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Am I being too cynical?

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Naperville, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Naperville
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916 posts
27 reviews
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Am I being too cynical?

I have recently seen a LOT of posts from various people recommending places to stay or various tours, given by people with only one or two posts listed in their profiles. Are they for real or are they shilling for various properties and tour guides? Or am I just too skeptical? Just thought I'd ask.

Havertown...
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1. Re: Am I being too cynical?

No, you definitely are not skeptical. It has been a growing problem over the last several months.

Umbria, Italy
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for Sunshine Coast, Umbria
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2. Re: Am I being too cynical?

Not as bad as the Morroco forum

Sydney, Australia
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60 reviews
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3. Re: Am I being too cynical?

It is hard to know. When I first started on Trip Advisor I would point these things out and the original poster would reply with wounded feelings or scathing comments on "career posters", never to be heard from again.

When you have been around a while you see the same names come up again and again, xxx's apartments or yyy's tour guide, almost always by people who post on nothing else about their holiday. So I have a few thoughts.

1. Take with a very large pinch of salt any recommendations from a first time poster, especially if they have just joined TA.One wonders how they even know of it to come home, join up and then post one glowing review of one aspect of their trip. It doesn't ring true.

2. Be very wary of posts that name the tour guide, the apartment or the service in the heading, especially if they meet criterion 1. It makes the service very searchable which tends to indicate self promotion (but may not)

3. Posts that read like advertisements probably are.

4. Credibility is strong if people with more posts on a number of topics also agree that xxx was fabulous.

5. Credibility is stronger when someone shows through their history of posts that they have planned a holiday and have given feedback on lots of aspects. That's why you sometimes see frequent posters ask a questions like "Tell us what else you liked on your holiday".

6. Credibility is strongest if the poster is a frequent contributer or Destination Expert. However, all opinions expressed are just that, opinions, and people will have different ideas about places and services.

These days I let the posts pass so that they can die a natural death, unless a newish poster expresses lots of interest in the service, then I might make a comment.

And of course, each person who posts honestly, does so from the conviction that the lovely place they stayed or the tour they took was wonderful, and they want to share that. So they may recommend just a few things again and again. If they meet criteria 4 and 5, you can probably trust their experiences.

Naperville, Illinois
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for Naperville
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916 posts
27 reviews
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4. Re: Am I being too cynical?

Thanks for your replies, especially Lynn who took the time to give many good thoughtful points to be aware of. I felt I had to make the comment about these possible sham posters for the newbies to this forum. TA was invaluable to me when I planned our trip last year and I am using it again for our next trip. But I hate to see it taken over by less than honest people. It ruins the site for everyone. Maybe those of us with a little experience, should take the time to point out what appear to be dubious posts. Any other thoughts?

north carolina
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6,479 posts
145 reviews
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5. Re: Am I being too cynical?

Desi,

You're right. It comes with the territory. Don't worry about it. Take everything with a grain of salt.

You are not being too cynical.

But withal, isn't TripAdvisor great?

Naperville, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Naperville
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916 posts
27 reviews
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6. Re: Am I being too cynical?

Yes it is, I still love it, but it's a great timesucker. I start looking for a few minutes and next thing I know two hours have gone by. Oh well, I'm dreaming and having fun.

north carolina
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6,479 posts
145 reviews
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7. Re: Am I being too cynical?

You're right again - I just did point to one review on the Venice forum that might be suspect.

Havertown...
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881 posts
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8. Re: Am I being too cynical?

There's a flipside to this as well. Some reviews are overly negative, and also by a poster with only one or a few posts. Sometimes these are posted here by competitors of the establishment/service being negatively reviewed.

Lynn said it perfectly - let these threads die without bumping them to the top, even if it's to scold them.

Castellina in...
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3,304 posts
17 reviews
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9. Re: Am I being too cynical?

Yes, it has become worse recently. I would even go so far as to say that someone who has been to journalism school is writing reviews on commission. Being a journalism school graduate, this person starts all paragraphs with a dependent clause. Not being a journalism school grad, this drives me nuts. Having been taught to use modern journalese, this person always travels with a "partner". Being very feely touchy, this person always has a "bubbly" guide, waiter, etc etc. Ain't life great?

Naperville, Illinois
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for Naperville
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27 reviews
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10. Re: Am I being too cynical?

Thanks Tuscan,

I've had the same feeling when I read these posts. I'm not a journalism major but I felt they were being written by a professional. It never occurred to me that they might be getting a commission, but it makes sense.

I also didn't think of the flip side, negative reviews being written by a competitor. I've still got a lot to learn about these web sites.