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Tripadvisor being investigated [moved from NAF]

Quimbombo Sep 2, 2011 05:29 AM

if their reviews are genuine.


  1. hal2010 Apr 25, 2012 04:47 PM

    I know there are reviews on Tripadvisor that were posted by the hotels themselves, because I used to be a moderator on a travel site and we'd get the same, obviously fake accounts, trying to post reviews there. Tripadvisor needs better moderation and closer scrutiny of reviews.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hal2010
      mcf Apr 25, 2012 05:03 PM

      Tripadvisor isn't interested in better moderation or reliability. They usually ignore obvious pointers and even documented fraud and abuse.

    2. FoodChic Apr 25, 2012 10:38 AM

      I have to say that I've questioned this myself. The DH and I have spent a ricidulous amount of time in New Orleans over the last 12 years. As a result, there are few restaurants I've not been to, or know about.

      So, out of the blue some restaurant that I've never heard of, and most NOLA hounders never heard of either, suddenly comes out of nowhere to be placed at the #1 rated restaurant on Trip Advisor. It stayed there for months, but now is not even in the top twenty. If you frequent TA, you know there is rarely that big of a fluctuation on their top rated restaurants.

      2 Replies
      1. re: FoodChic
        TrishUntrapped Apr 25, 2012 04:09 PM

        It makes you wonder if someone paid...and then stopped paying, doesn't it? For me that's the whole problem with TA's restaurant rankings. A lot of them just don't make sense unless there is something going on behind the scenes.

        1. re: TrishUntrapped
          racer x Apr 25, 2012 04:32 PM

          You could be right, Trish. But I've never worried that it was pay-to-play. I've just had the sense that owners were gaming the ranking algorithm, using search engine optimization strategies and getting phony positive reviews posted (written by insiders themselves or by paid reviewers).

      2. r
        racer x Apr 19, 2012 08:00 AM

        Another eye-opener about Tripadvisor's problems, from London:

        "A restaurant that is not even open is currently ranked 17th best in London, and two Telegraph Travel readers have been offered £180 to delete a negative view they posted of a hotel in Gloucestershire"

        "a glowing review was submitted of a luxury Caribbean resort.... In a subsequent posting, however, the writer said that she was an investor in the hotel and had been encouraged by its owners to publish the first review. She also alleged that 'at least half' of the other reviews of the hotel had been written by fellow investors.

        The owners deny that, but the general manager of the hotel appears to admit, in a response to one review, that the practice took place."
        Telegraph, "TripAdvisor under fire over fraud detection" 3/22/2012

        6 Replies
        1. re: racer x
          TrishUntrapped Apr 20, 2012 05:50 AM

          Thanks for the update racer!

          I noticed today that in the listing of restaurants for New York City, a spot called Cassellula Cheese & Wine Cafe is ranked #5. From accounts I've read, this is simply a wine and cheese spot. And there are ONLY 36 reviews for it on Trip Advisor.

          So how could a place with so few reviews make the top 10 of more than 5,000 New York restaurants listed on Trip Advisor??

          Something is seriously wrong with their algorithm - or worse.

          Someone at Trip Advisor is either asleep at the wheel - or worse.

          1. re: TrishUntrapped
            mcf Apr 22, 2012 02:18 PM

            I think it's both negligence and allowing corruption of the whole review database by proprietors.

            1. re: mcf
              Chris VR Apr 23, 2012 08:03 AM

              My recent experience suggests you're right. I reported some obviously shilly posts on a B&B. After a week or so, the posts were removed, but a week or two later, they were back, along with responses from the owner. I suspect the owner paid them off, so I didn't bother re-reporting them.

              1. re: Chris VR
                mcf Apr 23, 2012 09:37 AM

                There ya go. They never even removed the restaurant owner's made up response to me when I reported it, nor a hotel owner's.

                1. re: mcf
                  Chris VR Apr 24, 2012 09:34 AM

                  They did remove (and seems to have stayed permanently removed) a response from the same owner calling one of the reviewers a liar (I reported that one as well and it was removed really quickly). But I have to say I wish I hadn't reported that one, because the owner seems to be such a schmuck, it's better for prospective guests to see that.

                  1. re: Chris VR
                    mcf Apr 24, 2012 10:45 AM

                    I was able to supply pictures of the filth the owner claimed I didn't have. That and his long diatribe against me lowered his prices a lot, for years now, despite all his fake reviews keeping him number one.

        2. t
          tvmovielover Oct 4, 2011 04:51 AM

          My reviews on TA are genuine but I have no idea if other people think so since I do not look at my ratings. I write what I think and what I liked for people to take or leave. I judge other TA reviews in the context of all the reviews for a given place with special attention to the most recent. That said, like many here I use TA for hotels and CH for food recs and have had pretty good luck with both in the last few years. Like many have said, you have to read between the lines. I gave a glowing TA review to a hotel we stayed at in Seattle this summer (liked the hotel and neighborhood) that made my husband say, "Are you kidding?" (He did not care for the price point) so it is always a matter of taste, price, and what you are looking for. I sometimes look at places we have stayed or eaten at to see how they were rated as a check. With Amazon, I look at reviews of books I know and love as a check. After reading this thread, I am going to start looking at a reviewer's history more carefully. OTOH, I do not put much of my history online and I write reviews sporadically so that on TA for example, I am currently listed as a new reviewer though I have written several reviews over time. By the way, I did not know TA made lists and never read them and now never will after seeing that list of best NYC restaurants.

          1. a
            Axlsgoddess Sep 23, 2011 08:19 PM

            What safeguards and procedures does Chowhound have in place that makes reviews here for the most part honest and true per the consensus vs. safeguards and procedures TA and Yelp have in place that the consensus views their reviews as for the large part pedestrian, fake or unsophisticated?

            10 Replies
            1. re: Axlsgoddess
              rworange Sep 24, 2011 08:28 AM

              What does that mean "consensus views"? Does that mean it is up to the posters to report?

              It is the same here but on steroids. Post a false glowing review or a backbiting revenge review and posters will call you on it ... IMMEDIATELY.

              People will post that their experience at the restaurant was nothing like that or report it to the mods.

              The nature of a disucssion board is that eyes are always reading and responding. As far as just reporiting an obvious shill, there is the report button and the mods here take care of it pretty quickly if they in fact, determine if it is a shill.

              What else they do, I am not sure of what happens behind the scenes.

              On yelp it takes weeks or at the minimum days. The same restaurant was shilling here and on yelp. Chowhound moderaters removed it that day after I reported it. It took almost a month to get it removed from yelp and that was after a number of frustrated yelpers called this restaurant out in the review section ... and at first ... some of those were removed before they finally took down the restaurant shill reviews.

              One caveat on this site and it is NOT on the Chowhound side.

              Do NOT trust the quick review section on the restaurant records.


              Most Chowhounds don't use it for the most part and it has such low visibility that it is the playground of shills. I report those as I see them ... or do an opposing viewpoint on what the restaurant is really like if it doesn't live up to those five stars or is trashed by someone being vengeful.

              However, even I don't check that section much, so spotting those only happens as I am updating a record with new info ... so not much.

              As much as Chowhounds would hate this, I wish that the star ratings appeared along with the linked restaurant on the right of the page ... maybe under the "been there/wanna go" buttions.

              That would give Chowhounds some visibility to this. Most people don't distinguish Chow from Chowhound. I feel this is a blot on Chowhounds. It makes the entire site less credible. Someone sees one of those glowing quick reviews, gets burnt and think Chowhound is worthless.

              If Chowhounds could see some of those undeserving star rating maybe, at least, they would alert moderators or add their own quick review to balance that opinion.

