By Yohana Desta
Shopping online can be a tricky thing to navigate, which is why online reviews come in handy. The comment sections where people write their honest opinions of a product, restaurant or hotel are helpful resources for figuring out whether or not something is worth buying. In 2012, 57% of restaurant-goers said they rely on online reviews before choosing where to dine. In addition, 90% of Yelp users said a positive review influences their choices. But here’s the bad news: Not all of those reviews are reliable. Companies such as TripAdvisor, an aggregate site for making travel plans, have recently come under fire for allegedly failing to prevent fake reviews. For example, some hotels pay reviewers to post positive reviews without ever stepping foot in the establishment. They do it to boost business, but that comes at the cost of a surprised and angry customer who feels tricked by the Internet. Now it’s time to wise up. Here are six ways you can spot a fake online review.
1. The reviewer hasn’t reviewed anything else
Some consumers may like or hate a particular product or service so much that they feel compelled to write a single online review. However, one extremely positive or negative comment by a reviewer who has never reviewed anything else could be a red flag. Make sure to note the username and click to see his or her history.
2. The reviewer posts multiple reviews with similar language
If one reviewer has commented on multiple hotel listings with reviews that all sound eerily similar to one another, your instincts should be on high alert. This could be a clear sign of someone who’s getting paid per review (and is being pretty lazy about hiding it).
3. The reviewer’s language is oddly specific
Let’s say you’re reading a review for a product that has a really long name, like the “DEFG HydraHelix Smartwatch 2000x Chrome.” Most commenters are not going to write out the whole name multiple times, and will instead shorten it to something like the “HydraHelix.” Fake reviewers will go all out, stating the full name as often as possible, because it juices up SEO points for the product.
4. Too! Much! Enthusiasm!
If there’s a lot of excessive punctuation and overly positive language, put on your skeptical specs.
5. A hotel review focuses too much on family and activities
A 2013 study by Cornell University found that fake hotel reviewers would often emphasize all the great activities and family fun the place provides, whereas real reviewers focused mostly on the hotel itself. It’s a ploy to make a review sound as personal and relatable as possible. Plus, it’s a way for the reviewer, who’s likely never stepped foot in that hotel, to avoid writing details about the hotel itself.
6. Filter out the phonies
To combat fake reviews, here are some nearly foolproof ways to determine if a comment is legitimate:
- Verified reviews: Some sites have a means of verifying reviewers. For example, Amazon marks whether or not a commenter actually purchased a reviewed item from the online store.
- Social media accounts: Some sites require commenters to post comments by using their Facebook account. Thus, it puts a face to the comment. You can always click on that person’s account and check out the profile to see how “real” he or she is.
- If you’re hunting for hotels, try Review Skeptic, a beta site based on research from Cornell University. Copy and paste reviews onto the site’s homepage and it’ll let you know if they’re real or fake, based on language analysis.
(See original article at mashable.com)