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The merits of user-generated comments...

Travel Forums General Talk The merits of user-generated comments...

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1. Posted by dr.pepper (Travel Guru 316 posts) 9y

Just read two articles by Arthur Frommer (as in, Frommer's travel guides). He's less than keen on user-generated comments such as you find on sites like tripadvisor and igougo.

You can read the articles here:

I agree with Frommer that we have to be aware that not all the comments users on sites like tripadvisor (and even on Travellerspoint) are trustworthy. For example, I tend to be skeptical when someone's first post on Travellerspoint is a post advising me never-ever to stay at such and such a hotel. Just smells a bit suspicious doesn't it?

But Frommer doesn't even care for what an "inexperienced" traveller has to say about a hotel he/she stayed at. This is where I disagree. True, someone who has spent more time travelling and has stayed at more hotels has a better-educated view of how one hotel's service compares with another's. But does that make the first-timer's perspective invalid?

What do you think?

2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 9y

No it doesn't; however, I think that aspiring travellers above all should go out there and form their own opinions. Following other people's advice is what paves the beaten tourist track.

After reading both articles, I can now also safely say that the kind of practice Arthur describes does not apply to TP, due to scrutinous moderation and good forum rules. Yeah, we rock :)

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 1, 2007, at 2:46 AM by bentivogli ]

3. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 9y

Quoting dr.pepper

But Frommer doesn't even care for what an "inexperienced" traveller has to say about a hotel he/she stayed at. This is where I disagree. True, someone who has spent more time travelling and has stayed at more hotels has a better-educated view of how one hotel's service compares with another's. But does that make the first-timer's perspective invalid?

What do you think?

I think, like anything, it's all relative. Sure, a novice hostel traveller may think a "good" hostel is pretty disgusting by their standards, but would an experienced hostel traveller rely on a novice's comments? It stands to reason that people who like staying in hostels ask other people who stay in hostels for advice. Plus, as you mentioned, a first-timer's opinion is vadlid - it's up to the person doing the asking to weigh the responses and make an informed decision.

I also think it's rather elitist to leave first-timers out. Everyone starts with a first trip!

4. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 9y

I don't think it's strange that someone who makes their entire living off of guidebooks (and who unlike LP has been slow to get their act together online) would say this

5. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

My thoughts too Sam

Interesting post Dr Pepper :)

In the past, I had never given sites like TripAdvisor or HostelWorld much attention. ThornTree, when I came across it, seemed to have more the sort of information I was looking for, but I found that you had to sift through a lot of &^%$$ to get to the "good stuff" ;)

When I discovered this website it seemed to be much more what I was looking for, more accessible. I've said it in the past jokingly, that the TP user is a cut above the rest
But I think that's true. Is a site is better regulated/moderated, as this one is, you can be guaranteed a reasonable standard of information.

I started using TP a year before the start date of my current trip. During that time I found it to be a reservoir of really useful information and it helped me to research my travels in a way that the guide books never have. Of course, you have to be aware that a user's comments may not be accurate, or even on occasion total BS. But the way around that, in my opinion, is to invest the time to research properly. If you navigate the same forums regularly and the same type of threads repeatedly, you'll soon be able to see patterns, and spot the difference between what is good advice and bad.

Guidebooks have to be all things to all travellers, if you will :)
But on a travel forum, you can isolate the kind of travellers you probably connect most with, find ones that seem to know what they are talking about, and zone in on their words of wisdom. Ive gotten some fantastic hands-on tips from users of this website.
Another area where the guidebook may fall down is in keeping its currency. The internet is immediate, it's now, there will always be someone who's just been in the part of the world you are planning on visiting and you can give the most up to the minute accout of what's happening there.

I'm still a fan of the guidebook, per se, but just as a means of orientation really. :)

6. Posted by Emmalineau (Full Member 94 posts) 9y

Quoting Samsara

Another area where the guidebook may fall down is in keeping its currency. The internet is immediate, it's now, there will always be someone who's just been in the part of the world you are planning on visiting and you can give the most up to the minute accout of what's happening there.

