Some time back I highlighted a discussion in which travelers discussed a study out of MIT in which it was found that online ratings can be skewed upwards by as much as 25% when an early rater provides a high score.
Mixing ratings by 20 year old backpackers, middle class insurance salesmen from Dubuque with sophisticated, wealthy older travelers average out to meaningless numbers. ~popov
Trip Advisor amuses me because of the reasons people will give something a poor rating. For example, someone gave a castle a low rating because it rained that day. ~sparkchaser
Reviews on TA can be questionable at best as there are no controls on who can post, nor any checking to see if the review is in fact reality. ~Robert2533
But despite TripAdvisors shortcomings, many find it quite useful … you just have to know how to use it to best effect:
I ***LOVE*** Trip Advisor, but I only use the Destination Forums section. … There is typically much more specific information posted once you get to the forum for where you are headed. Plus there is a PM feature so you can write other posters off-line for further details, clarification, or to chat. ~suze
I don’t just look at the numbers, but at what people are saying. If many people are complaining about one thing in particular, then that’s probably a good indicator that the hotel has a problem with that. ~Iowa_Redhead
I know that my faves are quite different from, say a 20 year old backpacker, but when you dig a bit deeper and actually read the reviews, its not that hard to filter out those that are more suitable for the youngs, oldies, or 40-somethings (like me). ~tomrgr
Most of this isn’t particularly revolutionary thinking. But the discussion really starts to get interesting when the discussion starter, popov, offers some additional thoughts as to why exactly he thinks many reviews are of low merit. His top three reasons are reasonable – but then on item #4 he proffers this doozy:
Women just are not as critical. (And Save the hate email. It’s true.) I generally ignore opinions that are obviously posted by women. They are easy to spot – just look for words like “fabulous.” How many guys every say that “the food was fabulous!!!” I also ignore posts by anyone who uses the word “awesome (must be under 25) or “amazing”.
Needless to say, an opinion like that is sure to throw some gas on the fire of an otherwise run-of-the-mill discussion about TripAdvisor.
Read the explosion in its entirety: Why Do People Bother With Tripadvisor?