1. The number of people who read reviews are a small, small, fraction of total buyers. Most people look at review count and the star rating (not the number, the image).
But more importantly,
2. Ranking in search results is the #1 factor in driving sales. Everything else is a distant #3. Search engines will reduce rankings of products with negative reviews.
(This my anecdotal experience after 2+ years of being an Amazon 3P seller)
As those machines look for signals of "authenticity," review factories learn to manufacture reviews that fake those signals. If adding a small mix of two-star reviews helps with search rankings, the review factories will start doing it in a heartbeat.
describing tradeoffs that would seem reasonable to most people
Cueball: Spammers are breaking traditional Captchas with AI, so I've built a new system. It asks users to rate a slate of comments as "Constructive" or "Not constructive."
Cueball: Then it has them reply with comments of their own, which are later rated by other users.
Megan: But what will you do when spammers train their bots to make automated constructive and helpful comments?
Cueball: Mission. Fucking. Accomplished.
Unfortunately, the endgame for bot spam indistinguishable from humans isn't some benign silicon intelligence, but an epistemic war for attention, spending, manipulation, and/or fraud, benefitting deep pockets and highly motivated parties.
It ends poorly.
That's no foolproof solution, but of course, it increases the cost of fake reviews.
Also, language is not taken into account. It's probably more expensive to buy fake reviews in, say, Norwegian, rather than in the standard English, so non-English speaking countries have an advantage.
And at least for German I can say that fake reviews are probably not more expensive...they seem to just have lower quality and range between barely understandable auto-translation to almost passable if it weren't written like an advertisement.
Whenever I buy anything on Amazon I look at the negative reviews and most of them are people saying they straight up got the wrong product or whatever they got came broken/scratched up right out of the box. I see these complaints often enough that I assume people aren't just lying outright, but I personally have never had any of this happen to me despite all of the junk I've bought on Amazon. It's made the negative reviews almost as worthless as the positive reviews that are possibly just paid off.
Like another person said, the 2-3 star people are often what I find most helpful. I find they tend to be people who are honest but just way pickier than the average buyer, so the stuff they complain about usually doesn't matter to me, but its still informative.
I think this is a symptom of co-mingling inventories. You can 'buy it from Amazon' or buy it from 'Joe's super legit online shop' for $0.30 less. I suspect many reviews of wrong or broken products are coming from some kind of drop-shipping operation and the buyers aren't aware they're buying from a 3rd party seller.
There's a hashtag dedicated to this complaint (#BOREDerlands) that goes back some years, and it appeared in a yachtzee review.
People usually don't get all up in arms like that if a random Bluetooth speaker they bought doesn't sync as well with their Android TV as it does with their iPhone.
I do the same thing for movies, restaurants and video games.
I try to be careful here as well. I feel a lot of the negative reviews are paid for by competitors. Of course they tend to be easy to filter out because they're low effort reviews.
reddit thread on the article:
Like, you have a garden where you don't plant any flowers but are pissed at having to deal with the weeds.
Need more reviews? Ask! Inform! Let your fans know!
Should I want to game the system. I would definitely post negative reviews on my competitor's products. Safety-related issues, like some component catching fire would be ideal but even a seemingly well thought out disappointed review could be effective. With that in mind, I am also suspicious of negative reviews.
I don't know if that happens in real life. It's risky, and attacking all your competitors is a lot more work than paying for glowing reviews for your own products, but it is not like discrediting your competitors is a new thing.
I don't expect developers to test every combination of hardware in a given market. That's silly. I do think it helps buyers understand the risk in buying ported titles though.
The only exceptions are cases where customers are faced with a wide range of vendors, but only tiny, well-delineated subsets are in actual competition. Restaurants serving travelers in a small town would be an example.
Probably the most interesting part is that Amazon was one of our lead investors. We came to them for help, and they told us in a wink wink nudge nudge sort of way that our only option was to just keep buying positive reviews.
I can't help but feel that in addition to being unethical, this might also be illegal. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/03/los-a...
