back to article Rubber-glove time: Italy to probe TripAdvisor over 'fake reviews'

Italy’s competition regulator has launched two investigations into holiday websites just ahead of the summer in the wake of complaints from both tourists and industry figures. The antitrust watchdog said it would be looking into TripAdvisor to see if the holiday review and booking site was taking the right steps to ensure that …


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  1. Steven Davison

    Obligatory XKCD comic -

    1. Ralph B
  2. Joe Harrison

    I love tripadvisor

    What else are you supposed to do when you have to choose a hotel in a country you've never been before?

    1. phil dude

      Re: I love tripadvisor

      be wary ;-) I must admit, I have read around and never been that disappointed. I like reading the descriptions, and I suspect the genuine ones sound "messier" than manufactured ones. I dunno...;-)

      However, that stag weekend in Amsterdam.....


    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      False negatives are the hard problem

      I tend to mostly ignore the positive reviews. I read them to find out factual information but I pay more attention to the less positive reviews. Mostly because people may love places that aren't our sort of place (maybe we are looking for value for money, or luxury, or quiet, or beach or ...) but things people don't like are often likely to apply to us as well. Also, it does help to guard against false positive reviews.

      Of course, that does mean I am open to false negatives. Unfortunately, that is a real problem for the owner: it doesn't do me much harm to miss a fantastic place because of a false negative review (compared to the risk of selecting a bad place based on a false positive) so I am always going to be more open to false negatives. All they can really do is encourage people to keep submitting reviews and hope the false reviews are drowned out by real reviews.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simpe advice.

    Ignore the lowest and the highest and you may get a better idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simpe advice.

      Unfortunately the ratings also reflect the expectations of the people who choose a particular hotel/restaurant - look at the stellar ratings Nando's gets, for example! (no disrespect intended to Nando's, or their easy-to-please customers). The only way seems to be to read the reviews and try to form an opinion of the kind of place the reviewers like.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Simpe advice.

        Yep - I'm always amused by the reviews from American tourists who complain that there was no air-conditioning in a £60 a night hotel. Different expectations.

  4. The Man Himself Silver badge


    You do see some fairly obvious patterns sometimes though, such as the Hotel-Owner-Sock-Puppet-Defence pattern:

    Reviewer with many reviews to their name: "This place is rubbish"

    Reviewer with only 1 review to their name: "This place is great"

    Another reviewer with many reviews to their name: "We hated this place"

    Another reviewer with only 1 review to their name: "We loved it"

    Further reviewer with many reviews to their name: "Go back? Over my dead body"

    Another reviewer with only 1 review to their name: "Can't wait to go back"

    etc., etc., etc....

    1. Moktu

      Re: Patterns

      Unless it's been cleaned up

      Look at The Camelot Castle Hotel in Tintagel for giggles.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Patterns

      You also have to consider the reviewer's own characteristics. I would ignore complaints about slow servivce when made by an american reviewer, since americans expect to have all three courses thrown at them in 20 minutes, but a similar complaint from a french reviewer would make me wonder.

      Someone moaning about poor service when they paid 99 euros for a room in a city centre hotel has probably got some unrealistic expectations of what that will buy. In general a review that has precise details is more likely to be useful than a 1-lone "we loved it", etc.

      Tripadvisor is a useful service but, as with all advice, you have to make your own mind up.

      1. Mike Flex

        Re: Patterns

        "I would ignore complaints about slow servivce when made by an american reviewer, since americans expect to have all three courses thrown at them in 20 minutes,"

        Looking for restaurants in a mostly harmless suburb of Amsterdam I found one American reviewer state that "of course, you couldn't expect any service in Europe".

        Perhaps she should have stayed at home and stuck with the sort of 'restaurant' where the staff follow up any interaction with an enquiry as to whether you would like fries with that?

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "This system employs sophisticated algorithms"

    That do not spot spelling mistakes, obvious strawman arguments or downright falsehoods.

    I'm sure the sub-contracted company (that may or may not be located in Earth's Southern hemisphere) that "controls" the reviews had a hoot when they read that.

    By the way, what "penalties" can you leverage against anonymous people with false logins, false contact details and changing/spoofed IP addresses ?

  6. Crazy Operations Guy

    There isn't a good solution to fraudulent posts

    It becomes an arms-race between he website trying to get rid of fraudulent posts and the companies hired to manipulate the reviews.

    You could hire professional reviewers, but they cost a lot of money, can be corrupted and only have a limited view of what they are reviewing.

    The least terrible solution I've seen uses a combination of a 1-10 system and a 'useful / not useful' rating attached to the review itself. Reviews with no or a low ratio of "useful"s to "not useful"s isn't counted in the overall rating of the product. It could still be gamed, but its better than most other systems I've seen.

  7. fixit_f

  8. Don Coglioni

    Overe here the news reported that restaurant owners..

    ..were unhappy with TripAdvisor (whose "Certificates of Excellence" do seem to be flowering instantly on mondo+cane's front door , it must be said) also because users could write a negative review BEFORE the meal was finished.

    What, you bloody "forestieri" (foreigners, outsiders :) couldn't even wait for me, the portly landlady, to offer you the obligatory limoncello, you heathens?

    Oh, friendly notice to you all travelling to Italy, this summer: PLEASE PLEASE do not order a Cappuccino at the end of your meal.

    "Un caffè " is what you want.

    Cappuccino is canonically restricted to the 6am-10.30-ish am interval. 11 is a bit too late. 12 is for Germans and ravers. After 12 you're looked upon with disdain.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fake counter-intelligence, a growing problem...

    1. For starters, TripAdvisor needs to verify email addresses... Why do they not do this already?

    2. TripAdvisor should offer a 'filter' option to throw out all reviews by one-time reviewers, because this is large source of fake positive / negative reviews!

    3. TripAdvisor should also add a filter option to prioritise reviews from experienced past reviewers that have previously been upvoted, i.e. use the Reg system or Amazon's yes / no was this review helpful option.

    4. In general the problem could be solved by having actual Booking sites i.e. Expedia, offer their own review system linked to bookings like does. That said, I note that despite closing my Expedia account two years ago, and requesting deletion, they continue to spam me!.

    5. Hotels are getting wise and some are retaliating by posting their own fake counter reviews full of praise to offset negative reviews. Including poster IP might weed out a few of these tech-illiterate hotel managers.

  10. 's water music

    Loved it

    Great article!!!! Would definitely read it again.

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