90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Peril And The Promise Of Online Reviews

The wild and woolly world of online reviews – and how they make and break businesses.

Top online review sites Yelp.com, Epinions.com, tripadvisor.com, and Angieslist.com

Top online review sites Yelp.com, Epinions.com, tripadvisor.com, and Angieslist.com

Once upon a time in the world of restaurants and retailers and travel destinations there were only a few ways to establish a reputation.  There was advertising.  There were newspaper reviews.  And there was good old word of mouth.

Today, the word of mouth piece has exploded into millions of voices in the enormous world of online reviews.  Yelp.  TripAdvisor.  Amazon.  Angie’s List.  On and on.  Online consumer reviews can be really helpful.  They can be useless.  They can be bogus.  They can make or break a business.

This hour,  On Point:  the wild and wooly world of online reviews.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Alan Henry, writer at LifeHacker.com, which is owned by Gawker Media, and covers software and new technologies.

Brad Tuttle, a writer for Time magazine, he has been covering the proliferation of fake reviews for Time.com.

Justin Brookman, director, Center for Democracy and Technology. Former Chief of the Internet Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s office.

Wilson Wang, owner of Baba Sushi, a 5-year-old restaurant in Worcester that has 41/2 out of 5 stars on Yelp.

From Tom’s Reading List

Time “The net result is that while the Internet should increase transparency and give shoppers access to loads of information and the honest, unbiased assessments of the masses, consumers often feel engulfed in a murky web that’s not entirely trustworthy.”

The New York Times “In the brutal world of online commerce, where a competing product is just a click away, retailers need all the juice they can get to close a sale.”

Businessweek “The proliferation of fake reviews is a huge problem for e-commerce and recommendation sites that depend on user ratings. “At the end of the day, if consumers don’t trust the content, then there is no value for anyone,” says Vince Sollitto, a spokesman for the local review site Yelp. ”

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 4, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP)

Hillary Clinton’s week of bad headlines: about her emails and foreign money going to the Clinton Foundation. We’ll dig in.

Mar 4, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 3, 2015
This July 21, 2014 photo shows strawberry banana chia breakfast smoothie in Concord, N.H. Breakfast habits in America are changing, leading to dramatic shifts in business strategy. (AP)

Food guidelines are changing. So is what we eat for breakfast. Cereal? Out of favor. Eggs? Maybe OK. And all kinds of new menus. We’ll look at Americans and breakfast.

 
Mar 3, 2015
A group of community activists in San Francisco, CA celebrate that city's February 2014 embrace of the Fair Chance Campaign's efforts to alter background checks on employment and housing for convicted criminals. (Courtesy All of Us Or None)

Is it time to stop asking job applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime? We’ll look at employment and unemployment after prison.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Answers To Your Questions On Black Holes
Tuesday, Mar 3, 2015

Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan answers your black hole questions in full. (Well, most of them.)

More »
Comment
 
Want To Listen To Lead Belly? Here’s Where To Start
Monday, Mar 2, 2015

Loved our show on Lead Belly, but unsure on where you should start to listen? Jeff Place of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage offers his best picks for a beginning Lead Belly listener.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment