Quite simply and frankly, no.

Why? Are we cynical or something? Well yes and no.

When I first decided that I wanted to try my hand at writing travel articles, posts, etc., I did what I know a lot of people have – I worked for a “content mill”. I wanted to see whether I could and whether I enjoyed it. Well, I did enjoy the writing, and I was always very thorough in my research of destinations that I had not been to. Yes, I earned $4.50(AUD) for 500 words, which in this industry is quite good. It didn’t however cover the cost of 2 cups of coffee in the morning, but I wasn’t in it for the money. It was posted under various names as chosen by my wealthy employers.

People Will Pay for Anything

What I did discover however was how dreadfully unscrupulous some of the offers were. One kid in England was obviously struggling with his course and was outsourcing his assignments to a content mill. I did do one, and he obviously got good marks and asked me to do more. As I didn’t want a black mark against my considerable status, I upped the fee something shocking and he bloody well accepted. Again he got good marks, and I

am not kissing myself here, but as an ex-teacher so I know what is needed to get the grades. He asked again, and I had to say no, this was ridiculous. He offered very good money but at the end of the day I didn’t want to be writing educational articles and it was wrong. I was wrong. I know he would have found someone else, but I also know he would have been busted as writing styles vary considerably, and that is a fact.

When I was teaching, I could pick it a mile off. Sorry kid, but you bought it in yourself. I had spent a long and very fruitful career teaching, and I wasn’t going to spend this valuable time doing the same. I wanted to write about our travels…. with integrity.

Being Asked to Write Fake Reviews, and saying NO

Before I quit, I got an offer to write for accommodation reviews. It was not from the site itself but from competitors wanting me to write bad reviews about various hotels that I had never been to. They also wanted me to write really good reviews about other hotels, again that I had not been to. They specified that my grammar and spelling should not be perfect so that I looked like a ‘real’ person. That nearly got me in as I have never got a grip on those apostrophe things, and that they would come up with a “name”.

I Still Trust Travel Review Sites but am more discriminating

I use reviews from various sites a lot, and I felt sorry for whichever site it was though it was never specified, but I have a pretty good idea who it was. I felt for the site as this is not what the original aim were when they set it up, I know because I have gone over the history of it. This was simply not fair.

No doubt this is about marketing, but it is utterly unscrupulous and unethical. Of course, I did not accept the job and, in fact, left the factory to go out on my own. I was sick of moral and ethical dilemmas, and after about 120 articles I had made peanuts and felt really bad about myself. It was worth it for the experience but when I could not look myself in the mirror, I was gone.

So I decided, well we decided, to write our travel blog and do so with integrity, and also to write honest reviews for travel review sites because we had been there, or knew enough about them, and could make an honest determination. I do not make $4.50 a post that I write, but I do not care. I just pay for my coffee with legitimate money.

How to Use Travel Review Sites?

A lot of the reviews are true. Mine, for example, are where I write under my name or Contented Traveller, and have been there (whether stayed or eaten) and it is the truth about our experience. Check for the apostrophe usage and you will know it is mine.
I now tend to ignore the first few and last few, particularly if the person has not put a photo to their name or it is so petty. Example – “the thermostat was set at 19 degrees when I specifically asked for 21 degrees” – come to think of it this is probably a real comment; like what a wanker.
I cross reference reviews from quite some sites for consistency and try and read through the lines.
These are invaluable tools that we all use, so rival hotels, restaurants or whatever shouldn’t compromise them. These places were set up as invaluable tools for travellers; they don’t deserve this at all.

Just be a little bit cynical is the message.


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