I try to buy stuff in shops now. It's more expensive only if my time spent on reading reviews is free. And these days it's not even more expensive to buy in real shops anyway.
"Great restaurant, food was lovely. price is OK!" - Well, what was great about the restaurant. What is an "OK" price? Is it 5€ or 30€? You didn't probably order the entire menu, so what did you order? What did you like about your order?
The problem is that the vast majority of my non-grocery items are not purchased by my friends & colleagues so word-of-mouth information isn't available. E.g. I buy stuff like hi-end camera gear, woodworking tools, audio equipment. Even more common items like books don't work because my friends don't read the same type of books I do.
Even your example of a computer monitor doesn't work in my situation. About 15 years ago, I wanted a large 30" monitor but none of my friends had that so I have to research on my own. Likewise, they also can't depend on my experience with computer monitors because a big external 30" monitor is never something they'd need because they just use the builtin laptop screen.
A lot of times word-of-mouth works great for recommending local restaurants or grocery items such as the Costco brand of paper towels and olive oil being good buys. For all other items that your social circle doesn't buy, you have to research external information sources.
Simply put, every single product a company puts out needs subjected to review, and those same products need checked on to ensure the manufacture isn't starting to skimp and change the exact same model number as time goes on.
I can quickly name up their primary competitors in this space, and for some reason (note: definitely anecdotal) I do see that for them, for the last ~5 years they are now being fiercely competed from both budget and professional angles.
> but Apple are a bit more dubious.
Me too. While Apple is definitely stumbling right now, unlike the previous two there is no serious competition for Apple. While Windows might be fine on a desktop that was built for-spec by specialty builders (and Linux render farms!), laptops are definitely still subpar even for the best attempts (like Acer's D series and Microsoft's Surface laptops). For iPad, I can say that Microsoft and Samsung are only the somewhat competent here, especially that stock Android is still atrocious when it comes to tablet factors, and ChromeOS still generally uses Android apps.
Just buy a Dell (for the money) or Thinkpad (for longevity) laptop. I haven't had a problem installing a Debian-derived distro on either brand since 2007 or so. Wifi, external monitors, printing, sleep, everything just works.
I have heard people have trouble with bluetooth and with fingerprint readers, but I don't use them so I cannot comment.
For all sites whenever you signup for a website a random password is generated. And then when you re-visit the site you use FaceID/TouchID to automatically pre-populate the password. At that point it really isn't a password in the traditional sense.
And for an increasing number of sites it bypasses this step entirely and just lets me use FaceID/TouchID.
> really isn't a password in the traditional sense.
The user experience might have changed, but many of the security aspects have not.
On top of that, in cases of XSS or a MiTM you've probably already lost and no password alternative will help you.
I wouldn't consider those solutions passwords in the traditional sense.
Or just add an extra email to the account
Adding an extra email account is not always possible. The option is not provided.
For anyone thinking about it: Please don't make it happen.
So, as dumb as it sounds, influencer reviews are higher signal to me than typical online reviews.
I don't think it is though, the sort of people who follow influencers generally aren't blessed with the greatest critical thinking skills.
I'm sure that wasn't just you repeating a statement you've heard before without carefully considering it.
Plus, it's better for your local economy -- your friends and neighbors.
What do you mean? Have I missed something?
I was floored when I realized that it was $40 on Amazon Video (streaming), but $22 if I purchase the DVD.
Amazon's costs are __LESS__ for the streaming media than for the company/people selling the physical DVD. Ridiculous doesn't even begin to properly describe that behavior.
If companies are charging premiums for services that cost them less to run, I'm damned well going to be buying in person more often.
Streaming does seem to be slowly getting higher quality, better codecs are probably helping, but I've still noticed there are times when a good DVD encode will still beat an "HD" stream, because even if the "HD" stream has a "higher resolution" the DVD can afford a higher enough bitrate to even compensate for its now quite-out-of-date codec. Streaming companies are still motivated to trim their stream quality as far as the customer will bear, and your fellow customers will bear quite a lot, it turns out. And if you can get a bluray it'll certainly beat any stream anyone will serve you. I haven't compared many 1080 Blurays to 4K streams, I think I've only gotten to do it twice, but the 1080 Bluray won handily both times. (I don't have a 4k bluray player.)
