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New study investigates online reviews - makes surprising discoveries

By dpreview staff on Jul 15, 2013 at 22:01 GMT

Online product reviews are a huge part of our lives these days, and often, they're the nearest thing we get to a 'hands on experience' before we buy something. Extremely positive or negative reviews can greatly alter the perception of a product in the mind of an undecided customer.

So how do we know that the reviews we're reading are honest? The authors of an MIT study entitled 'Deceptive Reviews: The Influential Tail' have looked at several sites which feature customer reviews, including Amazon, but focused on an unnamed private label apparel retailer. Crucially, this unnamed retailer does not link reviews to a purchase of that item - i.e., you can write a review of something even if you didn't buy it.

What they found is that 'approximately 5% of the product reviews are written by customers for whom there is no record they have purchased the item. These reviews are significantly more negative on average than the other 95% of the reviews for which there is a record that the customer previously purchased the item'.

It's no surprise that positive reviews lead to higher sales, but according to the study, negative reviews have a much more profound negative effect.

Online customer reviews have a huge impact on our perceptions of products, and can make a real difference to sales for an online retailer like Amazon.

In simple terms, if you're considering buying something which has ten five star ratings and a single one star rating, that single negative review could make you move the cursor away from 'buy now'. And if the review was dishonest, then you, and the online retailer, just lost out. 

The research team looked at the questionable 5% of reviews, and analyzed various characteristics including the length of the reviews, the content and the language and grammar that was used.

They found that fraudulent reviews 'tend to be longer [and are] more likely to contain details unrelated to the product'. The researchers also noticed that they were more likely to contain odd grammatical quirks like a prevalence of shorter words, and unnecessary multiple exclamation points.

Perhaps most interesting though, is where the team thinks these deceptive reviews came from. Their research suggests that they do not originate from a small band of 'rogue reviewers', or the agents of rival companies engaged in smearing other manufacturers' products ('shills' is a word you'll see used a lot in our own comments and forums) but from loyal, genuine customers, 'self-appointed brand managers' who are taking advantage of the review process to 'give feedback on the firm'.

Fanboys, in other words. 

The paper is long and very interesting - and far too nuanced to do justice in a short news article like this. We suggest you click here and read it for yourself. We give it five stars!!!!


If you'd like to leave your own scrupulously honest reviews of the products you own and love (or hate) don't forget that you can do so in our forums

Source: MIT

Comments

Total comments: 239
123
wyoming
By wyoming (9 months ago)

it wasn't necessary a study to know that!

2 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (9 months ago)

I urge reading of section 6

the key thing to take away here is that negative criticism is perceived as being more intelligent, so "self-appointed experts" are more devoted to throwing negative things in.

0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (9 months ago)

Does anyone bother reading Amazon's reviews? Does anyone make up one's mind about buying a product or not based on those reviews?

1 upvote
fastlass
By fastlass (9 months ago)

Yes. When n= a pretty good size number they are very reliable.

9 upvotes
nelsonal
By nelsonal (9 months ago)

I usually read them with the goal of reading the best and worst ones but reading them in ignorance of the rating. I'm looking for details that come up in use that wouldn't be easy to spot from the spec sheet (like the menus aren't organized well for people who try to do X).

0 upvotes
Bruce Edwards
By Bruce Edwards (9 months ago)

Absolutely! I think it's by far the most reliable source of information on products, esp. if there are more than 30 or so. I buy 90% of my purchases from Amazon, and rarely have I been disappointed in a 4-5 star item with a statistically significant number of reviews (but it does happen - lone dissenter theory)

0 upvotes
Andrei Todea
By Andrei Todea (9 months ago)

Is this Digital Sociology Review?

1 upvote
Revenant
By Revenant (9 months ago)

This site is devoted to digital photography; that means not just reviews of camera gear, but also news and articles about things that may be considered relevant or interesting to people interested in photography. People who buy camera gear online and read customer reviews could very well find this study interesting, so what's the problem?

I'm sure no reviews were harmed because of this. ;)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
dccdp
By dccdp (9 months ago)

No, Andrei, this is an Amazon subsidiary. ;-)

1 upvote
Michael Pardee
By Michael Pardee (9 months ago)

No, but I think this article is extremely relevant and interesting.