              Then Chow made one of the worst decisions, IMO, as far as that quick review section.

              You do NOT have to sign up for this site to do a quick review. You can do a quick review from your facebook page without being a member of Chow/Chowhound.

              If you click on the user name for that five star review in the above link for Stinking Rose, you can't.

              That came from facebook.

              That DESTROYS the ability of posters to determine if the review is a shill or not because there is ZERO history.

              Also, I'm suspicious of the other review where the poster signed up for Chow. Quick reviews don't appear in history. Who knows if that person has entered other reviews or not. No trail.

              There is a sentence in that particular review that a first time customer is unlikely to know.

              On the boards, if I see a shilly review, I'll look at the poster's profile to determine their history before reporting it.

              I learned about the facebook thing when I saw some quick reviews that were a bit over enthusiastic for what the place was, IMO. I tried to look at the posters history and was unable to click on the name. I contacted the mods about what I thought might be shills. I assumed these posters had been banned from the site and thus no history.

              Nope. I was told the Chow staff had entered these five star reviews from their facebook pages.

              As long as the ability to enter quick reviews without signing up for Chow/Chowhound is in place, I would make that section the least reliable restaurant reporting of the entire web. Even on tripadvisor you can look at someone's history.

              1. re: rworange
                racer x Sep 24, 2011 10:43 AM

                rworange: "What does that mean "consensus views"? Does that mean it is up to the posters to report?

                It is the same here but on steroids. Post a false glowing review or a backbiting revenge review and posters will call you on it ... IMMEDIATELY. "

                Not necessarily. I know what you mean, but I think it depends on the geographic area and who is reading the particular threads.

                It's not all that uncommon here for some new poster with a suspicious name like "TheCupcakeMaven" to appear from out of nowhere and post a glowing recommendation for a shop that nobody's ever heard of in a thread on cupcakes (similar with burgers, or pizza joints, or gelaterias), then never post anything else again.

                On some CH boards, this kind of post is removed or challenged quickly, but on others it's just left alone. The difficulty is that when the post first appears, you don't necessarily know yet whether it's just a new user who happens to be particularly passionate about that kind of food. (And I don't know - maybe it isn't so bad if that's the only way you might find out about a lower-profile place's existence.)

                1. re: racer x
                  rworange Sep 24, 2011 11:06 AM

                  When in doubt, report. The mods can do any additional work to determine how legit it is.

                  However, on the restaurant record "quick review" section, because of the lack of history, i'm less likely to turn over suspicious stuff to the mods because of that problem of not being able to track a poster if they came from facebook or are only posting on the restaurant page and not the boards. Shill heaven.

                  1. re: racer x
                    mcf Sep 24, 2011 01:10 PM

                    I've never reported suspicious posts like the one time poster you describe without seeing it removed promptly, and I've done so many, many times. On various boards here. This is the single most reliably and vigilantly policed place online that I know of, other than some private moderated groups that are quite small.

                    1. re: mcf
                      rworange Sep 24, 2011 01:38 PM

                      I am NOT talkking about the boards.

                      I am talking about the Chow restaurant 'quick review' section that I linked to above. . That is, for the most part, not loooked at by Choshound postrers and, from what I've noticed, doesn't get much attention from the mods.

                      That is not to say that the mods haven't removed the few reviews I've reported.

                      I have NOT reported the Stinking Rose quick reviews. It COULD be clueless tourists. I have no way to know. I can]t see their posting history either on Chowhound or for the Chow restaurant database.

                      Listen, mcf,I've said this a number of times on Site Talk. I am hoping somewhere along the line someone will take a second look at what is happening on the Chow database records.

                      The quick review section undermines the credibility of both Chow and Chowhound.

                      This is worse than any review site on the web.

                      1. re: rworange
                        mcf Sep 24, 2011 05:51 PM

                        I'm sorry, I must not have read carefully enough. I don't usually read Chow... but I can see how frustrating that would be, since it completely put me off of TA.

                        1. re: mcf
                          Axlsgoddess Sep 24, 2011 08:01 PM

                          perhaps this is fhe fatal flaw on user based review boards because they are by the people for the people? It seems as if there really is no way to uniformally police public based sites that I can think of. I am relatvely new to Chowhound and before your response to my question, I was unaware of the Chow reviews. Good to know.

                      2. re: mcf
                        rworange Sep 24, 2011 07:41 PM

                        .>>> On various boards here.

                        I am not talking about the boards. I am talking about the quick review section on the restuarant record.

                        I got a longer reply deleted, and this is the last attempt I will try to explain that I am talking about two different parts of this site.

                        The boards have high visibility and are well policed by users. IMO, these are the most reliable restaurant reports on the web due to users and mods working together.

                        The restaurant record quick reviews have low visibility and a number of problems I've mentioned. If the mods know about the shilling they will remove shills there as well, but it is harder to catch there even if anyone does read those quick reviews because of the problems I mentioned. They are the least reilable reports I know of on the web.

                        It is not a moderator problem It is a fundamental design problem.

                        1. re: rworange
                          mcf Sep 25, 2011 06:06 AM

                          I acknowledged a few posts back that I'd erred in not realizing you were speaking of CHOW. I have no idea what is causing you to post redundant and exclamatory responses since that point.

                          1. re: mcf
                            HillJ Sep 25, 2011 10:24 AM

                            Agreed mcf, rw,why not bring it directly to the CHOW desk/staffers where your observations can do the most good?

                2. dave_c Sep 13, 2011 11:36 AM

                  Maybe I'm just cynical, but Trip Advisor, Citysearch, "Inside", Yelp, Amazon... any rating website I take with a grain of salt.

                  This may be an argument for a paid, professional critic would be nice. The downside is there's too much for a few professionals to cover.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: dave_c
                    racer x Sep 13, 2011 02:11 PM

                    Not necessarily. It would be foolish to think that paid, professional critics are immune to pressures to review fraudulently.

                    1. re: racer x
                      dave_c Sep 14, 2011 11:02 AM

                      A paid professional will be a known person associated with a reputable organization. If they review fraudulently, they blow their reputation and job. There's more at stake for a professional critic while on the websites I mentioned there is a degree of anonymity where shills can post with no concerns.

                      However, I still take any review with a grain of salt.

                      1. re: racer x
                        Jim Leff Sep 14, 2011 01:19 PM

                        I don't know every single critic, but I do know lots of them. And out-and-out fraud hardly ever happens. What does happen, all the time, is co-option and subversion. Critics get too cozy with restaurateurs, and, even if they try not to let it affect them, it does. Restaurateurs are really good at stroking egos and striking up pseudo-friendships without ever overtly offering the sort of quid pro quo that might trip the trip wire or destroy plausible deniability.

                        I've seen others fall for it many times. I came along on a research meal at Babbo with a very well known critic whose ass Batali was kissing nine ways till Sunday (invited him out fishing that weekend, etc.). He was pompously certain it wouldn't affect his criticism, but he was deluding himself. And there was no need for actual bribery to take place. It happens all the time.

                        So, yeah, professional critics can't be counted on to be objective, either. But unlike paid reviewers on opinion sites, it's not out-and-out fraud.

                      2. re: dave_c
                        TrishUntrapped Sep 15, 2011 05:54 AM

                        Actually, I prefer reviews by regular people rather than paid professionals. Of course, that is supposed to be the point of TA, Yelp, etc... I think Web sites can do much more to control content, but in most cases turn a blind eye to it.

