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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
FelixC1999
By FelixC1999 (9 months ago)

The worst reviews are the ones where the author goes into a racial rant on a lens. What is even worse is that the site owner lets the review stay there. Check out the Nikon 70-200mm review on Amazon and the anti-Semitic comments that Amazon condones by not removing the comment.

0 upvotes
Artistico
By Artistico (9 months ago)

And interesting also how people write comments on DPreview about equipment they have never used and therefore whatever they think about it is based purely on a combination of specifications and prejudice with a tendency towards the latter dominating their opinion. I think that's more like 95% here, though...

2 upvotes
Babka08
By Babka08 (9 months ago)

I think this article makes wrong poste for subject matter. Not good. Is bad and do whatver not buy this review, whatsever. The werst!!!!! Not read ing!!!!! Complete fail. I got another article. and mch very happyer. Not this one!!! nOt for shure. 1-star only, as rate it.

2 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (9 months ago)

These findings fits very well with my experience at DPReview's forums - the ones that seems to be compulsive liers, are those who earlier were fans, and for one or other reason have switch brands. The hestiate at nothing, even writing totally fake reviews.

Happily, I have never written anything about something that I did not own/had not owned, but sometimes your enthusiasm fade, sometimes it increases, over time.

Everyone seems to think their first DSLR was/is perfect, their first Leica, their first FF camera are/were equally perfect - but that's just puppy love ;-)!

0 upvotes
LJ - Eljot
By LJ - Eljot (9 months ago)

The very best of all internet reviews are collected here: http://leasthelpful.com/ it is very entertaining. Like this one: http://leasthelpful.com/image/53119190776

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

Very interesting study. I feel the authors ignored on crucial hypothesis. These negative reviews by people who didn't actually buy the product are intended to purposefully lower prices, so that they can get them at a lower rate. The observation that these reviewers thend to come from lower income households, and tend to buy more discounted products than other reviweres support that. In summary, I think these "fanboys" are giving bad reviews to products they haven't bought, in the hopes that the bad review will lower the price and allow them to get it for less. Quite macquiavelic, but ratioanlly it makes total sense.

0 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (9 months ago)

this is why I take reviews with a giant grain of salt. From past experiences,
I've read negative reviews, bought it and found out the reviews were quite off about certain features; either they simply didn't know how to use that feature, didn't understand its use or it just upset them that it was a certain colour; marring their judgement on the product.

One has to wonder how much it mars judgement on a review product when there are stickers on it. It's been all the rage now to rag on computers with stickers, so much so, it's almost a non-recommendation for the product.

for example, ppl fight over which is the better tablet screen size; as if it wasn't a personal preference. Plenty of reviews where points are docked for the most infantile reasons.

Movie reviews also suffer from this problem. So too food reviews.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (9 months ago)

it's difficult to be objective.

especially in the camera industry, makers have been intentionally giving out as little technical information as possible and concentrating on the "social" part like the brand.

thus we see perfect examples of "attractive things work better" where attractiveness has little to do with usefulness as photographic equipment. we get low efficiency from imperfect competition.

0 upvotes
aleste37
By aleste37 (9 months ago)

One thing I learned about reading reviews on Amazon is even if a review give low scores for a product, it has to happen to not just one person. The problem has to be repeatable.
So a low percentage of low stars shouldn't rule out a product.
Specially with lenses, who knows if that person got a lemon.

0 upvotes
chmoss
By chmoss (9 months ago)

The authors seem to have overlooked a source of reviews by people who have not purchased the product. They did purchase the product elsewhere (maybe at retail, or another online site), and wrote the review on whatever page came up when they Googled the product name. This happens often on Amazon, where the same or similar products are available from several sources, and it is clear from the reviewers comments that product they are reviewing is not the specific one offered!
Also, I suspect that reviewers as a group are more negative than purchasers as a whole. People seem to be more apt to criticize a product than to say nice things. This is a hypothesis, not a fact. I would love to see a study that addresses this question.

2 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (9 months ago)

I think the biggest, most useful take-away from this study is that a single negative review can quickly invalidate countless positive reviews; no matter where that review comes from (or from whom).

