Beware the Astroturf and TripAdvisor

Trips and Travel

This story about possible legal action against fraudulent TripAdvisor comments got me thinking: people know when they’re reading bullshit, right? Apparently not.

Astroturfing, or posting bogus rave reviews is not new; neither is flaming a site or blog post with negative reviews. Hell a PR firm got their nuts in a sling last year, rigging the iTunes App Store game.

I’ve posted reviews on TripAdvisor, always try to be fair, reasonable and give specifics. And yet the best 3-star hotel in the world is still a 3-star hotel.

I like the Marriott Village properties in Orlando, especially the Fairfield Inn and Springhill Suites. They’re close to Disney World, have free breakfast and parking, lots of room and are generally cheaper than even a value resort. And while they may be some of the nicest properties in their category, they are still that category.

My point is that when I see over-the-top reviews on TripAdvisor or Epinions of hotels, tours and restaurants, I chase that salt with margarita.

Tips on spotting fake (and dumbass) reviews:

  • One-time wonder. If the person just ranting about a restaurant or praising a hotel has never posted a review before.. or since. See also, the dread Facebook Connect reviews.
  • Loves everything, wants to marry the hotel’s soap dispenser and have its babies. Everything was just fabulous which happens, but not in my experience. If the TV was already set on their favorite channel and they never once had to ask for clean towels, I have my doubts and some beachfront real estate in Colorado for sale.
  • Hates everything, thinks the restaurant should be shuttered for serving their wines 2-degrees off temperature. Little different as I’ve hated almost everything before and yet.. maybe the price was right or it was decent enough. Something has to be pretty fucking awful for me to post the DIAF reviews.
  • Generic is their new black. “It was close, convenient, good service, everything they wanted”.. without specifics. Lots of places have good locations, reasonable prices and decent service.. that could be my local Big Lots.
  • Hails from Fantasyland, not the one in Disney World. These aren’t necessarily fake reviews, just morons. You know they type, never met an unreasonable expectation they didn’t want exceeded. They’re shocked when their $45 dollar a night No Tell Motel doesn’t offer turn down service and bitch about a restaurant having too much seafood on the menu when it’s a fucking “Fish Cafe.”

How do you spot the bullshit reviews?

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