The system is not beyond repair, however. Clemons points to RateBeer.com, which has attracted some 3,000 members who have rated at least 100 beers each; all but the most obscure beers have been evaluated hundreds or thousands of times. The voluminous data set is virtually manipulation-proof, and the site’s passionate users tend to post on all beers they try—not just ones they love or hate.
Of course, reviewing 1,000 beers is easier (and cheaper) than rating the same number of restaurants or hotel rooms. Until other sites amass the same amount of quality data, an old truism could be consumers’ best advice: buyer beware.
This article was originally published with the title Manipulation of the Crowd.