0 upvotes
dorff
By dorff (9 months ago)

Early adopters get burned more often than those willing to wait a few months for the sample size of reviews to grow. Most highly sophisticated products such as DSLRs will see a certain percentage of the first production runs leave the factory gates with QC, software or other problems. Six months later, those things are usually fixed. If one has to live on the bleeding edge, one might lose a little blood now and then.

Reviewing the brand together with the product has some benefit to the reader of the review. Buying a DSLR means in all probability you are going to deal with the same company for system expansion, services and repairs, future camera upgrades, software issues etc. So if Nikon has a hostile service policy, the prospective first time DLSR owner has the right to know about it. if the camera is great but the lens system is incomplete, likewise. We are buying parts of a system and experience, not merely cameras or lenses.

2 upvotes
Andreas Stuebs
By Andreas Stuebs (9 months ago)

In a way I agree with a simple BUT: If I am an early adopter, which I rarely am, I am aware of teething problems: here is where some companies or retailers shine: They strive to sort the problems out. A company which acknowledges that they have problems and sort them out will still get good marks from me. It is only where the product fails and then the service fails as well I will give a made review. Oh yes I have given some books bad reviews if I thought they deserved them.

0 upvotes
dorff
By dorff (9 months ago)

I totally agree. Early adopters are crucial to a company to help market their products. By denying real issues, giving a bad service under warranty experience etc, such a company deserves all the negative flak they receive in product reviews.

The brand or publisher is pretty much irrelevant for the owner of a book. Cameras, lenses and flashes are system parts, so the brand is absolutely relevant in choosing a camera, as it locks the buyer into a particular system. Nikon's D800 left focus sensor and D600 oil issues were dealt with very badly. Their DX lens dearth is being dealt with badly now for 13 years and counting. That deserves brand criticism along with every camera review, IMHO. Other brands have similar shortcomings.

The value of a product also includes its resale value. Who wants to buy a used D800 or D600 with an early serial? That affects an owner where it counts.

0 upvotes
Der Steppenwolf
By Der Steppenwolf (9 months ago)

Only good "fanboy" is one kept veeery far away from nearest internet device capable of posting ANY form of text on the web. Those imbeciles make me wanna give up internet.

2 upvotes
Joo Prates
By Joo Prates (9 months ago)

Reviews are one of the most eficaces ways to sell on the internet, (instead of "word of mouth", from our friends and familly), to use with weighting.

I was a kid when I discovered that Santa Klaus did not exist, so ...
Worse than telling lies is disguise them as real, with more or less scientific evidence to mislead consumers.

0 upvotes
Barry Fitzgerald
By Barry Fitzgerald (9 months ago)

And how does the study determine that x no of reviews are "fake"? Some of the top Amazon reviewers review many products some are Amazon purchases, and some will have no doubt purchased/used items elsewhere and spent the time to put their thoughts up, and sure some might not have used them! It is the users of sites like Amazon that determine if the reviews are useful or not. IMO 5 star wonder reviews are just as useless as 1 star anger reviews. It is usually quite easy to spot reviews that are of no use or out of spite/anger or irrelevant (ie packaging problems that are not real product issues) DPR has lost my interest in recent years as they miss problems that users discover with some cameras, and they tend to gloss over or not mention weaker points that users do. I find user reviews for the most part very useful. The study is just "sour grapes" few camera reviews sites are man enough to be genuinely critical.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Bruce Edwards
By Bruce Edwards (9 months ago)

"It is the users of sites like Amazon that determine if the reviews are useful or not." And this is why I put more faith in Amazon reviews than any other site...if enough people think it stinks, they can down vote it and it becomes invisible (but you can still read it if you click to show "hidden" posts). Likewise, if people find a review helpful, it goes to the top of the pile. Many MANY sites out there closely monitor their reviews, and only post mostly positive ones (Overstock.com is a bad one to do this, for instance, but I am sure there are others).

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (9 months ago)

Camera brands most likely to have Fan boys:

Apple (not really a camera so this is a special category of stupendous ignorance)

1. Olympus
2. Canon
3. Nikon
3. Fuji
5. Pentax
6. Sony
7. Panasonic

3 upvotes
calking
By calking (9 months ago)

Leica, Samsung, Ricoh....

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
W5JCK
By W5JCK (9 months ago)

Don't forget Android lovers, they are as obnoxious as Applephiles.

0 upvotes
Roman Korcek
By Roman Korcek (9 months ago)

I see what you did there! You mixed the good brands in with the useless brands!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Paul Amyes
By Paul Amyes (9 months ago)

Are you saying people tell lies on the internet? I thought everything read was true now what will I do?

