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Review Moderation and Fraud Detection

Review Moderation

Does TripAdvisor screen reviews?
Yes. TripAdvisor screens reviews to ensure they meet our posting guidelines.
How does TripAdvisor ensure the quality of its reviews?
We have a team of moderators that examine questionable reviews. We also use automated tools on the site that help flag questionable content for review, and our large and passionate community of millions of travelers keep an eye out on our site as well.
Why do some reviews get published quickly and some take longer?
The majority of reviews are posted within 12 hours of submission. If a review is flagged for a closer look by our moderators, it may take longer, especially during our busiest seasons. We try to base every decision we make on what our members will find helpful and relevant. TripAdvisor is a free service to travelers, and we do our best to manage speed and quality in posting reviews to the site. Reviews under investigation can take several weeks to process.
Why might a review be flagged for a closer look?
Some reviews may include content that requires further review to ensure they meet our posting guidelines. Here are two examples of content that were found to be outside of our guidelines:
  • Personally insulting language:
    "There were bugs everywhere and the fat unhelpful, ungracious host should be ashamed to work in nyc!"
  • Comments about other reviews, reviewers:
    "Ok, to whomever wrote those complaints, get off the acid and crack...Give me a break, if you have time to complain about 20 missing tiles you should have stayed home in your single wide trailer and been miserable there!"
If you moderate reviews, why do you have a "Report Inappropriate Content" feature on each review?
Occasionally, an inappropriate review may slip through the cracks. In these rare cases, our members can report the material to us, helping maintain the high quality content of our site.
Does TripAdvisor fact check reviews?
TripAdvisor has millions of reviews and more than one million hotels, restaurants and attractions; therefore, it would be impractical for us to fact check the details of reviews.

We post an average of 16 reviews and opinions every minute and believe that the sheer volume of reviews allows travelers to get the facts, spot trends among reviews and determine whether a property is right for them.
Does TripAdvisor only post positive reviews? Does TripAdvisor only post negative reviews?
As long as a review meets our guidelines, we’re happy to post it whether it’s positive or negative. The majority of our reviews are indeed positive, but we do not influence or change the content of reviews.

Fraud Detection

What is considered fraud?
Reviews of accommodations, attractions and restaurants should only be written by TripAdvisor members that have had a customer service experience that they want to share with the community.

The following actions may be considered fraudulent:
– Attempts by an owner to boost his/her own property’s reputation by:
  • Writing a review for his/her own property
  • Asking friends or relatives to write positive reviews
  • Submitting a review on behalf of a guest
  • Copying comment cards and submitting them as reviews
  • Pressuring a TripAdvisor member to remove a negative review
  • Offering incentives such as discounts, upgrades, or any special treatment in exchange for reviews
  • Hiring an optimization company, third party marketing organization, or anyone to submit false reviews
  • Impersonating a competitor or a guest in any way

– Attempts by an owner to damage his/her competitors by submitting a negative review.

Bottom line: Any attempt to mislead, influence or impersonate a traveler is considered fraudulent and will be subject to penalty.
How do you detect fraud?
Unfortunately, we can’t tell you exactly how we do it, since that might offer potential offenders a roadmap to subvert our system. We can tell you that we dedicate significant time and resources ensuring that the content on TripAdvisor reflects the real experiences of real travelers. We have quality assurance specialists who have brought a wide range of professional experience to enhance our prevention methods and our team spends thousands of hours every year ensuring the integrity of content on TripAdvisor. We also use automated tools that help flag questionable content for review, and our large and passionate community of millions of travelers keeps an eye out on our site as well.
Why doesn’t TripAdvisor use name authentication or require proof of stay?
TripAdvisor is a not a transactional business; our members conduct research on our site, but bookings are conducted via our partners. Therefore, we do not collect credit card or reservation information.

