What are the best review sites out there, & what do you like about them?
August 2, 2016 2:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm working on putting together a website that aggregates user-generated reviews and ratings, like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Goodreads, Capterra, etc. What are your favorite review sites and what do you like about them? Conversely, what sites do you hate and what makes them inferior? I welcome your thoughts on review sites of any kind of product (tech, doctors, books, restaurants, hospitality, whatever) -- this is for me to learn about user experience, and how I can improve upon what is already out there. Thanks!
posted by emkelley to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Recently, I came across an aggregator site for music reviews called AnyDecentMusic that I really found to be revelatory for me. Big, big fan of the intent, the way they've structured themselves, and their initiative: it sets a question, and it answers it itself.

What I particularly liked about it was - and this was partially due to the singular focus of the website, mind you - that there were many different layouts able to be utilized for presenting interesting photos or other elements of qualitative data. The carefully chosen snippets of reviews that pieced together a snapshot of an album when you drilled in on one; a choice to make focal, noteworthy elements that were neat stand out more; smart, uncomplicated sorting choices to refine elegantly through larger subsets; and lots and lots of focus on providing depth in ways that were easy-entry, down-the-rabbit-hole, rinse, out, repeat.
posted by a good beginning at 3:14 PM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Wirecutter and The Sweethome are both good because they are very thorough, very clear about which specific models they are testing and where to get them (and when retailers raise their prices in response to good reviews!), and generally recommend a "really the best" and also a "best for the money" option. Generally speaking wirecutter reviews electronics gadgets and sweethome does kitchen/bath/home decor stuff, but they are affiliated with each other and they overlap sometimes.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:54 PM on August 2, 2016 [13 favorites]

Reviews that actually test the product OR look at the way the product is put together (quality, usability, engineering) are FAR more valuable to me than lists of features. If these quality attributes could be searchable, that would be excellent.

Consumer Reports (I'm a member at the moment) does user testing, but some of the results I care about most -- in the case of my dishwasher search, "Are the controls visible" and "how many gallons of water does it use" and "what is the reliability score of the manufacturer" don't seem to be searchable.
posted by amtho at 4:18 PM on August 2, 2016

I'm partial to Amazon, TripAdvisor, and OpenTable as go to review sites. I also like CNet, generally, for electronics, and Consumer reports for big items like appliances and cars, because the reviews are substantive and based on real data. I like the ability to sort Amazon reviews by date and by helpfulness votes, and the ability to search them. And, except for the fakes, which aren't too tough to spot, Amazon reviewers seem to actually know the item they are reviewing. TripAdvisor is mostly easy to read, I like the pictures, and it tends to be comprehensive as to restaurants and hotels, as well as very good on suggested activities for a location. You can tell which reviewers have lots of other reviews and aren't just providing random opinions. OpenTable has short, easy to read, accurate restaurant reviews by a pre-selected group of people who actually made and attended their dining reservation.

I'm a lot less fond of review sites like Yelp, where I think often the reviewers have more opinions than knowledge or have axes to grind. I think sites like Zagat, though I check them, are less helpful because many restaurants and locations aren't covered and because reviewers seem to be a stuffy, not very hip bunch.

I'm on the fence about sites like Goodreads. I think my favorite thing about Goodreads is that I can sort the reviews by whether the people reviewing are my "friends" (i.e. MeFites), because a lot of other readers are like Yelpers -- too many clueless people with opinions to make most of the reviews helpful.

So, ideally you'll have aggregate information based on quality reviewers, and your site will also be easy to sort in multiple ways, will allow ratings of the reviews/reviewers themselves, and will be easy to search.
posted by bearwife at 4:42 PM on August 2, 2016

I kind of hate Goodreads. I've been burned a few times by glowing reviews on Goodreads for books that turned out to be gawdawful. I do find it useful for things like putting books from a series in the right order for me without having to plow through some quirky author site. But for quality of reviews? nope.
posted by clone boulevard at 5:49 PM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding Wirecutter and Sweethome.

For dining out, I like Eater and the community boards at Chowhound.

I also like perusing Cool Tools for its eclectic listings.
posted by praiseb at 6:10 PM on August 2, 2016

I like sites where I have some information about the reviewer - it's a clue to whether their tastes and preferences are likely to be similar to mine, and I can weight the review accordingly. On Goodreads, I can see what else the reviewer liked and didn't like. On TripAdvisor I can filter by traveler type (business traveler, families with kids, solo), time of year visited etc.
If you (or your reviewers) are going to be getting any sort of commission/kickback/freebies as a result of reviews or clickthroughs, please be up-front about it. If I like the site and trust the reviews, I'll happily give you the referral.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 7:13 PM on August 2, 2016

Nthing The Wirecutter and The Sweethome. I shut down pretty quickly when presented with too many choices, so the way the reviewers on these sites use their expertise to narrow the field is a godsend. In most cases, I don't need to know what's the most popular, or even the best. I just need a good solid option that won't empty my wallet.

Even if I don't want one of the two options they recommend, I can much more easily identify what I do and don't want based on their detailed breakdowns. (I used to read the details religiously and thoroughly. Now, they've earned my trust, and I basically just buy the thing they recommend after a brief skim at most.)
posted by zebra at 8:46 PM on August 2, 2016

Cornucopia Institute for milk, eggs, etc.

Consumer Lab
for supplements.

Nthing Wirecutter, sweethome and consumer reports.

Tom's Hardware has pretty good reviews, recs and charts for PC hardware.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:39 PM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

OutdoorGearLab is my go-to place for camping and backpacking reviews. Nthing Wirecutter & Sweethome.
posted by escher at 1:16 PM on August 3, 2016

RealSelf is a reviews site for elective surgery, and they let you have Q&A with the doctors. I guess this is similar to my favorite Amazon feature, the ability to ask / answer qualitative questions about products, except in this case, the wares can speak for themselves.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:02 PM on August 3, 2016

Makeup Alley is a huge beauty and body care review site that I've used for eons. I love the sheer bulk of content, and the reviews are honest and comprehensive. The interface is old school and clunky, but there are loads of filtering options that help drill down to what you're looking for. The profile pages are also highly customizable. I nearly never buy makeup or personal care products without checking there first.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 11:48 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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