Opinions are like [...] June 25, 2009 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Being in such a good community has its perks. One of my favorites is the trust we all share in regards to recommendations (which is especially obvious in AskMe). So I was wondering if there is a possiblity of creating a MeFi off-shoot vis-à-vis Epinions or Amazon. If this has been discussed and/or considered before, many apologies, but I didn't find anything to satisfy the question after a quick search.
posted by litterateur to Feature Requests at 3:10 PM (38 comments total)

We've talked about this a bunch over the last ten years, so much so that I even built an entire Amazon recommendation/review engine around 2003 or so when the Amazon API was new, but I never launched it.

I could see the utility of recommendations from MeFi members I trust, but I have a hard time envisioning what a site might looks like. Would it be something like recommends.metafilter.com and people could submit Cool Tools style reviews of stuff they like and we'd approve the well-written ones and then run it as a sort of gadget/stuff blog?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2009

Gimme a dollar and I'll give you a recommendation for a book, a movie and an album based on your MeFi history.

In the spirit of the times, this will be a small-scale artisanal recommendation made from renewable materials.
posted by klangklangston at 3:32 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

For a dollar more I'll do the same thing, but I'll make sure it's fair trade.
posted by Science! at 3:46 PM on June 25, 2009

Such a site might be useful but only for a month or two. That's how long it would take for the site to be swamped by people trying to sell stuff.
posted by rdr at 3:47 PM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

"For a dollar more I'll do the same thing, but I'll make sure it's fair trade."

Mine's made in the USA and certified organic.
posted by klangklangston at 3:56 PM on June 25, 2009

My recommendations are made from baby kittens. Dead baby kittens. Well - they may not have started out that way...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:00 PM on June 25, 2009

Keep it simple: reviews.metafilter.com. Categories would be like: music, film, books, art, video games.

You post a one-or-two-sentence teaser, and then write your review in the [more inside]. There'd be the standard "add to favorites," as well as "like" and "don't like" buttons for people who've read the book, seen the movie, etc. "My reviews" (like My Ask) would be based on a combination of your favorite tags and your likes.

Threads would stay open for a year, so that users have ample time to track down whatever the thing being reviewed is and comment on it.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:18 PM on June 25, 2009 [10 favorites]

Ok, I have to say I really like this idea. I've done hobby and paid reviews of music, books, and movies over the years, and even stupid products that are cool would be fun to do.

And, klangklangston, you should turn your idea into a meta project, but open it to the world. Someone give you a buck, you stalk them on the internet, see what they like, write up your recs and why. I'd read a site like that.

Just like those kinda creepy, but too cool, meta bios someone was writing about members, culling facts from posts, then citing the whole damn thing. Hell, I'd probably pay $20 to have someone do that if they did it really really well and I liked their picks.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:43 PM on June 25, 2009

rdr, just make the bar high. No one can post if not a member for 6 months, X number of comments (no more than X number in a given month), banhammer for self linking.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:46 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

What roll truck roll suggested is precisely what I envisioned! Thanks for putting it so succinctly.

(I would add in products as well, however)
posted by litterateur at 4:49 PM on June 25, 2009


That said, it might be kind of awesome if Amazon reviews were integrated into the Social Apps section of the MeFi user profiles, and all the data sorted into neat little charts and whatnot. It would be extra kind of awesome if those charts combined data from a bunch of different sites like that.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:59 PM on June 25, 2009

I think this sounds great.

At first I thought: "how do you keep the shills out?" But upon further reflection I am not sure if its really an issue. Let people start only one thread a week so that a PR department cant spam a whole back list. Of course if an author wants to come in and stick up for himself thats a good thing. You could limit it to books and music until we figure out how well it works.
posted by shothotbot at 5:51 PM on June 25, 2009

I'd love this. I think I joined Mefi because of one of those "What is awesome for under $100" threads on ask.mefi. I read a lot of amazon reviews, but I don't know those people from anybody. If it was a mefi review site I could better determine the quality of those reviews by checking out a users history or general site respect. In some ways there's an ad-hoc version of that going on by searching ask.mefi for 'printer advice' or the like.
posted by gofargogo at 6:02 PM on June 25, 2009

All the links on such a subsite should be no-follow links. But even so, I foresee moderation nightmares. MeFi has such a lot of google-juice that such a site would be virtually irresistable to commercial interests. In fact, I ask that this NOT be added on the basis that it would suck all the available mod time and then some from the other sites.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:12 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can see the value in this, although rather than following the format of the rest of the site--a front-page review followed by a bunch of comments--it would make more sense to treat the product/service itself as the front-page item, and reviews for it would all be on an equal footing with each other.
posted by adamrice at 6:12 PM on June 25, 2009

Gimme a dollar and I'll give you a recommendation for a book, a movie and an album based on your MeFi history.