                      3. BananaBirkLarsen Sep 11, 2011 08:23 PM

                        I don't know anything about Tripadvisor, but I'm a writer and I do a lot of freelance web content. I don't even know how many reviews I've written for products and services I've never tried, don't know anything about, and didn't even know existed before getting the assignment. I've even written travel reviews for places I've never been, so if I haven't written for Tripadvisor, I've probably written for similar websites. I've been writing for 5 months now and I don't trust anything I read online anymore.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                          scubadoo97 Sep 12, 2011 05:31 AM

                          Very revealing

                          1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                            mcf Sep 12, 2011 06:31 AM

                            I guess we can all discount anything you write on CH recommending a place or product, then?

                            No amount of money in the world could induce me to lie for a living.

                            1. re: mcf
                              BananaBirkLarsen Sep 12, 2011 02:24 PM

                              I'm not being paid to post on CH, nor have I ever been paid to post something directly online. But yes, you should take everything you read on the internet (or anywhere, really) with a grain of salt.

                              And it isn't a lot of money, actually, it's barely enough to get by. A little more than a penny per word. But after a year of unemployment, I learned not to be picky.

                              To clarify, I don't just write fake reviews for hire. I write web content through a perfectly legal company that works with freelance writers and internet marketers. Many of the articles I write end up as content on blogs and websites. Most are more geared towards inserting keywords for search engines and getting traffic to the client's website than they are to reviewing products. I try to skip as many of the review-type ones as I can, and stick more to the "How To" style articles. But sometimes there aren't enough articles to go around and you take what you can get. In those cases, I think most writers try to do as much research as they can and write their reviews based on educated guesses.

                              But is it really that surprising? People have been giving fake testimonials on TV for years in ads and infomercials.

                              1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                                TrishUntrapped Sep 12, 2011 07:46 PM

                                Nope, sadly it's not surprising. Like the hokey pokey, that's what it's all about.

                                1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                  BananaBirkLarsen Sep 12, 2011 09:04 PM

                                  Yep, sad but true. And the world of SEO is a whole 'nother thing entirely. That's actually what creeps me out more. The lengths some people will go to up their search engine rankings.

                                  1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                                    racer x Sep 13, 2011 02:25 PM

                                    "... the world of SEO is a whole 'nother thing entirely. That's actually what creeps me out more"

                                    You can't be serious, BananaBirkLarsen.

                                    Lies disguised as valid information are, over the long run, a much more serious threat to the ability to make effective use of available knowledge than is an overload with valid but irrelevant or less useful information.

                                    1. re: racer x
                                      BananaBirkLarsen Sep 13, 2011 03:01 PM

                                      I'm talking about the way SEO is practiced, not the way that it is laid out in Google's guide to SEO. It doesn't have a thing to do with information being valid or irrelevant or truthful or misleading. All that matters is that the keywords are there and that they backlink to the fake blog (which has the same article spun fifty times) which backlinks to the website, all so the Google bots can't tell that the get-rich-quick-downloadable-ebook scam company is trying to manipulate their system. Putting an article through spinning software fifty times will inevitably change at least part of its meaning, regardless of how valid it may have been at the beginning. Sorry, but I think that's every bit as bad, and every bit as manipulative, as a few fake restaurant reviews on Tripadvisor.

                                      The whole system is screwed up. The whole idea of the internet as a marketing tool is screwed up. It's makes everything so convoluted that it's impossible to find real information anymore.

                                      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                                        TrishUntrapped Sep 13, 2011 06:03 PM

                                        "The whole system is screwed up. The whole idea of the internet as a marketing tool is screwed up. It's makes everything so convoluted that it's impossible to find real information anymore."

                                        Totally agree.

                                2. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                                  mcf Sep 13, 2011 08:18 AM

                                  I'm not naive, nor am I surprised; businesses like "Medical Justice" and "Reputation Defender" are sprouting up daily. I just would never participate in any way. There are other low paying freelance opps for writers that don't involve the same dishonesty.

                                  1. re: mcf
                                    BananaBirkLarsen Sep 13, 2011 09:16 AM

                                    Well if you know of other writing jobs that are hiring right now, by all means, please feel welcome to share them. This is the only company I have found that gives me enough work to pay my rent every month and that treats its writers with respect (although the clients are another story...) It's kept a roof over my head for the last five months and I don't feel bad about that.

                                    I'm glad you can afford to moralize (I don't mean that sarcastically -- in a perfect world, we all could). But I can't.

                                    1. re: mcf
                                      Shrinkrap Sep 13, 2011 08:21 PM

                                      More about "medical justice" please. Quick, before we get deleted for being off topic.

                                      1. re: Shrinkrap
                                        racer x Sep 13, 2011 09:16 PM

                                        Medical Justice is a company that has been alleged to submit to medical and dental review websites positive reviews favorably describing experiences with medical professionals who are clients of the firm -- leaving some to wonder whether in the process negative reviews are suppressed and/or whether some of the positive reviews are fraudulent.

                                        Search the internet for "Medical Justice" articles on www.arstechnica.com.

                                        1. re: racer x
                                          mcf Sep 14, 2011 06:07 AM

                                          Not "alleged" any more. ratemds caught them redhanded and I believe they've acknowledged what they do.

                                        2. re: Shrinkrap
                                          mcf Sep 14, 2011 06:07 AM

                                          Look up the thread on it at ratemds.com. Doctors pay them to post fake glowing reviews to counter negative ones. See the rating of Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Paul Nassif for an example... the husband of a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills star.

                                      2. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                                        rworange Sep 23, 2011 04:42 PM

                                        From some of your posts ...

                                        "I'm not being paid to post on CH, nor have I ever been paid to post something directly online.

                                        To clarify, I don't just write fake reviews for hire. I write web content through a perfectly legal company that works with freelance writers and internet marketers

                                        I try to skip as many of the review-type ones as I can, and stick more to the "How To" style articles. But sometimes there aren't enough articles to go around and you take what you can get.

                                        People have been giving fake testimonials on TV for years in ads and infomercials"

                                        This is the only company I have found that gives me enough work to pay my rent every month and that treats its writers with respect (although the clients are another story...) It's kept a roof over my head for the last five months and I don't feel bad about that.

                                        I'm glad you can afford to moralize (I don't mean that sarcastically -- in a perfect world, we all could). But I can't"

                                        This was interesting and probably more candid than was wise. But if the landlord is knocking on the door and nothing else is available, what would keep you from crossing whatever line you feel is acceptable?

                                        If a client is making a food processor and says this is what it does and you write copy for it adding key words ... that doesn't seem shady as long as you are not writing that here is your personal experience with this product.

                                        I mean I think I get what you do. If it is just a matter of doing research and writing say about a resort you haven't been to ... well, that doesn't seem out of line. You researched what you kjnow about it and are putting in keywords.

                                        But it is the fact that you say that as a result of your work, you don't trust anything on the web ... if you are doing due diligence in research and just writing an aritcle to insert searchable keywords ... what am I missing?

                                    2. re: BananaBirkLarsen
                                      racer x Sep 12, 2011 07:19 AM

                                      The unsettling thing is that you are the third person I've read in the past 2 - 3 weeks admitting, or being quoted having admitted, on a discussion board that he or she works or used to work in that capacity.

                                      Fraud touches just about every other aspect of life -- science, medicine, education, and on and on -- it would have been surprising if there weren't people writing fake reviews for hire.

                                    3. Jim Leff Sep 10, 2011 11:49 AM

                                      Fwiw I wrote about this a few years ago

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Jim Leff
                                        TrishUntrapped Sep 10, 2011 08:12 PM

                                        Jim, that is a terrific observation you make on your slog and I agree with you. I just started reading the slog a few days ago. Now I'm hooked.

