Thursday, July 05, 2012

Online Reviews

There has been some discussion in a LinkedIn group to which I belong about fake reviews on I'm not sure there are a lot of them, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised. I don't understand why people put a lot of faith in ratings by sites like this and These sites neither vet nor pay reviewers, and while most people are honest there are always some who are not.
And speaking of honesty, what can you say about businesses that take advantage of the unpaid labour of thousands of contributors in order to enrich themselves? Trip Advisor is a publicly traded company with a market cap of more than $6 billion. It reminds me of the Huffington Post, which rarely paid writers and then went on to sell itself to AOL for, if I recall correctly, $310 million. It's all part of our brave new Internet age, where you too can fight like a lion to get an unpaid internship at some gigantic Wall Street bank or other large corporation.
It is very convenient to be able to get reviews of hotels, airlines and cruises at the click of a mouse. The fact that some of those reviews may be fake is, perhaps the price you pay for this ease of access. I certainly have looked at these sites too, and actually contributed to TripAdvisor before they made it too difficult, not by verifying contributors but by requiring numerical ranking according to certain criteria.
However, I would not put a lot of trust in online reviews. I'm more likely to check a guidebook if I really want the low down on a place. Some information may be out of date, but the vetting process that goes into producing most guidebooks makes it more likely that their information will be relatively unbiased. Guidebook publishers seldom pay well, but at least as far as I know they still pay something and thus attract a better, more professional class of reviewer.

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