I'm not. That was my point.
I think this has become so common that many people assume it's a necessity of doing business. Maybe it is. Since I don't depend on my project to survive, I choose not to do these things, or even to give discounts to incentivize reviews. Many platforms don't care at all, and don't even try to combat fake reviews.
EDIT: Another thing worth mentioning: the natural review rate for these plugins is really low. Maybe half a percent of users leave any kind of review, at least in my experience.
Anymore I don't even worry about such scammers, I just get my money back and move on.
Don't abuse it, they have top notch investigation. When you spend on a credit card, it's not your money they're stealing.
I've used it probably 5 times in 10 years, and never had a problem.
In reality vast swaths of the world economy are entirely fake, supported with fake reviews, or fake analyst stock calls.
It can be argued that much of the value in the technology space is entirely fake. Look at the current insane multiples.
My point is that all this lying is supercharged due to Fed printing money. And a sizable part of that problem was caused by a near 20 year war with Afghanistan & Iraq -- completely useless wars - as most are. With the world teetering into collapse due to climate change. And most "technologists" more interested in travel to Mars.
The real technology in this world is biological. Way beyond human understanding. So go and make some silly new technology. Get some VC money to pump it up into the land of nonsense valuation. Hurry up, get yours before the whole pile falls back into the gutter.
Yes, Afgan war costed a lot, but people do the math in the wrong way. The same troops would have to be fed and trained at home too, equipment had to be maintained, etc. so this kind of fixed maintenance and training costs should be subtracted from the overall Afghanistan campaign costs.
This first happened as I was looking at a Blackmagicdesign product with staggeringly many 5-star reviews and seemingly zero <4-star ones. Sure, some of them are sincere, but what am I supposed to think if I know that even the best product in the world is bound to have poor feedback from bad units, mismatched expectations, courier mishaps, etc.?
Those manufacturer could be innocent; outlier where somehow everyone’s satisfied. Still, it’s an illustration of the erosion of trust in a world where buying fake reviews, followers, etc. has become the norm. Platforms, sellers—pretty much everyone profits from it, just not the end customer. For a business (seller, influencer, entertainer, etc.), it looks like if you don’t do it then your competitor will.
I believe many would give this a second thought if an authority has drawn a clear line saying “that’s illegal”. (I’m sure platforms have it in their ToS, but they are rarely read and the implicit consensus is that they’re, of course, enforced when it benefits the company.) Even if it’s difficult to prosecute each case, a few precedents and the understanding of the illegality could do wonders.
I wish I was joking, but: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-20/before-you-write-that...
Also leaving anything other than a 5 star review is basically criticizing the company and guaranteed to upset.
This is absolutely rubbish; an e.g. 3/5 should be the baseline for acceptable service, and 4/5 reserved for exceptional quality.
My first experience of this was in rideshare reviews, as a driver. Anything below five stars and it counts as a mark against you, for which eventually you can be deactivated. Then I started seeing this behavior copied everywhere. It really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I agree with you on what it should mean, but unfortunately I've got no idea how to convince businesses of this.
Rating the former tends to be 1) personal, 2) having much influence over individual’s livelihood, and 3) much more dependent on my preexisting expectations. If there was something I didn’t like, I try to not give any rating instead of rating poorly unless there was an exceptional issue.
Rating a product, especially by a bigger company, 1) does not necessarily criticise the company itself (I can still admire it while objectively having bad experience with a unit) and 2) has much less influence over company’s overall success (my review is probably a drop in the ocean), and 3) I tend to think of it as more objective than rating a service (compared to a service provided by a human, when evaluating a physical product there’re absurdly fewer variables and you’d be better informed about what you’re supposed to expect based on tech specs).
