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Operator of major restaurant review site Tabelog ordered to pay damages

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Kakaku.com said it appealed the ruling as it is "unjust."

How absurd! The operator of Tabelog actually finds it “just” to uniformly lower ratings given by users.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Its really hard to tell what Tabelog was doing from the confusing way the article was written.

judging that its rating algorithm is unfairly designed for chain outlets.

OK, this sounds like the algorithm is biased in favor of chain outlets.

saying its algorithm, which uniformly lowered scores of chain restaurants, 

No, wait, now it sounds like it is biased against chain restaurants.

the court said that Tabelog, which boasted about 87.63 million monthly users as of March, had a trading advantage over the chain and it would have to accept detrimental treatment if it ceases to be a paid member of the website.

No, wait again, now it sounds like it is biased only against chains that are not paid members?

The review calculation methods by the algorithm, which the operator has kept secret for fear of score manipulations,

OK, this might explain why we don’t know the details, but we should at least be given a clearer understanding of the gist of what this algorithm did.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

The Tokyo District Court found that the site operator Kakaku.com Inc. violated the antimonopoly law, saying its algorithm, which uniformly lowered scores of chain restaurants

Japanese court rules in favor of big business and awards a big cash settlement that they are being discriminated against in favor of small, independent businesses.

Corporatist controlled courts in action.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

It might just be me, but I have not found the ratings of tabelog to agree very well with my personal taste.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

@rainyday

Its really hard to tell what Tabelog was doing 

The below part of the article is explains it fairly clearly.

*In the lawsuit, Hanryumura had claimed the scores for about 20 outlets of its Korean barbecue chain KollaBo fell about 0.2 point on average on the rating scale of 1.0 to 5.0 points when the site's algorithm was changed in May 2019.*

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Tabelog is widely used in Japan when people look for a place to eat, with its scores calculated based on reviews of visitors to the establishments, often directly influencing the number of customers.

I only use Tabelog to check the info about location and business hours. Reviews are half-true and half-fakes. It's also hardly quantified on several scores.

Many Japanese restaurants of high-end quality don't publish info at any rating agency. I just know one who doesn't even have a website.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The review calculation methods by the algorithm, which the operator has kept secret for fear of score manipulations, were exclusively disclosed to concerned parties in the suit.

This is going to keep happening as long as this continues to be the business model of rating sites. Making arbritrary changes wihout having to inform or seek approval from anyone means those that are affected by the ratings are going to keep complaining about it. The moment a rating becomes popular (and importantly affects the people it is rating) it will mean people will begin to ask for explanations and compensation for perceived damages.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The below part of the article is explains it fairly clearly.

That just tells you the result of what Tabelog did (made the Plaintiff’s rating go down), but it doesn’t tell us what Tabelog did to make that go down.

I am unclear if what Tabelog did was to bias its algorithm against all chain restaurants, OR did it bias its algorithm only against chain restaurants that were not paid members of the site? Different sentences in the article suggest one and the other, which is confusing.

Its an important distinction, since I might see them having a rational basis for the former, but the latter would be just them biasing their ratings to force businesses to pay them, which is way worse.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I don't agree with secrete manipulation but chain restaurants are worse than independent ones usually

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@rainyday

I might see them having a rational basis [against all chain restaurants]

I don’t frequent chain restaurants, but if Taro loves his chain restaurant and wants to give it a rating of 5, I don’t think Tabelog should be lowering the rating. Include the chains or exclude the chains. Don’t alter the ratings.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I don’t frequent chain restaurants, but if Taro loves his chain restaurant and wants to give it a rating of 5, I don’t think Tabelog should be lowering the rating. Include the chains or exclude the chains. Don’t alter the ratings.

The article does not go into detail and the court may not have even taken into account how the algorithm acted.

