You REALLY Trust Online Reviews? Places like Amazon, Google Maps, and TripAdvisor have literally millions of reviews for just about anything you can think of and I mean anything.
However, at the end of the day, you’re still relying on complete strangers while making potentially expensive decisions like which resort to stay at, which car to buy or even which school to attend.
So, exactly how much trusts can you put in these reviews?
Now a good jumping-off point is probably the overall rating of a product or service so how many stars dots or eggs it has out of five. But, it’s going to be worth your while to read through some of these reviews and figure out if they’re likely to be faked.
You see the thing is that pretty simple for sites to automatically delete reviews that are posted by BOTS. As good as artificial intelligence has gotten these days it’s still not easy for BOTS to write convincing reviews.
The problem is that doesn’t stop shady businesses from hiring small armies of paid reviewers from places like freelance writing sites and giving them a small amount of money to write short reviews for gadgets they’ve never used or places they’ve never been.
In fact, it’s estimated that up to 30% of online reviews might be fabricated.
Here are some tips to help make fake reviews easier to spot
Spelling and Grammar
From my experience, they’re typically written in either overly formal language or at the other end of the spectrum with atrocious spelling and grammar, not much lies.
In between and for positive reviews while they tend to either lack specific details about what they did or didn’t like or go into far too much do a tale about features that probably wouldn’t matter much to anyone but the person who designed the product.
Conversely a fake negative review these are actually more common than you’d think they’re often paid for by competitors might read like the straight-up bashing of a product or they might even ignore the product altogether and just hate on the brand in order to try to damage it again usually without getting into any specifics.
We’re not saying that someone with bad grammar or who had a really bad experience and hates a brand doesn’t have a valid opinion we’re just saying that in any case, you want to keep an eagle eye out for anything that smells fishy and then compare it against the general consensus.
So, once you’ve made sure that the overall rating hasn’t been artificially inflated or depressed by fake reviews.
Now we need to dig into the reviews themselves and understand what is driving people’s rating decisions. You see many reviews tend to be either very positive or very negative.
As people who had either a really good or really bad time are the ones who are going to be more motivated to put the effort into actually telling other people about it compared to others.
Who are like yeah mangos alright I guess but the things that cause people to give either a glowing or a scathing review might be quite different from the things that you care about.
For example, a hotel might have a bunch of low ratings giving it you know three stars out of five overall because lots of people didn’t like how noisy it was but maybe you’re just looking for a spot to host a bachelor party.
Then to your pleasant surprise most of the five-star reviews have nothing but good things to say about the nightclub on the first floor so by applying a little bit of common sense and knowing exactly what you’re looking for in whatever you purchase it’s often not too hard to weed out the fake reviews and to look beyond the bear star rating.
Except when it is you see not only have there been controversies over review sites promoting certain styles of reviews selling reviews or even extorting businesses but some operations that pump out fake reviews have become more sophisticated.
Even going as far as to try to influence conversations on huge sites like Reddit by taking care to maintain the appearance of a legitimate user while steering the conversation around a product or a service in a certain Direction.
Voting System Rating
They can even manipulate the voting system in a way that makes detection less likely sometimes it’s also even more complicated than that and review integrity can be damaged by legitimate users.
On Steam for example groups of gamers have been known to review bomb titles by game developers who have made unpopular decisions that are completely independent of the quality of the actual game.
Now some of the more reputable review sites have tried to combat such behavior with actual human employees that can look for this type of subterfuge and stop it.
But, even if you’re looking at reviews that are entirely honest remember that less than 2% of consumers actually take the time to write reviews and much like the people who show up at a city council meeting they’re not necessarily representative of the opinions of the general population.
So, with that in mind are we saying that online reviews are worthless well of course not just remember to keep your wits about you when you’re reading them.
If you wouldn’t take investment advice from you know your bankrupt cousin over Thanksgiving dinner then you probably shouldn’t take their advice on amazon.com.
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