A Review of… Reviews

I rely a lot on UrbanSpoon for restaurant reviews (Brag Alert: I’m the #1 food blogger for Oklahoma, and #2 for the OKC Metro area).

Today we are doing serious housecleaning, and decided to send Ian off to get lunch. Raegan suggested Billy Sims for some BBQ (mmmm…. BBQ… drool….). We gave him our orders and off he went. I jumped on UrbanSpoon to check the menu when I did my order. The listing is here:


I saw my blog entry in the list of reviews. Now, we’ve been to that Billy Sims location many times, more than five, and in every single case both the service and the food were outstanding. I’m very hard to please BBQ-wise, but this location, and the several other locations we have been to, are a great mix of friendly people with great service, and outstanding BBQ.

So I was not surprised to see several of the other reviews with words like “great”, “outstanding”, “best”. But there were two of others: “worst experiance [sic] ever” (from johndoe), and “Horrible”. One review lambastes the staff for being inattentive and rude, and the brisket as burnt. The other reviewer says that the meat is prepackaged. Neither of these reflect our multiple experiences. The staff has always been super friendly. I think that the “prepackaged” comment comes from the fact that the BBQ is wrapped in cling wrap after it comes out of the smoker to keep it moist (I like that idea better than letting the meat sit in a warmer in the kitchen for a couple hours).

One other guy rates it “Doesn’t like” with the simple comment “No fries?”. They do not in fact have fries. But there’s nothing wrong with that: the BBQ is what the place is about.

When Google started collecting reviews of places, I never liked the way they were displayed. They would pick a positive review, then a negative, then a positive. There was no weighting used. I think that people who don’t like a place are more likely be very negative and go on to write a review, while those that like a place tend to be less likely to write a positive review, so the negatives tend to skew.

But this also makes me wonder about the motives of the negative reviewers. The person with the “prepackaged” comment seems to not understand the process at Billy Sims, and has a very bad take from that. The other person commenting on the staff, well, that comment flies against our personal observations. I wonder if they work for rival BBQ restaurants?

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