Yes. And this is a pattern we are seeing all over - thank you. It's it necessarily good or bad. just more open, democratic, cheaper.
Thats not like a sensible rule of thumb. If we 'democratise' landmines, it would be clearly bad. This is similar
But maybe it's because of FTC rules: fake followers are legally okay, but fake likes and fake comments could be considered a fake review and therefore FTC violation.
Or they're making bank on dating site affiliate fees as a side hustle...
I too get those (messages lately) friend requests, and almost always by the time I read the message the account has been deactivated (when it says FB user).
So, overall, I think they're doing a reasonably good job on this particular problem.
Interesting that we have such different experiences, I wonder why that is. (remember that on FB, a 1 in a million event occurs approximately 3k times per day).
Just a couple of days back, something had been bothering me about some new-ish commenters I'd encountered on Reddit, so I did an unscientific check. I realised that about a year or so back, Reddit quietly made it so that when you create an account, they autosuggest a username of the form "Word1-Word2-Number" or "Word1Word2Number", making it hard to tell apart from automated bot/astroturf accounts.
(Try it out -- look at the profiles of any account you encounter that has the above form, and they've been created pretty much always on/after October 2020)
My conspiracy theory is that this was a growth marketing hack to muddy the obvious differences between regular people accounts and bots/spammers.
I'll even go so far as to say back when Amazon was getting started their reviews were a lot more reliable as well.
For instance Aukey has been caught by Amazon, but in my experience their products were pretty good, and they probably played the fake review game mainly due to everyone else playing it, and it became an arms race.
(since the competitors are sort of forced to use fake reviews)
- they can really fix it (e.g. by kicking every fake review mandator) and drown competiting products far below in the search results, leaving "Amazon's choice" ones at the top.
With way fewer reviews it will be harder to argue the ranking results legitimacy.
- they don't fix it, and as you say, get an excuse to kick any random brand trying to stay afloat on their platform.
Either way Amazon wins.
It is a conspiracy theory. Some of them are just true.
And the first, promoted, comment/ratings is from a guy who received the product for free in exchange for a review.
Unless your product is so revolutionary or cheap you're gonna need marketing.
And i think you are talking about the times before NewEgg had 3rd party sellers.
Totally agree. Right now there's a spread from anyone can review anything (yelp, Google reviews) to purchase required to review. What if only 1 out of 20 purchases, selected randomly, were allowed to place a review?
Single person review shops become easier to spot - they are suddenly ordering way more than typical. Returns might skyrocket, which is expensive for everyone involved, however there's now another signal available to spot odd patterns of behavior.
Inclusion of a restocking fee, which is obviously not popular with consumers, is another option which would help make it more expensive to fake reviews.
Of course, there were far fewer reviews available, companies still gamed reviewers/magazines but in different ways, and there was sometimes outright fraud around benchmarks, etc.
In an industry I was in, the trade publication gave the "product of the year" award to whoever bought the most advertisements in the magazine.
(holding up the magazine cover) "I'd like to thank you for creating X magazine's product of the year!"
>he paused for a moment<
"Which is awarded to the highest ad-spend of the magazine for the year."
Absolute comedy, and a wonderfully satirical human being.
The vast majority of publications fund “reviews” in different ways.
Some publications you can pay to have your product “featured” in.
In some others, companies give a reviewer who has a reputation for favorable reviews free products. The unspoken expectation is that the reviews will drive sales and that the free product (and free content) train keeps going.
And yet others have serious conflicts of interest with their supporting advertisers.
(Youtube/Blog) Reviewers get blacklisted by companies by not providing a positive review about a product they were given. As they rely on scooping type style reviews, this means they not only don't get a free product to review, but they can't review it until after it's for sale instead of being able to 'preview' it for people and get more clicks that way.
The "gotta have everything day one (or earlier!) to be cool!" is the most successful piece of meta-marketing imaginable.
They’re still quite strong.
They do use affiliate links, so they have incentive to want you to buy _something_, but no incentive to give any particular brand or model a biased review.
