Posts Tagged ‘fake reviews’

Fake reviews on TripAdvisor

September 2, 2012
Nicolas Tavern

Nicolas Tavern

TripAdvisor has its use, but its utility and credibility will be as nought if it fails to root out fake reviews.

The founder of TripAdvisor claims they have a top secret algorithm to eliminate fake reviews. This is nonsense as it is clearly not working, and it is doubtful such an algorithm could exist.

I have become quite adapt at spotting fake reviews because they stick out like a sore thumb.

There are three types of fake reviews

  • trolls spewing their venom
  • rival dishing the competition
  • proprietors generating glowing reviews

You can always tell a good place, they love what they are doing, they take a pride in what they are doing.

Nicolas Tavern, for several years, No 1 on TripAdvisor, then a few fake reviews, one so over the top that it was laughable, dropped to No 10. I am pleased to say a few good reviews and now up at No 4.

The food at Nicolas Tavern is excellent, sometimes the service a little slow when busy, but what is the hurry?

Until this summer I had not eaten at The Keystone since last year. Reviews were bad. Had it changed hands? I asked the question when I ate there this summer. No it had not changed hands, and yes they were aware of the bad reviews, which they put down to either trolls or rivals dishing them out of jealousy.

My lunch was excellent, as I expected it to be. I have eaten there several times this year and each time the food has been excellent. Yes, the service is at times iffy, and yes The Keystone are aware of this.

Last week I found a lovely coffee shop in Godalming. The people running Café Mila were knowledgeable about where they sourced from, loved what they were doing. Two negative reviews stuck out like sore thumbs as they bore no resemblance to reality. What was even more interesting is that both reviewers were located in Godalming and for each reviewer it was their only review. These bad reviews were not only negative, they were hate-filled vitriolic attacks. Rivals dishing?

At the weekend I was in Alton and popped my head in O’Connor’s Secret Garden. A charming restaurant, a lovely garden out the back, regulars greeted as old family friends, Peter O’Connor an excellent chef. O’Connor’s Secret Garden one of the best places to eat in Alton, and yet, two extremely negative and vicious reviews, even the lovely little garden attacked.

Chef Heston Blumenthal is the latest to fall victim to trolls. He has been accused of giving diners food poisoning. It happens, things go wrong, and diners do get food poisoning. Not being there and fallen ill I cannot comment on the validity of the claim. I would though add the account of food poisoning does have a ring of truth and does not stand out as a troll.

Glowing reviews, all singing from the same song sheet, then I smell a rat.

Steens, a restaurant where the sign outside was dirty, the entrance was dirty, and the menu outside was typical white van chiller food to be found in every bad pub in England, and yet for a while it was No 1 on TripAdvisor. Knowing that there were far far better restaurants, it was seen as a sick joke by surrounding businesses who told me it was a place to avoid and that proprietor wrote his own reviews. I do not think he did, but the glowing reviews gave every appearance they were being orchestrated. I posted a review noting my observations. It was deleted a few days later.

A pub in Winchester. I would not say it was the worst food I had eaten, but it was not good. I checked later on TripAdvisor. Glowing reviews that bore no resemblance to what I had experienced. All singing from the same song sheet, all saying more or less the same thing, most knew the name of the chef!

Real TripAdvisor Reviews offer to post glowing reviews for $20!

To some extent TripAdvisor is self-policing, fake reviews can be reported, but how often do people report (and there is not sufficient space to explain why), what action is being taken?

But even where the review is genuine, there is the problem of competence. Would someone who eats at KFC or McDonald’s be comment to review restaurants?

We should also recognise that bad hoteliers, bad restaurateurs deserve bad reviews (that is what reviews are for), and they will be the first to complain. If they do not like it, the answer is simple, improve your service.

If I visit a bad place, I will not hesitate to say so, but it will be a factual account of why it is bad, not an exercise in hate.

Wikipedia lacks any credibility because no knowledge of the subject is required to edit a page.

If TripAdvisor fails to get its act together, it will be like Wikipedia, lacking in any credibility.

I know restaurants who are thinking of pulling out of TripAdvisor (if that is possible) due to the negative impact of fake reviews.

Top Story in Vacation Nation (Monday 3 September 2012).

TripAdvisor, fake reviews and does it matter anyway

May 17, 2012
Nicolas Tavern

Nicolas Tavern

I was stopped tonight nigh on midnight as I passed by Yiamas, one of the better bars in Protaras in Cyprus.

I was stopped by George, the owner of Yiamas, he wanted to tell me Yiamas was No 1 bar on TripAdvisor. What is TripAdvisor he then asked?

He has learnt that Yiamas was No 1 bar from customers who had sought him out.

Strange that, as Trip Advisor has no category for bars! It lists hotels, restaurants, and attractions, but not bars. Yiamas is listed as an attraction!

If nothing else, it shows TripAdvisor works, of a sorts, but also that its categorization is wrong. A bar is not an attraction, not unless you are an alcoholic, a bar is a bar. An attraction would be the Dancing Waters, the boat trips, the water sports.

TripAdvisor has recently been rocked by scandal, fake reviews, reviewers paid to write favourable reviews, rivals dishing rivals.

Fake reviews are fairly easy to spot. They stand out like a sore thumb, be they good or bad.

Nicolas Tavern is a very good place to eat. You can see this from the reviews, and yet there will occasionally be a review that says it is bad.

One illiterate review was so over the top it screamed ‘fake review’.

Go to McDonalds instead!!: If ere was a way of dragging you back out of this restaurant before you stepped in then I wish someone would have do eat to me. As I waited and I waited and I waited and waited and waited to be served, my very British-ly polite boyf wanted to wait to not be rude, but my anger just expanded the longer I was left. Once we did order, and we waited and waited and waited, the surely wife of the owner threw our food at us and grunted in disgust as tho she was doing us a favour. The OLympus is far better across the road and wish that we had gone there for our last nit as that was the best restaurant all holiday! And the Greek ready-meals in tesco are better than this place! The rose was nice though!

Go to McDonalds instead .. waited and I waited and I waited and waited and waited to be served … surely wife of the owner threw our food at us … Greek ready-meals in tesco are better …

To compare McDonald’s with a real restaurant? Nicolas not in the height of the season, therefore not a long time to be served. Wife of Nicolas does not work in taverna. No staff would throw food on table, if they did they would be fired. Olympus does not have the traditional wood-fired clay oven. Ready meals at Tesco!

The same person had reviewed Vangelis Apartments and said they were dirty. They are not. They may have drunk English from the bottom end of the tourist market, there is big problem with noisy bars outside, but Vangelis Apartments is not dirty.

The same person had reviews for 16-17 May of Northampton, London, Protaras and Dubai!

When all the reviews say the same thing, sing from the same song sheet, you know something is wrong, probably told what to say by the owner.

As George had no idea what TripAdvisor was, other than he was No 1, and he only knew that because customers told him, then at least we can assume he has not told the customer what to say.

George asked me how was Nicolas, busy? Yes, I replied. George expected no less.

TripAdvisor has to get its act together and stamp out fake reviews, otherwise it will become one more worthless web resource like wikipedia.

Top Story in The Cyprus Holiday News (Sunday 20 May 2012).

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