Generally a very good product will have between 80 and 90 percent 5-star reviews and then the remaining percentages will tail down with the lowest percent of 1 star reviews. This was how I picked where to go on my honeymoon on TripAdvisor.
All 5-star reviews with zero reviews of any other rating.
So so products:
Similar to great products in that the number of reviews decreases as the rating goes down, but the percentage of 4 star reviews is significant and there are less than 70% 5 star reviews
Less 5 star reviews than 4 or 3 star reviews. These are surprisingly uncommon and feel quaint when I see them.
Mixed supply chain (Fakes) or serious quality issues:
What I refer to as the “1 star bump” where a product has more 1-star reviews than 2, 3, or 4 star review. Similar to “so so products” except you see the 1 star bar sticking out noticeably in the graph. The 1-star bump is my most reliable signal not to buy something. Unfortunately it’s very common on Amazon.
Interestingly, I find restaurants on Yelp follow an entirely different pattern -- a hump at 3 stars, or at 4 stars, most often. There are usually a few 5-star reviews for every place, but when there are more 5-star reviews than 4-stars, the restuaurants have always been exceptional. I don't feel like I've ever been steered wrong once.
They were 1 stars for the wireless version I wasn't buying, so you still have to drill down to see what the 1 star reviews actually say.
This happened to me recently with an exercise bike which was an absolute piece of trash compared to what my sister bought and recommended. It makes me want to completely avoid Amazon.
Then why don't you?
I seriously don't want to be glib, but I read so many complaints about Amazon, their intermingling of stock from various, partially shady sources, fakes, dodgy reviews, which they do shit-all about, etc, etc.
Personally I don't buy at Amazon since when they pulled a bait and switch on their privacy pledge, which was pretty much in the beginning.
Their predatory behavior, their treatment of employees, their not giving a fuck if you get sent fakes, their systemic viloation of privacy, their dodgy support of law enforcement and their overall creepy behaviour all just reinforce me in this and frankly: I can live quite well without buying anything at Amazon.
So I'm genuinly curious: Why do so many people still buy despite an avalanche of complaints?
Free shipping! For me this is what keeps me coming back. Just two days ago I needed to get hair color for my wife. Went to the Target site. A nickel a box cheaper. I couldn't get the order up to their minimum for free shipping so I ended up back at Amazon and clicked the buy button. Again.
I watch my pennies pretty carefully because my household isn't very wealthy. I purchase where the price is best. When I factor in shipping "best" is still mostly Amazon.
I prefer the convenience of a brick and mortar store (the convenience being able to browse the products in real life and take it home with me immediately) but it's not always possible to find what I'm looking for locally.
Lastly, for every person complaining here on Hacker News about their one anecdotal issue with Amazon there's thousands of products being shipped every minute that have no issue. Amazon mostly works, though I wouldn't trust it for very large fragile things.
Except no one has them locally. Even Amazon can't get them to me in a reasonable amount of time (within the next week). Oh, well, too bad; what can I find that puts out heat without a blower? Home Depot has nothing, regional hardware store doesn't have anything. Amazon has eighteen different models to choose from, a half dozen of which they'll drop on my doorstep the same day.
I could have fished around the internet, found the heaters I originally wanted, wait a week or so. And then crawl in the attic to do a bunch of work that I'm in the mood to do today, not next week. Or I could just click the "buy" button for heater that will not be exactly what I wanted, but let's be real, it'll more than do the job. And I can be done with it and go on with my day. So that's what I did.
And that pretty much describes the thought process with any of my Amazon purchases these days. "I could spend more time on this and find an alternative. But today I have decided that my time is better spent doing something else, so imma click the Amazon 'buy' button." Yes, I have much room for personal growth there. But Amazon also makes it pretty damned convenient.
(As an addendum, I'll also note that not too long ago when I went with the alternative, the next day my credit card was compromised. So there's that to consider.)
It’s getting to where I only want to buy books on the site because even a counterfeit book (yes, I’ve received one of those too which was a scanned pdf of the original manufactured with print-on-demand tech) more or less gets the job done.
