Pretty much everything is reviewed online now. Apartments. Restaurants. AirBnB hosts (& travelers). Hotels. Contractors. Books. Lyft drivers (and riders). Couchsurfers. Real estate agents. Etc.
I saw an ad on TV last night for Apartments.com. The message was “rate your apartment on Apartments.com”. We’ve been thinking, and talking, about putting reviews on Horizon for over 6 months. We had a discussion about the topic again on Friday, with a friend (from the real estate industry coincidentally). Thus, I thought I’d put a few thoughts out there and see if people disagree, or agree, with me.
Reviews come down to trust and incentives. I don’t trust reviews, because I know any business owner with minimal smarts and a few dollars can game their own reviews. I honestly really only care what people I already trust think, and exponentially more, what my close friends think.
Reviews more often than not don’t reflect reality. Most things in life are not AMAZING. Nor do most things suck. They are somewhere in between. Yet, the vast majority of reviews are simply the extreme negatives and the extreme positives. Hence, they don’t tell the real picture. Pretty much all ratings you see are 5’s, scattered in with a few 1’s and 2’s.
In the context of Horizon — I’m honestly not a fan of rating people, especially those in my own social circles. I don’t want to review, or rate, my friends — nor do I want them to review or rate me. That’s weird. Across the board, people don’t tend to leave negative reviews about other people. Why? People have feelings. And maybe – just maybe – that negative review they leave will make that person mad and cause them to retaliate in some way (this is certainly the case with lack of negative reviews on Couchsurfing).
Going back to the apartment reviews ad I saw last night — I don’t believe there is a strong enough incentive for the average person. What’s my specific incentive to rate my apartment on Apartments.com (or anywhere else)? What do I get? There isn’t one, to be honest — which is a big reason no one has really been able to scale apartment reviews (I’ve talked to 2-3 entrepreneurs over the past year or two working on this, all have had problems scaling). Sure, I’m happy to tell my friends about the buildings I’ve previously lived in if they ask. But I wouldn’t pro-actively seek to review the units/buildings — unless they were over the top amazing, or beyond terrible. The reality is, they have all been mediocre.
This is somewhat of a mind dump on a Monday morning, and I’ll stop rambling. The real question — do you trust online reviews (and ratings)? Does that differ between reviews/ratings on physical things, versus people?