Faked Hotel Reviews: Doubt Web 2.0!
More and more users book their holiday arrangements online: hotel, flights, transport in the country and alike. There are plenty of sources of information available, but among the most successful are several "Web 2.0" sites that rely on user reviews. Whilst honest opinions of real people are invaluable advice, ordinary users have no way to control whether or not a review was actually written by an independent person - or the owner of the reviewed hotel himself.
In fact, there are hundreds of IT marketing companies that participate in so-called "guerrilla marketing": Cheap labourers usually from Asian countries spend hours writing positive reviews for their clients (for example, major hotel chains), negative ones about their clients′ competitors, discuss in major forums to promote certain companies or post links in blogs.
After being annoyed by badly faked hotel reviews on a wiki-based website myself, I realised that the issue has already been noticed by many colleagues in the travel website business. Durant Imboden of www.europeforvisitors.com has dealt with this growing problem in an interesting article, in which he also refers to articles that uncover the dubious methods of guerrilla marketing.
Are Independent Webmasters more trustworthy?
Now you might ask why you should trust TourMyCountry.com more than a project that allows user reviews. The answer is simple:
(1) This website is created by a real person - me! I am and I am personally accountable for what I publish here. No anonymous reviews or comments, I am traceable.
(2) I don′t pretend to own the ultimate truth about Austria - this is why I write articles here in the first person singular: To underline that you can read on MY subjective Austria here, based on an individual′s experience. I encourage you to doubt the information provided on this website.
(3) The way this website is commercialised is clear to my users: Google AdSense displays advertisements on the left bar of each page. And I run an affiliate program that refers you to a well-established hotel booking service that has a good portfolio of Austrian hotels. No dodgy intentions, to manipulation of users, no illicit content.
But what is my problem with user participation and the Web 2.0? Let′s have a look at the web′s history to explain this point. Once upon a time, the internet started as a military-funded academic project, which made it suspicious to some people. Later, the world wide web caused a fundamental change in the way people thought about the web: Suddenly, it was the ultimate key to justice as every user was anonymous and thus equal - democracy, wealth and meritocracy would spread online around the World! But things didn't quite work out like that...
Continue with "Fake Hotel Reviews - Part II"
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