Which new features do you want the most?

1375 Replies

When I search, it would be nice to be able to sort. Today I wanted to find the “white peach” with the highest rating, but I’d have to click every single one! Or maybe I’m missing something?

Uniquity said

If you use the teas tab, you can select different categories (white, flavoured, etc). Then you can sort them by name, company, etc. Not the same as using keyword search, but you can see multiple prpducts (and their ratings) at a time. That might help, I hope! : )

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teafiend said

Too lazy to scroll through. Hand in hand with laziness, I want a mobile app for when I’m out and about and drinking. Drinking tea. AAAAAnnd I think it would be fun to be able to post a picture of how the tea the you’re drinking looks. Cups and all. Tea wear itself is also very important.

This would be awesome – plus it’d be nice to just quickly check what particular places are tea-riffic while out and about. A good app that accurately captures the tea ratings, allows on the go postings and photo uploads along with a view of places would be worth a fee. :)

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DukeGus said

I would like some changes on the tea rating
or maybe some kind of guideline so there is some subjectivity to the ratings.
At least something like a guide for new people in tea, telling them about
smell/taste/aftertaste maybe informing about competition tasting(5-6 min gaiwan etc).

I must say that I my first rating I couldn’t easily choose one. I mean, maybe something like X points for leaves quality/ Y points for smell/ Z for taste/ A for aftertaste etc

You make good points. The way I see it “out here,” the beauty of the system is, do what you want! Come up with a system that works for you, and then implement it in your own reviews! Some have rating systems described in their bio’s; I hope to do the same soon.

Personally, I think the individual comments about the teas say more about the tea than do the raw numbers (since, as you point out, how someone assigns a number can be so subjective). They may be a good starting point, but the ‘beauty’, what really counts, is in the details.

btw, Alex Zorach has a rating scale which takes into account some of what you have mentioned, so you could always check that out (http://ratetea.net/).

DukeGus said

I totally agree about the individual comments, but then again when you filter the teas, the most basic filter is “by rating” :)

Thx for the link m8 ;)

Geoffrey said

Another aspect of the rating system I think deserves some reconsideration is the potential for dishonesty and “gaming” via anonymous ratings. I’ve been on Steepster for a few weeks now and have noticed more than one tea on the “Best Teas” front page take significant drops in score after someone has submitted an anonymous rating. For these teas, I’ve looked through the tasting notes and find no new entries, but I’m really curious what the new rater actually has to say about the tea, or at least I’d like to know who has submitted the rating and what rating was given.

Transparency is a real asset here, for as a reader and contributor it would benefit me nothing to read a “Best Teas” score board full of questionable noise, dishonest self-interest and score gaming. Given the structure of the current system, and the ability to submit anonymous ratings, I’m concerned that the score system could deteriorate into such a sad state, leaving the general membership at a loss as to what to believe, or at least make us work very hard to discern honest ratings from the mentioned noise.

I’m not against the option of anonymous ratings, but I think that it would be much better to distinguish them as “private ratings” that do not count toward a tea’s public score. If someone wants to rate a tea without writing a tasting note, I’m fine with that as well, but these ratings should be on public display so that everyone can see the rating given and the name of the user.

Right now, there appears to be nothing stopping a self-interested party from anonymously rating their own tea a perfect score and submitting scores of zero for competing teas. Giving people the option to engage in that kind of behavior doesn’t help the general membership on here gain a sense of what teas are really worth trying and investing our money in. Let’s be honest about the fact that this site is as much a promotional aid for tea vendors as it is a social forum, and from there consider how best to implement safeguards against the site being ruined by swindlers playing “King of the Hill”.

SimplyJenW said

Yes…I agree. I have seen at least one tea among the best rated (front page)where there is one tasing note of 4 ratings. It is a one time tasting note account and the tea is rated at 100, of course. All the others are anonymous ratings. In looking into a few ratings for that company, there are lots where the tasting notes barely make up half of the ratings… In other words….I would never put any stock in those ratings, but they show up as some of our best rated teas. It kinda messes with the credibility of the whole system. I am not sure I like ratings that figure into a tea’s score if I don’t know where they came from. I feel there is too much opportunity to seriously skew numbers for those who have the time, whether it be by anonymous ratings or decoy accounts.

Due to many of the reasons both of you have mentioned (you both make many good points), and due to the fact that the manner in which the final rating of each tea is determined is a mystery, I personally do not put too much stock in the ratings. I totally agree that transparency is vital to the ratings and that anonymous ratings don’t contribute to the rating of the tea in any meaningful way.