4 upvotes
Joo Prates
By Joo Prates (9 months ago)

Of course there are comercial interests behind some reviews; we all know that there are some review sites that favor some brands; there is a particular review site, that favors Sony cameras, and that's incredable the way they always find to get the same result.
Reviews play an important role in buying decisions, so I'm not naive and I believe that brands are attentive and "work" consumer reviews.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
aggressor
By aggressor (9 months ago)

I have seen far more fake positive reviews.

1 upvote
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (9 months ago)

It must be rubbish! You just don't like bad news! Review some decent cameras for a change!

0 upvotes
BartyLobethal
By BartyLobethal (9 months ago)

Huh! Some attempt! Other than you fail to say about the PRICE of fish!! And RANDOMLY use the HATS LOCK buttern!! I expected better SAtire than this!!! And you spelling is APALLING(ly good, and so not fit-for-purpose). Come on Hugo! Pull your socks up!!!!

1 upvote
KW Phua
By KW Phua (9 months ago)

Let talk about review on DSLR on dpreview, after previding the score to each function and feature, let the reader put the weight/priority to them. e.g sport shooter prefer AF & FPS and high ISO quality (Noise & DR) but landscape shooter prefer wider DR in low ISO.

3 upvotes
Marvol
By Marvol (9 months ago)

I actually think this is a brilliantly simple idea: personalised reviews. Very good.

0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (9 months ago)

You might want to read the last section here. It's about future plans:

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/4416254604/camera-scores-ratings-explained

0 upvotes
marleni
By marleni (9 months ago)

This study really hits a point. Good to know. Especially that people can rate a product who never bought it was new to me.
I think manipulations are possible because many people buy online nowadays.
But if you read reviews and tests available for the product you are interested in first, and then go into a real-life shop and see the product for yourself, you probably will not make much wrong.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
mehran langari
By mehran langari (9 months ago)

anythins we like to hear about one thing ,is good an oposit is true ,because my mind dont jodje my mind love hear good things ,then we trust that positive ads

1 upvote
Tape5
By Tape5 (9 months ago)

Right on Mehran!

At last someone speaks of the significance of what goes on inside a person's head who is reading a review !

Our minds love hearing good things indeed.

0 upvotes
calking
By calking (9 months ago)

Funny. If ever there were a group of more negative product reviewers its right here in the Dp forums. No matter the camera, lens, tripod, software, bag, or accessory it's bashed and thrashed by both users and speculators like there's no tomorrow right here. This is THE place to be where perfection is expected or release the hounds. This forum and others like it are well known online (and poked fun at) for the most cynical, critical, negative, and "if only they'd have done this or that....I'd buy it" jargon the world has ever seen.

And yet suddenly the same cynics and fanboys aren't that at all....it's those "other reviewers" who should be ignored for product bashing or gushing praises on "seriously flawed equipment".

Life itself is entirely subjective and a matter of personal opinion. There's no bleeping difference between what someone thinks about a crappy camera and the enchiladas at some restaurant. Personally I wish we could go back in time ... To before Yelp took over.

5 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (9 months ago)

but but.. you are the worst of all.....

0 upvotes
calking
By calking (9 months ago)

You obviously have never read any posting of mine on here or you'd know I don't review equipment.

0 upvotes
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (9 months ago)

On DPR only some forums are that bad, I made some very positive experience, and I am grateful to the DPR crew for running their site.

For Canon users (not fanboys) canonrumors.com is much worse. It should be renamed in nikoncranksattractionpoint.com, and I am pretty sure that serious Nikon users make the same unpleasant experience vice versa in some of their forums (and other brand users, too). On canonrumors.com e.g. somebody only has to start a thread including the buzzword "sensor" and you can be sure that this Swedian troll "angkorwat" surfaces within a few minutes... I never posted to canonrumors and I completely stopped reading their threads now. It's a waste of time.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (9 months ago)

worse then private reviewers are BLOGS.

not only that everyone can write a blog without any deeper knowledge of the topic.
blogger often just write good reviews so they sell the stuff they review or make money via ads.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Alan Brown
By Alan Brown (9 months ago)

Some interesting comments in the article and the replies below.

I too filter the exhilarated and hyperbolic negatives out. However as the article states., the balance of negative and positive is ,well, not balanced.