We feel that travelers would be missing out on valuable customer service experiences that may not have included an overnight stay, or staying at a hotel with a friend or family member who is paying for the room.
What will happen if a property is found to have fraudulent reviews?
If we determine that there are fraudulent reviews submitted for a property, there are several consequences:
  • A property may drop by several pages in the TripAdvisor popularity index. Details of property rankings are handled on a case-by-case basis and are proprietary.
  • The property will no longer be eligible for inclusion in TripAdvisor’s Travelers Choice awards, Top 10 lists, press releases, etc.
  • A large red penalty notice, explaining that the property’s reviews are suspicious may appear on the listing page.
If you find a property to be fraudulent, why not remove them from the site altogether?
This is exactly what some properties want. We think the red badge is a better punishment, and provides more information to travelers so they can make the best choice possible.
Are there companies that specialize in submitting fake reviews on behalf of a property?
Yes, there are companies that claim they can submit reviews and boost a property’s standing in the TripAdvisor popularity index. However, we have several of these companies on our radar already, and the properties have been penalized appropriately. Using these services is against our rules and will result in the penalties detailed above.
Is it illegal to submit or encourage fraudulent reviews?
In addition to being a violation of our terms of service and an unethical practice, it’s also a violation of the law in many jurisdictions. In July 2009 New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo settled a case which resulted in a $300,000 penalty for a company posting fake consumer reviews. It is also illegal to post fake reviews in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands (among other countries) pursuant to the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, adopted by these countries.

Information for TripAdvisor Members

How should TripAdvisor visitors use the site?
TripAdvisor posts an average of 16 reviews and opinions every minute. The sheer volume of reviews posted for individual properties allows travelers to base their decisions on the opinions of many.

Our advice to travelers when reading through the reviews of a property is to throw out the anomalies that appear overly critical or overly complimentary. What is left is the collective wisdom of the community.
A property I booked a stay at now has a red warning on it – should I cancel my reservation?
While we cannot advise you as to whether or not you should cancel your upcoming reservation, we hope that our decision to share this information is appreciated for future travel planning. TripAdvisor posts notices on properties that we believe have attempted to manipulate our popularity index.

We feel that it is important to alert our members in instances where significant attempts have been made to skew the ranking of a property on our site.
I was offered an incentive for a review - is that ok?
No. Property owners are welcome to encourage their guests to submit user reviews upon their return home, but they are not allowed to offer incentives, discounts, upgrades, or special treatment on current or future stays in exchange for reviews. If someone has offered you an incentive for a review, please tell us about it.
How can site users alert TripAdvisor to potential fraud?
To report any biased content, please e-mail us. We will research the complaint, and apply any necessary penalties. Send us the date, title of the review, and any other information that you feel may help us understand the situation. We appreciate the help from our tremendous community of loyal members.

Information for TripAdvisor Owners

Can I ask my guests to write reviews?
Yes. While you cannot submit comment cards on behalf of guests, or incentivize guests to leave reviews, you may ask your guests to write a review of their experience at your property.

Please visit your Owners' Center for more information on how to legitimately solicit reviews, manage and promote your listing.
Can my guests write a review from our lobby computer?
We recommend that guests submit a review when they return home from their trip. A review submitted from a hotel lobby computer may appear to be written by staff.
Can an owner ask a reviewer to remove their review?
Simply put, no. Any issues regarding the content of reviews should be addressed by writing a management response.

If an owner wishes to use our private messaging system to send a travel-related message, the owner must adhere to all of our private messaging guidelines.

TripAdvisor does not facilitate direct contact between owners and members of our travel community. All users on our site remain anonymous unless they decide to post their e-mail address in their review. To see our privacy policy, click here.
My property has been penalized, and I’m not sure why. What can I do?
In the event that you are unsure why you have been penalized, we suggest that you speak with the staff at your establishment or your marketing partners and ask about their activity on TripAdvisor. You are welcome to contact us via your Owners' Center with these details in an effort to explain the suspicious activity.
How can owners alert TripAdvisor to potential fraud?
Please visit your Owners' Center. Under the section entitled “Manage reviews,” please fill out the “Dispute a review” form. We will research the complaint, and apply any necessary penalties. Send us the date, title of the review, and any other information that you feel may help us understand the situation. We appreciate the help from our tremendous community of loyal members.