I always tell my clients who seem to think it's the "in thing" to have customer reviews for their services, to reconsider as a single troll post can derail their reputation very quickly - particularly if their business/model is not one for which customer review is a necessity.

1 upvote
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (9 months ago)

@Wansai,

I think all review-postings need some monotoring/editing - without things easily gets out of hand!

0 upvotes
mikusa
By mikusa (9 months ago)

"We give it five stars!!!!"

Thanks dpr, I lol'd. :)

0 upvotes
Marc BA
By Marc BA (9 months ago)

Very good article, but should come as no great shock to your regular readers. I view all reviews by so called 'users' with a great deal of skepticism if I consider them at all. I have seen user reviews ream out the camera because they clearly don't know the basics of photography, or complain because of red-eye, as nauseum. I give the more extensive and in-depth reviews by the dp staff with far more weight, but still am always skeptical. I have been burned far too many times, and blown a small fortune on cameras and accessories that simply don't live up or down to the review. The Amazon reviews are a joke and should never be used as a basis for an expensive purchase.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (9 months ago)

I am more wary of reviews in photo magazines, as these seem to be much more 'aided' and controlled by the sellers/manufacturers of the items they review.

There are exceptions, but the majority are of low moral quality.

1 upvote
MarshallG
By MarshallG (9 months ago)

I think this study should have also investigated whether manufacturers pay people to write bogus positive reviews. I believe that this also occurs, as I was solicited by a "social marketing" firm which offered this service.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (9 months ago)

Sure they do. As far as I remember Nikon got a special fund in a budget for that. (or was it Canon?)

1 upvote
Rexyinc
By Rexyinc (9 months ago)

Most of the corner store camera shops in aust actually use dpreview to show customers the specs and stuff... And reviews..

1 upvote
snegron2
By snegron2 (9 months ago)

Very interesting article. My experiences have been different though. I have purchased cameras and lenses (not going to mention what brand) that have been highly rated only to find out that they were absolute garbage. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of going to a local brick and mortar camera shop in my city to "try before I buy" as there are none, so I have no choice but to rely on customer reviews. I also take reviews posted by "independent sources" with a grain of salt; I always suspect they receive some sort of kickback from camera manufacturers (at least in terms of advertisement revenue). Therefore, I value customer reviews more than I value "independent sources".

1 upvote
wansai
By wansai (9 months ago)

I'll give an example. Following the stellar review of the 25mm Panaleica lense; I went out and bought it. I tried it and everything seemed perfect (just as reviewers said). Then as the weeks passed, I became increasingly annoyed that the focus ring was so sensitive. It triggers the magnification and can throw focus off by even the slightest touch. "Focus ring is nicely dampened" was the common description. I later tried other copies and had the same issue.

Things like this, you don't immediately notice when testing out in the shop. It's a great lense... as long as I don't touch or hold or brush up against the rubber focus ring. SO I shoot it holding the front filter area with my thumb and first finger (daintily).

1 upvote
MtOlympus
By MtOlympus (9 months ago)

I invented a camera accessory that sold well and had excellent customer feedback until one *%# person wrote a bogus review and sales plummeted. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when that person didn't try the product and flat lied about it there should be some consequences. My Social Security income isn't enough to live on and the sale of my little product allowed me to support my photo hobby, until one jerk ruined everything.

6 upvotes
Bryan Costin
By Bryan Costin (9 months ago)

What was your accessory?

0 upvotes
MtOlympus
By MtOlympus (9 months ago)

The PanoFix Panorama camera bracket

0 upvotes
GradyBeachum
By GradyBeachum (9 months ago)

DUH

1 upvote
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (9 months ago)

slow news day?

:D

0 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (9 months ago)

The best way to find the small crumbs of truth about any product is to read as many reviews, good, bad, short, long, five stars, one star, three star,........that you have time to read. Then after a few days or weeks of doing this, a strange truth emerges that is YOUR truth.

Truth in any sense is a completely subjective emergent phenomenon. If it was not, everyone would buy the same product.

1 upvote
Ferling
By Ferling (9 months ago)

First. Real statistical evidence aside, you can Google any amount of bias you want to support an assumption that a particular product will or will not be a worthy purchase.

