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,,, and

Top online review sites,,, and

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


Alan Henry, writer at, 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

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. ”


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