                                        In the Sept. 2007 issue of Travel & Leisure magazine there is an article by Andrea Bennett called "Who Can You Trust?" offering tips on how to sift through the Internet to get accurate information. In the first paragraph she included a quote from me when I was on TA. I had written a lengthy post on TA's NYC forum warning people that a slew of rave reviews about a new hotel that had barely opened and hadn't finished construction or put doors on all the rooms were likely shills.

                                        Interestingly, in that same issue... the editors listed their top 25 favorite Web sites and Chowhound was one of them. They defined CH as "an obsessive community of feisty people around the world (who) share secret finds." ;-)

                                      2. r
                                        RedTop Sep 10, 2011 09:05 AM

                                        Disclaimer: I'm a Destination Expert on the TA website.

                                        Have been submitting trip reviews for several years. I always try to be accurate and thorough.

                                        If I'm considering staying at a hotel or (yes) motel, I'll research using Trip Advisor. I give a lot of weight in consideration to those reviewers who have had scores of reviews published on the site. Not so much consideration to the "one offs".

                                        1. r
                                          racer x Sep 10, 2011 08:50 AM

                                          Chowhound's own Jim Leff posted a comment on a tell-tale sign of shill reviews on his blog a few years back.

                                          I think that many of us who use review sites like Tripadvisor are maybe being a bit naive when they say that it's easy to identify shill reviews. It may have been extremely easy in the past, and there will always be some shill reviews that are easy to pick out in the future, but don't be so sure that they will all always be easy to spot.

                                          Considering how much money is potentially involved, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the fraudsters don't become much more sophisticated, and start figuring out how to construct false reviews (and member profiles) that are extremely difficult to recognize.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: racer x
                                            rworange Sep 23, 2011 04:03 PM

                                            Amen. I actually am surprised this hasnt happened. It is still surprising that for the most part there is a real pattern to a shill reviews ... not that some real people don't write like that ... but usually not.

                                            Maybe outsouce it to Nigeria .. as the exiled prince of a small country, friends I can assure you xxx restuarant is better than anything I had from the kitchen of my royal palace. .

                                            Oh wait, that's how many shill reviews read now.

                                          2. r
                                            racer x Sep 10, 2011 08:38 AM

                                            I use Tripadvisor mostly for hotels, almost never for restaurants.

                                            Years ago, when only a relatively small group of users knew about the site, I found the reviews being posted very useful -- much more useful than what was available from other sources, like Expedia, Travelocity, or many travel books. In the past few years, though, as Tripadvisor has become well known among the general public and hotel owners, the reviews have become much less reliable, for reasons others have noted in this thread. The site has become a victim of its own success, at least from the user's perspective. It seems to be an inevitable weakness of review sites.

                                            Nowadays, I use Tripadvisor mostly for the pictures of the hotel rooms.

                                            In the reviews, I look mostly for the negatives, especially for things like 'it was unbearably hot because the air conditioner didn't work' or 'we couldn't sleep because the noise from the nightclub was so loud' or, especially, 'there is a large construction project underway across the street that is not expected to be completed until next year.'

                                            1. Manassas64 Sep 9, 2011 08:03 PM

                                              I'm a current destination expert and I've left a fair number of awesome reviews there (hee!). The rankings never made sense for me anyway, so I never took them into consideration. For business, I go by mileage from where I need to be and read reviews in that order. For pleasure, I sort through the reviews to find the ones without kids who aren't there on business. I make my own rankings ;o)

                                              My favorite forum is Charleston. The "concierge" at the Hilton in Charleston was well known for writing reviews himself as well as pushing guests to write glowing reviews. Numerous threads were dedicated to this man's life. I had the privilege of seeing him in action when I stayed at that hotel. I was sitting in the lobby next to his desk waiting for my cab and he was on the phone bragging about this couple who just left a glowing review. He loved when people came into the hotel and asked for him after reading about his awesomness on TA. LOL He tried to put the hard sell on me and I pretended I had never heard of TA or used the internet much. What a loser.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Manassas64
                                                TrishUntrapped Sep 10, 2011 07:58 AM

                                                Manassas, that's funny! It does show you though how important TA's rankings are to some of these merchants and the lengths they will go to...

                                                I unknowingly got caught in the middle of a bitter raging dispute between two competing B&B's in Rhode Island. My sister and I booked a bunch of rooms at one of the B&Bs for her wedding. Everything went very well. I wrote a TA review and included numerous photos.

                                                The competitor went wild and repeatedly wrote posts in the Rhode Island Forum that were negative about that innkeeper at the B&B where we stayed. Shortly after my review was posted, TA contacted me numerous times asking me to confirm the "accuracy" of my review. What could I say, it was 100% accurate...

                                                Several years passed, and I got another e-mail from TA last year again asking me to confirm the accuracy of my review and confirm that I actually wrote it... Out of the many reviews I have written this is the only one that has been repeatedly questioned. So I imagine the bitter rivalry is still going on.

                                                Too much drama.

                                                1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                  mcf Sep 10, 2011 08:35 AM

                                                  Was this Newport?

                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                    TrishUntrapped Sep 10, 2011 09:52 AM

                                                    No. Providence/Cranston.

                                                2. re: Manassas64
                                                  Jase Sep 10, 2011 09:52 AM

                                                  Definitely potential for drama with people fighting to keep the ratings. But it could also work out sometimes for the customer as the place will try harder.

                                                3. josquared Sep 8, 2011 10:38 AM

                                                  If that story verifies, that really sucks. I have written a few reviews for TA (all hotels, nothing else) and always include pros & cons based on expectations going in to the stay in my reviews

                                                  I basically use the same strategy with TA as I do any other review site - take everything as a whole and then come to a decision as to whether or not to give them my business

                                                  As far as the food aspect, I pay little mind to TA reviews, but rather use their list to suss out some places that may not have or have little coverage on Chowhound or Yelp. From there, I check out their menus if they have a website, perhaps dig out other reviews (local papers, etc.) and go from there.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: josquared
                                                    Manassas64 Sep 9, 2011 08:05 PM

                                                    The food/restaurant reviews on TA tend to skew towards people with families/kids and folks on business who just want a good burger. I rely on it for hotels. Sometimes I will use it for attraction ideas to find things off the beaten path or not in the travel books.

                                                    1. re: Manassas64
                                                      josquared Sep 11, 2011 03:59 PM

                                                      For restaurants in bigger cities and the surrounding environs, no doubt its CH or Yelp in that general order, unless it's a special case (for example, I've found that Columbus, OH is covered better by a whole host of local blogs and other food-oriented websites than what you can find on CH)

                                                      What TA does for me is put places on the radar for some of the smaller cities or regions that CH doesn't have much info or has somewhat antiquated posts (like when I was researching a trip a year or so ago through some of the extreme Northern CA environs near Oregon, for example). In that case, I'll try to suss it out best I can via a cornucopia of sites vs. one lone source.

                                                      As far as hotels, attractions, etc., TA tends to be one of my main resources

                                                      1. re: josquared
                                                        rworange Sep 23, 2011 03:49 PM

                                                        Hey jos,

                                                        You are correct about using ta for stumbl.ing across a place not menioned elsewhere. I got a few leads there for Guatemala that weren't listed elsewhere. Some were better than the posts because people just weren't hip to the cuisine ... some were worse thant the glowing reports. I corrected those on Chowhound ... I'm talking to you Fonda de la Calle Real #3 (the other two were ok).

                                                        However, as I said upstream, I just don't see the big deal about getting worked up about the slogan. Was Pepsi ever "the real thing"? What was real about it? Does Santa drink it on vacation?

                                                        If those were professional reviews written by tripadvisor and turned out to be shilling, well, then the slogan would bother me. But this stuff happens when anyone in the world can post.

