Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Warning to Readers About Reviews

There is a post on this blog -- I'm not going to mention the name of the product, but you can click to it if you like -- where someone "anonymous" left a rave review about the product.

I have a feeling "anonymous" might work for the company or one of its dealers.

I get very broad, anonymous statistics about visitor traffic to each page on the blog. Since this comment appeared, this post has suddenly become a very popular page, with people from all over the country regularly surfing to it, then leaving immediately after seeing there's no response to the comment. We're talking after zero seconds. Every day. As though a lot of people who don't know each other were regularly checking the reaction to one comment. Which is odd.

I'm sure it's still a great product, so it doesn't need such chicanery, so it's such a shame if someone felt the need to do it. Like if the police planted evidence in the O.J. case.

Anyway, I don't know there's anything dishonest happening here, but just a caveat. Always take online reviews with a grain of salt, because they could be from shills. That's why sites that let you get to know the reviewers, in communities like Amazon.com and Yelp.com, are so useful. But even then, know that some of these people are paid to be moles. It's sad.

And by the way, if you comment here, don't mention the company or the name of the product. I think it's great that they will continue to check that post over there and have no idea we're talking about them over here.

2 comments:

Ellen said...

I worked for a woman whose product was on amazon and it was SO obvious when she wrote the review.
To make matters worse, if there were recent negative reviews, she'd register with another name and post a different positive one, so that pushed down the bad ones.
Disgusting.
Most often, these shills post only one time, so that's another clue.
I was asked to do it, but I refused.

Michael Markowitz said...

It's awful. People depend on those product reviews for information, and it's a shame to mislead them. And in this case it happens to be for a good product that doesn't need those kind of shenanigans. But it casts a cloud.