When it's seller specific affiliate programs? It's all just spam basically.
They got a guitar or synth that was bad? They would just tell the manufacturer they would rather not say something bad.
Of course, after a while readers started asking questions, so the answer was to review products from companies not advertising in the magazines.
Customers asked "why aren't there any review saying a product is bad", so they started doing that with products whose manufacturers didn't advertise there or didn't give free stuff for review. They'd borrow, or buy a few Danelectro or Behringer pedals for $30 dollars just to make a bad review and "save face" to readers.
Basically they got "token bad products" to save face.
A decade plus ago I worked alongside a team of writers, and they always kept alcohol in their desks. I totally understand why now.
You definitely need a bottle for when you get some terrible product and you know the manufacturer won't like that it won't get reviewed.
Funny enough, the situation is even worse now: with YouTube reviewers, there's no more expectation of neutrality as with professional journalists in the past. So all quality reviews are praising products.
such magazines had massive conflicts of interest and could not be trusted in the first place.
Zero trust in any of those reality TV outlets.
I mean there are tons of resources and sites now to fact check the media (whether that's the media themselves like USA Today's fact checking section to non-profits), which is ridiculous if such resources are needed to constantly check what's true or not. Thus, i've tuned out and not a fan of people who plug themselves into their media machine of choice and live/die by it. They do not think for themselves rather their idiot media machine controls them!
Everyone ultimately has to rely on authorities about subjects. From parents to scientist.
It's a dilemma, you can't know/research everything your self but you also shouldn't trust blindy everything you get told, so there is no final solution.
The only thing you can do is never stop questioning, falsify everything, don't deem anything above it as sacred. This way, you will collect a shifting world view from all sources.
If you don't engage with your news channels, if you don't question in a meaningful way, if you discredit whole groups of outlets just by virtue, you have surrendered.
A personal pet peeve: Dump trucks with 'not liable for broken windshields' on the back. A patently incorrect assertion in every jurisdiction I've come across, written for the express intent of coercing wronged persons out of owed compensation. Yet somehow this doesn't seem to meet the bar for criminal fraud.
Do you have any example where this happened?
Some of my all-time favorite games in that list so I definitely do not agree that those companies should be fined. I've gotten extremely good bang for the buck considering the thousands of hours I've put in.
Among the long list of issues he rattles off during a conversation are things like fake reviews on their products (the Mafia) as well as them paying teams to plant fake reviews on competitors products to have them tank in ranking.
The other one that was interesting was when an unknown Mafioso paid a team to click on competitors ads on Amazon. The net effect was that they consumed the daily budget by 6 AM and they went through the day without a single sale. In other words, the ROI went to zero on advertising.
Amazon denied it at first. He pressed on and provided details. After six months Amazon admitted they had determined this to be true. They refunded him some advertising money. They never restored the ranking he lost to the criminal.
Even worse, they absolutely refused to share any data with him (and presumably others). In other words, there was no way to seek legal remedies other than, potentially, filing a lawsuit against Amazon. Financial asymmetry aside, the biggest problem is that they keep very tight controls over the data. Which means you will have an almost impossible time proving anything unless you have the financial horsepower to hire an impressive team of attorneys to wage battle against an entire floor of Amazon attorneys. In other words, the little guy gets screwed, has to take it and shut up. Move on.
This filters out bots, fake reviews and low-effort negatives (product is ok, but shipping!)
What's left is man-made reviews that praise what is praiseworthy, and highlight the real drawbacks the products suffer from
Do not sort by "helpful" in any Amazon property (which is default).
Especially if it's a product category that gets daily use from the people who purchase whatever it is, it seems like there's usually some passionate people around who know what they're talking about. Only issue is that you can get deep into the weeds on personal preference stuff.
That’s another tricky thing to fix: products have the same page and information, but the product does change over time. And that’s hard to indicate in a review because the changes are so subtle.
Yes and: With Amazon's comingling, you could unknowlingly receive a knockoff vs original.