I am not sure how other blogs do this, but I wonder of there is some way to ‘earn’ the right to rate a tea by requiring that some simple conditions be met first. For example, one condition may be that the user must have had the account for at least a week or a month, and another may be to require the user to post a few ‘written only’ reviews first (this may be very difficult to implement on the software side, though, I admit). Thus, you could allow written reviews right away, but just not allow any new users to assign numerical ratings to a tea review until some criteria—-as I mentioned above—-has been met. I don’t know, just thinking out loud. : )

Companies ‘rating’ their own teas also compromises the “creditability of the whole system,” I believe. I don’t see Teavana rating the teas on their website (they do enough already in marketing their tea with their substance-lacking, flowery descriptions to sometimes make me want to gag); if they did, it would be a conflict of interest, just as a tea company rating their teas out here is a conflict of interest. There’s nothing wrong with a company writing a review about their own tea (and the more objective the review in this case, the better). It’s the act of assigning it a numerical rating that, in my opinion, is not right.

So, when it comes down to it, I think the question here is, can the formula/methodology for how a tea gets its combined ‘public rating’ be disclosed to those of us in the masses out here on Steepster?

Geoffrey said

I’m seeing that decoy accounts appear to be a pretty present problem as well. Indeed, one of the current top row “best teas” displays four perfect scores from user accounts betraying an activity and rating history I can only call dubious. I won’t name names, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find. I read through some past threads in which this issue was discussed before.

See:
http://steepster.com/discuss/1048-sabotage
http://steepster.com/discuss/1225-some-interesting-tea-rating-logs-i-was-able-to-uncover

I imagine it’s exceedingly difficult to completely prevent gaming of this kind, but there were some previous suggestions, which I found interesting. In the above “Sabotage?” thread, Jason spoke of developing a kind of reputation scale for users, where users would be weighed as more or less trustworthy over time based on their overall activity (frequency of likes, comments, helpful notes, etc.). Ratings weighted by user reputation could then affect the overall score algorithm. While in some respects this is interesting, I think it also poses its own set of problems, and could make for a more stratified community where large shares of influence can be concentrated into the hands of only the most active members. Not necessarily a good situation, especially when something as subjective as taste is neither absolute nor universal, but perhaps the overall dynamic it creates would be relatively better than the current state of things. In that thread, Jason also said the following:

“Towards, the transparency of ratings. We would definitely consider making ratings more transparent in the future. Given the way the site had developed, ratings without tasting notes was something we wanted to offer, but we hadn’t fully considered how that might leave the system open for potential gaming.”

I would like to know if there has been any follow up consideration of this. It’s certainly a reform that I would like to see. While I understand that showing the names and scores for what are presently anonymous ratings would not stop the problem of gaming with decoy accounts, I still think it would be a good step in the right direction and at least discourage some of the gaming that appears to be happening on here.

@SimpliciTEA: I don’t know if you’ve already seen this, but Steepster has disclosed information about the basis and methodology of the rating system on their blog. See this post:

http://blog.steepster.com/post/247562587/brewing-a-better-rating-system-the-2nd-steep

For my part, I think the use of a weighted algorithm is a good idea, though it does quite go into details about the specific formulations being used.

@Geoffrey: I did not see that post on their blog. Thanks!

Jason admin said

We definitely want to increase transparency with the ratings, it was never intended to hide those (we just didn’t anticipate as many). Although it’s hard to understand on the surface, we’re not convinced the rating system is wrong/flawed, but yea, it needs transparency. That would also help surface the instances of abuse/gaming so they can be dealt with.

Geoffrey said

@Jason – I just noticed your follow up on this. I appreciate that the transparency aspect is a concern of yours. Being a developer myself, I realize that you and your collaborators are probably quite busy much of the time, but I hope that someday we’ll see measures for increased rating transparency implemented on Steepster. It’s a nice social network you guys have built, and on the whole I’m pretty happy to participate in it. My only other occasional disappointment with Steepster is the enormous latency the site sometimes suffers. I don’t know if that’s a server or database issue, but it’s kinda shocking at times to wait minutes for a page or entry query to load.

DukeGus said

Just read Geoffrey’s posts and I must say I agree almost 100%…
It’s on of the most important parts of the site, have you considered changing the scale to like/no like or maybe the weight of every member(could be number of posts…) being calculated in the algorith as Geof suggested…

I too have issues with the ratings, at times I feel like there are people here who are friends or employees of the individual tea companies – I’d really like to see the front page changed so that there are not those highly rated teas at the very front that foster a sense of competition. I’d also like to not allow tea companies to comment and post on your ratings of their teas. In other words, get a life… and take your marketing elsewhere.