That sounds hard to believe. I encounter co-mingling of reviews all the time. And to be clear, I'm a huge fan of Amazon and buy almost everything except groceries through them, but the review quality is pretty inconsistent on many items. Co-mingling is the biggest and most obvious issue I have faced, but I'm sure fake or fraudulent reviews are another big issue that's not immediately obvious to reviewers.
Because, despite their many problems, their customer service is still better than most (maybe all) of their direct competitors.
I've only needed customer support from Amazon twice, but both times my experience was really bad.
Personally, I do try to avoid them. Originally it was because I didn't want them to grow in market power; now its' because the results are a lot worse.
But it's not always possible. Probably 80-90% of the time I'm able to find what I'm looking for somewhere else. But sometimes what I'm looking for I can only really find on Amazon.
That, and people still buy me Amazon gift cards.
When people give me gift cards of any sort, I just sell them to someone else outright.
If I can't find what I need at a local store, then I search the web.
If I can't find a website that has what I need and is at least in my country, I hit up Amazon.
If I can't find what I need on Amazon, then I stop by eBay.
Amazon has been getting to be more of a pain in the butt over the past couple of years, as so many sketchy third-party sellers have been cropping up. If I don't pay very close attention, I can end up placing an order from a seller that isn't what I thought, and turns out to be someone that I would have wanted to avoid.
Essentially, it's the same amount of caution that has always been necessary with eBay, and thus removes most of the advantages Amazon had over eBay. Given that, I may as well just go directly to eBay.
While Amazon may be cheaper I moan for independent book sellers going bust, because they just can't match the prices, let alone the cost structure of the behemoth. And I think they provide a valuable cultural service, which Amazon couldn't care less about.
Long gone are the times of good, researched reviews. Which in my opinion is another face of the deprecation of content value (ie people not paying for high quality researched content).
Same as why news channels now have people panels instead of investigative journalism.
Also the fact that most companies forbid benchmarks... they are incredibly useful tools for comparing products.
Of course, even easier than paying to remove bad ones is paying to add fake good reviews. Another issue is apps and such annoying you until you submit a review. Leave a bad one? Then they annoy you with more follow up, so you're pressured to leave a good review so they stop bothering you.
It would also be very hard for organizations as big as Yelp or Google to provide this service while covering up evidence of its existence.
I'd counter that online reviews still have pretty much the same value they ever have had, and that we're more aware of what the limits of that value is.
Lot's of real-person reviews exist on many platforms, and reading through a few often gives you a decent idea of what you're getting yourself into.
Paid-for reviews are certainly a scourge, and one business getting loyalists to down-vote a competitor is also a problem. But that's been a thing since the beginning of recommendation features, and we should celebrate a little bit that we're more hip and conscious today to these operations.
There are some useful review sites like Wirecutter that arguably cut through the clutter in a lot of cases. But the amount of "stuff" and experiences (e.g. restaurants) out there is pretty overwhelming for what's left of professional reviewers outside of some fairly narrow domains.
I do a lot of travel. Are Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews of restaurants great? Not really. Are they generally better--given some critical mass--than picking a restaurant at random or because it has a cool name? Almost certainly. (Of course, online menus and the like can be somewhat useful as well.)
Theres actually lots of wirecutter type sites for different things, however there are just as many sites that seem to praise EVERY product they list, and sometimes there can be hundreds of sites all saying the same thing. https://electricbikereview.com/ is one where I have trouble telling which ones he likes more than others, because he is so positive about every features. Mattress and credit card / financial review sites have spun up like the plague.
This is also one of the few places where I think the government could step in, where it currently isnt, and the Attorney General should run their own version of https://www.slant.co , wirecutter, consumer reports, yelp, better business bureau, https://thesweetsetup.com/picks/ etc. Some combination of government reliability and safety ratings, mixed with verified purchase reviews. It's a perfect place for the government to help cut through the paradox of choice and misleading or loud advertising, and help consumers find good products from the rough.
As far as restaurants go, even just a nice aggregation app would be nice that could pull together and normalize scores from yelp, facebook, google, trip adviser, foursquare, zomato, opentable, zagat. It would be really nice to be able to see which restaurants end up popular on which sites, how scores compare across sites, An additional benefit of aggregation would be, if the app can find "like reviewers" that you should follow, people who vote similarly to you.
With sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, I almost always completely ignore the "top critics" reviews and go with user reviews. In almost 100% of cases where the scores for TV shows significantly diverge, I find the user score to be spot on.
I think the user scores on these sites aren't horribly out of whack with reality because there's not much to be gained by gaming them. I'm sure only a small minority of consumers go on such sites to pick what to watch next.
Lion king has 388 critics reviewing the movie, and only 46 are considered "top."
It's nice to be able to contextualize scores. For me the presence of users reviews doesnt negate the benefit of critical reviews. I enjoy being able to see discrepancy between groups.
Every reviewer has a consistent voice and set of tastes, and it matters if a reviewer you generally agree with falls into the positive 40/300 on one movie or the negative 260/300 on another.
Maybe your favorite media reviewer Bob Obert can't stand historical drama movies or mockumentary series, or the Meater blog you read is consistently biased toward giving BBQ joints high scores. When you see Obert give a The Office episode a 4/5 that is mediocre by Generic Yahoo Contributor standards, or Meater feature a seitan food truck in Portland while being critical of an artisan brisket restaurant, you're going to value those reviews much more over the majority of others.
If we could prevent regulatory capture and flat-out bribery, sure. Not sure that’s possible though.
> Are they generally better...than picking a restaurant at random?
Depends on what you’re looking for, but I’ve had much better success off yelp than on it. I highly recommend going to literally random places.
I certainly couldn’t find the restaurants I do eat at on yelp had I had to look again: they’re all in the middle of the pack ratings wise due to people conflating food rating, service rating, and setting rating. Whatever I like about these places yelp does not expose.
Certainly not my experience. Most restaurants are mediocre or worse. User review sites are of course highly imperfect and sometimes there just aren't very good options off the beaten track.
But I must say I have generally better experiences with doing at least a modicum of research (whether online, local recommendation, looking at menus, etc.) that just walking in somewhere at random.
Without knowing you and what you look for in food, and in eating out, your expectations of service, your enjoyment of the aesthetic, your appreciation of arbitrary culture, it’s very hard to give this statement any weight. There are more restaurants on my block in SF than my home town, and of much higher quality. If you find the MAJORITY of restaurants to be mediocre or worse, that reveals a value system incompatible with mine. I’m just looking for a new place to eat, not the next Michelin star restaurant. Abundance of choice is my problem that random choice solves neatly.
But yes--I do find if I walk into the random restaurant on a street I expect to be unimpressed, even in SF. And the fact that it's somewhere I haven't tried before isn't really a big plus in my book unless it's also good.
I am at least somewhat picky however.
My sincere condolences.
I can look at their review for a pair of headphones I own and a pair of headphones I'm considering buying and come out with a pretty good idea of how the headphones will sound and feel.
What's certainly is true (CR as well going back decades) is that if you have a fair bit of knowledge and very specific wants/don't wants in a product area, you may well not be happy with the recommendations from any of the generalist review sites. (I wouldn't use them for a higher-end camera for example.)
Best is still subjective, no matter how objective a reviewer may try to be. If one finds their tastes don't line up with a particular review site, then they can find another.
I've never used Wirecutter and can't comment on them specifically, but I will note that what is "the best" is very subjective and context dependent. There is no absolute "best" anything.
Each vertical has different dimensions that matters to people, and some could be objectively measured, without reviewers.
In my case, I'm building a community for any type of classes around you (e.g. dancing, yoga, acting classes, French, etc.) at https://classalog.org and when I asked users 'how do you choose a class' almost no one tell me "I want to see reviews" as their first answers. Pictures, and knowing the experience of the instructor is more important. I'm not certain reviews with its downsides would do more good than bad, and I'm really hesitant to implement that feature at the moment.
While I tend to ignore reviews on the likes of Yelp, TripAdviser, Amazon, etc., I do have an alternative: I turn to blogs and YouTube.
