As more and more consumers base their purchasing decisions on reviews they read on various websites, that has, unfortunately, provided motivation to those who would try to sway people in an unethical fashion. Most avid readers know how that many merchants will post extremely glowing reviews of their own products while trashing the competition. They do so under the guise of “regular” customers. Sometimes, however, it can be extremely difficult for even savvy online veterans to be able to ascertain whether or not a review is to be trusted.
Five-star reviews of restaurants, for example, may be cleverly written by someone working on staff, or even the owner. The ones who are smart will write their “opinions” in a way that is virtually indistinguishable from legitimate reviews. The incentives for cheating remain high while the odds of being found out are very low.
However, owners of restaurants and many other kinds of businesses are getting much more sophisticated when it comes to weeding out illegitimate reviews. Some of them use advanced tools such as linguistic analysis to look for similar strings of words that appear in multiple reviews. Another example of a bogus review is when someone who is a first-time poster to a forum has an overly zealous opinion, whether it’s positive or negative.
On the other hand, there are several people who feel motivated to truly express their opinion when they have either a very good or bad experience. If you are trying to choose among restaurants, one way to separate legitimate and illegitimate reviews is to bypass five-star and one-star ratings completely. Also, you should compare reviews across different sites. Make sure that the reviewers are verified by each site and put more stock in their opinions. Look for specific information rather than a certain rating. The more details a person includes, the more confident you can be that you are actually reading someone’s honest opinion.