My wife who is a pessimist can read 10 positive reviews and be floored by a single negative. The effect of FUD is clear and used by those with agendas. Some here even said they post on multiple sites to 'set the record straight'. Can you trust someone who has an agenda (however well intentioned they think they are being) to post an un biased opinion?

You see similar posts regularly in forums where the same statements are pasted into threads which are only vaguely appropriate to their 'tirade' . The effect has far reaching.. and very sad.

Again the anonymous power of the internet.

1 upvote
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (9 months ago)

Since when I noticed that ANYONE can review a product on Amazon even if he/she didn't buy it, I simply skip user reviews on Amazon.

1 upvote
itsastickup
By itsastickup (9 months ago)

Why would anyone read 5 star reviews any way. Or, for that matter, 1 star. On the one hand, hyperenthusiasts and on the other unrealistic grumps.

The balanced info is in the middle.

1 upvote
Valterj
By Valterj (9 months ago)

Cnet.com reviews - I don't trust them!

In the past I bought a Canon Powershot S50 - was the best camera for cnet.com (compact cameras)

When I try the camera I feel that was the worst camera I've had ever!

So, I returned the camera.

0 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (9 months ago)

Shall we take that as your 1 star review of cnet, then? (I may have used too many short words there, but it's just a quirk, honest!)

4 upvotes
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (9 months ago)

This is the scientific proof of what everyone observes in forums, on amazon, elsewhere. But it is quite simple to recognize those "fanboys": they have this completely humorless, messiah-like anti-satan approach to any evil brand. Often you literally can see behind those comments/reviews the socially isolated poor bugger working his hate into his computer. Let's face it: the internet may keep some of such cranks from doing much worse things...

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (9 months ago)

So the unsurprising message seems to be... You have to actually read the reviews, not just look at the score.

1 upvote
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (9 months ago)

Leandros, that's it. Just omitting the best and worst scores won't help. If you e.g. check some camera stuff on Amazon, you mostly get 5 stars (the lovers) and some or more 1 star (the haters) scores. If someone has just mixed 3 stars feelings about a product, she/he won't invest time in writing a review, as others already said in their comments here.

0 upvotes
bossa
By bossa (9 months ago)

I prefer to look at the pictures... this IS photography, right?

0 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (9 months ago)

bossa, I've found most of the pictures that people can upload to amazon useless - the resolution is too small to pixel-peep. Sometimes someone is adept enough to upload what works out as a 100% crop, but that's rare. But finding a camera that suits you is also about good handling and eliminating market bias - if 10 million people shoot Canikon, they're bound to take more good pictures than half a million Pentax or Sony shooters, even if the cameras were actually inferior. That's just because some pictures will be good even taken with a 1995 compact camera, if the light is right. Just saying.

0 upvotes
cocomonk22
By cocomonk22 (9 months ago)

This article is spot on. Case in point: Look at the reviews on Amazon for the book "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith. All of the 1 star reviews were created in the past 24 or so hours after it was revealed that JK Rowling was the author of the book.

3 upvotes
Eigenmeat
By Eigenmeat (9 months ago)

hey the reviews are free, and you don't have to read them, and let's face it, some of them are pretty damn funny...
review of the 200-500 F2.8 on amazon came to mind...

4 upvotes
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (9 months ago)

this Sigma 200-500/2.8 review on amazon is legendary, he he...

1 upvote
Matt1645f4
By Matt1645f4 (9 months ago)

thanks !!! now i've got to read it lol

0 upvotes
Matt1645f4
By Matt1645f4 (9 months ago)

Yep Legendary good advice about avoiding major airports LOL !!

0 upvotes
Franka T.L.
By Franka T.L. (9 months ago)

Pretty surprising .. I wonder how it apply to non consumer-centric products and services

0 upvotes
lac111
By lac111 (9 months ago)

I don't care about the number of stars, like some people said someone will give one or two stars because the shipping was slow or some trivial reason not germane to product quality. I read context and if it seems like hands on experience with the product I note that. MOST importantly I look at more than one site for reviews. Especially if it's a big ticket item, I want to see a pattern of similar reviews from more than two sites. Only then do I start to give credence to the comments.

