A British journalist wanting to prove the unreliability of Tripadvisor, has been able to fake his way into turning his own garden shed into a top-rated London restaurant.
Mr Oobah Butler, who writes for ‘Vice’ magazine, was interested in exposing the epidemic of fakery on the internet’s most trusted review site. According to Mr Butler, he was very well-placed to do so was he had once earned a healthy living writing positive reviews for restaurant owners at £10 per article.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I made the shed I live in London's top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor. Then I actually opened it. Ladies & Gents, after months screening phone calls from begging customers, eat it up: The Shed At Dulwich <a href="https://t.co/LnvUB9WRwc">https://t.co/LnvUB9WRwc</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/VICEUK?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@viceuk</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/VICE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@vice</a></p>— Oobah Butler (@Oobahs) <a href="https://twitter.com/Oobahs/status/938381964201086976?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 6, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
“Over time, I became obsessed with monitoring the ratings of these businesses. Their fortunes would genuinely turn, and I was the catalyst.”
”One day, sitting in the shed I live in, I had a revelation: within the current climate of misinformation, and society’s willingness to believe absolute bullshit, maybe a fake restaurant is possible? Maybe it’s exactly the kind of place that could be a hit?”
“In that moment, it became my mission. With the help of fake reviews, mystique and nonsense, I was going to do it: turn my shed into London’s top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor.”
So Mr Butler created “The Shed at Dulwich.”
In order to guarantee exclusivity, the elegant website had no address and if you rang to make a reservation, it was almost always fully booked.
<iframe width="854" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/052P_nr1Z_w" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>
He then registered The Shed on TripAdvisor in May of this year, adding a steady stream of reviews from friends about “London’s best kept secret”.
And indeed, The Shed started to rise in a matter of months from place 18,149 to the top 1,500 in London.
“I realise what it is: the appointments, lack of address and general exclusivity of this place is so alluring that people can’t see sense.”
“They’re looking at photos of the sole of my foot, drooling. Over the coming months, The Shed’s phone rings incessantly.”
Powered only by hype and mystique, Mr Butler’s fantasy restaurant continued to rise up the ranks of Trip Advisor. By November 1st, just before he was to publish his article and video series, it had reached the top 10 on Tripadvisor London without ever having had a paying customer.