                                                        1. re: rworange
                                                          hsk Sep 25, 2011 07:08 AM

                                                          Never. Coke was the real thing.

                                                          1. re: rworange
                                                            josquared Sep 29, 2011 12:44 PM

                                                            True enough rw re: the slogan. For me, slogans are generally just meant to be catchy; in fact, I couldn't even recall off hand what TA's slogan was until I read the article (shows how catchy that is heh)

                                                            For me, the relative truthfulness (or lack thereof) of a slogan and how bothersome it is really depends on the ear of the receiver. Is Budweiser really "The King Of Beers"? Are California cows truly "happy cows" in relation to dairy products? Does America truly run on Dunkin Donuts? I think it really is an individual thing in relation to how much one particular slogan bothers people.

                                                    2. roxlet Sep 8, 2011 08:30 AM

                                                      In general, I have had great luck using trip advisor, and I have always posted my own review after staying at a hotel or eating at a restaurant. Mostly, I use TA for hotels, and, with the exception of one horrible little hotel in the Marais in Paris, the results have been flawless. I think it is usually pretty easy to ferret out shill reviews, particularly if there are others that are diametrically opposed.

                                                      1. TrishUntrapped Sep 8, 2011 06:37 AM

                                                        While many savvy people such as those of us on CH can spot shill reviews, the problem is that these fake reviews decide TA's rankings. (Many of you probably knew that TripAdvisor is owned by Expedia.)

                                                        A lot of consumers trust TA's rankings, and if a hotel or restaurant is say, ranked number one, they assume it is the best the city/town has to offer.

                                                        When TA's reviews aren't factual and affect the rankings, this can severely financially hurt an earnest business, and unsuspecting visitors may be getting less than they bargained for. Read a bunch of the reviews for Patzeria... some who relied on TA's rankings are mindboggled that this was ranked the "Best" pizza place in New York when it seems average to them at best.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                          rworange Sep 23, 2011 03:43 PM

                                                          I know you mentioned you worked for them in the past, but really, have you ever read any ranking system that was reliable. Anyone making a decision on a list without doing additional research deserves what the get.

                                                          1. re: rworange
                                                            TrishUntrapped Sep 23, 2011 04:01 PM

                                                            My issues with the rankings were that they could be determined by shills or quid pro quo.

                                                        2. s
                                                          smartie Sep 8, 2011 05:17 AM

                                                          I tend to use TA for hotel reviews not generally for restaurants but like others have said you can get an overall average if you read through the reviews fairly carefully. The most honest ones say things like 'the food was great but the service was a little slow' or 'the bedroom was really nice but I would have liked soap and shampoo in the bathroom for that price'. Reviews with a 'but' or those that point out good and bad points are likely genuine.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: smartie
                                                            mcf Sep 8, 2011 06:17 AM

                                                            Yes, that's one of my criteria, too.

                                                            1. re: smartie
                                                              Jase Sep 8, 2011 08:47 AM

                                                              I've been traveling a lot more than usual this past year with more trips coming up. I've been relying heavily on TA this year since I haven't had as much time to research as usual. I only use it for hotels though, never for food or any other service.

                                                              Agree with your method. It takes more effort to read the reviews and note the date of the review, the reviewer's history and how things are worded. I tend to ignore outliers and try to figure out what applies to me. My main criteria is usually clean and safe area. I can handle slow service, worn furnishings if they're clean. If the value is there, convenient safe area and the amenities I need such as wifi, I really don't care as much about some of the other items. Reading the reviews, you can usually glean what is right or wrong about a place.

                                                              It does take more effort and it's not easy to do a scan of lists. I'm hoping my luck holds the rest of my trips this year.

                                                            2. Bob W Sep 8, 2011 05:14 AM

                                                              As much bashing as Yelp gets (some deserved), at least it tries to filter fake reviews. And unlike with the death penalty, if some real reviews get blocked too, life goes on.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: Bob W
                                                                vil Sep 8, 2011 06:41 AM

                                                                I was about to mention that too about Yelp. There is currently nowhere as much volume over there as what TA has, for it to be as useful, but at least there the site is less prone to abuse and rigging. At least for now.

                                                                Yelp's proprietary filter is a good start too.

                                                                1. re: vil
                                                                  rworange Sep 23, 2011 03:37 PM

                                                                  Um, what about all those newspaper stories alleging Yelp strong arms businesses for ... well, protection.

                                                                  Someone complained that tripadvisor doesn't pay attention to shilling reports. Haven't reported anything there, but it takes quaite a lot of time to get some really egregious shilling off yelp.

                                                                  1. re: rworange
                                                                    mcf Sep 24, 2011 08:30 AM

                                                                    I didn't just complain about shilling, I showed TA the photos and the lies the owner posted about my review and they're all still up there, along with the gadzillion phony reviews he's padding his ranking with. They blew me off on that one, and another personally insulting and untrue reply from a restaurant owner who is also clearly padding for rankings. TA has no interest in integrity of reviews, only in ad sales, IMO.

                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                      racer x Sep 24, 2011 10:23 AM

                                                                      (I have complained to tripadvisor about a couple of suspicious reviews in the past and seen the reviews removed.)

                                                                      1. re: racer x
                                                                        mcf Sep 24, 2011 01:08 PM

                                                                        Well, mine never have been, even when I shared proof with them. Or when others have and then reported back.

                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                          vil Oct 5, 2011 02:22 PM

                                                                          Too bad for them. Won't it be nice if we can somehow harness the karma of CH and re-weigh the reviews of *any* review website to give more neutral ratings? ;)

                                                                    2. re: rworange
                                                                      vil Oct 5, 2011 02:33 PM

                                                                      rworange, I have not been keeping up with news -- that is what I come to CH for ;)

                                                                      Did you mean this:


                                                                      Even though Yelp mentions something about it not being possible on its website:


                                                                      1. re: vil
                                                                        rworange Oct 6, 2011 11:02 AM

                                                                        That's onl.y one of the news stories about Yelp. A couple of the local news programs have also reported the same story.

                                                                2. TrishUntrapped Sep 7, 2011 08:24 PM

                                                                  I am a former destination and travel expert for TripAdvisor.

                                                                  I quit the board after having an issue with them about their rankings for New York City restaurants.

                                                                  Week after week their top 10 rankings seemed absurd to me. The restaurants were not very good, and certainly not New York's best.

                                                                  I started to look at how they determined their rankings and found the criteria to be amazingly flimsy. One week the number one restaurant in all of New York City was Freeman's according to TA. But the ranking wasn't based on any reviews - it was based on one solitary blog entry.

                                                                  I pleaded with the powers that be at TA to look at how they compiled their rankings, and suspected there may be some kind of quid pro quo going on. Someone from TA wrote to me and assured me there was no quid pro quo, but did agree with me that their "algorithm" needed to be fixed. A couple months later when some hole in the wall Thai restaurant was ranked number one, I up and left. I could no longer be part of something I felt was not credible.

                                                                  To their credit, TA does appear to have changed their "algorithm" somewhat for NYC restaurants.

                                                                  But as I look at their Top 10 list today, there are not one but two Patzeria Pizza places on the list. (One ranked 5 and one ranked 6) Someone wrote a comment that he went because TA had ranked Patzeria number one recently.

                                                                  TripAdvisor's current Top 10 NYC restaurant list:

                                                                  1. The Capital Grille - Time Life Building
                                                                  2. Levain Bakery
                                                                  3. Le Bernardin
                                                                  4. Junoon
                                                                  5. Patzeria Perfect Pizza
                                                                  6. Patzeria Family & Friends
                                                                  7. E&E Grill House
                                                                  8. Seasonal
                                                                  9. Eleven Madison Park
                                                                  10. Capizzi

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                    vil Sep 8, 2011 06:53 AM

                                                                    I appreciate the insider perspective. TA had its days.