Second. A real story with a real name goes a long ways. Reviews without the weight of an experience by a user not willing to post his or her real name are suspect. It's also easy for anon persons to soundboard others.

Third. There will always be a few lemons that get past QC, so it's just as important to consider how the company handled and catered to the customer in response as part of the review process.

Fourth. Do your homework. Don't be lazy. It's your money. Like painting a picture with a mixture of different pigments, so must you research different resources to get a better grasp. In finding a particular interesting review, I always check out if that particular poster has posted before, to get an idea of their personality and what they do that qualifies them as someone of trust.

-Keep shooting

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
1 upvote
joe6pack
By joe6pack (9 months ago)

That's why Amazon has rating system to reviews themselves. For popular products, you only need to see the most helpful reviews to decide.

1 upvote
jkokich
By jkokich (9 months ago)

I read negative reviews very carefully. One star given because a shipment was late, or the color isn't really scarlet but wine, or the person doesn't actually know how to use a camera, isn't a real review.

5 upvotes
backayonder
By backayonder (9 months ago)

The Nikon D400 is an absolute pearl of a camera in fact I will go further and say it is the best camera I have ever owned. It was well worth the wait.

1 upvote
oldercameraman
By oldercameraman (9 months ago)

Loved that one! Very, very typical of some of the reviews I've read.

1 upvote
PatMann
By PatMann (9 months ago)

What I really appreciated is that they filled out the missing DX wide primes with the intro, so it's actually a complete system camera now. Both the 24mm f/1.4 DX and 16mm f/2 DX were stellar, and the 12mm f/2.8 has very low distortion for a 90-degree lens. Kudos to Nikon for this triumph.

0 upvotes
oldercameraman
By oldercameraman (9 months ago)

Hellllloooo . I think backayonder was joking.... Right?

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (9 months ago)

I hated my D400, but I do love the 500D (That's a close-up lens, by the way, that Canon sells. I use mine on anything but Canon cameras).

0 upvotes
epo001
By epo001 (9 months ago)

A simple mechanism is to only permit purchasers to leave a review. The trouble is that Amazon and DPR see themselves as partly in the social media market and they know that one way of attracting eyeballs is to allow people to leave their opinions behind.

Another more advanced technique is to permit non-purchasers to leave reviews but not to show them to anyone else. That is, only the logged in non-buyer sees their own reviews (which are of course disregarded in the overall rating).

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (9 months ago)

It would seem to make sense to be wary of a "non-purchaser's" comments but now that Amazon collects tax, a lot of people will buy from B&H or Adorama. Of course they can leave comments there as well.

0 upvotes
en792
By en792 (9 months ago)

Me among them. Problem is that B&H reviews are consistently higher than Amazon's and I've heard people say they wrote a negative review there that wasn't posted.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (9 months ago)

I buy much of my gear from Amazon, but not all can be sold by Amazon, or its associates, due to export restrictions, and trade agreements.

So, you argue that I should not be allowed to write a review of a product I own, but have been forced to buy locally?!

Really, really weird thinking, sir!

0 upvotes
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (9 months ago)

There are TWO primary biases in on-line reviews: 1) the five-star rave reviews by people who've barely owned a product a few days, who feel compelled to convince themselves and the world that they made a wise choice, particularly if the product is new or untested; and 2) people who either got a DOA product, or never bought it at all, and want to convince themselves and the world that it made sense to return or not buy the product.

Products that are either very expensive, or else very cheap, also get a high quotient of favorable reviews: high price demands high self-hypnosis, even zealous affirmation; and anything cheap will get at least some credit, so long as not completely shoddy. No one who buys a 1D will admit they over-spent. No one who tosses a mere $20 or less should expect much.

1 upvote
jkoch2
By jkoch2 (9 months ago)

Sometimes sensationally positive or negative "reviews" are written about new products before Amazon or others have in stock, evidently to grab attention, though with little more value than a recitation of the expected product specs plus a little graffiti.

1 upvote
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (9 months ago)

Agree totally with Jkoch2 - psychology is a big part of the game.

If you shell out a fortune for a brand new car (say equal to your gross earnings in a year), there are very few of us that then can seriously lambast said product without a lot of egg on our faces, as we know we can never resell it at even close to the initial price!

