Q – Most of my friends use and depend on TripAdvisor to develop their travel “expertise”. They mostly use it to justify the hotel they selected based on price. But I have learned, partly from this informative site, that these online reviews are often fake. So I wonder if you might share some ways that will help me know if what I am reading in a travel review is actually written by a traveler who stayed at the hotel?
A – There is some good news on the fake review front. Researchers at the famed Cornell School of Hotel Management have created a website called Review Skeptic.com that will tell you, with 90% accuracy if a posted review is real or not. The staff at Cornell has created a series of algorithm’s that analyze opinion spam using psychological and linguistic components.
All you need to do is copy the review and paste it on the ReviewSkeptic site. Then click on the “Test It” button and the results will be revealed. The test even shows you why it has concluded that a review is fake or real.
Of course what is wrong with this technology is that we must now have several groups set up to defeat the algorithms. They will try to develop linguistic patterns that can beat the system. But, for now, this is the best tool we have to detect the high percentage of fake reviews flooding the major travel and restaurant sites. And as this science progresses, it is well to note that the folks at Cornell will be getting better at spotting the fakes.
Always remember that you do not have to have been a guest at a hotel to post a review of the property on TripAdvisor. Sort of like writing a restaurant review without actually dining at the restaurant. But this is all in keeping with the business ethics practiced by many of our travel web site designers.