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michael kors belts By Today, like it or not, the Internet is a stew of restaurant criticism, with many, if not most, reviews scribbled by amateurs. Their opinions - informed and otherwise - now influence millions of diners seeking advice on Yelp, Urban Spoon, Chowhound and other online sites. Unlike their professional counterparts at newspapers and magazines, these reviewers publish their work immediately and without editing. As a result, online reviews are often badly written and therefore of questionable help - whether or not the eatery in question is being praised for its food or damned for its service. Two of their biggest sins are vague language ("Caesar salad was boring") and unbridled enthusiasm ("This may be one of the best culinary ideas I've ever seen"). Can these reviews be improved? Of course. Here are a handful tips to make your online restaurant reviews sing while standing out as helpful: 1. Tone it down. Avoid superlatives ("best," "awesome," "incredible," etc.) because they don't allow for the fine gradations that make reading a review worthwhile. Try, for example, to compare a dish to one you've eaten elsewhere. Remember, context is everything. 2. Avoid listing dishes. Cramming the ten dishes you and your party scarfed down into your review makes for deadly reading. Instead, concentrate your efforts on a few dishes: The one you liked, the ones you hated, the ones you deemed off-the-wall. 3. Talk about the staff. I don't mean whether your service was good, bad or indifferent. I'm referring to the temperament of the place. Do servers look like they're having a good time? Are they dressed neatly? Do they seem distracted? Help readers grasp the ambiance on the day you visited. 4. Eat on behalf of the customer. True, a review is about your eating experience. But using "I" in every sentence is bad form. Experiment with the second-person ("you"). It gives reviews more immediacy and makes readers believe you're looking out for them. 5. Write confidently. Spell out in plain English what happens to you in the restaurant. Did the hostess, for example, size up you and your date before seating you - and then put you at a lousy table? When you asked for the price of specials, did the server frown? Avoid restaurant jargon (apps, drop the check, deuce). It's showing off. 6. Turn a clever phrase. Not every reviewer is capable of writing as cleverly as New York Times critic Pete Wells. But resist the easy clich ("There's atmosphere in spades here"). Restaurants are typically so rich in visual detail that's it's worth taking time to come up with a vivid phrase or two. 7. Eat dessert. In many restaurants dessert is merely an afterthought, which can provide hilarious examples of how restaurants screw up a dish. On occasion, however, you're rewarded with a thing of beauty and deliciousness. So go for it. 8. Remain anonymous. Staying incognito is the bread-and-butter of the pros, who want to be treated as an Average Joe. That's usually not a problem for online reviewers who, in fact, are Average Joes. Still, hint online that you're Mr. Somebody when you drop by this joint and your cred is shot. A former restaurant critic, David Farkas has written hundreds of articles about food and restaurants for cleveland.com, the Plain Dealer and other publications.