Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Reading between the lines Finding that perfect restaurant, hotel, or travel destination has gotten a lot easier, thanks to reader reviews available on websites like tripadvisor or Google maps. Here are a few ways to evaluate the raves and the pans to be sure they don’t steer you astray.

Many sites allow you to read all the ratings by any given reviewer. Check them out to better understand why someone wrote a five-star or one-star review. For example, a five-star review of a restaurant in Utah lost its luster when I noticed that the reviewer also gave five-star ratings to Denny’s and Taco Bell.

Read between the lines of extremely harsh reviews. Do you clearly see a justifiable gripe? Or does the reviewer appear to be unfair? Try comparing reviews from different people on the same restaurant. If the same problem occurs repeatedly for many people, it’s a good bet the review is justifiable. Also, don’t just look at the average rating for a given restaurant, because one zero-star can bring an average way down. Instead, look at the ratio of positive to negative reviews and see if there’s a trend.

If you do your homework, you’re more likely to find that perfect restaurant or weekend splurge.

Contributed by Domenica