Friday, January 11, 2008

"Crowd Hacking" Coming Soon to a Restaurant Near You

TechCrunch wrote about a Subvert And Profit:

Subvert And Profit is a service that lets users pay to get their sites on Digg (and more recently StumbleUpon).

Unlike Pay Per Post, the company doesn’t waste a lot of time trying to spin their business into something socially acceptable. People pay them to pollute big social sites and get traffic, and they’re ok with being slammed for that. As long as they make money. The whole operation is complete with founder pseudonyms (Ragnar Danneskjold, Vasili Taleniekov), proxied whois records, and a clandestine PayPal Account.

How long is it going to be before we see this type of tactics being used for all the services where some sort of rating by the community ("crowdrating") is being used? Consider restaurants. In the Bay Area I would think Yelp is the most popular crowdrating service. A lot of new established restaurants have less than 50 ratings, and new places can have less than 20 rating for a long time. It would be quite easy for a company like Subvert and Profit to influence the final score of a restaurant. For that matter, it would be even easier for restaurant managers to ask their friends to just post a positive comment on Yelp for them. Or are some already doing this?

Will this make the pendulum swing back? Will ratings by experts such as those you find in the Michelin Guide for restaurants become more popular again?