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TripAdvisor must be questioning algorithms, systems and stupidity today after a journalist tricked the online review site into listing the shed at the bottom of his garden as London’s best new restaurant.
That’s right, after reports of rampant fake online reviews published just this week, TripAdvisor has just been well and truly duped.
It seems Butler really took them to town, creating a fake website that listed his fake restaurant’s cooking philosophy, including dishes based on emotions such as lust, love and our personal favourite, contemplation: “a deconstructed Aberdeen stew with elements of the dish served to the table as they would be in the process of cooking. Served with warm beef tea.”
Oobah used friends, celebs (Jay Rayner got involved), the collective enthusiasm of the internet and a basic phone costing him just $10 to, in just six month, game TripAdvisor and take the crown as London’s best restaurant. He also hosted an opening night and actually served, albiet for free, ready-meals that were spruced up to look like fancy cuisine.
Despite creating pics of dishes that weren’t even edible, he said that many people contacted him to book a table at what was listed as “an appointment-only restaurant located in South London.” Some businesses even sent the writer free samples, hoping his hot new restaurant - that dusty shed at the bottom of his garden - would use their products.
"Generally, the only people who create fake restaurant listings are journalists in misguided attempts to test us,” said TripAdvsior in a comment to the Telegraph. They actually claimed the test was not a “real world example” but as the story goes viral and more and more people realise how easily the system can be gamed, perhaps they’ll change their tune.
For now, anyone wishing to get a reservation at The Shed will have to wait as they’ve closed for four months of R&D. Don’t worry, though, rumours floating around suggest they’ll be returning in summer 2018 with a pop-up in a phone box.