I’ve been following the dispute between Arthur Frommer, who I worship, and TripAdvisor, a site that I find quite useful. Frommer says the site is too easily manipulated by fake reviews and travelers should rely on evaluations from guidebooks and journalists. TripAdvisor, which is owned by Expedia, says it is actively rooting out fake reviews.
For my part, I use the site with the understanding that some reviewers are not writing in good faith. If there are only a few reviews, I don’t give them much weight, but if there are a hundred or more, I pay attention. I look for ratings in the middle, two to four stars instead of one or four, because there is usually little to learn from rave reviews or a complete trashing. The reviews in between are more nuanced, and tend to describe the good points and the bad.
Of course, I use guidebooks, too.