Online Honor Code?

If you own a business and have a website chances are you have at least some reviews of your services floating around in cyber space.  A company’s reputation is virtually shaped by their reviews.  Sites such as Yelp and Urbanspoon can offer enticing information that could sway potential customers.

Review sites can be a double edged sword; you could get a great review (which is good) or a bad review (which is really bad).  For many consumers these reviews do affect their choice of professional services.   The question is:  Are these review sites really trustworthy?

According to npr online, some businesses are paying for fake reviews.  Posters on online forums such as Craigslist are offering to buy and sell reviews for what most would see as pocket change.

How will consumers be able to delineate between fake and genuine reviews?

Well, Jeff Hancock and his colleagues at Cornell University have developed software that can spot these fake reviews.  In essence they are creating a language-based approach to detecting lies.

So far, this seems to be applied only to the hotel industry but imagine the potential of such technology.  The clues to spotting these deceptive reviews are to pay attention to function words such as “the’s” and “ah’s”, the prepositions and pronouns.

This new technology, “…gets at the very basic idea of what these reviews are about: trust,” Hancock purports.

Check out the entire article in npr and see if you could spot the fakes from the genuine hotel reviews.

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