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'Fake' Reviews 2.

Cork, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Ireland
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13,571 posts
369 reviews
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'Fake' Reviews 2.

The Irish Hotels federation would like Tripadvisor to put in place measures that will help to weed out fake reviews on the travel site. I bet it would !!

It was no surprise for me to hear on the news today that a hotel group either intended to, or actually did suggest their staff post fake positive reviews about their own places of work.

I have been involved regularly with Tripadvisor since 2005 and it didn't take me long to realise that fake reviews were part and parcel of the site.

After using the site for a while it is not difficult to recognise suspicious reviews and posts.

Short of doing a DNA test, conducting a personal interview not to mention a lie detector test with each and every accommodation reviewer, Tripadvisor will never be able to verify that reviews (and posts) are genuine or fake. It would be an absolutely impossible task. No software in the world could handle such a verification process.

Instead of being ironic, the Irish Hotels Federation would better spend their time encouraging their members to do what they are supposed to do, that is to provide a good quality hotel experience at a reasonable cost to their customers. Asking TripAdvisor to do the impossible is hardly useful.

I hope the following will help any new visitors to TripAdvisor get the most from the site and hopefully detect suspicious and fake reviews.

First, to explain the types of reviewers I have encountered on TripAdvisor over the past 6 years.

1. The genuine reviewer.

This is someone who is interested enough to share with others details of an accommodation experience in their own words. The reviews vary from one or two lines to numerous paragraphs and in all cases are given in good faith and are genuine.

2. The Rant Merchant

This is someone who feels like a rant, and posts a negative review, generally in outburst fashion, just to get back at an accommodation for whatever reason.

3. The Owner/Manager/Employee/Relation

This is someone who posts a fake positive review about an accommodation that they work at or are connected to in some way, but have not used as a customer. Worse still, it could be someone who posts a fake negative review about a competitor.

4. The Troll. Is not unique to TripAdvisor. Trolls exist on all web forums. They can be summed up as 'troublemakers' with a "primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response"

Second, how to get the best info from the review sections.

Reviewers with a good history of mixed reviews and posts can generally be depended on and in the main can be considered genuine reviewers.

If a reviewer has less than 50 contributions, I generally move on to the next.

I absolutely avoid reviews with just 1 contribution. It could be genuine, but I'm not willing to take a chance on that. Most of the suspicious reviews I have come across come from reviewers with very few contributions. (Note the word suspicious, not fake)

A genuine reviewer will generally have quite a few posts and reviews, most of which will be amiable or at the very least, legitimate.

The Rant Merchant will be an obvious one. Usually very few posts, the majority of which will be grouchy.

The owner/manager/Employee/Relation is a more difficult reviewer to identify. Any obvious ones will post a fairly short post (few lines), writing in glowing terms about the accommodation, with not many details. Sometimes the post reads like advertising blurb.

The Troll. If the Trolls existence is not obvious by his first post, it won't take many more to establish this. I ignore Trolls, they are harmless, but aggravating.

Finally, it says a lot about an accommodation provider that has to stoop so low as to arrange fake positive reviews. It's probably not illegal but it is underhanded.

Edited: 31 January 2012, 23:16
Dublin
Destination Expert
for Valletta
Level Contributor
8,306 posts
2 reviews
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21. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

Great article Bryno not one for doing reviews myself might get locked up if I did more.

Fredericksburg, Va
Destination Expert
for Fredericksburg
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829 posts
144 reviews
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22. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

Hello. Isn't the point of TA to assist our fellow travelers? And doesn't this include our reviews, so others can benefit from our experiences, both good and bad? Or do we just satisfy our own needs when we respond to forums only(sometimes with 1 line answers of just a few words) and not review places we have stayed at or eaten in by individuals that have thousands of forum posts, hundreds of destinations identified on our travel maps, but darn few reviews? Anyway, Bryno, I did like your original posting, both very funny and very true.