Sometimes the bogus reviews are obvious. Regardless if you seek out enough input, the phony reviews become irrelevant whether positive or negative.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
CollBaxter
By CollBaxter (9 months ago)

I find some sites review generally good I.E. sites like B&H where you are asked to review a product after purchase. Even the negative ones are posted. On one end people will always justify their own purchase with a good review ( You always make the best buy) . On the other end buyers remorse and incorrect product selection play a large part. Expectations also form a large part of negative feedback as this is often related to price and perception which can deflate when opening the box. Let's face it the picture and the Item are often not as attractive. I did notice something on one site though the same user (Maybe disgruntled with the supplier ) gave a lot of products negative reviews. The main problem with electronic purchases is not being able to see and touch the product which often leads to disappointment. I have had a few purchases which have surprised me as to the good quality. One persons flimsy and another robust could be the same thing depending on expectations and needs.

2 upvotes
CMurdock
By CMurdock (9 months ago)

The last monitor I bought had a terrible image, and my bad review (the only one on CDW for that monitor) has probably cost the company a dozen sales now.

Sometimes enraged consumers will go to one review site after another to express their unhappiness. I've done that.

1 upvote
CollBaxter
By CollBaxter (9 months ago)

So lets see. You make a choice of a product. It does not meet your expectations or you got a lemon. So you carpet boom the product on various site. When looking for a product I would look at a lot of reviews and disregard your copy and paste when it appeared in more than one review. Don't think all people are stupid and can't spot a poisoned review. These multi pro/con review posts lose the poster any form of creditability.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
pdcm
By pdcm (9 months ago)

But CollBaxter that review may be the only worthwhile one there. Time after time I've seen reviews for very poor products that have rated it highly. More often or not its books in Amazon. Five stars predominating with only a couple of bad ones for what is really rubbish. What happens is that people buy something, then write a review after having the product for a very short time and as they are excited to have got the product rate it much higher than it deserves.

1 upvote
CollBaxter
By CollBaxter (9 months ago)

To pdcm . Ah Books. I think books and reviews are very subjective as they depend on personal taste. I have recommended books which I think is the funniest book I have read only to get a cold reception on recommendation. The same goes for movies I remember many years ago the rave reviews about dances with wolves and I had to watch Kevin Costner ride a horse for about 2 miles /20 minutes and watch every step of the way. My wife raved I gave my Cold Bums View. Brokeback Mountain , 2 Dudes eying each other out around a camp fire for 10 minutes with about 10 words said. These are my perceptions of values. One has to even look at the professional reviews . We have one reviewer who I will not see a movie he recons is good but will watch the ones he pans. Books and movie reviews are subjective form the start. A $4 book is a $4 book. But it might have $20 value to others. Hard things like products can be compared like to like. I do agree about padding on amazon.

1 upvote
CP140
By CP140 (9 months ago)

One should approach online reviews the same way Olympic events are scored... throw out the highest and lowest scores and average the rest...

3 upvotes
awaldram
By awaldram (9 months ago)

Thats life you see the same fraudulent behavior in forums, Competition/gallery voting and many other areas where people are given power to express themselves.
IMO its more to-do with low self esteem and a desire to aggrandize oneself.
Many single person 'Technical Blog' sites fall into the same trap where lack of knowledge of the subject matter is covered up with barely disguised plagiarism in poorly expressed opinion.
As noted in the article these 'Negative' approaches attract attention and feed these charlatans needs.

0 upvotes
Thanatham Piriyakarnjanakul
By Thanatham Piriyakarnjanakul (9 months ago)

How about 'Ken Rockwell'?

2 upvotes
theNeverKings
By theNeverKings (9 months ago)

Ken Rockwell well...Rocks!

0 upvotes
itsastickup
By itsastickup (9 months ago)

Rockwell, for all his one-sided view, does often give quite insightful comments, and ones that have saved me money.

0 upvotes
Bruce Edwards
By Bruce Edwards (9 months ago)

He is teh greatest reviewer. Very good things only buy from his site. Not a bot. Very positive, good, products, very cheap. FIVE STARS!

0 upvotes
offtheback
By offtheback (9 months ago)

Awful camera,owes 2 stars!!;)

0 upvotes
The Nihilist
By The Nihilist (9 months ago)

I love the people that give a product one star because the shipping took longer than the projected timeframe and they haven't received it. They seem to completely miss the irony of negatively reviewing a product because they don't have the product yet.

5 upvotes
Alec
By Alec (9 months ago)

My cousin taught me a great tip in regards to travel review. Sometimes (and I'll bite the bullet to say often (not always however) the culprit reviews are signed with female sounding names), whenever there is a mention of a lost luggage, the entire experience is heavily negatively biased.