There is a lot that is problematic there, too, but at least with those fora, I can look at other reviews from the same person (which gives me an idea of the bent of that particular reviewer), and those reviews tend to be more long-form, where the reviewer usually goes into some amount of detail explaining why they gave the thing the review they did.
Well, before the internet existed, we had word of mouth. Pretty sure word of mouth is and always has been the right way of doing things. Even asking a random stranger in person is probably more signal to noise than reading the garbage posted online, and random chance aint terrible either.
Authoritative reportage also still works in some cases.
It used to be when we were on a road trip and hungry, going to the Applechilibees/Olivelobster brand we recognized on the side of the road was a no-brainer, now I pull up yelp or glance at Eater a few minutes before arrival.
Those have egregiously misled me too many times for me to look at them anymore.
Also, I don't agree with demonizing people for making "I made <this>" posts while "I use <this>" endorsement posts go completely under the radar. You're just forcing the first group to behave like the second group while I find the first group much more valuable since we can see the connection and even interact with the creator.
I see this all the time on r/gaming. The front page is 100% "advertising" but completely cool with gamers. The second an indie developer shares something they built, it's suddenly uncool. Simple fix: turn "I made this" into "I found this" and gamers are totally cool with it again because it couldn't possibly be advertising. It's a bit silly. "I made this" posts are much more interesting and become mini-AMAs on r/gaming instead of the same old meme-advertising of the same five AAA games.
These all have 4-5 star reviews, and otherwise seem perfectly fine. If I saw them in a store I would have purchased them without a second thought.
Ultimately I just went back and bought the first one I saw. It seems perfectly fine, I can't see any issues with it.
* Expensive tools would have gripes about price or lack of inclusion of accessories. If I bought something in this category it would be problem-free, but so far in excess of what I need as a hobbyist/DIYer that it was comical, e.g. a circular saw that could happily saw my car in half when all I'm doing is building bookshelves.
* Cheap tools would have a consistent pattern of reviews mentioning one or more specific failures that occurred during normal use - e.g. belt sanders that swallow belts or drills where the chuck quickly comes loose. If I bought something in this range, I'd experience exactly the same failure myself.
* Finally, mid-price tools would have the same number of poor reviews as the cheap ones, but the scenarios described would be abusive or unrealistic expectations: people complaining that they couldn't use an orbital sander on concrete tiles or fit enormous router bits to something consumer-grade.
The realisation I wish I'd come to earlier is that stuff in the last category is fine, particularly when it comes to a tool I only use occasionally. Stuff here does exactly what I need, gives good results, and doesn't result in me paying for power I'm never going to use. I guess that's part of the problem with online reviews - needing to get to the level where you're analysing them in depth to differentiate between "it broke because it's badly made" and "it broke because I was doing something completely crazy with it".
For things that are more expensive and/or long-term, for example a car (which I buy as new and drive until it truly starts falling apart) I tend to pay much more attention to negative reviews, either digging in for statistics or thinking about whether a particular feature being dissed is important for me. My 2c.
It lead down a path of an entire evening researching a bunch of lights, but finding a number of "worked great for 2 weeks but then the bulb died" type of reviews on kits that had generally decent average ratings.
Then I started thinking more about the bulbs, which lead to reading white papers about how long term exposure to CFL bulbs could potentially cause irreversible retina damage and other eye problems and now, not only do I not have lights, I'm not sure I even want them. LEDs also had their own set of eye issues, especially in the 5500k range (which is what most flattering light is set to).
What I end up doing is ignoring any product where the name of it/the company is in all caps. Pretty good giveaway that it's just white-labeled junk.
I don’t Amazon anymore, but the reviews were and I assume still are completely unreliable for many segments. Too many players running to the bottom.
For other things, you need to know the market. Restaurants and hotel reviews are full of bad info (fakes, ultra-picky people, etc) but it’s easy to extract useful information. Usually the fakes have details that only workers would care about or are just pure praise without specifics. People on a vacation tell stories and business travelers usually complain about things that cost them time.