As far as marketing on Steepster goes, I don’t mind minimal marketing asking for my business. For example, Tea Vivre sent me a PM basically asking for my business, and after checking them out, and reading CUSTOMER reviews, I’ll probably order from them. I, like some, do not want companies skewing ratings and opinions, marketing their teas here in the ratings/comments section for a specific tea. I want real tea customers to honestly post ratings and reviews of teas. This will undoubtedly influence consumer buying decisions. That is free marketing in a sense. As an example, I never heard of Tea Vivre, or many other companies before. Thanks to (hopefully) honest customer reviews, I will purchase teas based on fellow tea lovers reviews, check out company websites, etc.

So I do not mind a kind, honest PM from a tea company asking for my business. Word of mouth (er….by keyboard) comments and tea reviews by fellow tea lovers, is great PR for hundreds, if not thousands, of tea companies across the net. This alone should be enough, without further “influence” from the tea companies themselves.

Note to Tea Companies:

Let your customers exchange info amongst themselves, regarding their like or dislike of your teas here. The Steepster community, and their HONEST customer reviews, will drive tea lovers to your websites. I do not want any other influence here on Steepster to affect my tea purchases.

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Megs said

I think this has already been suggested, but I’ll add my voice to the group of those who want it – I’d love to be able to rate & read ratings of online retailers. Especially since I live in Canada, it would be good to see other people’s experience with shipping costs, shipping times and quality before placing an order.

kanata said

I’d love this too.

I agree this would be wonderful.

I third this—it would be very helpful.

Jason admin said

I’ve been talking to a user about kinda hacking the places tab to account for online retailers…but you still need a physical address to add the place. If an online shop lists some sort of physical address, even if it’s not a retail store, that can be added and rated.

Ellyn select said

I think this would be an awesome addition to the places tab! I would love to hear other peoples opinions about different retailers.

I am guessing that I’m the user Jason is referring to. I hope to create a new thread soon to invite all on Steepster to do all as I have been doing: review online retailers by either creating a new ‘Place’ with the + Add a Place button on the Places page, entering the online retailer’s name and appending ‘online’ to it, and entering a physical address and all of the other pertinent information, and as was done with these: (http://steepster.com/places?near=&name=online), or by writing another review of an online place that already exists.

If you don’t know how to do this, respond here and I would be happy to help you.

btw, you have to scroll down to see the list (12 online ‘Places’ listed on two pages).

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kanata said

I’m sure this has been mentioned before but I’m new here so I’ll toss in my hat for a place where we could just list what tea we are drinking that day/time. I’d like to keep track of what I’m drinking (thought the tea log would be like that) but don’t want to fill up the review area when I have no further notes on the tea besides “yup, drinking it again”. I think it’d be neat to see how much of this stuff I’m actually consuming.

Uniquity said

You can “write” a review without actually putting any words in, and it will show in your tealog and your cupboard counts, if that’s what you mean? I eventually had to stop logging every cup because it looked like very dramatic numbers. : )

kanata said

Ah, cool. Thanks. I’ll give that a try. I’m sure I will get discouraged after awhile when I see those pots add up. :)

This would be nice – maybe a different area like instead of tea reviews have a tea drinking where you can maybe write a little comment if you want and also review how it brewed up just then as opposed to the overall review and rating. I know sometimes my mood and the season affects how I feel about a tea, I LOVE T2’s white Xmas during Christmas but during the rest of the yeah I’m so so, just like I’ve noticed as it nears US Thanksgiving a lot of people seem to be reviewing Pumpkin Pie flavoured teas, of course they might love them just as much all year round but it got me thinking.

Jason admin said

If you log a tea multiple times, they’ll show up on the tea page but they should be grouped under one tasting note and you’ll have to click the “See X more” button to see them all. Hopefully that allows people to log teas multiple times without feeling like they’re “spamming” the tea page.

Just tried this and it worked – it doesn’t show up unless you click on the more button. Awesome. Thanks Jason. :)

When I review a tea the review stands, unless I need to add further to the original review. For me I’d rather update the original review, even if a new lot of the same tea is dramatically different from year to year, and I believe the updates are posted at the top of the page-if you put them there. That way there is a flowing review from year to year, with the most recent updates at the top. That’s just how I prefer doing it. :))

I’ve noticed that – it does read really smoothly and I like the way you update on any changes in the taste of the same tea by the same company – I’ve noticed some tea does seem to change dramatically with no notice by the company or even an understanding that it has changed so it’s really good reading that from your reviews – I was beginning to think it was all in my head!

