Someone's Making Money but...
that is, there are commercial tie-ins up the wazoo (links to Booking Buddy, Cruise Critic, Family Vacation Critic, Seat Guru, Flip Key, and on and on and on and on) on the site, and therefore you can in many ways consider this a travel portal (aggregator, linker); however--big however--they do seem to offer authentic traveler reviews about everything you can imagine that is even remotely associated with trips and tripping (no, not that kind). Among them:
On to Where the Land Runs Out
As some of you know, I'll be heading to Chile (according to the Chilean national consular site: "where the land runs out") for my sabbatical, on February 1, 2010. And so, as you can imagine, I've had to research the whole kit and caboodle. Enter: Trip Advisor.
While it would take me a month of Sundays to begin to describe the site, allow me to say here, dear Writing for New Media friendos, that I found a place to lodge based on reviews such as these:
Whether or not these or others like them were penned by shills, I cannot say. I can say, however, that it seemed tonally and substantively appropriate, and so I believe it. And, believing is all.
Polyglottal (sic?) Panorama
Reading it in many languages seems to help. And reading about the IT from those who are as far-flung as you can imagine helps, too. (True, I give more credence/put more stock/am willing to hear what anyone other than U.S. and A Americans have to say. My U.S. and A anti-bias flops out....). That is, it is not uncommon to find reviews penned in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese--from people based in countries around the globe. And I do love and respect anyone who ain't from around here...
Have an Expert, Will Travel
In addition to "User" reviews, I also found Destination Experts, who, according to the site:
...are the backbone of the TripAdvisor community. They are regular contributors who exemplify the best of our forums, giving helpful, friendly advice and welcoming new members. They are passionate about the destinations they represent. Whether resident locals or frequent visitors, they have up-to-date knowledge of what's going on in their destinations.
PS - Destination experts are volunteers, so don't be afraid to say "thanks" when they've provided you with helpful advice!
I'll let you know (in the form of a Trip Advisor review, of course) when I return.