"The airline lost my luggage with all my dresses and shoes, anyway, the hotel was bad, the staff were rude, the food was bad, the room was bad, the beach was bad, the nightlife was bad".

It helps in assigning weight to reviews to correct for the reviewer's state of mind.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
jvideographer
By jvideographer (9 months ago)

From awaldram: "Thats life you see the same fraudulent..." This is not a sentence!
Neither is this: "... its more to-do with low self esteem..."
[That's life.] [You see...] [...it's...] [...to do..."]
So, does bad grammar mean it's a bogus review?

0 upvotes
Bruce Edwards
By Bruce Edwards (9 months ago)

And at least on Amazon, those reviews usually get TRASHED by others reading them, either via nasty comments, or being downvoted into oblivion, or both. It's why I love their system...let the people monitor their own reviews for the obviously horrible ones.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
TN Args
By TN Args (9 months ago)

Despite the confidence of some comments on this article, it is impossible to spot the biased/faked reviews unless they are badly faked. You think they haven't thought of readers who ignore 1-star ratings? Think again.

I ignore them completely. Especially with regard to reliability or breakdowns: even if the reports are true, they give a completely unrepresentative and distorted view of the odds of you having a problem if you buy one.

It has even gotten to the point where the main website reviewers will mark a product down for not having some feature that a different model has -- they assume everybody wants it. Why won't they review the product (camera) for how well it does what it does, not how well it does what it doesn't??

I mainly read reviews not for the number rating, but sometimes users come up with some really interesting ownership or usage aspect that I had not thought of, or read elsewhere.

5 upvotes
chaos215bar2
By chaos215bar2 (9 months ago)

Reviews don't generally mention features that were omitted simply because they're something only a higher end / different kind of camera would have. They mention features that a camera has no excuse for not including.

0 upvotes
austin design
By austin design (9 months ago)

Sorry, chaos, but I ROUTINELY encounter the very sort of reviews described by TN Args.

3 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (9 months ago)

Whenever I use the Amazon customer reviews, I completely ignore the 5 star and the 1 star reviews, and read only the 2, 3, and 4 star reviews. My thinking is the fanboys will give it 5 stars, so there is no point even reading those reviews, and 1 star reviews are mostly people upset because the UPS truck arrived when they weren't home, had a warranty problem, or simply didn't read the product description and ordered the wrong product.

You usually find the most informative reviews in the middle of the rankings.

23 upvotes
garyknrd
By garyknrd (9 months ago)

Very sound advice.

0 upvotes
Alec
By Alec (9 months ago)

Outstanding advice. In this world there's nothing absolute so people who give extreme ratings are rarely as insightful as people who don't

0 upvotes
ozpaul
By ozpaul (9 months ago)

I largely agree... the trouble for me is that there are too many 5, 4 and 1 star reviews. Too many fanboy and hater reviews. Not enough balanced and insightful reviews. In the case of Amazon, I have been looking elsewhere for reviews to find the middle ground. This is where it is nice to find a reviewer whose perspective you share and trust. You may not always agree, but atleast you can respect their judgement.

0 upvotes
pdcm
By pdcm (9 months ago)

Marty, I guess you will never read a lot of my reviews then. I only tend to write reviews when the product is very poor and has been reviewed far too favorably and I want to set the record straight. My reviews are honest and based on real use rather than someone who has just opened the box and is excited and wants to tell people.

3 upvotes
h2k
By h2k (9 months ago)

Fully agree too. 5 star and 1 star reviews are plain boring. I like to review, though, and just occasionally i am in the awkward position that i find 1 star or 5 stars appropriate - but if i'd rate with 1 or 5 stars, I'd look like a fuming fanboy on a mission, not so?

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (9 months ago)

@ pcdm..... think about it.... isn't intentionally underrating a product to "set the record straight" the same abuse as overrating a product because you are a fan?

In both cases someone is trying to affect the average rating, driving it up or driving it down, and neither one is just creating an objective review.

I also realize you aren't really underrating anything, since the products you down rate are really poor. But I can assure you that other people are doing precisely that.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Bruce Edwards
By Bruce Edwards (9 months ago)

As someone who has written plenty of 1 and 5 star reviews (and 2, 3 and 4 for that matter), I disagree with your assumptions, and think you do yourself a disservice by ignoring those.

Just because someone gives a product 5 stars doesn't necessarily mean that review is worthless due to fanboism, or that one star reviews are written by haters just hatin'.

