In retrospect, this was a profound failure of our imaginations back then. It's also somewhat damning that in the 25+ years since, nothing about the affiliate sales concept has been substantially modified to mitigate the weaponization of this by "best X for 202X" pages.
Spam pages tend to be filled with Ads and derivative content, owned by spam company domains, and do not provide unique information relative to other sources.
If we as humans can recognize a spam page, why can't the machines? At the very least Google can penalize repeated spam domain owners/domains to help reduce the problem.
Online misinformation would not be as destructive as it is if people could tell the difference between say a credible news site and a Macedonian troll farm-run 'news' site written in broken English.
Of that list, Medium is the only one I would ever expect/want a search engine to even consider returning results for searches on "how to buy a bicycle for under $500". If I was King, you'd need to add allow:social to any google search to get any results at all from anything remotely like a social media or messaging application. I'd include LinkedIn and Pinterest and similar sites in that exclusion. If you want that stuff, you need to ask for it.
Probably not, but they can recognize valuable non-spam. It's called by many names, but "reputation" is as good a term as any.
Yes, I'm saying that "Facebook groups, Whatsapp group chats, TikTok, Twitter, Medium, Linkedin" are all low reputation.
I think that many of these automated aggregators have come a long way. On the better sites, it's not immediately obvious that the page is spam, until I've read some way into it and notice patterns in the language and a lack of "meat".
Too much money to be paid with shady practices that no one in power wants to do it.
For a top ten site I’d also expect a certain degree of interesting vocabulary which loops in industry jargon. I’d also expect spam sites to use similar syntax/sentence structure for all products.
Lastly if I can follow the links and get references to the final products, then I can estimate how similar the product description is to the product. I’d expect most customers looking at top tens want something more than what they get from searching a retailers site.
Heck, many legit top lists include dedicated YouTube videos visually inspecting the products and reviewing them - cross referencing blogs to YouTube channels and validating that the YouTube video is of some production quality (likes/views/youtube Spam detection) could strip down a ton of spam.
What is an ad?
(See Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."
The New York Times now has their "Wirecutter" reviews of tech and household stuff, but they do rely on affiliate links for income so take that as you will.
There is not a single independent consumer organization that can test every product out there, so if you're looking at road bikes you may end up with a different set of trusted reviewers than if you're looking at computer hard drives or roof shingles.
The prefect example of a CR-friendly car, in my mind, is the Toyota Camry. Completely unremarkable.
Everything else I remember them reviewing – watches, TVs, stereos, calculators, cameras – always ended up recommending some middle-of-the road "it works but it's not fancy and doesn't have many bells-and-whistles" product. I have a vague memory of them putting a Minolta camera at the top of the list of best 35mm SLRs in the 70s.
In Germany, there is the Stiftung Warentest, which has in depth tests of many household appliances and goods. According to Wikipedia, they cooperate with Which? in the UK and Consumers Union in the US.
(For example, when they recently tested shaving blades, they had 23 testers shave their face half with one, half with a different shaver, randomised, then had each (half of each) shave assessed by the tester himself and an external expert blind (ie the tester did not know which shaver was used, or how the tester had judged the shave). Assessed where: quality of the shave; comfort; burning, reddening and irritations of the skin; cuts; how many shaves until the blades were blunt; ease of use & switching blades; cleaning of the blades; presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and other chemicals in the handle; and more.)
 in fact I think in Germany there is a state-sponsered impartial review body for consumer products.
Obviously, you only have time to basically summarize points made on the listing and in the reviews for the product for it to be worthwhile.
This was pre GPT-2, though.