                                                                    I have long since stoppped believing in the credibility of those top ten lists, unless they are attached to a well-known person's name, and even then, only if I believe in the credibility of said person.

                                                                    It looks like anything set up for quick consumption (top ten lists, star ratings) is much more prone to abuse because it is easier to do so, and there are still enough consumers who peruse them without thinking.

                                                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                      lrealml Sep 10, 2011 01:52 PM

                                                                      But is this list the result of "fake reviews" or the result of the average TA reviewer having unsophisticated palettes? I would assume the later (the SF list is bizarre as well)... I have used TA for years for hotels all over the world, and I have hardly ever been disappointed or got something I didn't expect; however, for restaurants, TA is a joke...
                                                                      For restaurants, you are getting reviews from a tourist's perspective (which is what you want for hotels but not for food), and the average tourist on tripadvisor is not a foodie and is often from somewhere without a stellar food scene (small town America or most of the UK). These reviewers are easily impressed by mediocre restaurants that are good to them but average crap to foodies and most of the locals in the big food cities. I have a similar problem with yelp (although I have other issues with yelp).... That is what makes CH special... you can get food recommendations from local foodies.

                                                                      1. re: lrealml
                                                                        flourgirl Sep 12, 2011 08:05 AM

                                                                        This has been my experience as well. I use TA to find hotels, not restaurants. I learned the hard way.

                                                                      2. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                        Bill Hunt Sep 23, 2011 07:57 PM

                                                                        Any form of surveying is suspect, unless there are strict criteria for submitting a review.

                                                                        Recently, a local newspaper did a "readers' survey" on restaurants. The published results were interesting. First, there were no limits on submissions, and all one had to do was submit their votes.

                                                                        Well, a local pizzeria (not bad at all) won almost every category, from Italian, to romantic and on to French. With the possible exception of Mexican (think they were # 3, though they serve a form of Italian), they won everything. The printed report became a laughing stock, and some of the threads are probably still up on CH on the Phoenix Board, along with some scathing comments. Let any/everyone vote, and you get a "stuffed ballot box."

                                                                        As for a NYC "Best of," without Restaurant Daniel, then I would be highly suspect, though Le Bernadin does carry real weight (at least with me).


                                                                        1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                          TrishUntrapped Sep 24, 2011 08:19 AM

                                                                          Today (9/24/11) on TripAdvisor the top restaurant in all of New York City is E&E Grille. Anyone been there or heard of it? Both Both Patzerias are still in the top 10. I asked on the CH Manhattan board if anyone had ever been the Patzerias.. no response.

                                                                          While this CH thread revived my interest somewhat in TA... I'm going to stop reading TA.... Not accurate in any shape or way.

                                                                        2. Kajikit Sep 7, 2011 11:34 AM

                                                                          I use Trip Advisor... you have to look at the overall picture, not individual reviews, and yes, look at the really bad reviews to see what they were complaining about and whether it's anything that's actually relevant or if it was a personal gripe. A bad review from last week carries a lot more weight than one from two years ago, and if it's five years old don't even bother to look at it.

                                                                          1. vil Sep 7, 2011 10:34 AM

                                                                            While it is a given that there are bogus reviews in TA (and pretty much all popular review sites, for that matter), I am glad that someone bothered to point that out and attempt to take formal action against it.

                                                                            I still use TA for hotel and food recommendations (and thank goodness there is CH!), especially when there are no better sources. The good thing about TA is, there is often enough volume in the number of reviews to help me figure out which choices are worthy, but it is definitely getting tedious trying to weed out the fake reviews. So many factors that need to be considered before deciding whether a review is fake or genuine.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: vil
                                                                              mcf Sep 7, 2011 10:38 AM

                                                                              Yes, that is exactly the problem. That and the fact that the TA operators take no interest nor action to investigate outright and documented falsehoods and leave management lies in insulting rebuttals to stand.

                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                vil Sep 7, 2011 10:58 AM

                                                                                Somebody should document information like this, and put together a review of review websites ;-)

                                                                                1. re: vil
                                                                                  Jase Sep 7, 2011 12:23 PM

                                                                                  A review site of review sites? All user generated content too? That would be amusing.

                                                                            2. PeterL Sep 6, 2011 09:05 PM

                                                                              This so called complaint and investigation is completely bogus. Anyone with any experience using these sites knows that there are of course faked reviews, posted either by business owners or the competition. One very easy way to tell the faked reviews: those written by posters with zero previous reviews, and posts only one review either giving high praise or slamming a place.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: PeterL
                                                                                mcf Sep 7, 2011 07:31 AM

                                                                                And one who uses a lot of such sites for years recognizes that TA is as bad as it gets. Nothing bogus about saying so. As I said, I recommended to the management team that they adopt some CH policies and procedures. If they want to continue not policing effectively, they should not be permitted to promote themselves as somehow superior in the reliability dept. as your post so aptly points out; they're not.

                                                                                1. re: PeterL
                                                                                  Cachetes Sep 10, 2011 02:00 PM

                                                                                  According to the article, they aren't being investigated b/c there are faked reviews. They are being investigated b/c they claim to be trustworthy.

                                                                                  1. re: Cachetes
                                                                                    rworange Sep 23, 2011 03:06 PM

                                                                                    Thank you. I thought I was missing something especially the shocked reaction by some posters that "WOW" there are fake reviews on tripadviser.

                                                                                    Well, yes. But there are fake reviews on every site, some more than others. Currently Citysearch is the most egregious.

                                                                                    Really, taking to account the site for the slogan that you can trust their reviews? Did anyone REALLY believe that? If so, I can get them a good deal on the Golden Gate Bridge. Call me.

                                                                                    It must be interpretation. I took the slogan to mean they didn't get kick backs from businesses (like Yelp has been alleged to do). I assume they are not paying people to write reviews. That is what I interepreted their slogan to mean. Shills happen.

                                                                                    I don't use Tripadvisor muc h, mainly out of the coutry because there is so little out there. I only got really burnt once by Tripadvisor in Panama. So hmmm, maybe I should drop a line to that investigative team.

                                                                                    EVERYTHING about the hotel was true on trip advisor ... except the price ... and the opinion about the food in the hotel dining room which was ok, but average hotel sucky. There was a lot of confusion for me in the whole thing, but the price was more than double of what people were posting.

                                                                                    Given the hotel's slogan was "best rate in Panama" ... well, let's say I have my suspecions who posted those reviews.

                                                                                    That was a shame too. That hotel was worth their real price. They didn't need to sucker people like that, if that was a game they wer in on.

                                                                                    I had planned to write a glowing report on tripadvisor about the hotel ... correcting the high opinion of the food. Instead they got slammed by me about the price and I didn't bother to mention any of the positives ... great view thougjh ... nice staff ... fabulous room ... but you'll never see that from me on tripadvisor.

                                                                                    Do I blame Tripadviser? Nope. Was I shocked? Nope.

                                                                                    It is the surprising the probably some of the same posters who would jump on wiki and saying it wasn't reliable, might also be surprised that tripadvisor might have fake reviews. It's the web. It's not journalism.

                                                                                    If anything tripadvisor's biggest fault is what another poster wrote "Augustus Disease". . In the Robert Graves' novel I, Claudius, Claudius describes the emperor August as having such a simplified palate, he wasn't able to discern between the first pressing of the perfect olive and the last ranking of pressed boughs."

                                                                                    That is tripadvisors's biggest sin, IMO. But we all have this disease when we get out of our familiar territory and rave about some joint that makes the locals shudder.

