It seems that the thereview system is, well, under review. recently highlighted TripAdvisor’s warning about certain reviews:
…”TripAdvisor has reasonable cause to believe that either this property or individuals associated with the property may have attempted to manipulate our popularity index by interfering with the unbiased nature of our reviews. Please take this into consideration when researching your travel plans.”
This story is getting a lot of traction because it speaks to what most people feel about about user-generated reviews…everyone reads them, but no one trusts them entirely.
People are generally lazy and writing a review that has value takes work. Not a lot of work, but work nonetheless. Overcoming the lazy threshold usually requires either a wonderful experience or a miserable one. Both of these scenarios exaggerate what would be considered a “typical” scenario and aren’t terribly helpful.
When people go to the trouble to write a review there is a natural desire to be noteworthy. It’s hard to be noteworthy mimicking the sentiments of the crowd, even if that sentiment is accurate. And of course when the reviewer is anonymous, it’s sometimes fun to act like a raving lunatic.
User generated review systems like TripAdvisor.com are also rife with conflicts of interest. Businesses being reviewed have an incentive to self-promote, competitors have an incentive to talk trash and the website has an incentive to generate as much content as possible.
Quantcast estimates that TripAdvisor.com receives 8.6 million monthly visits. No one knows how many reviews on are fake but if TripAdvisor feels compelled to slap a warning label on their website, you can bet the number is big.
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