Those who derides products of a certain brand, often have had bad experiences with said brand, or can't afford them.

Bad customer support can make the consumer hate a brand, especially if the product they owned was costly. A few customer relations like that can sink the sales through the floor!

I used to be a 100% Pentax man. But:

I've had so-so support from Pentax: I really loved the K-5 to begin with, but many weeks away for service, and fairly lackluster support (eventually they replaced the camera for free), but the glamor of the K-5, in my eyes, was gone.

I become a Nikonian instead - still long for the Pentax menu system - but no more Pentax!

0 upvotes
Charlieangel
By Charlieangel (9 months ago)

I was somewhat surprised that just one or two negative reviews would have any significant impact on sales. I always discount negative reviews when there are only 2 or 3.

I was also surprised that the negative reviews come from fanboys attempting to reform "their" company.

So contrary to several other folks, I did learn something; and that's because I value new knowledge.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (9 months ago)

"I always discount negative reviews when there are only 2 or 3." - next time they'll hire 4-5 people instead of 2-3 to write a reviews. Not much more expensive, but will cheat people like you easily.

0 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (9 months ago)

often times, a single negative review is what makes me hold my purchase. I'll go look elsewhere to see if it corroborates with what that review said - sometimes it pans out and sometimes it doesn't, but from the company's POV, it's counted as a lost purchase - rightfully so - because I didn't buy it then and there. It left me room to buy something else and sometimes that happens too.

I'm always sceptical that anything is *that* good or *that* bad so the odd negative review in a sea of positive (or vice versa) really does stand out. Logically there has to be some merit or a troll but before you plonk down $1000, are you really going to risk just ignoring a potential problem?

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (9 months ago)

It is indeed surprising that online reviews are sometimes biased and/or inaccurate. While I take in this shocking news, another consideration. With lenses in particular, there will always be variations. With with complex lenses from "low end" manufacturers the differences can be huge.

Example. The Rokinon 14mm. Get a good one and it's terrific. Photozone de, a reputable site, couldn't believe the results they got from theirs. At the other extreme, Rockwell did a "test" and said the lens was a "toy" and one of the worst lenses he'd ever used. Now, Ken's reputation precedes him and hopefully no one takes him seriously, but having had 3 of these 14mm lenses I can say they really DO vary. So a 1, 3 or possibly 5 star review would all be appropriate, depending on the particular lens you have.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Russ Houston
By Russ Houston (9 months ago)

I don't need to read this to know it's a stupid article. I disagree with everything they will probably say.

7 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (9 months ago)

I tend to read the mid-starred reviews, on the basis that they are unlikely to be fakes, and more likely to have both positives and negatives. I can decide whether the +ves and -ves mentioned are relevant to my usage or not.

3 upvotes
Michaels7
By Michaels7 (9 months ago)

I read the reviews, but there are two things that I do beyond this. I go to YouTube and watch the actual owners give both a hands on, their feedback and feelings on the product. Second, I do my own hands on by heading to the stores and testing the products out.

1 upvote
jkokich
By jkokich (9 months ago)

Yes, YouTube reviews are wonderfully revealing! It's more of the personal touch, if you will.

0 upvotes
photobeans
By photobeans (9 months ago)

Better to have reviews on products than no reviews at all. Common flaws are revealed when more than 1 reviewer states them.

1 upvote
jennyrae
By jennyrae (9 months ago)

best review always come from self. try camera first and see if it's good or not. online review only as reference. if same with personal trial, then review is honest.

0 upvotes
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (9 months ago)

But generally we read reviews to see if it's worth buying in the first place.

Trying the camera first means buying it and possibly wasting money.....

0 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (9 months ago)

shops now allow 15 day return policy...

0 upvotes
zak302pa
By zak302pa (9 months ago)

Review of this article: verbose - should not take 40 pages to get point across, the conclusions ran 2+ pages with an open-ended quest for more work (funding?) to be done. Results were predictable and unremarkable. (I tried to keep this short with no references to family !!!!!!!!!!!!!)

2 upvotes
jkokich
By jkokich (9 months ago)

40 pages? That article needs to be reviewed... and edited.

