Why Coffee.net Relies on Editors

Categories: news — Tags: , — Posted by: Grant @ March 8, 2008 : 10:08 am

From Newsweek: Is User-Generated Content Out?

“By any name, the current incarnation of the Internet is known for giving power to the people. Sites likee Youtube and Wikipedia collect the creations of unpaid amateurs while kicking pros to the curb—or at least deflating their stature to that of the ordinary Netizen. But now some of the same entrepreneurs that funded the user-generated revolution are paying professionals to edit and produce online content.”

There has always been discussion among during the brain-storming of our site on the role of editors and users. Taking a quick trip in history, the web originally evolved as a place where you could take in and read information on others. This involved an implicit level of trust, as you want to make sure the site you’re reading is factual. A number of review sites came around during this time of the web and relied heavily on editors to provide content for the site.

Quite a few years down the road to our current era, we’ve seen the opposite happen. With ‘Web 2.0′, the emergence of the participatory web, it’s now all about you. MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia, Digg – they all ask you to make the content and they just provide the playground. It’s like a popular club, the more the merrier. Just like a club needs bouncers, these sites also need an abuse team to keep out the bad elements. However, when it comes out to simply trusting a peer for simply using the same site as you, why would you believe him or her? To illustrate, would you trust a stranger at a club offering you a free drink? Likely not.

Things brings us back to our topic, why chefseattle.com uses editors and food critics. We’re not all necessarily masters of the culinary arena, but we’re honest and well calibrated. (You’d have to be pretty dense not to tell the good from the bad after hundreds of reviews). More importantly, when we do implement user reviews, we’ll also be the ones reading each and every review that is left on our site until we know that person. We value quality and want to make sure you get quality reviews from other users on the site as well.

Obviously, we respect everyone’s personal preference in food, but if a restaurant gets a perfect score of 10 with a note of, “I love this place!” – then that is not very helpful. In cases like this, we’ll try to nudge the person to expand on the comments and give an explanation as to why. As an editor, we can address the issue without the premise of being offensive or fear of retaliation- something that as a peer reviewer, is a difficult task. In fact, our observations are that if a site is self regulated by it’s peers, it fosters cliques and elitism – something that eventually pushes people away.

So, just a short explanation for why we’re using reviewers in this day and age of Web 2.0.

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