                                                                                    Since tripadviser is mainly travelers, rather than locals like Yelp, Citysearch, Opentable, etc ... either people rave about mediocre food or trash cuisines unfamiliar to them.

                                                                                2. Heidi cooks and bakes Sep 6, 2011 01:42 PM

                                                                                  I do use it for things other than dining. I write reviews, and give credence to reviews written by others who also have written more than a single review. You have to weigh all of the factors when making a decision.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes
                                                                                    Bill Hunt Sep 23, 2011 07:46 PM


                                                                                    You make a good point - if the poster is new, then I make note of that. However, if they are a returning CH subscriber, then they get more of my attention. That does not mean that if we disagree, I have a problem - as it is about personal tastes.

                                                                                    I, and I would hope most others here, try to tell it, like it is - good, bad or ugly.


                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                      scubadoo97 Sep 24, 2011 01:05 PM

                                                                                      On CH it's quite easy many of the times to spot when someone is self promoting. Often they have one or maybe a handful of posts all about the same thing they are self promoting.

                                                                                  2. inaplasticcup Sep 6, 2011 08:12 AM

                                                                                    I think it's a lot like using yelp. Anytime you have a contribution free for all like that, you run the risk of shills posting fake positive reviews, but as it is here on CH, if you read carefully enough (which is to say not that carefully), it's pretty easy to weed out the BS. The litany of positives and glowing recommendations without reasonable detractions to let you know that this is a genuine and balanced review, usually ineloquent and uncreative use of language, and ALL CAPS is often a dead giveaway.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                      scubadoo97 Sep 6, 2011 09:44 AM

                                                                                      fake positives and negatives. I've heard business owners who were asked for payoffs for a positive review and threatened with negative reviews if they refused.

                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97
                                                                                        inaplasticcup Sep 6, 2011 10:00 AM

                                                                                        This is true. Unlike another poster upstream, I give as little credence to complete trash jobs as I do to the unbelievably glowing writeups. I think it's easy to spot the sincerity and/or general reasonableness (is that a word???) of a review after you read a few and make some observations.

                                                                                        1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                          mcf Sep 6, 2011 12:35 PM

                                                                                          Definitely there are cases of the competition posting to slam a place on TA.

                                                                                        2. re: scubadoo97
                                                                                          Steve Sep 7, 2011 07:55 PM

                                                                                          My friend who owns a lodge says that people will stay there then demand a price reduction or they will trash the place on Trip Advisor.

                                                                                          I look at the lodging reviews, but I discount the hostile ones.

                                                                                          1. re: Steve
                                                                                            mcf Sep 8, 2011 06:16 AM

                                                                                            If extreme, and out of character with the tone of other reviews, I ignore both hostile and excessively, OTT reviews, period. Honestly, though, I don't believe that many folks threaten in that manner, especially if they've had a good visit with caring management. That's just not typical behavior.

                                                                                            1. re: Steve
                                                                                              Fowler Sep 28, 2011 09:49 AM

                                                                                              >>>My friend who owns a lodge says that people will stay there then demand a price reduction or they will trash the place on Trip Advisor. <<<

                                                                                              That is outrageous! Some people have absolutely no shame. How does your friend respond to the threat?

                                                                                        3. rockandroller1 Sep 6, 2011 08:06 AM

                                                                                          This is why I mostly start by reading the most negative reviews on a site - this one, or any other (like amazon). Those are the honest ones.

                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: rockandroller1
                                                                                            Chris VR Sep 10, 2011 01:39 PM

                                                                                            That would be nice if it were true, but I can think of a number of reasons it wouldn't be true: an ex-employee feels they were wrongfully fired from a business; a competitor who wants to knock another business down in the rankings so they can rise higher; a bitchy ex hell-bent on destroying anything connected with their ex... there are a lot of reasons why negative reviews aren't any more reliable than positive reviews.

                                                                                            1. re: Chris VR
                                                                                              rworange Sep 23, 2011 02:50 PM

                                                                                              >>> a bitchy ex hell-bent on destroying anything connected with their ex

                                                                                              Good one and something that has never crossed my mind.

                                                                                              1. re: Chris VR
                                                                                                Bill Hunt Sep 23, 2011 07:35 PM

                                                                                                As an example of the opposite of what Rockandooroller1 espouses, I was recently looking for reviews of a couple of restaurants in a new area for an upcoming trip. I pulled up many reviews, and most were good to great, but there was one, that was horribly negative. I looked at another restaurant, and that person had a scathing lambast of it too. Same for a third potential spot. This caught my attention, so I did my due diligence, and found a pattern. That poster hated all higher-end restaurants, and with a passion. The only good reviews were for a Coco's in that region. Anything above about US$ 8 / main, and everything was horrible. Below that price-point, and it was questionable.

                                                                                                As I was looking for recs. on high-end spots, I realized that this prolific poster was not someone, who I wished to be concerned with. As it turned out, I went with one of the spots, that he panned horribly, and it was excellent. Had I ascribed to his reviews, I would never have gone there.

                                                                                                Who was this person, and why did he hate all restaurants, that had fare above a lower price-point? I never found out, but learned that his tastes did not match mine, in any way.


                                                                                              2. re: rockandroller1
                                                                                                Cachetes Sep 10, 2011 01:58 PM

                                                                                                I actually feel just the opposite. People come to the internet to complain, loudly and aggressively, and their emotion tends to drive them to exaggeration. I pay attention to consensus, not the oddball rants.

                                                                                                1. re: Cachetes
                                                                                                  Jim Leff Sep 10, 2011 02:31 PM

                                                                                                  I completely ignore any long rantish complaints. It's always enraged people unloading, with an agenda. Take more seriously terser complaints from people who aren't just there to complain.

                                                                                                  The same applies here, as well, though Chowhound's vastly more honest than most of these other sites IMO.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                                                    mcf Sep 11, 2011 05:54 AM

                                                                                                    Exactly. I'll give more credence to a post that lists both good and less good points, and from those whose priorities (cleanliness of rooms!) are more like mine.

                                                                                                    1. re: mcf
                                                                                                      Jim Leff Sep 11, 2011 08:38 AM

                                                                                                      I don't believe that's a helpful test. People who genuinely love things often fail to cite negatives. And one hallmark of shills is the minor negative quickly retracted/explained ("The only thing wrong with this FABULOUS meal was the air conditioning, which was broken. It was pretty warm in the restaurant, but I understand they fixed it the next day.")

                                                                                                      1. re: Jim Leff
                                                                                                        mcf Sep 11, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                                                                        I didn't say that's *all* I read and trust, but compared to a raging rant, I will.

                                                                                                2. re: rockandroller1
                                                                                                  Bill Hunt Sep 23, 2011 07:26 PM

                                                                                                  Perhaps I am reading things wrong, or maybe my monitor needs cleaning, but are you saying that the "negative comments" are the ONLY true ones, and, by inference, positive reviews are lies?

                                                                                                  That does not make any sense to me, but I hope that you will point out where I am missing an important point.



                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                    rockandroller1 Sep 28, 2011 12:32 PM

                                                                                                    I'm late to respond here. Let me clarify. When I read a product review or a restaurant or hotel review, I usually start with the lowest first. If i see the same thing repeated over and over as being a problem of some kind, I will probably stop reading and not buy the thing or plan to go to the place. I can pretty well tell when someone "has it out" for the establishment or product or company or are just bitching about everything vs. someone spelling out real and credible complaints, and scroll up from there. If there are 3 negatives and 98 positives, i won't even bother reading the positives. But if there are a high number of negatives, I want to know why, so I start there first. Positives don't tell me anythign I don't alraedy know that brought me to the point of considering the property/product/restaurant.

