I think the web and forums are an excellent source of advice, so long as you remember to treat that advice in exactly the same way as you'd treat advice from "the man down the pub".
No one in their right mind would walk into a bar and hear a completre stranger singing the praises of such and such a camera, ask a coupe of questions, get glowing responses and then go and buy one (OK maybe one or two would but there's no hope for some people) . In the same way, one shouldn't simply scour forums/websites for half an hour and make a decisions based on that.
I've been a member here for a number of years and I've come to know who's opinions I trust and value, and the level of knowledge of many of the contributors. Similarly I'm a member of a forum deicated to our town. I'm much newer there (about a year) but am beginning to know there whos opinions I'd trust and value.
This is really no different from real life - except that geography does not prevent.
It takes time for people to develop reputations, and while the bots are getting very clever at faking it, they'd have to be not only persistant, but very longstanding to manage to get that sort of reputation.
Of course if our site admin, Midnight Blue, enc, Grazie et al turn out to be the same person building up to a massive scam, I'll eat my hat