The Sunday Times carries an article exploring how hotel owners are posting fake reviews to skew the rankings of their establishment. Various sites, including Fodors and Tripadviser, apparently did not verify the credentials of the poster, and the newspaper reporter was consequently able to elevate the ranking of a hotel on Tripadvisor that had previously been described by visitors as a “hovel”.
Of course, it is natural that companies are going to want to promote themselves, and any site that collects user reviews needs to have mechanisms in place for improving the quality of postings. It looks like these companies were simply caught out by a couple of reporters keen to generate column inches by showing “how the internet is throwing hotel and restaurant guides into chaos”.
Tim Berners-Lee gives a rather more measured assessment of information quality on the web and how to improve it; his comments are all the more interesting because of the way they were selectively quoted by the Guardian and BBC to convey a negative message.