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Morning Poll: Should we launch user-submitted restaurant reviews?

Dinner table for two (Photo courtesy The Little Beet)

ARLnow has been hearing for some time that readers are interested in reviews of local restaurants.

Just one problem: we’re far from being food critics. And we don’t have the time and funds to try multiple dishes at numerous new restaurants each year.

Reader-submitted restaurant reviews were previously considered, but it seemed like a lot of effort to coordinate — effort that was better kept focused on simply reporting on factual stories like restaurant openings, closing and renovations.

However, thanks to new automation capabilities, there appears to be an opportunity to launch reader restaurant reviews without distracting too much from our main work.

Here’s how the ARLnow Dining Club would work:

  • Interested readers sign up to join the club
  • A number of club members will be selected at random to review a new restaurant a couple of months after it opens
  • Those selected will get an email and will be able to accept or decline the assignment
  • The reviews, entered into an online form, will be compiled by AI and an overall review summary will be posted along with each individual review (reviewers may go by their name or a pseudonym)
  • Other readers will also be able to weigh in after publication, via the comments

There would be no cost to join the club, but we’re also not going to be paying for reviews or comping meals. Reviewers will be asked to not reveal that they’re reviewing the restaurant nor ask for free food or drink. If you sign up, you’re doing so for the love of food and restaurants and the fun of being a secret reviewer for the day.

So that’s the plan, as currently envisioned. What do you think — good idea or bad idea?

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