The real trick is finding an obscure forum on your topic. That keeps off the kids and the astroturf.
Are we worse off or are we just needing to protect people from their inability to scrutinize a new source of bad data?
It would be pretty expensive to bribe consumer reports, and it isn't as cost effective to pay someone to give fake recommendations to their friends as it is to pay for fake recommendations on a website. Although some companies do that; it is called multi level marketing.
I think whether someone got advice from friends pre-Internet varied by what you were buying. Your friends couldn't tell what type of professional speakers to buy, for example unless they were musicians and then they likely had arbitrary biases.
They're all "different" so they can't be price-compared and the models don't match exactly the model that Consumer Reports reviews.
If a brand is in financial trouble, or just got bought, then buyer beware because the costs are going to be cut and one easy way to increase profits today is reduce quality and increase price.
If a vendor is having trouble, then same thing there where they might slack off on vetting their stock and whatnot.
What I see frequently happening is the market diverges into a high quality, high priced option, and then a veritable mess of quality:price ratio options where the typical person has to rely on the quality being proportional to the price as long as the vendor is reputable and has good management (ie not in financial distress or being bled).
Before the internet, there were these things called "magazines". These magazines earned money by selling ads.
Advertisers sold products that were reviewed in the magazines they advertised in. And if a magazine's review was unfavorable to an advertisers product, that advertiser could reduce their ad spending.
Also, advertisers could "bribe" reviewers. Probably not with direct cash payments, but it was generally expected that a reviewer would be "gifted" the product reviewed.
So, this has always be a problem.
I think this places more blame on the consumer than is due. Sure people need to understand how to interpret data, but a lot of this is plain fraud. Fake reviews are fraud. They make a product seem better than it is. Its sorta like false advertising, in a way.
A lot of modern times uses automated systems, eg. maybe amazon top page might require 4+ stars, etc. This would normally be a positive feedback loop (good products get in front of more people, more reviews if good means stronger basis for being in front). With fake reviews, you're disrupting the systems we have for everyone, hurting other brands (if not directly through slander campaigns) and also acting fraudulently.
And many quantitative things including TV ratings involved consumer surveys/polling.
Sure, if you were going to a store. Catalogs were popular for many decades (if not a full century or more). I definitely remember my parents ordering from JCPenny and Sears catalogs: Music catalogs (near scams) let you buy music you might not hear. I've personally had catalogs for jewelry making supplies before the internet got adequate and safe enough to order from.
And you realistically just had to hope it was good enough. You probably didn't have reviews at all and just had to hope to trust the company or brand - but lets be real, you didn't always have this. Returns either meant driving to a physical store or spending some time on the phone before going to the post office to return.
The problem now is that the magazines are generally not as good at covering all the options, many of them have vanished, or have become online only equivalents.
Also, this is in part what the Whole Earth Catalog (later CoEvolution Quarterly and even later Whole Earth Review) was all about, and that's why more than a few people see it as a precursor to the web.
With the rise of Amazon that's all gone.
Although the veneer of quality Amazon have to third party sellers certainly exacerbated the issue, but I think that is close to exhaustion.
With online commerce, and particularly Amazon, the testers are now us, the consumers, and the scale of testing is far wider and deeper, which seems like a good thing in some respects. However, apart from the onus now falling on us, which might or might not be a good thing, there's the problem of getting past the "top rated" items in a given domain, and that might be a really big problem.
Before moving to Taiwan (and then China) a lot of the goods were produced quite locally and not outsourced, so it was even possible to have a most so remote relationship to the factory/engineers responsible for a product.
The brand is still a thing, yet a lot of brands are owned by the same mega corporation and effectively produced/assembled in the same outsourced factory with unknown amount of suppliers.
The internet makes it easier to hide your identity, automate attacks, and reach a large audience at practically no cost.
For example, if I want to influence Skippy peanut butter's review score online I can just leave fake reviews on a few dozen products on a few dozen websites with a few dozen (maybe hundred) fake accounts. Alternatively, I could make up something on social media and hope it goes viral. If I wanted to do the same in the physical world I'd have to pay for some massive marketing campaign which would trace right back to me.