Give me $25 and I will send you a recommendation for a book, a movie, and a website as well as forward to you, via IM or email, five MP3s. Rather than base them on your MeFi history they will be based on my own random impulse - a unique glimpse into the current thought state of Meatbomb, yours to keep and cherish forever.

But wait! There's more!

I will also include a digitally signed photograph of myself in the process of sending you this shit, at my computer, on my couch, completely naked.

And if you act within the next five minutes I will also throw in a link to my blog, my Flikr page, my YouTube channel, my websites, and my MeFi posting history.

I accept PayPal.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:26 PM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

(special preview teaser)
posted by Meatbomb at 6:39 PM on June 25, 2009

Meatbomb: "(special preview teaser)"

I... What? Is... Does that say "Ron Paul"?
posted by boo_radley at 6:44 PM on June 25, 2009

Also, I think that AskMe works pretty well, because someone will have a specific demand for, say, a tankless hot water heater. Pulling reviews in based on need seems like a good way to cut down on shilling.
posted by boo_radley at 6:46 PM on June 25, 2009

reviews.metafilter.com is a quality site with a specific purpose: siphoning off the marketing shills that have been flying under the radar on MeFi's main page (The Blue) for years and giving them a place to fester and bleat, all their own.   [more inside]

Sure, MeFi has been hit by the occasional dumbass marketer who can't or won't read the guidelines and barrells straight ahead with three comments and a link to their website or product or whatever. But over the years several of the smartest, most devious marketers have taken the time to really participate on the site—so much so that they are virtually indistinguishable from the normies who make real posts to 'the best of the web.' These marketers have been able to pass off their ads as real, interesting links and in the process have inured themselves to any proffered suspicions, even amongst the renowned MetaFilter Junior Detective Squad. Whether the front page has been better, or more interesting for their deviousness is debatable, but now that reviews.metafilter.com exists we have a definite, guidelines-appropriate place for their ads.

The subsite itself hews to the standard MetaFilter design, including a delightful baby blue background that is nearly—but not quite—professional white. Navigation remains nearly identical to the other MeFi subsites, so if you're used to browsing Tags or the Archives or checking out what's Popular lately you shouldn't have any trouble here. The sidebar is put to good use with a list of the most popular books and music, including links to Amazon for your purchasing pleasure. (As per ususal, MeFi takes it's well-deserved referrer kickback here, no surprise.)

Within individual threads you'll find a variety of discussion and argument below the varying quality of each review. Some members are content to simply state their preference for or against a product while others somehow have enough time and money to acquire every new item and write extensively about their experiences with it. The difference in depth and extension review to review can be frustrating (especially since many of the deeply detailed reviews are obvious marketing endeavors), but in the end it provides an array of styles that is sure to feature something for everyone.

Did MetaFilter need another subsite? Did its users really need this subsite? I, for one, say 'yes' to both and enthusiastically welcome our new/old marketing overlords into their shiny, baby blue playpen as well as hope that the current economic crisis abates to a point that allows all MeFites to use reviews.metafilter.com to the fullest.
posted by carsonb at 6:48 PM on June 25, 2009

I ask that this NOT be added on the basis that it would suck all the available mod time and then some from the other sites

That's why I was suggesting that we start with just books or something a little more low key. I don't really see a bunch of spammers coming in for the books or CDs likely to be chewed over here.
posted by shothotbot at 6:55 PM on June 25, 2009

And yes, if I want to know which book on the Reconstuction Era to read, AskMe is my prefered place to ask. The point of this site would be to introduce people to things they dont know about yet.
posted by shothotbot at 6:59 PM on June 25, 2009

(special preview teaser)

I am no longer certain how you could be libeled.
posted by graventy at 7:00 PM on June 25, 2009

That's why I was suggesting that we start with just books or something a little more low key. I don't really see a bunch of spammers coming in for the books or CDs likely to be chewed over here.

Shall we start here?

"What could be better than having your doctor tell you that you have the bones of a twenty-year-old [with osteoporosis], or the heart of a thirty-year-old [baboon]? Follow the advice in Ageless, and you’ll discover [where to inject] your own internal fountain of youth!"
posted by Sys Rq at 7:07 PM on June 25, 2009

Stop by when I'm at the library, and I'll recommend shit all day long for free. We've also got air conditioning and a water fountain.
posted by box at 7:15 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

It does raise some interesting moderation questions. Dealing with questionable new-user-shill comments in askme is something we have to think about already, and Projects and Jobs both present potential targets for opportunistic membership without any community engagement. I will say that we haven't had any significant problems with that in the cases, so it's not necessarily a no-go just based on that concern.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:43 PM on June 25, 2009

In my head this works sort of like the journals Current Anthropology or Behavioral and Brain Sciences where you have a target article and then a bunch of responses to it. In this case someone would write a through review and then all the commentators come in respectfully but firmly enlarging or correcting the original view.