You also need to consider how you use a review. The stars are there to sell the product. I look for corroborated information about things I don’t like, and mostly ignore the positive. That doesn’t work on Amazon because the fakes are more common and brazen than real reviews, and Amazon facilitates the fakery as more reviews drive transactions.
As far as "place" reviews, Google reviews in my area haven't let me down yet. Yelp has been hit-or-miss; I dislike their "not currently recommended" review system. TripAdvisor isn't too useful in my local area as there's not nearly as many reviews as on Google/Yelp.
Fake review authors and providers are increasingly becoming sophisticated to bypass various filters in place on Amazon and other websites so you need to be able to leverage SOTA analysis to detect them. We also don't reveal how we detect certain fake reviews due to the fact that they will use that information to their advantage to further exploit our system, which allows us to be a couple steps ahead.
Anyone interested to know more about this topic feel free to email me at email@example.com.
If I now want to make a purchase based heavily on user reviews, I do like many of the other posters here have said: I look at the reviews and low and high middle of the spectrum, have to read each review for obvious, glaring generalizations and seek out language that implies real-world usage vs. hyperbole, and use other features at my disposal, including a verified reviewer stamp (if on Amazon), tools like FakeSpot or ReviewMeta, and reading reviews from competing shopping platforms for the same item if possible (if shopping on Amazon for a widget, look for reviews on eBay or the website of the widget manufacturer). If it's a technology purchase, I'll also look up a bunch of reviews from at least 3-4 technology review platforms, placing a greater weight on those who have included screenshots of their actual usage of the product, which tend to imply a greater deal of rigor to go through for a fake review (but this doesn't mean it's completely trustworthy either).
These additional forms of verification, on one hand, could be likened to how we used to shop before internet shopping was a thing (we'd ask a bunch of people for reviews in real life, visit a bunch of stores and window shop, and perhaps read about it in a newspaper or try it ourselves in a real-life demo in the store), but at the end of the day, I choose to shop online for the convenience vs. brick and mortar stores, and this is the unfortunate evolution of that technology.
Also, when looking at overall reviews for a given thing there is usually a pattern for fraudulent ones, kind of like students having to summarise from the same text.
E.g. if an app is getting mostly 5 stars and you give it a 1 star, your rating will be more prominently shown in Google Play.
The other problem is "review washing". Some vendors do the "bait and switch" themselves, but there's also an actual market for Amazon listings with good reviews attached. All an unscrupulous vendor has to do is buy one of those and change literally everything that goes into it, from contact details to the actual product. It's like if you could buy the right to a best-seller book cover, replacing the content for books already in brick-and-mortar stores with whatever you want. That's why sites like ReviewMeta and FakeSpot are absolutely essential for anyone shopping on Amazon nowadays.
I ended up getting a full refund and it works fine. I was annoyed at the deception more than anything - the item is fine, but they may have cost a sale to a legitimate supplier by abusing the trademark.
I frequently use Google's reviews for finding food places. While it's not 100%, and is HEAVILY biased to the top end (you probably want to aim for 4.2 or higher), it's been very reliable across many locations and even countries for me. Something I like is that a hole in the wall banh mi place is just as likely to earn a high rating as a 3 star restaurant - the ratings reflect the execution of what is being attempted, so cheap eats can rate well and sometimes that's all we want.
For games and media, I actually like the aggregators a lot (Metacritic). It's not the final word, and idiots do review bomb some titles (but mostly AAA games that I would avoid), but the "wisdom of crowds" seems surprisingly accurate overall. Steam reviews with their "Overwhelmingly Positive" is similar.
For individual items on Amazon or hotel rooms though, as other posters have said the mid-range reviews with something to say beyond the rating are the most worthwhile. I can tell if they're like-minded or whether their concerns mean nothing to me. On this note one amusing thing is that US reviews often focus on "the service" (probably because they're expected to pay extra for it) while I don't really care much about that and don't see it mentioned in other countries unless it's egregious.
Here's an example - third product in the search results on Amazon.
It's supposed to be for Headphone adapters for iPhone, but you get reviews like:
"Super set of pocket friendly priced pencils!"
