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Review Brigades

12 September 2019

PG finally stumbled across a term that explains some of what he’s seen on Amazon and other online reviewing sites on occasion. He hadn’t seen a name for this phenomenon.

From Review Meta:

Brigading is a term used when online trolls group together to flood another site (or subsection of a website) with their message.  On Amazon, this happens when a product is quickly flooded with negative reviews, often politically motivated, and likely by reviewers who have not actually used the product or read the book.

. . . .

There’s a few tell-tale signs of brigading that are very easy to notice once we’ve run a report on the reviews:

1. Rating from Unverified Purchasers is much lower than the rating from Verified Purchasers

. . . .

Since the brigaders will not go out of their way to purchase the item before leaving a nasty review, you’ll often see an unusually high amount of unverified purchases, which are much lower on average than the verified purchase reviews.

2. High number of Deleted Reviews

. . . .

A high number of deleted reviews with a low average rating does not mean that Amazon is taking sides and trying to silence a group of people.  Amazon is simply doing their job of removing reviews from people who obviously have not used the product.

3. Lots of negative reviews appearing all at once

. . . .

Usually, brigades are organized on different sites outside of Amazon (Reddit, Facebook, Twitter), and then inspire a flood of reviews all around the same date.  If the rating from reviews on High-Volume days is considerably lower than the rating from reviews on Normal-Volume days, it can be a sign of brigading.

Link to the rest at Review Meta

If you’re not familiar with Review Meta, here’s a description from the site:

  • ReviewMeta.com is a free tool that analyzes reviews and helps consumers identify inauthentic or biased reviews.
  • Consumers can copy and paste any Amazon product URL into ReviewMeta.com’s search bar, or use the free browser extension to generate a report.
  • ReviewMeta was launched in 2016 and currently assists over 10,000 visitors a day.

And a video:

Amazon, Reviews

9 Comments to “Review Brigades”

  1. I have always wondered what percentage of Amazon book purchases are made after the consumer reads reviews.

    I suspect Amazon does know, and that influences their behavior regarding reviews.

    • Kent Allard probably also knows. 🙂

      The rest of us can guess: it is non-zero because Amazon would shut it down to save a few bucks if it was. And it isn’t a dominant factor or Amazon would police reviews instead of putting out fires at random.

      Figure low double digits, somewhere in the 10-20% range.
      WAGs are fun.

      • I doubt Amazon cares at all. If a customer doesn’t buy the book because of the reviews, they’ll probably buy a different book, also from Amazon. Amazon doesn’t care what it sells, as long as it sells.

  2. One additional sign that may only apply to book reviews is that the review doesn’t address the book’s content at all, other than to call it trash or demand that Amazon remove it. Attacks on the author are a common form of such *reviews.* And from what I’ve seen so far, Amazon doesn’t remove even the most blatant and biased reviews. Maybe you have to be someone famous to be allowed that privilege.

  3. Unwarranted negative reviews are also often terse. “This book is crap” isn’t a useful review, and thinking people don’t pay attention to such things.

  4. FWIW: I applied Review Meta to my book reviews, which I wrote for a newspaper and which I know are all legit. They flagged several as not.

  5. Review Meta says they are a ‘free’ service, therefore you are not the customer but the product. Which makes me wonder what data on their products they are collecting – and who they offer to sell it to …

    “I applied Review Meta to my reviews, which I know are all legit. They flagged several as not.”

    Which warns that they aren’t as perfect at spotting real/fake reviews as they’d like you to think they are.

    MYMV and you not be in/famous enough to bring on an attack by the brigaders. 😉

  6. Hi PG, I post this every time you link to ReviewMeta. This guy is very good at getting PR but not very good at designing a functioning algorithm.

    His site is junk, is what I’m saying. I dissected it here: https://davidgaughran.com/2018/04/24/psa-reviewmeta-is-not-accurate/

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