Just think about real life, and things you yourself own. Have you never bought one thing that you thought was absolute crap, with no redeeming value, and that you want others to know how bad it is, as a warning? Or vice versa, was just a GREAT, almost perfect product, and has far exceeded your expectations?

0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (9 months ago)

Bruce... it's really all about time. If you have enough time you can read every review, and then decide for yourself which ones are meaningful and which ones aren't.

If you are in a hurry, then you scan the reviews, and look for "major problems" that keep popping up. For me at least, someone complaining about the UPS truck is a lot less meaningful than a whole lot of people complaining about shutter lag, or short battery life.

When I am pressed for time I ignore the highest and lowest rating reviews and thoroughly read the ones in the middle. This seems to work pretty well for me. Your methods might work better for you.

0 upvotes
mike051051
By mike051051 (9 months ago)

I'm a bit surprised that the level found was only 5%, but that may be due to the product being a clothing line and not electronics. In my previous job (retired now) I found that camera reviews on seller's sites ran closer to 8-10% disingenuous regardless of brand, and that includes both overly positive and overly negative reviews. I can still usually spot it when a review is from a falsely proclaimed "owner" or when the problems in question are essentially self-inflicted. Always gives me a chuckle.

1 upvote
Spectro
By Spectro (9 months ago)

There are no problem (some of it is real, but I understand there are a few lemons in a shipment) with low reviews in general, but people are more likely to review items when they are angry then the ones that worked as expected. There are some fanboys reviews from another camera that don't own what they are reviewing. I see this more with kids stuff like gaming consoles. But yes there are fanman (to old to be call a boy) too. Most of my amazon reviews are 4 stars, but the items that breaks, badly engineered and consumers service won't answer my email/call (in a timely manner) are usually from small companies. They get 1-2 stars. Vestal watches are garbage for the record. Cheap Rainbow imaging strap that unhooked itself and dropped my camera gear on the ground gets a 1 star for bad engineering. 2 years later they placed a twist lock on the clip.

The Sigma 200-500 f2.8 reviews on amazon are hilarious.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Miike Dougherty
By Miike Dougherty (9 months ago)

I always look at the details of the review. Some of the DSLRs I own were given bad remarks because of poor video capability and were down-rated accordingly. I don't use or want video in my DSLR so I do not include related comments about video in my analysis of whether or not to purchase a DSLR.

1 upvote
Kriekira
By Kriekira (9 months ago)

My _sense_ is that we've reached a critical point of dishonest (wrong, malicious, gratuitous, and/or paid for) personal reviews. We have been building towards this "poisoned" point for some time, and now I think it is here. The brief Golden Age of honest reviews has passed -- somewhat like the passing of the Golden Age of a WWW not based on advertising revenue.

5 upvotes
Alec
By Alec (9 months ago)

Excellent point. Hopefully, a universal digital reputation assigned to an individual can change that.

0 upvotes
Create Dont Imitate
By Create Dont Imitate (9 months ago)

Once something looses its credibility... its pretty difficult to get it back.

0 upvotes
Stacey_K
By Stacey_K (9 months ago)

I am very skeptical reading online reviews. Like I was looking at washing machines and NO ONE is THAT excited about washing clothes like some of the reviewed displayed. They had to be bogus positive written by the company.

2 upvotes
Bruce Edwards
By Bruce Edwards (9 months ago)

You think not? Get thee to Gardenweb Home forums, and look in the APPLIANCES section. You will find a horde of people that are VERY much that into appliances - dishwashers, washing machines, etc. and they buy the latest and greatest on a regular basis. It also happens to be the best place to read reviews on the same IMO. I also had the same thoughts (do these guys REALLY gronk over washing machines this much?) when I came across it, but they KNOW their washing machines! :D

Also, those weird, crazy dishwasher people might one day wander here into a DPR forum, only to find people vociferously arguing about taking picture of a brick wall to determine quality of a camera. They they report back to THEIR forum that there exists on the web, a place that is full of BS because NO one in their right mind would be THAT....you get the idea... :D

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (9 months ago)

In Soviet Russia, stores review customers.

13 upvotes
Bernard Carns
By Bernard Carns (9 months ago)

I suppose this is why Yelp pulls disparaging remarks which makes Yelp reviews next to worthless.

3 upvotes
SirSeth
By SirSeth (9 months ago)

They didn't study the user reviews for the famed "571" banana slicer on Amazon because why would anyone not own a "571" banana slicer in the first place, and second, you can tell when someone experiences the bliss of conversion.

