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Tripadvisor - The Institutionalisation of Ordinariness

The average is of little relevance when pursuing excellence.

I was in Wellington the other day and was very keen to experience the local food scene.  One reason for the trip was a birthday present from my wife - to go and taste the paua ravioli at Logan Brown.  She knows that the way to my heart somehow makes a stop at my stomach!  But apart from the famous Logan Brown I wanted to try some other high end and not so high end places.  Leaving my research to the last minute, I jumped onto Tripadvisor when I got to my hotel room.  Wow.  What a lot of crap places getting good reviews.  And what a lot of places which I know are excellent not featuring.  I quickly got out of there and went somewhere where the content was put together by people with taste.  Cuisine magazine.  Phew - now that's more like it.  Wellington's restaurant scene from the perspective of people who know about food.

So I started thinking some more about Tripadvisor.  Like fairly much everyone on the planet I turn to it from time to time when I don't know something.  And if you filter the information it contains through a team of pollsters, you can get a vague indication of what's trending up and what's trending down.  A bit like an election campaign.  But what it really doesn't give you is a strong knowledgeable opinion.

Imagine Tripadvisor for the legal profession.  Well, 54% of people think you have a case.  Luckily 99% think that guy's a shyster so we can avoid him.  Or for medicine.  "I have no doubt it's a cyst, blood clot, pre-menstrual....etc etc etc"  A bit like my old favourite of taking travel advice from a man in a pub.  While you're at it, get some financial and marital advice and get him to have a look at your teeth.  

But back to Tripadvisor.  Simply, it's not intelligent.  It's not really informed.  And it doesn't have reference points.  (the best campsite in the world - rating higher than Huka Lodge.  too funny)  All it does is gather an enormous amount of information without reference to your particular standpoint/preferences and dump it on you.  Really, it presents the ordinary.  The average.  What most people experience melded with the opinion most people have.  And for people like us who try and put together extraordinary day after extraordinary day, it has zero relevance.

Thank you Tripadvisor for making me understand how much I know! 

Posted by Jean-Michel Jefferson on January 23, 2014