It's possible for big companies to "be involved" via third parties. For instance, Big Company pays Big Agency, who allocates some spend to Unscrupulous Digital Marketing Firm or Shady Digital Advertising Service.
This doesn't mean that Big Company intentionally engaged in bad behavior but on the other hand, big companies tend to work with so many third parties that "hear no evil, see no evil" and plausible deniability are built in to their operations.
Bear in mind, this is not just about "fake reviews" like people submit on Amazon. This is about "falsely claiming an endorsement by a third party; misrepresenting whether an endorser is an actual, current, or recent user; using an endorsement to make deceptive performance claims; failing to disclose an unexpected material connection with an endorser; and misrepresenting that the experience of endorsers represents consumers’ typical or ordinary experience"
I guarantee you both Google and Pepsi have committed offenses on that list, and so has nearly everyone else in modern marketing these days.
On Amazon it's easy: if it's got hundreds of reviews, it's probably mostly fake reviews.
Even for those products if you spend some time you'll find some nuggets of useful information in there.
Contrast with some furniture site I went to some months ago, where there are only like 5 reviews per product and all of them are so completely fake. They assured me the desk was "very stable" which should have tipped me off already ... Later I noticed this "brand" is all over Amazon and each of their products has hundreds of positive reviews.. they are so easy to spot on Amazon... not so much on other sellers where they rebrand the product, have ten times less product info in the description, less photos etc.
But this is not an opportunity of growth for Amazon. It is not a business critical area either and certainly is not perceived as meaningful threat or weakness.
More aggressive investments in this area aren’t justified because it truly doesn’t have a clear effect on the bottom line.
Reputationally, I doubt they care. Amazon has hundreds of thousands of vendors who sell up to 12 millions SKUs to hundreds of millions of customers.
It just makes sense to invest in tools and programs for the hundreds of millions of legit interactions (including reviews) that happen on their platform, than focusing too heavily on those who are not playing by the rules.
They are liable
Although it would be interesting if there were ever fake reviews on the Amazon branded products. (AFIK there aren't)
If Amazon doesn't want the responsibility of having to make sure stuff on their website is actually legal, then maybe they shouldn't have made letting everyone sell stuff on their site their entire business model.
They want all the profits of being a middleman but without taking any of the associated responsibility. It's a hilariously crap excuse.
> These include, but are not limited to: falsely claiming an endorsement by a third party; misrepresenting whether an endorser is an actual, current, or recent user; using an endorsement to make deceptive performance claims; failing to disclose an unexpected material connection with an endorser; and misrepresenting that the experience of endorsers represents consumers’ typical or ordinary experience.
Is the notice here you just can't advertise the fake reviews? Nothing on actually trying to curtail the fake reviews that show up on commerce sites?
Genuinely curious if commerce sites will need to start policing reviews.
Every single time a person submits an Intellectual Property infringement notice to one of these companies, those scumbags narrow the request down to the one "piece of content" that was flagged and allow related content that they know fully well are part of similarity clusters of images/videos/audio to go completely free.
As an artist, going to every single instance and trying to report it to those idiots to take it down is frustrating and a complete waste of my time. By the time someone gets around to it, the content has already reached 90% of lifetime possibility and makes little difference to be taken down, while a new version sprouts up for more redistribution.
Businesses do engage with genuine reviewers which makes it even harder to identify real from fake.
> List of October 2021 Recipients of the FTC’s Notice of Penalty Offenses Concerning Deceptive or Unfair Conduct around Endorsements and Testimonials
I was pretty surprised to see a PE firm on the list, though.
It's dystopian but I don't see another route out of this growing crisis of credibility online.
Ie someone regularly charges money to review products within an industry, is considered an expert in the subject matter - and appear to do a fine job of it, but isn't transparent about the fact that all videos are commissioned.
Ie basically charging a production fee without disclosing this in the channel itself. Thanks!