Nowhere is the Internet’s democratic nature clearer than in the user-generated reviews on such websites as Yelp and TripAdvisor.
All it takes to weigh in on a restaurant, hotel, spa, bar, bowling alley — anything, really — is a user name and password. Although they’re a boon for consumers sharing unfiltered ideas and opinions, there are obvious hazards: What can be trusted? How do you know a hotel owner hasn’t put family members or friends up to clogging sites with positive reviews of his property and negative reviews of his competition?
And what should you make of scores that are spread all over the board? Consider, say, the Holiday Inn Select in downtown St. Louis. It recently had nine “excellent” ratings, 25 “very good,” 26 “average,” 18 “poor” and 19 “terrible.”
How can 34 people rate a property above average and 37 say it is below average? Though such sites can be helpful when you’re traveling, more than once I’ve wondered whether…………… continues on Chicago Tribune