                                                                                                    Another example. If I buy something on eBay and the seller has a 100% positive rating, ok no problem. If they have a 96% rating, I will read the very lowest rating's comments first to find out what the complaints were. Most of the time, they are stupid or negligible things that shoudln't have warranted a negative, like they didn't like the product once they got it or it took 2 weeks to ship or something. If they have an 87% positive, I would be concerned and start at the bottom and read through quite a few to find out what the problem is. If there are repeated instances of the seller not shipping the item, I'm going to move on to another seller.

                                                                                                    I wouldn't say that I "exclusively" read the negative comments, but I rely more on reviews that are 3 star or lower to get the real info of what's wrong with a place/product. It doesn't mean I won't go there, or that I don't take into consideration the tone or what's written in those complaints, but I do rely on them more heavily. I don't see the point of reading 100 5 star reviews and then going to a place to discover you had bedbugs because you didn't read the reviews that mentioned it.

                                                                                                3. David11238 Sep 6, 2011 04:34 AM

                                                                                                  Good luck in trying to differentiate the valid from the invalid. We live in an anonymous, virtual world. Even if a lot of the reviews are "honorable", I believe you'd find that tastes differ so vastly, that one man's Shangri-La will be another man's hourly rate with a broken vending machine.

                                                                                                  I try to look at the language and the OP's other reviews of places I've been to.If it jives with my opinion I will semi-trust it and most likely give it a go. I do find that a ton of reviewers have Augustus Disease. In the Robert Graves' novel I, Claudius, Claudius describes the emperor August as having such a simplified palate, he wasn't able to discern between the first pressing of the perfect olive and the last ranking of pressed boughs. Just my opinion.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: David11238
                                                                                                    Bill Hunt Sep 23, 2011 07:24 PM

                                                                                                    I do agree - "tastes differ vastly."

                                                                                                    Still, with some research, and a bit of reading, one can often find the "shill," though not always.

                                                                                                    As for "personal tastes," I try to offer reviews, that reflect what I encountered - good, or bad, and then just face the masses, when a "sacred cow" gets gored. That happens.

                                                                                                    Still, CH ranks near the top, at least for me - with a bit of research on the poster.


                                                                                                  2. Bill Hunt Sep 5, 2011 08:14 PM

                                                                                                    Interesting. While I do use TripAdvisor, it is about 4 down the food chain, with CH being near the top. I find TA to have some heavy polarization, where half of the reviewers seem to absolutely love a location, while half hate it with a passion. Still, I see much the same on CH. Often, there is not middle-ground.

                                                                                                    I have only investigated a couple of posters, and those were ones, who lambasted a certain restaurant, or resort, where most enjoyed it. In each of those particular cases, the poster did the same on other sites, and these were oddly against any restaurant, or resort, that was above the middle of the road. If it had, say 3 Michelin stars, it was horrible, and to be avoided at all costs. There was one 5-star resort, that was raked over the coals and in a big-time way. That poster, however, did tout several local, small resorts, near to their place of residence. Why they would harpoon a resort in Rome, when they lived in Southern California, is beyond me.

                                                                                                    Still, I try to factor out the highs, and the lows, and look for the trends in between.

                                                                                                    If TA is doing something fishy, then I hope they are forced to police things better.


                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                      mcf Sep 6, 2011 12:34 PM

                                                                                                      Yeah, half are replies refuting the negatives, written by owners or reputation defending companies that have sprung up!

                                                                                                    2. m
                                                                                                      Muchlove Sep 5, 2011 08:37 AM

                                                                                                      Wow, I've always trusted Tripadvisor for hotel reviews. I mean, I knew there were some fake reviews that were obviously written by hotel staff (you know, when they seem to know just a little too much about the place) but I didn't suspect that it was a serious amount.

                                                                                                      Guess it should have been obvious though. To take a few liberties with a well known saying - on the internet, nobody knows you're a lying scumbag.

                                                                                                      1. j
                                                                                                        jarona Sep 2, 2011 07:40 AM

                                                                                                        Wow! That's too bad. I have some reviews on that site and I can tell you.this: They are real and they are spectacular!

                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: jarona
                                                                                                          mcf Sep 2, 2011 08:52 AM

                                                                                                          I have reviews there, too, but there are a ton of bogus ones, including two lying management responses to me, which I documented, including photos. Tripadvisor doesn't care, as long as there's traffic. I even recall a member documenting a b and b owner writing reviews while she watched, countering the bad reviews for the b and b, keeping it number 1 in the rankings. Same thing occurred on the list for the one I documented so well that I got all my money back from Amex and AAA... Same thing on ratemds.com, which they actually discovered, but have not controlled... "medical justice" exists to act like "reputation defender."

                                                                                                          I stopped relying on TA for any reviews years ago, and even recommended that they check out CH for how to run a trustworthy site... and others. They're not interested in anything but numbers. The fact that they left up proven fraudulent info in my case and welcome attacks on truthful, honest users who provide documentation of fraud is all I need to know.

                                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                                            jarona Sep 2, 2011 09:50 AM

                                                                                                            Thanks for the heads up mcf. I feel really bad now. I always trusted Trip Advisor.

                                                                                                            1. re: jarona
                                                                                                              Plano Rose Sep 2, 2011 10:20 AM

                                                                                                              I think

                                                                                                              I think Trip Advisor is a useful tool as are Yelp and other review type sites. Read the reviews for a concensus of opinions. Add a grain of salt.

                                                                                                              1. re: Plano Rose
                                                                                                                mcf Sep 2, 2011 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                I don't trust yelp, either, without considerable verification from other sources.

                                                                                                                1. re: Plano Rose
                                                                                                                  ravchaz Sep 5, 2011 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                  I agree. If there are a lot of review, average them out and it's generally pretty accurate. If there are only a handful it may not be. I've based my hotel choices on tripadvisor for almost ten years and only once have I regretted it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ravchaz
                                                                                                                    flourgirl Sep 8, 2011 11:53 AM

                                                                                                                    I do the same thing, and it has worked very well for me so far.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Plano Rose
                                                                                                                    DGresh Sep 6, 2011 02:56 AM

                                                                                                                    exactly. You can usually tell the real reviews. Those are the ones that give both plausible pros and cons, and sound like the person was actually there. I use tripadvisor a lot (mainly for hotels, though sometimes restaurants) and it's been quite helpful.

                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                                      mcf Sep 6, 2011 12:33 PM

                                                                                                                      I'm also able to discern fakes from real, but TA can't or won't, nor are they apparently the least bit concerned. They are not reliable for anyone without an enormous dose of suspicion. Sheer numbers and averaging won't work, you need more information than that, like pros/cons... owners tend to ONLY list positive things. The owner who I got all my money back from has gadzillion fake posts keeping his slum at the top of the list for that town, and so does the one in another state that a TA user visiting the dump saw writing argumentative reviews... which is another tipoff to fakery that TA chooses to ignore.

                                                                                                              2. re: jarona
                                                                                                                Shrinkrap Sep 11, 2011 08:13 PM

                                                                                                                "They are real and they are spectacular!"

                                                                                                                Har har! Husband says I will be the only one to get that.

                                                                                                                During my last hotel stay, a staff membr helped me, then told me to go on trip advisor and mention her name. I did.

                                                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap
                                                                                                                  racer x Sep 12, 2011 07:10 AM

                                                                                                                  Classic Seinfeld, shrinkrap.

                                                                                                                  1. re: racer x
                                                                                                                    jarona Sep 13, 2011 08:40 AM

                                                                                                                    LOL--I was wondering if anyone would get my reference to Seinfeld! (but my reviews on TA are real and spectacular!)

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