Much has been written about the perils of online review hubs like Yelp or TripAdvisor. The gripes are numerous: people review restaurants that they haven't been to, restaurants are given negative reviews for bogus reasons, etc. A recent incident shows just how easy it is to guide people in the wrong direction.
Oscar's, a restaurant on a restored fishing trawler, was located in Brixham, England. Out of eight reviews, seven were given a score of "Excellent" and one review called it "Terrible." Reviews mention the inevitability of Oscar's earning Michelin stars and food so good that it was "bordering on sorcery."
Based on these reviews, dozens of people sought out the restaurant to sample the much-heralded seafood-focused fare. But when they went to the address listed, all they found was an alleyway full of trash bins. Oscar's, you see, was never real.
A businessman made the whole thing up. He was inspired after a friend's hotel received a bunch of negative criticism, which he suspected was from a rival hotel owner.
There are over 60 pieces of content created every minute to TripAdvisor, according to a spokesman. So it perhaps won't shock anyone that the company isn't able to monitor everything the moment comes its published. Though, in a case like Oscar's, the entry went unchecked for far too long. It was eventually removed.