Power to the people! Long gone are the times when we had to trust solely on product advertisement and/or paid reviews on magazines. Back in 2001, Google was still a relatively young enterprise, Amazon was starting to consolidate its business and late Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, was shaking the technology world with its sturdy, attractive and groundbreaking iPod. Only 10 years ago tripadvisor was still a nascent company and we had almost no review sites to help us make our decisions and if we bought magazines it was hard to tell a real review from an ad. But all that has changed… or has it?
The internet has allowed for a boom in the availability of information. I compare the birth of the internet to the invention of the printing press. Not only does it allow people to have almost unlimited and quick access to information but it also allows them to create the content. This, naturally, leads to a number of bogus information, so now, more than ever, we as consumers need to be alert. Here are a couple of common practices used by fake reviewers:
The Self-Promotion Review
It is no secret that online reviews are normally taken advantage of by authors trying to push their books’ sales. Not long ago, Amazon had a number of cases were authors were inflating their own scores by giving their own books positive reviews. How did they respond? They asked their reviewers to become members before posting but their anonimity was and still is an issue.
Another usual fake review practice focuses on leaving negative comments on your competitors’ products, therefore lowering their overall score. This can be seen, for example, all throughout the hotel industry, with hotels “negging” their closest competitors.
The Angry Ex-Employee
Tripadvisor made the headlines in 2010 after a group of hotel owners complained that the negative reviews of their hotel were unfair. It was discovered that some of the reviewers had been employees who had been previously laid off and were looking for a way to get even.
The Craigslist Entrepeneur
Numerous listings have been found on Craigslist offering good reviews for money, as The New York Times reports. One person offers their reviewing skills for $5.
These are just a few and the more creative reviewers get, the even better their methods become…
So, what is the solution to all this?
There are websites, such as hotel.info, which only accept reviews from users who have completed their hotel stay, therefore minimizing the amount of fake reviews. This seems to be one of the best current practices, as the reviews you’ll get (whether objective or emotional) are left by real customers who have indeed spent time at the hotel. Strangely enough, this more honest type of practice has not yet caught on with mainstream audiences.
The internet has opened a pandora’s box and in spite of sites like “tripadvisor-warning” popping up every once in a while, online review sites seem to be getting more popular than ever. It is in our hands to weed out the cheaters.