Of course what may happen is that I write 10 misspelled words about the a great new CD and someone else just says Meh.
posted by shothotbot at 8:09 PM on June 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think something like The MetaFilter Review would be a swell idea. All it needs is a link. Hell, it might, much like a book review section in a newspaper, function as a place where people post their creative writings, whether they're essays, poems, short stories and whatnots. As long as the above-the-cut text is short things should be fine. But perhaps that would require oodles more moderation.

Okay, that may be a terrible idea.

But I fully endorse a MetaFilter Review. God knows I'm on record whining about getting a BookFilter section.
posted by Kattullus at 8:09 PM on June 25, 2009

We do have a completely dormant librarything group. I'd like the record to show that it's not my bloody fault it's dormant, because the last posted comment there is mine.
posted by juv3nal at 9:34 PM on June 25, 2009

I actually think that AskMe does the things this would be intended to do quite well already, without creating yet more work for the mods as they try to distinguish the sincere from the shill.

After doing freelance work for an online ad agency and scouring online ads for freelance jobs, I'm more aware than ever that astroturfing is now a standard element of marketing campaigns. I think a site explicitly dedicated "Opinions" or "Reviews" site, presented as such, will require a far higher level of scrutiny and sifting by both users and mods than AskMe. Naturally, such pseudo-stealth marketing happens all the time in AskMe, but the need to formulate a direct response to the question and the flagging system seem keep such behavior under control. Sure, there are undoubtedly plenty of Givewell-type fake Q and As that make it under the radar, but I think that sort of thing would rapidly escalate on a site explicitly dedicated to reviews.

I also think that new areas of the site should fulfill a purpose a) that is distinct from that of other areas of the site, and b) that is for whatever reason (such as the ban on self-linking vis a vis Metafilter projects) something that other areas of the site can't do or don't do well. That's not the case here.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:16 PM on June 25, 2009

If this was to go forward, may I suggest the details line look something like this:

posted by username (2008-10-02) under literature at 7:27 PM - 10 comments (1 new) +

The (year-mo-dy) would be the user's join date. I was thinking of including more information there, but the line would get too cluttered.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:43 PM on June 25, 2009

Hmmm, seems to me like books/movies/music would be the least useful topics for a subsite of this nature, since reviews are going to be so subjective. Whereas, I think we can all (mostly) agree on what makes a good can opener, rabbit hutch, etc.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:06 AM on June 26, 2009

This being Metafilter, I'm pretty sure any CD or DVD/BlueRay review efforts would quickly sink out of sight under the weight of comments by our resident torrent weenies pointing out that all the cool kids steal their music/movies/media via The Pirate Bay, and demanding tracker links.
posted by paulsc at 4:49 AM on June 26, 2009

Well yeah, if you want to start a sub-site that advertises the aeropress coffee machine and macs, then go for it! Just make sure you get your cut of their profits.
posted by Grither at 5:50 AM on June 26, 2009

This could work very well. If you have a widget that lets people put in product details using an approved list of affiliate webpages, it would pay for itself.

I also agree with cjorgensen that making bar the post reviews very high would be appropriate.
posted by Pants! at 6:46 AM on June 26, 2009

I think it's a great idea, but agree with primer_dimer that books/ music/ films isn't necessarily most useful. For one thing, these get reviewed, relatively impartially, in a host of media. Shampoos and vacuum cleaners, on the other hand, don't. On the other hand, who's going to be passionate enough about a vacuum cleaner to write a review?

So, to conclude, great idea, but the space reviews.metafilter would fill best, well, I think it probably wouldn't. Which is a great pity.
posted by tavegyl at 7:08 AM on June 26, 2009

Metafilter Opinions
_ _ _ ★ ★

In theory, the natural extension of one of AskMe's strengths; in practice, an incursion of vitriol and commerce from beyond the paywall. Bring back TravelFilter, I say, and lay its degenerate cousin to rest.
posted by Your Disapproving Father under Internet at 12:00 AM on December 21, 2012 - 65 comments (13 new) +

posted by Your Disapproving Father at 8:19 AM on June 26, 2009

This is brilliant. I couldn't decide if I should get my finances straight this week, or find a new waterproof mascera. I went with the finances, but with my eyelashes looking the way they are, I'm kind of regreting it.

I keed, well, a little. Seriously, this is a great idea!
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:48 PM on June 26, 2009

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