"I purchased this Hub back in April of 2013"
"On the first couple of uses, food did stick a bit and that is with seasoning the griddle"
So it's got to point now of having to first find a product with good ratings, then make sure the reviews are indeed for that product.
Forums are usually good for compiling lists of 'approved' items as well.
I now just go to a recommendation site that earns income through affiliate kickbacks. I use Wirecutter , Rtings , plus a handful of smaller forum / community sites for categories those don't cover.
I actually think this is an enormous opportunity for several huge categories:
1) Tool reviews: especially with the rate of battery innovation, there is a huge opportunity to have thorough reviews and category recommendations of both consumer and professional tools.
2) Camera / DSLR / video - There's no lack of thorough reviews in this category, but making sense of it is near impossible unless you're a professional.
3) IoT gear - This isn't hugely important to me, but similar to cameras and tools there are a variety of systems that lock users in, and getting recommendations based on which system a user already has would be relatively simple.
I have found these categories to be lacking not only in trustable reviews, but mostly in updated recommendations. Even if reviews exist, it is up to the effort of the user to read them all and build up a knowledge base of similar options to select from. Each of these categories have a high enough volume and purchase price that affiliate fees could easily support a recommendation business.
 - https://thewirecutter.com
 - https://www.rtings.com
If it passes this test, I might read some of the other reviews looking for problems that I might agree with the viewer on.
You'll get pretty good reviews if you do "XYZ reddit".
The problem for the guy trying to game the reviews is that a real user reviews things too sparsely. There'll be one review in maybe a hundred comments and five submissions.
btw; The solution is not improving one's ability to discern (because that is an arm's race the people with power motives (political, financial) are gonna out spend you and vast majority of humans are incapable of beating that) Rather it is by default not to trust and have high bar for earning your trust.
It could also be that they're all dropshippers and change their brand frequently to avoid negative reviews, but the stock graphics were at least slightly tweaked compared to Alibaba's.
Good thing you have 14 day "no questions asked money back" guarantee on anything physical bought online in Europe. I've used that option quite a few times when the product is trash.
Only allow reviews from people who actually purchased the product.
Make it fraud to pay spammers to review your product.
Show the country where a seller is located.
Make Amazon (and similar marketplaces) liable and on the hook for returns if a seller disappears.
However, the explanation, because harder for a bot to churn out believably, is still often worth something, not least because things that bother other people might be a plus for me.
Sure you can buy fake yelp reviews on http://freepage.io and other sites.
A common response I get is, "But how will we find out about products?" My stance is that professional review sites supported by users (examples: Consumer Reports, OutdoorGearLab, LabDoor) are the solution.
So why not consumer reviews?
1. The obvious thing is that it doesn't solve the problem with advertising. Advertisers can pose as consumers and post reviews. Sophisticated methods of detecting this (i.e. ignore all 1- and 5-star reviews) just fall prey to more sophisticated advertisers (i.e. computer generate 30 5-star ratings to keep your star rating up, and then post one carefully-crafted 4-star rating written by a human).
2. Even if you do manage to filter advertisers, you still tend to hear from the extremes. Irrational positivity isn't better than irrational negativity: a person who posts all 5-star reviews because they want to be nice isn't better than the furious customer with a grudge.
3. Consumer reviews encourage what I'll call second-level advertising: if you can't advertise directly, then you try to get your consumers to advertise for you. For example: spamming your users with "If you like our product please leave a review on iTunes/GooglePlay/Amazon" or the YouTube classic, "Don't forget to Like and Subscribe!"
4. Consumers generally aren't experts, which means that consumer reviews are more susceptible to Parkinson's Law of Triviality. A good example of this are the reviews on products that say things like "The parts feel cheap and flimsy." Well, did they break? Probably not, or you would have said that. Titanium parts are thinner and lighter than steel, which sometimes gives them the impression of being cheap and flimsy, when they are in fact more expensive and stronger. But in a more general sense, consumer reviews tend to focus on the look or price of something rather than harder-to-understand things like performance and durability.