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Owners and reviewers trip up TripAdvisor

16 March 2012 by

One of the claims TripAdvisor likes to trot out is that it can detect anomalies with the reviews that appear on its website, thanks to a sophisticated computer algorithm that weeds out the fakes.

But it appears the online reviews website's boffins were caught napping last week, as the site was flooded with thousands of anonymous ratings of businesses across the world, having been collected both on the site and through Facebook over a period of several months.

It was hard to tell which community was more incensed - the business owners or reviewers.

While the restaurant and hotel business owners around the country were pulling their hair our trying to work out why they had received so many ratings, where they had come from, and why they didn't appear to tally with the reviews they had already received, threads on the TripAdvisor website had largely negative feedback from users.

One disgruntled TripAdvisor reviewer in Edinburgh called "UncleGus" set the general tone for the feedback when he said: "As a regular contributor to TA over the last eight years I can say that I think it is quite the worst thing that TA has EVER implemented."

In fact, the opprobrium reached such a level that Trip­Advisor was forced to climb down and switch the ratings back off again. Whether or not it stays like that remains to be seen, with the site already appearing to indicate that it wants to give ratings another shot.

Businesses often vent their frustrations with the site - the problems contacting a real person, the difficulty in getting an apparently fake review removed, the tendency of some customers to use the prospect of negative reviews as a bargaining chip. But it is encouraging to see that when enough people complain at once with a genuine grievance, TripAdvisor has to listen.

By Neil Gerrard

E-mail your comments to Neil Gerrard here.

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