So many options of how to review!

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Sorry if this has been said before – I would really, really love a “wishlist” and “shopping list” button to be added next to “like” when you’re reading through reviews. I read some reviews and I’m so JEALOUS of the awesome tea they’re describing and due to price/location etc I can’t add it to a shopping list but would like a wishlist that I could access for special occasions and just go “these please” :) And by putting them next to the likes it means you could read through your “following” reviews and not have to go to the actual tea place. Quick and easy.

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Ellysa said

I’m going to join the “I don’t know if this has been said before but…” group, here. I’m wondering if maybe I’ve missed this feature somewhere, and if not I’d like to suggest it!

You know the little rating bar that shows up when you are adding a new tea rating/note? Is there any way to access just that bar, with ALL the teas I’ve rated so far? (I’ve noticed it only shows a couple of the most recent ones you’ve rated.) So that I can see which ones I’ve rated, and what I’ve rated them altogether (and in comparison to others), instead of having to scroll back through all my tasting notes? I realize this might start to get complicated for people with a TON of ratings… but if there’s some way to organize it like this, with just the tea name and in order of ranking… that would be aaaaaawesome!

@Ellysa: I’m not sure if this is what you want, but each account has a Tea Ratings page that may just do what you are asking here (you may have to be patient to wait for it to load, as for some reason, the page always takes awhile to load for me). You can also sort with the Sort by drop-down menu positioned just above the rating of the first tea (here is the link to your Tea Ratings page, sorted by Highest rated http://steepster.com/abhayamudra/teas?sort=rating which you can access through your account drop-down menu at the upper right hand corner when you are logged in).

Once you are at the page the beauty of the setup is all you have to do to change the rating is to left-click the rating number, make your change on the bar, and select Save.

Ellysa said

Oh my gosh. Thanks for pointing that out… that is essentially what I wanted. I thought I had clicked that link before, but you’re right about it taking forever to load. Maybe I just didn’t wait long enough? Thanks so much!

Jason admin said

Yea, that page is running a bunch of calculations that really slows things up – it’s basically calculating every rating order for each possible filter on that page. So if you have a lot of ratings it will take a while. If/when we get a chance to go back and optimize things, we do have that on our list.

Ellysa said

No problem, I understand completely! I have no problem exercising my patience when it’s for something I appreciate. :)

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Rob Chant said

I’d like to see some way to suggest the consolidation of different teas. It’s not uncommon to see several listings for what is clearly the same tea from the same company, e.g. one person has listed it, and then another and another has listed it with slightly different names or spellings. Maybe I’m being too geeky, but it bothers me!

Another similar but kind of opposite problem is when a tea company lists a particular picking. All subsequent ratings of that tea over future years will often still be on that old picking, rather than new ones. I know that’s a harder problem to solve though,

Jason admin said

For the first suggestion, just shoot me an email and I’ll take care of it (jason @ steepster.com)

For the second, that is trickier. That will probably be considered farther down the road.

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Wonks said

I would like to be able to connect with some locals. Maybe a search by “50 miles within zipcode” or something along those lines would be great. :]

Ellyn select said

I would love this also! This would be so helpful to follow locals, see what they are drinking, where they are shopping, etc.

Wonks said

Exactly Ellyn. It may be because I’m in the heart of east texas, but I slightly feel like some sort of a minority among coffee drinkers here lol. I suppose for some big city steepsters this may not be much of an issue because they have so many tea lounges around, but for people like me… fellow tea drinkers are a rarity.

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Angrboda said

Considering what just happened to poor Rob’s post when he merely tried to politely introduce himself and it got flooded with 200+ of bot-spam… would it be possible to introduce a small amount of captcha? Not every time, but like triggered by every nth post or x amount of days or maybe just on the first post on the board?

(I cannot believe I just said that!)

Jason admin said

:) That’s actually on our list of little bugs to fix/improvements. It’d be great not to have to, but obviously it’s necessary. I try to do my best to keep an eye on it, I just can’t keep up with them all the time.

Angrboda said

We know. I can’t shake the feeling, though, that every time one spam message pops up, you get pelted by twenty notifications about it from the users :/

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