We research almost everything we purchase anymore and about the only thing you can do, afaik, is look at the number of negative reviews. If there are hundreds of negative reviews, it won't do a company much good to flood the place with a thousand phony good reviews; everyone will still see all the negatives and will get the sense they should probably steer clear. Anyway... Good job!
Also using Google or other search tools to look up a business that you think is sketchy, you can get a lot of phony testimonials.
We need this used on Obama Speeches and Debbie W. Schultz rants.
If you have heard the commercials for Reputation Defender for their On-line Reputation Management, listen carefully. They are basically offering this spamming service.
there’s a website that advertises this service, aimed at doctors, lawyers, etc. They’ll spam the review sites with positive reviews, driving the negative ones down the search list. The theory being nobody looks past the first page on Google.
There's part of the problem with their study. They're using people who are at the peak of their susceptibility to propaganda.
Usually software like this focus’s on key words and phrases - and develops filters based on these. Context and the level of sincerity are ‘fluff’ - that are difficult to quantitize.
So, all the spammers have to do is evolve the keywords to avoid the filters.
I use TripAdvisor quite a bit to help decide on which B&B to use when traveling. However, a few years ago I noticed that the “top rated” B&B’s for any given area - ESPECIALLY Washington DC - had tons of suspicious reviews. Best way to tell with the TripAdvisor reviews is to check how many of the “reviewers” have only left one “contribution”. B&B owners have friends and acquaintances leave these glowing reviews to drive the ratings way up.
A lot of times the phony reviews have a lot in common - “home away from home” and, oh here is a perfect example right from the site:
“Another visit to Washington DC, another lovely stay at the beautiful Chester A. Arthur Bed and Breakfast. This charming B&B is my favorite place to stay in Washington because it makes me feel like I’m living in a glorious past. From the moment you walk through the front door you are greeted with a splendor preserved from the 1800’s - gilded chandeliers and period furniture welcome you to another time. The rooms are big and the beds comfortable; I am always impressed with the care of the bathrooms. I stay in a lot of B&B’s and this is one of my favorites - away from, etc.........”
How the heck many bathrooms if this putz using at the place that he can be so impressed with the “care of the bathroomS” ?
We stayed at that place and it was one of our least favorite B&B experiences. The owners were flat out weird, and the “formal” breakfast was the most awkward meal I have ever “attended”. Food was crap. Room was tiny, bed was weird, furniture was mismatched and beat up, bathroom was tiny and none too clean. I notice the anal owners of that B&B are now leaving snotty responses to every review that doesn’t give them the highest rating.
There was a woman from France there our first tortuous breakfast, and after bragging about his award winning frech speaking skill, the host began to jabber at the French lady in whatever he thought was french. She just stared at him like he was a zoo animal, then shrugged her shoulders and started eating.
It was that visit that taught me about spending the time to check the percentage of “excellent” reviews, how many left just one contribution, and had a sign up date the same time as the review. I also decided that while in DC I would not risk another B&B stay there.