either "Questionable" or "Appropriate" until the desired rating sticks and balance is restored to the world.

2009 Aug 28
I love the idea of a whole bunch of, errr, "people like us" (read: nerds) feverishly clicking either "Questionable" or "Appropriate" until the desired rating sticks and balance is restored to the world.

And most of the time balance is restored. I have no idea who flagged Shag's post as questionable...didn't even see that.

2009 Aug 28
It's like 'The Force' for Ottawa Foodies ;-)

2009 Aug 28
Luuuuke I am your server whooo haaaa

2009 Aug 28
Nibble? Nibble? Eat or do not. There is no nibble.

2009 Aug 28
Just an idea for the Rating system - thumbs up or thumps down

Thumbs UP !!!

2009 Aug 28
Thumps down !!!

Just my new visual rating idea !!!

2009 Aug 29
wow, so much fervor for the thumbs-up/down -- geeky or is it a remediation (of age-old practices)?

anyway, i'll admit that JDK's version appeals to me more than the current version. Something in B&B that captures (satirizes) the absurdity in these sort of processes.

But, putting aside my B&B cynicism in the spirit of being a constructivist, i'll ask: if the "questionable" function is intended to approximate a "vote up" or "vote down" feature, shouldn't the first option ("UP!") be available from the get-go, not just after a review's been flagged as questionable?

Also, if its truly a vote up/down function, how about displaying the aggregated votes? I'd like to see how many users vote up and down. A 6-4 vote conveys differently than a 9-1 vote, even if both sink the review into white-on-white obscurity. Just my $0.01...

2009 Aug 29
Itchy - I think it's a misconception that people that it's intended to actually be a vote up/vote down. It's not meant to identify 'good' reviews, or even the relative quality of bad reviews; it's meant to flag the small minority that are deemed by the community to be inappropriate. The reason for the +/- ability for votes, is purely so a single belligerent gold member can't go wild-ass crazy voting everything as inappropriate.

2009 Aug 29
PIO, gotcha, i see what you're saying. My bad in conflating the two.

Perhaps some of the misconception arises from FF's own descriptions (above, in this thread, and elsewhere)?

"Once again, the Questionable/Inappropriate rating is much like the thumbs up/down rating for vendors."

Whatever the case, I do think there's a bit of amusing irony in the overlap between those contributing "clutter" to the Buzz section and those most in favor of the "questionable" feature.

As FF notes, the feature is ostensibly intended to "minimize the need to comment on the integrity of others' comments." I have no substantive reason to suggest the feature isn't working as the Boss intended ... but at the same time, i continue to see "hiccups" in the form of editorializing comments and reviews of reviews that often, in/off themselves, say little about the restaurants / vendors.

2009 Aug 29
Itchy Feet - As with everything NEW on Ottawa Foodies, sometimes there is the "unexpected / unforeseen" that disconnects the original intention from the actual applied methodology...

When the Questionable / Inappropriate buttons were installed back in June, it was "foreseen as a simple" solution to those Reviews that in the early Spring were "cluttering" up the Website with "agenda forward" thinking (Shills, Ex-Exployee Rants, Non-informative Reviews, etc).

Where things took a "left hand turn" was when the unexpected happened, and some Members then challenged the "Questionable" Ratings that their Reviews collected. "Hey why has my Review been rated Questionable, or Inappropriate?"

I don't really think anyone expected that was going to happen. And for lack of better placement, the replies ended up on the Vendor's page after the initial Review.

I think now, that these types of discussions will easily move to the Forum... as Lady Who Brunches so eloquantly did after one such comment (when she wrote see Forum Topic [[abc]] ). Having a set place to discuss the disagreement is so much better than taking up valuable Review places.

Like everything else on the Internet it will evolve over time, based on the Membership's needs.

2009 Aug 30
right along w/ death and taxes, possibly the next most fundamental axiom in the social domain is the divergence between ideal vs. real, so no real disagreement w/ what you're saying there.

On the other hand, while expected might be too strong, i tend to think some might have anticipated the possibility of the "left turn" you describe. my own post (half-way up, Jun 2) speaks to a precursor, namely the "noisy" flagging of posts as inappropriate for reasons not necessarily apparent to newbie (or other) users. People being what they are (information seekers among other things), isn't it a reasonable expectation that a certain percentage of newbies are, indeed, likely to seek clarification, even more so in the absence of readily available criteria that describe the how's / why's of posting and "appropriate" content?

As to the "lack of better placement" ... well, said members of the so-called "force" could simply restrain themselves to the user-to-user messaging functions (and some do this already, i know). A benefit in doing so is that it might very well have allow some of the users to revise their posts. And it saves FF the effort of having to shift posts around (probably not arduous, but still, the feature is/was supposed to reduce that sort of housekeeping).

FF is free to retract or distance himself from his earlier statements, but in the meantime, the observations i made above simply speak to the last paragraph in his first post atop this thread: "I'll be watching for hiccups but feel free to let me know if you notice any yourself. I sincerely hope this feature will minimize the need to comment on the integrity of others' comments." I'm simply describing what i perceived to be hiccups.