questionshow do you spot fake online reviews?

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For any destination reviews, I generally use tripadvisor. I also understand that you cannot please everybody and some people exaggerate. People have different expectations, and some are more easily pleased than others. If I see that somebody has posted reviews for multiple places or has been registered for a long period of time, I am more likely to believe what they say.

If you have any questions or specific information, contact the company directly. Often you can gauge their customer service from their response.

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One of the BEST ways to spot a fake/shill review is to note how many times the reviewer uses the entire name of the product/hotel/company in the body of the review:

"I simply adore the Willy Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers Candy! I've told all my friends the Willy Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers Candy is the best candy I have ever eaten and I've eaten a lot of candy. You'll love the lushness of the flavors and the enticing mouthfeel of each delicious treat. I definitely can recommend Willy Wonka Everlasting Gobstopper Candy as a must buy for your holiday treats. I wouldn't be without it."

See what I did there? Spend some time on Amazon reading the reviews. You'll see what I mean. Another tip is to look for several stellar reviews using the same flow to their words and that have been posted within days of each other.

If it reads like something out of an advertisement, then odds are, the review is probably is faked.

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If there are enough (say, more than 5) reviews, you can judge by the grouping and variety. If you see a double-spike distribution, with one spike at A+ and the other at C-, trust the naysayers. Especially if the A+ reviews all are similarly worded and/or nonspecific. In general, a very detailed review--good or bad--is more likely to be from a real customer rather than a trained monkey.

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@lavikinga: Yes I did. So where can I buy one lol.

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Bad grammar tends to be a giveaway...it'll usually seem robotic and just not the way a normal person would talk. Such cases don't strike me as being a case where English isn't the first language, but I suppose it's possible.

Very short reviews tend to throw me too. Sometimes it's just a person who doesn't elaborate, but there are ones every now and then that just dont feel right.

Or if they can't say enough about the product. Similar to @lavikinga 's qoute, over-positivism is suspicious. This is the internet. People don't say nice things.

EDIT: Oh, also if a person reviews a lot of stuff by the same company and little to nothing else.

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These are all really good tips. :)

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Look for insider info being provided for fake positive. "The hotel just finished a 40 million dollar renovation of all 155 rooms with brand new Sealy mattresses." That is written by management, the average guest would just say recently fully renovated not give exact detailed info.

As a rule of thumb I throw out the top and bottom reviews on products that there are a fair amount of reviews. The top you know what it will say "Best ever, loved it" and bottom "It should burn in hell" so no real reason to read. The middle usually point out what they liked and what they felt fell short. For a hotel "Room was clean, beds comfy but room was very small not much room" would be a typical 4 star review. If you only plan to sleep in the room not spend extra time the size wouldn't matter. A 2 star review will point out many faults but give info on them "Room was nice but construction noise started at 8 am so couldn't sleep". If that was a year old odds are construction is over so call and ask.

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@lavikinga:
Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers Candy Packs: 24-Piece Display
(No reviews)

Be the first to Write a Review

:)

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Elementary stuff, but worth a look:
http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/10/06/7-ways-to-spot-fake-online-reviews/
Good tips here.

Regarding TripAdvisor specifically: The company ran into a bit of a pickle last year when a research firm found that nearly 5 million current reviews could have been "fakes."
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2032997/TripAdvisor-investigated-ASA-fake-reviews.html
the outcome of the investigation, if you're curious:
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-16823012

Granted, these issues are outside the US, but this is all to say that you might want to be wary with TripAdvisor. It continues to face these accusations. :/
As @lichme indicated, YMMV. This doesn't mean you can't get good info there. Just use with caution.

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On Yelp, I glance to see how many reviews have been written by the reviewer and over what period of time. I've found that many "first reviews" are motivated by an especially poor experience at a restaurant; it's much more unusual for a "first review" to be over-the-top positive, because no one is motivated to start posting on yelp because of a positive experience.

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I've found another way is when there's a lot of consistent name dropping. You expect some from time to time, such as kudos to Person A, Person B is awful, but if it's consistent I get leery. Another giveaway here is if it's a name that's generally spelled one way, and the interaction was likely over the phone, and the review consistently spells it the other (like Kris vs. Chris, Ami vs. Amy), or if it's a difficult foreign name for a native English-speaker in the Americas spelled correctly consistently.

That's generally just for companies though, especially customer service. Apartments will tend to have proper names.

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Howard Rheingold has a bit on crap detection skills: http://blog.sfgate.com/rheingold/2009/06/30/crap-detection-101/

Mostly, it boils down to don't believe everything you're told, consider the source and what motivations they may have, and try to back it up with facts.

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Look at the source, the product, and the reviewers.
You're looking at renting a cabin? Some folk will expect a Disney experience and waitstaff, and others will be grateful if the wood roof is 65% there. What are you looking for, and what do you want to do when you get there?
Some of us just went to Vegas for a week. For me the hotel room was a place to crash and store stuff; I went everywhere. My charming female associate likes room service and laying out. Mani-pedis, massages and spa treatments. Wouldn't leave unless she had to. Same exact hotel, we have completely different perspectives and reviews.
You've read tech reviews, right? Same product- a lot of folk will think it's OK, some are astounded at the value, and some just can't get thru the instructions to plug it in. Same kind of thing.

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They're all fake except mine. ;-)

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Tripadvisor always has good information that I (mostly) trust.

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I tend to look at the negative reviews to see if they are things I'd be willing to live with.

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I monitor, post and edit the reviews at the company I work for and I've written many fake reviews before as well. I don't enjoy it but I strive to learn enough about the product first to actually give some semi-honest information. Typically I will include a minor typo on purpose to give it a tiny shred more of human-credibility, and tend to shy away from the vocabulary I would normally use in my discourse.

Another handy tactic I've learned is to type one-handed when writing them, as the flow is a bit more broken that way. Gives it more of a labored sense of feel, like the writer was at least invested in what they had to say.

As for how to spot these, I'm not sure what to tell you, I guess try to be empathetic to a degree and ask yourself if the review sounds like an honest recount of an experience. If it seems forced, over the top, or just robotic, i.e. "this is a great device. I use it almost everyday. I would buy two more in a heartbeat" then it is likely bogus.

Hope that helps!

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Thanks for all of the tips. I tend to look at the lowest first, but I've never been sure what I'm reading is real. The ideas here will help. Thank you!

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I think my favorite fake I've spotted was a review that started with, "I never give 5s to books, but..." I checked their review history and they had never given BELOW a 5 star review! I think that comment I left is still picking up props, haha.

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For me it was noticing all of these old nicknames with just a few posts showing up praising the new woot design. It sure made it look like AMZN was "resurrecting" old nicks.

It made me suspicious, but somebody else brought it up and was poo-pooed. Besides, if they wanted to fake users, they could just create them, no need to zombiefy old nicks.

I'm still in mourning, and probably won't get over it soon, but AMZN made their choice, and I'll make mine. I find the new site harsh and hard on my eyes. I do still glance over the offerings, but I'm getting more sporadic about it.

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Check out what the reviewers have said about other properties. Most of the review sites will allow you to view the profiles of the users reviewing the property. If a large number of the good reviews are by people with little or no history of reviewing other properties, then there is a pretty good chance they're fake.

In some cases, this also helps weed out the idiots. Have you ever had to call the front desk several times because the drunks in the room next to you were being too noisy. Well, if the hotel gave them a hard time (which they should) those people are probably going to leave a nasty review about the hotel for revenge. This kind of nonsense will show up in their other reviews.