Gah! I’m trying to sort hotels in Las Vegas, for which Trip Advisor is critical – how else would I know, for example, that the reason the Monte Carlo is cheap at the moment is there’s a big construction project going on in their car park, with overnight pile driving?
However, the traveller ratings are still tricky to interpret – take the Imperial Palace, for example. I’ve found a fantastic deal, but is it any good? Well… Trip Advisor’s reviews vary greatly. It’s clear that some people have had an awful time, but does an average 3/5 rating mean it’s broadly OK, or so variable it’s risky? 3±1 is more reassuring than 3±2.
If more people understood the maths, it’d make perfect sense to quote standard deviations for this sort of thing. To get around that, I wonder if we should start drawing a distribution curve something like Tufte’s sparklines above those five star rating things. That would convey how grouped the ratings are, right?