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Online reviews have a major trust problem

10 November 2017

From Mashable:

The internet and the explosion of smartphone ownership have made the opinions of anyone with an internet connection an indispensable part of almost every consumer decision. Whether you’re in the market for a new car, wandering into a coffee shop, or browsing store aisles, there’s a good chance you might weigh the collective wisdom of the crowd.

Unfortunately, online reviews are a mess. They’re still the first stop for consumers looking to buy stuff, but also the scene of an ongoing battle between conflicted platforms, aggressive businesses, and angry customers.

Businesses know this, and they’re still working to game the system. From mattress startup Casper to online travel site TripAdvisor, plenty of companies have been found to be manipulating reviews.

. . . .

The good news is that people are getting a bit more savvy.

“I do believe that people make their purchases off highly rated products—just as I do—but there is a good deal of skepticism if reviews skew positive with little to no negative commentary,” said Tamar Weinberg, a marketing consultant and author. “I think the concept of ‘is it too good to be true?’ rings loudly in their minds.”

. . . .

Even a simple promoted review that’s clearly marked can tank trust in the site overall.

“What we’ve seen is there were sites that would incentivize reviews,” Kurushko said, “and well-known retail sites would syndicate those reviews, and it just completely destroys trust.”

Link to the rest at Mashable

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7 Comments to “Online reviews have a major trust problem”

  1. Always have. And the sellers now have a harder time controlling what reviews would-be buyers might see.

  2. Richard Hershberger

    The one area I find reviews useful is nonfiction Amazon reader reviews. Fiction is too subjective, and few reviewers are able to give me any indication how well their taste matches mine. But nonfiction is different. For every topic under the sun, there is some monomaniacal enthusiast who knows far more than do I, and who will give a details account of what is right or wrong about any given book on the subject. The thing is, you can’t fake this. You can BS a short review that essentially says “It’s great!” or “It sucks!” This is why short reviews are useless. But try to fake it through a long and detailed review and the odor of b******* will waft from the screen. The downside is these monomaniacal enthusiasts often are bad at distinguishing trivial from serious errors, but if I, the potential buyer, keep this in mind it usually isn’t too hard to tell the difference.

    Consumer product reviews? Generally useless. They are easily faked, and even when real, few people have any sense of what is and is not useful information.

    • Generally I agree with your statement, but I have seen very detailed review for product reviews where some heavy duty scientific testing was done by the reviewer.

      I read all of the negative reviews and look for common complaints.

      Companies can only game the system for a short period of time. They can control what’s on their website, but can’t control what people post elsewhere. Like the BBB. Or other sites (ripoff report etc.) Thank goodness for those independent sites.

  3. I generally read the 1 and 2 star reviews first. Most of them can be cast aside as examples of misreading product descriptions or instructions, but when I see a real product issue, I take note.

    If there is a product issue that only surfaces in 1 out of 5 experiences, the product can generate a lot of honest 5 star reviews, but I still may not want the product. But there is a high probability that these issues will show up in a few negative reviews.

    My method may not be perfect, but I seldom order a product I am not satisfied with.

    Books are the same as other products for me.

  4. I see value weights of reviews although I typically only read three and four-star reviews. I usually find out what I need to know in those.

  5. I used to trust the Zon reviews, and I’m a heavy Zon shopper. Now, it’s not just the reviews that have to be scrutinized for integrity, one must also look at how the product is being fulfilled and where it’s being fulfilled and if a third party is involved. Worse, checking to see if the reviews point to that third party giving away or discounting product in exchange for reviews. Blech!

    Where I used to just automatically click buy if it was a thing I wanted or was searching for, now it’s not. I’ve actually started searching out sources in B&M for things! And then putting on pants to go and get said thing!

    Shocking…and it all started with gamed reviews.

  6. agree Anne Christy and Democritus. I sometimes have to laugh on non-fict reviews by socalled ‘experts in the field’. They often fall into critquing the author for the book they didnt write, andway too often lean into long long long treatise rather than review as tho they are the pea cock grooming in public. Those, no matter how many stars, are ignored.

    Often I look for reviews by persons who seem to have similar backgrounding, interests and research needs as I do. The keywords and lingo is recognizable and I find those reviews useful.

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