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Code Reviews Make for Better Estimates

Do online consumer reviews affect restaurant demand? I investigate this question using a novel dataset combining reviews from the website Yelp.com and restaurant data from the Washington State Department of Revenue. Because Yelp prominently displays a restaurant’s rounded average rating, I can identify the causal impact of Yelp ratings on demand with a regression discontinuity framework that exploits Yelp’s rounding thresholds. I present three findings about the impact of consumer reviews on the restaurant industry: (1) a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue, (2) this effect is driven by independent restaurants; ratings do not affect restaurants with chain affiliation, and (3) chain restaurants have declined in market share as Yelp penetration has increased. This suggests that online consumer reviews substitute for more traditional forms of reputation. I then test whether consumers use these reviews in a way that is consistent with standard learning models. I present two additional findings: (4) consumers do not use all available information and are more responsive to quality changes that are more visible and (5) consumers respond more strongly when a rating contains more information. Consumer response to a restaurant’s average rating is affected by the number of reviews and whether the reviewers are certified as “elite” by Yelp, but is unaffected by the size of the reviewers’ Yelp friends network.

A special aspect of agile is that when new members join the team more seasoned engineers mentor the newer members. And code review helps facilitate conversations about the code base. Often, teams have hidden knowledge within the code that surfaces during code review. Newer members, with fresh eyes, discover gnarly, time-plauged areas of the code base that need a new perspective. So, code review also helps ensure new insight is tempered with existing knowledge.

When developers know their code will be reviewed by a teammate, they make an extra effort to ensure that all tests are passing and the code is as well-designed as they can make it so the review will go smoothly. That mindfulness also tends to make the coding process itself go smoother and, ultimately, faster.

Don’t wait for a code review if feedback is needed earlier in the development cycle. Feedback early and often makes for better code, so don’t be shy about involving others–whenever that may be. It’ll make your work better, but it also makes your teammates better code reviewers. And the virtuous cycle continues.

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