0 upvotes
AllOtherNamesTaken
By AllOtherNamesTaken (9 months ago)

I don't mean to be rude, but how is this news? This has been happening since online reviews started, and happens daily in DPreview forums, particularly when new equipment is announced. It is also a contributing factor to various problems or issues being grossly overblown between various camera manufacturers. In the end, only the manufacturer loses, which is unfortunate. Members can have as many accounts as they like, so the same person can put 10 negative comments on 10 forums in 10 threads for the same item. People with an axe to grind wll go to amazing lengths to feel vindicated. Later, unknowing people do a little Googling, and all of a sudden they think that particular "problem" is widespread. It just snowballs over and over.

I don't think anyone needed a study to show that a good percentage of people on the internet are full of sh*t.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
11 upvotes
Simonsimon
By Simonsimon (9 months ago)

Totally right. If I'd bought my last camera based on comments left on dpreview, I'd be taking pictures with an omd em5 thinking I owned a full frame dslr! Fortunately my research was more extensive.

0 upvotes
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (9 months ago)

Doesn't it depend on who is writing the reviews? I read a customer review of the Sigma 70mm macro in Sony A-mount on amazon uk.

There is just one review for this lens in A-mount and it is by a Nex user who compared it to the E-mount 30mm F3.5 macro.

He got poorer results with the Sigma but the review was written in a pretty authoritative manner. On reading it I immediately could pick several flaws not least of which it could have been things like camera shake that spoiled his tests with the longer Sigma so for me this was an easily dismissed review given the reputation of the Sigma.

However there is at least one review site on the net written by a self proclaimed expert who I know for a fact has "reviewed" stuff he has never used. That is far harder to spot and more dangerous than user reviews at places like Amazon. People are IMO much more likely to give weight to a web site review than a simple product review. It's the old it is on the net so it must be true syndrome.

0 upvotes
jm67
By jm67 (9 months ago)

I don't base purchases upon reviews. Over time, while I may have come to respect the point of view of certain sites such as this one, I don't purchase something according to someone I've never met and don't know. I also only buy something that has a return policy so that should it be not what I expected, it can be returned, even if there is a restocking fee. It's only fair. For me, reviews by anonymous persons are mostly entertainment. There are too many who swoon over their purchase and too many who obviously don't own it and swoon or hate it. Too many just love to see their name and/or opinion in "print".

0 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (9 months ago)

Don't you just love the reviews where the person says something like, "I don't actually own the product but I would not recommend it because...". At least they admit never buying or actually using the product, but why they bother reviewing is beyond me.

0 upvotes
Austinian
By Austinian (9 months ago)

I often find that user reviews are the only place to find out important details about the product; the manufacturers generally give pathetically little information about the things that really affect how well a product works for me.

If a reviewer omits the sort of detailed info that suggests they actually own and use a product, I'll ignore that review, whether positive or negative.

0 upvotes
Dimit
By Dimit (9 months ago)

Just read a medium rated user's review on a product that has a pretty big number of reviews on it.More or less you're close to reality..

1 upvote
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (9 months ago)

Not surprised. Half the opinions on iPhone and Window phones online are made by people never used those devices. Samsung has been fined for paying people to write negative reviews online for rival phones. And if you are shopping online and use resellerratings.com to check retailers you would know some of the scammers write positive review for themselves.

2 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (9 months ago)

Hehe, Samsung even lost lawsuit in Korea for practices like that. Sadly there's not enough proof to suit them in US. Suckers hire ppl from China or india to write that garbage and than we end up with crowd of followers thinking that the Samsung smartphone is a best thing since the invention of a wheel.

1 upvote
Eric Nepean
By Eric Nepean (9 months ago)

I do not strictly go by the number of stars, I think its important to consider the number of reviewers and what they had to say.

Of couse certain products cab weeded out right away - 20 or more reviews and 2 stars or less.

Then I read a few reviews, starting with the most negative, and I try to get a sense of what customer problems there are - failures, warranty issues, support issues, performance problems, installation problems. I ignore reviews which are just generalized witching and bining, or generalized oohing and aahing, and those with no details.

If there are many reviews, then I skip to the most recent and try to get an assessment if there are any recent new problems, whats the experience of someone who has had this product for a few months.

