The democratization of travel reviews is fascinating. 

Before, Timmy No Travel and Suzy Fresh Shoes probably relied on a prolific guidebook.  It would tell them what to see and where to stay and along the way there would be a lot of people just like them.  They would trade notes with these people, all staying and eating in the same places, about what was worthwhile.  Another kind of travel exchange would occur between a different crowd, the no guidebook, sometimes Timmy or Suzy would end up being part of this crowd.  Addresses would be written down on spare papers and napkins, details exchanged over emails, for the stuff that didn’t make the guidebook (yet).  Early days for online review sites seemed to be an underground information exchange – this place is closed, that place has bedbugs, ask for the unlisted tour.  Now, everyone’s uncool cousin is a travel expert.

My favorite neighborhood in my current city, where I live and spend virtually all of my leisure time, has comically bad reviews:


“like being in a zombie horror film”

“shops and restaurants closed”

“very uninspiring place to visit”

“should be struck off as a tourist attraction”

“so scary we didn’t even get out of the car”

I walk and use transit in this area all the time without fear.  The only restaurants I regularly go to at all are nearby, and I’m a picky bastard who won’t go out just to be out.  It has the only nightlife I would bother with in this town – multiple spots so you can switch if the show sucks at one.  And people apparently hate it.