The highest rated restaurant in my neighbourhood on Seamless is Shinju III.
This new, moderately pricy Japanese restaurant has a five star rating after 598 ratings. It looks like a great place to get a salmon roll and teriyaki bowl—except for a few red flags.
There are only seven reviews, along with 591 anonymous votes. What’s more this new restaurant has three times as many ratings as anywhere else.
Seamless agreed this was suspicious. Here’s an email I received from brand and communications director Kelsey O’Neal Flittner:
I agree that 599 five-star ratings at a new Seamless restaurant, with few actual reviews is suspicious. I can tell you that we’re actively working on a solution to this type of suspected mis-use of our ratings and review system and we hope to have this figured out and taken care of within a few weeks. Personally, I understand the frustration behind not trusting ratings and reviews, as I use them to help me make decisions on where to order from. Seamless (and MenuPages) view ratings and reviews as a huge benefit to the experience, whether you’re looking for a restaurant to dine-out or order-in. Those ratings and reviews absolutely need to be trusted, and Seamless is committed to ensuring that is the case across all of our partner restaurants.
I’ve written before about the temptation to cheat on Yelp. At least with Yelp, users can’t give ratings without writing a review, and those reviews are subject to an algorithm that weeds out fakes.
Until Seamless figures out a solution, there’s little to stop restaurants from inflating their ratings (except for the fact that false reviews are illegal).
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