1 upvote
Ulfric M Douglas
By Ulfric M Douglas (9 months ago)

"makes surprising discoveries"? Err, no. Obvious, yes.

1 upvote
W5JCK
By W5JCK (9 months ago)

Bottom line is that you have to read every review to determine if it has any validity in your particular case. A lot of bad reviews are written by idiots who cannot figure out a product because they don't read the documentation or because they are too stupid to figure out much of anything. Some bad reviews are because the reviewer wanted the product to do something it was never designed to do, again these are stupid people. Example, "I bought this computer to use as a door stop but it is just to light weight to keep my heavy door open." Of course a lot of bad reviews are just fanboys of competing manufacturers.

As far as good reviews go, it seems most of these are people who are basically saying, "I bought this, therefore it must be the best out there because I bought it."

Read the reviews. Don't just look at the number statistics.

0 upvotes
AstroStan
By AstroStan (9 months ago)

I generally skip or discount reviews that use terms like "idiot" and "stupid"...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (9 months ago)

Perhaps the best user review site is resellerratings.com. They do a pretty good job of weeding out the fake positive reviews from camera salesmen and store owners.

For example..... Best Price Camera earns a 0.01 rating out of 10.0, with 373 user reviews claiming they are frauds and scam artists.

And.... B&H Photo gets a 9.65 rating out of 10.0, with 65,610 user reviews, almost all of which praise the company for service, price and professionalism.

This makes it pretty easy to decide who gets your credit card number.

1 upvote
Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (9 months ago)

Sadly, resellerratings.com has been flooded with astroturfing campains as of late and you can't really trust a lot of the reviews.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
photosen
By photosen (9 months ago)

Interesting!

0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (9 months ago)

Personally, I think most user reviews must be taken with a grain of salt.

There are too many people who gush over a camera after 10 minutes of ownership. The battery is still being charged, and they want to justify their big purchase. Even here at Dpreview we had people doing user reviews BEFORE a camera was even available!

And many of the negative reviews are just complaints about price, delivery, or something that has nothing to do with the camera. Like they ordered something by mistake... without reading the product description.

The absolute worst user reviews were on epinions.com, where people got paid for writing reviews, so they would grind out lots of reviews. They would review things they never even touched but "my uncle has one."

For me... the best solution is to read the forums in addition to the professional reviews. If something is wrong with a camera, you will hear about it. If something is good about a camera, you will hear about it too.

4 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (9 months ago)

Interesting. I see the example above shows an amazon.com screen and I do see fake reviews there. It's either the only one that is five star OR the only one that is a one star review.

OR the guy who writes a review of every camera guide book and says "it just rehashes the owner's manual". (He actually owns all those cameras and has read all the owner's manuals?)

Also occasionally on www.tripadvisor.com rating a hotel or restaurant as five star when every other review gives it 2 or 3 stars. (Obviously a friend of the owner.)

0 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (9 months ago)

"[...] but from loyal, genuine customers, 'self-appointed brand managers' who are taking advantage of the review process to 'give feedback on the firm'."

Huh. Where is the news?

Most consumer electronics companies have precisely zero possibilities to submit any kind of feedback, and users have to resort to /excotic/ methods.

(OK, some have outsourced support line, but listening for many hours/days/weeks to the same boilerplate questions and suggestions is rather a maddening experience.)

0 upvotes
Frenske
By Frenske (9 months ago)

Is this article about Ken Rockwell???

18 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (9 months ago)

Apparel may be different than technology. In technology forums there are definitely paid shills.

I won't name who, except to say a well known competitor to Apple left a very clumsy audit trail of their smear campaign.

A trust was set up funded by the research arm of the competitor.

That trust then set up a research project (a further separate entity funded by the trust) to 'study the impact of social networking on brand image'.

That entity hired interns and 'earn money from home with your computer' responders who were unaware of what they were really being hired for.

These employees were paid to join social networks and forums and then given scripted disinformation, targeted at chipping away at Apples brand image and products. The more posts they got from their script, the more they got paid.

If you are interested, the audit trail is out there, but you may need to use a variety of search engines to find it because, curiously, the trail doesn't show up in all search engines.

1 upvote
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