Reviews on listing sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages, are places where customers can virtually voice their personal experiences with a certain business. With these reviews, one can give a ranking anywhere from one to five stars (five stars being the best). On paper, this seems like a great way for customers to voice their personal opinions and experiences with a particular business. However, there seems to be a bit of a question on the integrity of some of these reviews. As a customer reading these reviews, how are you to know if these reviews are legitimate, or if they were written by the business owner’s wife, or close friend?
Sites that offer reviews have been cracking down on posers, and filtering out the “fake reviews.” But in my humblest of opinions, I believe that these sites should be doing a lot more. They should be following in the footsteps of Google, and send out algorithms similar to Panda and Penguin, to flag down these fake reviews. Google has done an outstanding job in flagging the spammers and the content stealers, and hitting them with poor rankings. Since these sites are beginning to crack down on the posers, they should really think about penalizing businesses who use fake reviews. Individual sites like Yelp and City Search can follow the path of penalizing businesses, like Panda and Penguin do every month or so. Sites that offer these reviews can do one of two things to punish the businesses: 1, write a review themselves, notifying all of the business’s potential customers, that they have been caught in review scandals, and not to trust any of the reviews written. 2, Ban these businesses for posing reviews from their site for however long they seem fit. These punishments, I admit are a little far-fetched, but if that’s what it takes to stop the lies, I think it’s a good thing. I believe that if review sites send out algorithms monthly, and hand out punishments to sites that are flagged down for fake reviews, it will have the same effect as the Panda and Penguin updates: businesses will clean up their act and the integrity of writing reviews will be returned.
Reviews were set up as a place where customers can give feedback about a business. New customers can use these reviews as a determinate, and ask themselves: am I going to use this business or not? It is a great opportunity to read the pros and cons of every business. Now it seems as if paying a random person, 10 dollars for every good review he or she writes has taken over the art of personal opinions. I believe that writing reviews is a beautiful and natural way for people to voice their happiness, disdain, approval, disapproval…of a business they have recently used.
I realize that the business world is a dog eat dog lifestyle; its survival of the fittest. Businesses will do anything in their power to boost their reputation with potential clients. Hiring people or your close friends and relatives to write good reviews, is one way to gain a strong reputation. This is the hard truth, and it is clearly unethical, and misleading. But it is a way for businesses to make a good name for themselves. Sometimes you need to play a little dirty in order to come out on top. Until sites come up with a better algorithm or method to combat these fake reviews, I don’t think there is a way to distinguish a genuine review from a well-articulated fake one. I will leave you with this parting thought: continue to write reviews whether they are positive or negative. I now leave you with a warning: read reviews, but always keep in mind the integrity and legitimacy of every review you read.
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