0 upvotes
macky patalinghug
By macky patalinghug (9 months ago)

My favorite review site now is LessRentals as the site provides sharp succinct informative and witty reviews.

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (9 months ago)

LessRentals? ;)

0 upvotes
Johannes Zander
By Johannes Zander (9 months ago)

It's LessDentals!

0 upvotes
macky patalinghug
By macky patalinghug (9 months ago)

This is what I've noticed. In a one star to five stars consumer review site the negative reviews often bring the product's rating down. But upon reading the negative reviews you will find that it is often a rant against the company's poor after service for the lemon that they bought. So it becomes less a review of the product as it is of the company's QC and customer service.

Around five years ago (I've stopped reading them now as I often only read them when I'm in a buying mode) the usual targets of this rants were the Panasonic p&s and the Sigma lenses. Again they were attacked not for their capabilities but because of their company's lousy QC and poor customer service.

2 upvotes
57even
By 57even (9 months ago)

My purchase decisions are based on lots of factors. Professional review sites are somewhat tied to their testing methods, but are certainly consistent, detailed and with lots of samples. If DPR and Imaging-resource.com agree then I usually think I'm on firm ground though.

Some specialist sites (like Photozone.de and Lenstip.com) are refreshingly honest and informative, and LensRentals is a useful source of QC info. DXOmark is exact and sterile and you have to understand what it's telling you, which may not actually matter in real life.

User comments and forums I take with a pinch of salt. You can generally tell someone who has some experience from someone who does not, so they can be useful for the odd subjective opinion, but reading through enough of them allows you to get a feel for persistent QC issues.

Then of course, I have to try one out in a local store....

3 upvotes
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (9 months ago)

If it is not a bylined review from a reputable publication, the legitimacy is essentially worthless.

0 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (9 months ago)

Not necessarily.

I think reviewers earn trust or mistrust just as a company earns customers. Just because its a reputable publication doesn't give a review instant legitimacy. The legitimacy comes from the reader comparing their own findings to that of the reviewer. The more accurate and informative the reviewer, publication or not, the more readers and supporters they get. The less accurate or informative, and the opposite is true.

Publication or not.

There are a lot of writers on good publications that started off not writing for good publications. They didn't suddenly become valuable as soon as they started working for a reputable publication.

C

4 upvotes
Minolta4Life
By Minolta4Life (9 months ago)

Take a review for what it's worth. Most of my reviews are not from using the product, but reviewing the specs, and/or appearance of an item if I'm dumbfounded by its looks (like that ugly Hasselblad makeover of the Sony Nex). I think most people fall in this category, being most of us don't have the means to test each camera that is pushed to market. I feel i am pretty camera savy. I shot Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, Olympus, Sony and Sigma over the years. I can pretty well determine the rain from the pee on my leg. Stop peeing on my leg, and I will give you rave reviews, i.e. Sony RX100II (all i ever want was a hotshoe), and Olympus OM-D (that would be my pretty wife that was also a freak in the bed). Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, stop giving us new nomenclature with meaningless upgrades.

0 upvotes
tomface
By tomface (9 months ago)

You say that you review products without using them, by just looking at the specs and appearance?

11 upvotes
richard stone
By richard stone (9 months ago)

tomface? What's your problem with that? You mean you actually want people to use a product before writing a review? Don't you think that's too much work and too hard? How about if someone just handled it in a store? Why isn't that enough? Maybe two minutes of fondling is all that is needed? But why even require that much? We all know how good a camera just by the name and specs anyway. Why let facts get in the way of our opinions?

2 upvotes
tomface
By tomface (9 months ago)

Well put Mr. Stone! I thought that Minolta4Life might be goofing on us. If so, then it's funny. If not, well....it's still funny!

0 upvotes
dale thorn
By dale thorn (9 months ago)

I do a youtube review then written review on new cameras and audio gear. The audio reviews 'Likes' run approx. 10 to 1 favorable, while the camera review 'Likes' are about 1 to 1, or 50-50. The audio review subscribers ran 94 percent male for better than a year until I started camera reviews, where the percentage of females more than doubled. The comments that needed to be removed as an affront to the civilized subscribers were all on audio gear - no really bad ones on cameras. However, when it comes to forums, the troll ratio is ten times worse on camera forums than it is on audio forums. Just a few stats I've been accumulating ....

1 upvote
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