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Could Amazon Reviews Be Corrupt? 201

adeelarshad82 writes "In the first academic study of its kind, Trevor Pinch, Cornell University professor of sociology and of science and technology studies, independently surveyed 166 of Amazon's top 1,000 reviewers, examining everything from demographics to motives. What he discovered was 85 percent of those surveyed had been approached with free merchandise from authors, agents or publishers. Amazon is encouraging reviewers to receive free products through Amazon Vine, an invitation-only program in which the top 1,000 reviewers are offered a catalog of free products to review. John Dvorak puts up an argument which hints that some of these Amazon reviews may be corrupt."
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Could Amazon Reviews Be Corrupt?

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  • "Dvorak hints" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by keith_nt4 ( 612247 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @07:30PM (#36617294) Homepage Journal

    I can't believe I read that entire summary only to be lead into a link to a Dvorak column. It's like the slashdot version of being rick rolled. And I fell for it. Bravo samzenpus, bravo.

  • by Kazoo the Clown ( 644526 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @07:49PM (#36617442)
    Yes, reviews can be shills, emails can be spam, phonecalls can be telemarketers, pages in magazines can be advertisements, etc.. But if you have any kind of a hard time identifying them as such, you've been living in a CAVE for the last generation or so. There's a lot of yahoos out there and you need to take everything with a grain of salt. You needed Dvorak to tell you THAT?
  • Re:I do (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ehrichweiss ( 706417 ) * on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @08:23PM (#36617664)

    There's no doubt there. I recently purchased a book that was reviewed fondly here on ./ and noticed that all the reviewers on Amazon were RAVING about it; every review had 9 out of 9 "this review was helpful" ratings. Then I read the book and found it to be utter garbage, so I wrote a review detailing why it was not living up to the reviews or promises. Within a couple of days there were 9 people saying my review wasn't helpful...but there weren't 9 MORE people saying the other reviews were helpful(they remained at 9 out of 10)...just that mine was unhelpful.. I'm 100% certain the reviews were rigged. I don't dare reveal the book for fear the author has mod points...

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @09:36PM (#36618154)

    Does anyone actually believe the reviews they read on Amazon, anyways? It's pretty easy to tell when someone's fronting a product.

    I've noticed that there are a lot of fake negative reviews too. If the book touches on a political or social issue then the opponents of the book's perspective seem to organize a negative review campaign. I've seen books with equal numbers of positive and negative reviews overall, but if you only look at reviewers who are also identified as purchasers of the book then the reviews massively shift to the positive, sometimes 5:1 or 10:1 in favor. The content of the more negative reviews also suggest that they have not read the book, reciting talking points that are in direct contradiction to what the author actually wrote.

  • Re:My experience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Thursday June 30, 2011 @01:11AM (#36619372)

    Same goes with ebay. As a seller, I can't leave negative feedback for buyers, so I figure I can't really leave positive feedback either since it's positive or nothing. Their feedback system is now fundamentally broken and any use of it is just furthering their fraudulent assertion of usefulness.

    You do realize there's only one thing for a buyer to do, right? They bid, they win, they pay.

    After the auction ends, all the buyer has to do is pay for the item. If they pay - positive feedback. If they don't pay, you report non-paying bidder to eBay and eBay does all the sanctions and lets you relist for free.

    Why would you leave a negative feedback to a buyer? The only reason is they don't pay, and reporting them really nullifies this.

    If you're holding it back because they may give you negative feedback over something, that's an invalid reason in my book - the buyer has fulfilled all their obligations on their side of the transaction.

    If you're a seller, there are many ways you can get negative feedback - you can decide to take forever to ship, the item arrives broken, you send them the wrong item, etc.

    Ebay sellers were trying to game the system - if a buyer received the wrong item, the seller could simply cut all communications, knowing they could leave retaliatory feedback to the buyer who did nothing wrong other than buy from a scammer, thus devaluing the feedback system since scammers getting negatives was quite rare.

    It's positive or nothing because... the buyer only has one obligation, and they either fulfill it (positive), or they don't (report to eBay - which goes on the buyer's record).

    It's just like idiot sellers who really don't leave feedback to buyers first - after all, once I paid, there's nothing else for me to do for you, so why shouldn't you leave feedback already?

The best defense against logic is ignorance.