I completely agree! Guidebooks can be two or three years old and whilst this is unimportant when it comes to maps, basic information and history, they cannot give the most accurate, up-to-date info on places to go and stay. A dear friend of mine went to find a hotel mentioned in a guide book for Croatia and when she arrived, found that it had burnt down three months earlier!

You can't go wrong with TP as a medium for asking locals and seasoned travellers for their advice, in the same way you would ask it of friends and family. A global network of travel-minded friends can't be a bad thing!

7. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 9y

Breaking News! Random person's opinions may not be accurate.

Hehe, definitely a case of sour grapes / old school mindset. People who are comfortable with the internet as a medium understand that they need to take others' comments with a grain of salt. But when dozens of people recommend the same place or recommend against it, then it can in fact build an accurate view of a place.

Who would you rather listen to? The combination voice of thousands of people online or one bitter voice like Arthur Frommer's ?

But hey, he's entitled to his voice online. And I'm entitled to thinking it's inaccurate.

8. Posted by dr.pepper (Travel Guru 316 posts) 9y

Quoting Peter

Hehe, definitely a case of sour grapes / old school mindset. People who are comfortable with the internet as a medium understand that they need to take others' comments with a grain of salt. But when dozens of people recommend the same place or recommend against it, then it can in fact build an accurate view of a place.

Just to play Devil's Advocate (Frommer being the Red Dude)... Even with dozens of random comments saying "this place sucks", can we trust that? Wouldn't be that hard for a hotel to use a dozen different nicknames and post a dozen different negative comments about the hotel across the road...

Now to play Travellerspoint Advocate... One strength you have on a site like Travellerspoint is that people build up credibility over a long period of posting. If someone posts a negative/positive comment about a hotel, the first thing I do is see how many other posts they have made. If this is their only one, I wouldn't take it seriously. But if Isadora comes on and says the same thing, I'll pay attention:)

9. Posted by s_hoot (Respected Member 497 posts) 9y

I have stayed in over a dozen hostels on two different continents, and I consider myself a hostel guru by now. I think I have stayed in enough of them that I have grasped the whole concept of "what" a hostel exactly is and what seperates them from hotels and bed and breakfasts. I would trust any traveller who has stayed in as many hostels as I have on wheather or not a particular one is good or not. It would not matter to me that he/she had only stayed in just one in a particular city, because as I have said already, all hostels share similar characteristics that actually make them a hostel. As long as the traveller who I am asking advice from or the person posting can in fact make some good comparisons to other hostels, then I would consider that good advice.

10. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 9y

Quoting dr.pepper

Quoting Peter

Hehe, definitely a case of sour grapes / old school mindset. People who are comfortable with the internet as a medium understand that they need to take others' comments with a grain of salt. But when dozens of people recommend the same place or recommend against it, then it can in fact build an accurate view of a place.

Just to play Devil's Advocate (Frommer being the Red Dude)... Even with dozens of random comments saying "this place sucks", can we trust that? Wouldn't be that hard for a hotel to use a dozen different nicknames and post a dozen different negative comments about the hotel across the road...

Depends on what they've written. It's usually not that hard to spot the competitor style posts. Admittedly it can happen that someone's motivation is compromised. Just like it could be the case that Frommer's motivation in writing those articles is compromised. And it could be the case that the reviews he writes are based on information that is 5 years old. And it could be the case that other guidebooks (tourism sponsored ones, etc) are paid for positive reviews. Basically, it's always up to the user's judgement. Assuming your readers are retarded seems to me a patronising thing to do. Finally, there are also a lot of websites (hostelworld & hotelclub, the two that we partner with are good examples) that only accept reviews from people who have actually made a booking. To me, those are the most valuable reviews of all.

Now to play Travellerspoint Advocate... One strength you have on a site like Travellerspoint is that people build up credibility over a long period of posting. If someone posts a negative/positive comment about a hotel, the first thing I do is see how many other posts they have made. If this is their only one, I wouldn't take it seriously. But if Isadora comes on and says the same thing, I'll pay attention:)

Yes exactly, and that's where user generated content sites are heading. To systems where your comments are valued more based on your activity. User trust is a big issue on the internet and certainly something that many websites are tackling.

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 4, 2007, at 4:14 PM by Peter ]