The Problem With Online Ratings

Studies show that online ratings are one of the most trusted sources of consumer confidence in e-commerce decisions. But recent research suggests that they are systematically biased and easily manipulated.

By Sinan Aral

A few months ago, I stopped in for a quick bite to eat at Dojo, a restaurant in New York City’s Greenwich Village. I had an idea of what I thought of the place. Of course I did — I ate there and experienced it for myself. The food was okay. The service was okay. On average, it was average.

So I went to rate the restaurant on Yelp with a strong idea of the star rating I would give it. I logged in, navigated to the page and clicked the button to write the review. I saw that, immediately to the right ...

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