One point though: Chain mega corps could employ bot farms to game ratings and this may have been taken into account, something not likely accessible by small, independent restaurants.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Tabelog should just create search categories and/or tags for chain and non-chain restaurants, leave the ratings alone, and let the users care about it if they want to. Problem solved.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Always been strange to me how Japanese pick restaurants. If no line they assume it’s bad because “no one there”. I’m like you been there and it’s bad? Friends are like nope never been.

but no one will ever be there if everyone thinks that way because no one will ever go in.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Why would anyone uniformly lower scores of chain restaurants? You can give punters the option to exclude or include types of eaterie if you want, but why put your finger on the scales in such a manner?

Reviewers score on whatever criteria you are assessing, you average it, and post the result.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is ridiculous, can I sue to a newspaper because someone else bought a bigger advert than my business? Can I sue this website because they don't put my comments are the top of the page and less people see it?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I don’t frequent chain restaurants, but if Taro loves his chain restaurant and wants to give it a rating of 5, I don’t think Tabelog should be lowering the rating. Include the chains or exclude the chains. Don’t alter the ratings.

I fully agree with that. My point was just that Tabelog adjusting the score because the people at Tabelog think independent restaurants are better than chains is one thing, but Tabelog adjusting the scores in order to extort money is another. One could at least try to defend the former practice (not saying that I would, just that someone could), but the latter seems just plain corrupt and inexcusable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I’ve had direct contact with the people at tabilog. Bunch of tools!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Never understood why ratings on these sites are so stingy. You can read a review that says "Very delicious food with generous staff and the cleanliness is out of this world! I highly recommend!" And the review will be 3.5 out of 5 stars.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

With all these online things it's always the 'algorithm' behind it all. The Algorithm, as far as I can tell, is some sort of sentient AI that manipulates human behaviour. If Algorithm decides to destroy a company and can do so simply by making them disappear online, shadow banning them from the rest of the world. If your business suddenly sees a drop in customers or your youtube videos are ignored, you've most likely been targeted by the Algorithm as a problem and need to be erased.

What happens when Algorithm decided you shouldn't be allowed to access your bank accounts anymore? We've already seen this happen. When we all drive electric cars Algorithm will decide when and where we can drive. Wanna go for a drive to the beach? Sorry buddy, Algorithm has deemed you unworthy, better work on that beach bod and try again next year.

My only question is why? Why would a super computer want to manipulate human behaviour? And who created it? And is it still under their control?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We stopped using Tabelog and used Google instead in 2011 because we couldn't trust all the issues of false reviews Tabelog over the years.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A 0.2 drop is huge because although the scale officially runs from 1.0-5.0, in reality almost everywhere seems to fall in between about 3.1 and 3.9. It is ridiculous to make that change just because they are a chain - as @Asiaman7 says, if people like the chain then surely their rating should reflect that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

i use tripadvisor instead.more accurate.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder if the person who posted a 1.5/5 review realized they would cause this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I never heard of it. There are three restaurants listed near me, ¥12000-44000.

not for me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Given how widespread the practice of paying for fake reviews (sakura) is in Japan, it's no wonder that companies which do not scrutinize their reviews / reviewers enough need to use "algorithms" to just give the numbers some sense of normality.

On the other hand... Sure, it's difficult for a business to justify spending resources on checking the validity of vast amounts of information, and I have no idea how a consumer could effectively combat this problem beyond only asking the opinion of people you personally trust.

Quite frankly, the average Joe is screwed, and considering all the time and effort that is involved in trying to wade through all the fakeness... I often find that time is better spent just making a delicious meal myself at home.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unless in the court case, the algorithm was reviewed on how it systematically deducted ratings then I'm surprised by the ruling. At the end of the day, the ratings of these sites should be taken with a grain of salt. Regardless of how the algorithm truly is, its essentially using some objective way to model something subjective.

Too many changing factors in a system that isn't meant to be absolute. The quality of the same restaurant will change over time too, or perhaps just a trend in the populace. Some incentive level to game a system that isn't meant to be perfect. So the site is tied to allow people to game it as it pleases?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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