To find your travel tribe you’ve got to know something about the people who use the sites (which is different from filtering a search for, say, a spacious hotel room or a swim-up bar). Who’s writing the reviews on Yelp? Do they differ from users of a hotel booking site such as Travelocity? Or maybe you would prefer a site that aggregates reviews from professional travel writers instead? It’s not that one site is necessarily better than another; it’s that one is better for you. As experienced users know, some reviews are fake and, yes, the sites try to police that. What many travelers don’t realize, however, is that even if fake reviews are discovered and removed, they can still upend the ratings. That’s because online reviewers are susceptible to all sorts of biases, including one that Sinan Aral, a professor of management and an associate professor of information technology and marketing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, has referred to as “social influence bias.” Seeing other people’s positive reviews in turn makes us more likely to write a positive review — or at least one that’s more positive than we might have otherwise intended. (Users can also be influenced by negative reviews, he noted, but the effect is mitigated because people are even more likely to “correct” any “undeserved negative score.”) So bear in mind that hotels and restaurants, like furniture and dinner dates, can look better online than in person — even when they are reviewed by fellow travelers. Get the full story at The Seattle Times