Medina, Ohio
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464 posts
27 reviews
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23. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

I knew fake reviews are probably out there, but in my years of using tripadvisor I never really tried to decipher which ones might be the fake ones. In my opinion, it would take to many fake reviews to offset a rating for a particular hotel. Which means that a hotel employee would need to sign up many times on tripadvisor to post reviews for the same hotel or there would have to be many hotel employees willing to even post such reviews. The times when I am trying to pick out a hotel, it is a given that some may have the terrible reviews which may be genuine but may also just be those "rant merchants" so it is best to just compare the ratio of poor reviews to the good ones. That way at least you know that if you have 200 great reviews and 20-30 terrible ones, then you can probably assume those negative reviews come from very picky people or those rant merchants. But if you have a genuinely crappy hotel with many negative reviews, there will be no amount of fake good reviews that will convince people otherwise.

Edited: 03 February 2012, 02:57
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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8,161 posts
46 reviews
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24. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

>>>Isn't the point of TA to assist our fellow travelers? And doesn't this include our reviews, so others can benefit from our experiences, both good and bad? Or do we just satisfy our own needs when we respond to forums only(sometimes with 1 line answers of just a few words) and not review places we have stayed at or eaten in by individuals that have thousands of forum posts, hundreds of destinations identified on our travel maps, but darn few reviews?<<<

No I do not feel compelled to assist others (or TA) by contributing free content to their web site. I'm happy to provide input and advice when I believe I have something relevant to contribute, but reviews? No not really, sorry.

Belgium
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1,493 posts
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25. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

roblox,

I know of one restaurant in Rome which, sometimes, somehow, seems to attract a bevy of positive reviews, in rapid succession, immediately after a negative one. The ration is about 7 positives (Very good or excellent) for everyone negative (poor of terrible). Often the negative is pushed right off the front page.

That means that out of your 200 figure, 25 are negative.

I'll assume that perhaps they just went there on a bad day and by sheer coincidence, about 50 of those that fit into the rapid succession flow are genuine. That still means that over half are questionable.

personally the reviews I like are the ones that provide fringe information so I can learn a bit more about the general area.

Rating are meaningless.

Medina, Ohio
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464 posts
27 reviews
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26. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

I also like the reviews that provide fringe information. But the best part of tripadvisor to me are the traveller photos. Before travel sites like tripadvisor and the internet in general you only had the option of looking at the hotel photos that were taken by the hotel which were obviously when the hotel was brand new and a designer would make it all pretty looking. Then when you show up at the hotel you get a musty room in the basement with peeling paint and broken furniture. Now the hotel isn't able to scam me in with pretty pics and I am able to look at real pictures of a real hotel room that others have posted. Of course the pic wont tell me how great the service is but I would much rather have a clean hotel room with bad service then good service with a dirty room.

Cork, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Ireland
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13,571 posts
369 reviews
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27. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

Roblox. I agree. The reviewer photos are one of the best things about Tripadvisor. I remember the days when choosing an accommodation sometimes meant leafing through a glossy brochure filled with happy smiling people, spotlessly clean rooms, magnificent views from your hotel window, and smiling welcoming staff with trays of champagne !!!

The 'Tripadvisor' of the 'olden days' was brochures, postcards and word of mouth!

Saginaw, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Western Ireland
Level Contributor
8,099 posts
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28. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

For some reason, I can't locate the original from The Times (of London); maybe, because it's an ad?

From yesterday's Daily Mail:

http://tinyurl.com/73qhbq2

Western Ireland...
Destination Expert
for Southport, Connemara, County Clare, Portumna
Level Contributor
19,601 posts
63 reviews
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29. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

I guess using that algorithm that half of my few reviews are fake?

Hopefully TA and other sites have removed all the reviews in question and offered some form of apology themselves.

Ireland
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2,060 posts
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30. Re: 'Fake' Reviews 2.

I am another who finds the traveller photos valuable. Some of the top 5 hotels in my own destination recieve glowing reports they make these places sound like 5 star hotels but the reality is the nicest hotels in my destination rarely reach the top 15. The reason why is they are way more expensive and out of a lot of peoples price range. The ones in the top 5 are cheap and cheerful all inclusive and provide great customer services but the rooms are small facilities are limited and are dated. I wouldnt stay in them if you paid me I prefer to go away les frequently but to a nicer hotel.

So it is in my opinion a case of different strokes for different folks. The traveller pics should be your first port of call when looking at reviews they will let you know if the establishment is one you would like to stay in. Then look through the reviews and see how the food and services are rated, if someone complains/praises something that would not affect you then discard that review and move on to the next one.

Edited: 17 February 2012, 18:45