When you think that the majority of companies have less than 10 reviews, and most owners can't resist doing a review, and having a friend do a review you are at 20% really fast.
When you combine that with organizations like Blackwaterops.com (my old company) that used to do 1000s of reviews a day. 20% is really low, and wrong.
In many ways, it's the old SEO argument all over again - gaming a system to increase ratings eventually erodes trust in that system, making those increased ratings less valuable. At the same time, refusing to game the system means your business loses potential eyeballs/customers/etc, so one is left with the old rock vs hard place situation.
At Stremor.com we have technology that "breaks" SEO so we have better search results at http://www.samuru.com than you would have using link authority. We have tech that can detect writing styles to tell that 6 reviews all came from the same person. We can do this for things like YELP or Amazon product reviews. We also do this to detect web content that was a Paid Review.
Really this just reads like you figured out a way to get paid to play both sides against each other. Hey, I'm not judging, in fact I say more power to you for figuring out how to make a buck, but casting yourself as some sort of redeemed hero seems a bit over the top.
The thing with Tragedy of the Commons is that recognizing the fact that it exists doesn't change the fact that defection is still the optimum reward-maximizing strategy.
> In many ways, it's the old SEO argument all over again - gaming a system to increase ratings eventually erodes trust in that system, making those increased ratings less valuable.
And not gaming the system means that you get less short-term returns while everyone else games the system, gets better short-term returns, and still erodes public trust in the system.
Don't really see the relevance this is advertising and most industries in general.
Look at the clothing industry, we all could be wearing sacks right now, but people realised if I wear a nicer sack than everyone else it'll up my born attractiveness and so the race begins, back to where we started worrying about clothing as well as dealing with our born attractiveness.
Do the people participating in these industries know they are not improving the world and destroying things like customer trust, probably not. But that's most people.
Other people read the good reviews and determine to make their decision from that.
I read the bad reviews. 1 to 3 star reviews. I'd rather go to a place with a bifrication of bad and good reviews where the bad reviews are stuff I don't care about...
My theory is that if a place sucks it will definitely have bad reviews. A place that is great will still have a few, but they will be over stupid stuff (i.e. I expected something different etc.)
Its the reviewers who need to be reviewed. Or, in a true social sense trusted reviewers should be followed and the rest ignored.
Who can you trust when even trust is gamed?
If they add up, I'll take note. If they don't, I'll presume a fake.
The failure of review services (Amazon, Yelp, and others) to police their reviews adequately really hurts these services. Otherwise they're little more than a yellow pages or directory.
"If you give us 5 star on yelp i can give you $100 (3. 2 others offered 50) check back after your check/CC pass through"
Just an example.
And, the problem is compounded by the fact that more people are apt to write a review if they have a negative experience. This can really skew the results in a negative direction.
The whole paradigm of reviews as they are currently implemented is just plain broken.
Note that I'm not speaking from experience here, just playing devil's advocate a bit :).
So while you might not consider such a review as fake, my understanding is that the FTC would.
I would. If Obama wrote a book and his childhood friend reviewed it on Amazon, I would discount that review. Or at least consider it highly suspect.
To me, fake and biased are not too far apart considering the context that I expect reviews on books, restaurants, etc. to come from random people who don't have any particular reason to like or dislike the product outside of the quality of the product itself. I believe friends & family are too close to the product to give a review without external-factors influencing. It's true that the friend could have truly enjoyed the product, but I still think the chances that their review was influenced by their friendship is high enough to make the review suspect.
The problem with that expectation is that voluntary reviews already self-select for people willing to write reviews, which will almost certainly introduce strong biases.
But, I guess that's the best we've got, right? Otherwise how do we go about getting reviews for anything? I definitely think forcing people to do reviews that they didn't want to write would produce mostly garbage.
Our main goal with this paper was to analyze the economic incentives behind review fraud, and for this we used filtered reviews as a proxy for fake reviews. bobf provides a good summary of our key findings so I won't repeat them. For those interested, you can read more here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2293164
And, it's not just the headline. Consider the following:
>A Yelp spokeswoman says its software helps filter many fakes before most users get to read them.
When combined with the headline, that really makes it sound like two discrete groups: the fake 20% that make it to Yelp, vs. the "many" that are filtered before making it to Yelp.
The difference is so vast that the headline now feels like link-bait.
Yelp is widely believed (among business owners) to wield review filtering/deletion as a club to "encourage" small businesses to buy advertising on yelp.com.
The economic incentives behind review fraud seem pretty obvious to me.
I understand that this is one anecdote, but I've seen enough similar cases of misapplied filtering to take it seriously.
Beyond that, and as a counter-anecdote, I have read hundreds (if not thousands!) of filtered reviews over the past year and in my experience they are more likely to be fake. Furthermore, one implication of challenging our assumption is that you are suggesting consumers would be better off reading, and basing their decisions on filtered reviews since -- by your assumption -- they are more likely to be genuine. As I said, I cannot offer proof, but given what I have seen I believe the filter to be more likely to catch a fake review than a real review.
From what I can tell, all 3 reviews were kosher. Unfortunately because yelp incorrectly filtered the two 5-star reviews, the restaurant has an unfounded poor reputation on yelp. I left a 5-star review, and as far as I can see my review isn't filtered (at least, not when I view it). Perhaps that is because I'm a long-time yelp user.
This tells us nothing about the percentage of non-removed Yelp reviews that are fake, because all non-removed reviews are assumed, in the data, to be real.
This is linkbait and a complete misrepresentation of the data.
I'm criticizing MW's interpretation, which assumed that your proxy was very accurate in terms of providing the proportion of fake reviews, but went on to imply that your proxy was highly inaccurate by talking about fake but visible reviews.
The interesting points from the research include:
1) Low ratings increase incentives for positive review fraud, and high ratings decrease them.
2) Having more reviews reduces incentives for positive review fraud.
3) Chain restaurants leave fewer positive fake reviews.
4) Businesses who have "claimed" their Yelp page have more interest in Yelp and therefore are suspected as being more likely to commit review fraud.
5) Negative fake reviews are likely posted by competitors, and show little correlation to changes in average ratings over time.
6) An increase in competition encourages negative review fraud.
If you have low ratings, of course you're tempted to get some fake positive reviews. If you have a lot of reviews, adding a few positive ones will not affect the overall score much--it's a drop in the bucket. Chain restaurants, well, everyone knows what McDonald's is, what would they gain from posting fake reviews?
Businesses that claim their Yelp page have more interest in Yelp? Shouldn't it be the other way around, businesses who have decided they're interested in Yelp will claim their page? Claiming your Yelp page is a sign that you care; businesses that do not care about Yelp will not commit review fraud.
Who else would post negative fake reviews but competitors? I guess reputation management companies could post negative fake reviews in an attempt to drum up business.
An increase in competition encourages more negative fake reviews? I mean, if a business has no competitors, who has an interest in posting fake reviews? This ties to #5, where competitors are the ones who post negative reviews. More competitors, more fraud.
Sure, there have been times where I've eaten at a highly-rated restaurant and thought to myself that there must have been some positive review fraud at work. At the end of the day I have tried something new, and I still have my whole life ahead of me to try other things. Nothing is forcing me to go back to said restaurant. And I generally leave a review questioning the merits of the establishment.
The positives of Yelp outweigh the negatives and the NYC regulation is a step in the right direction.
Plus with the fact that there's no standard, some people rate everything a 4 or 5 star while others reserve a 5 star for the best places in the area (or even the genre) to eat.
Google should be promoting sites that provide value to their users.
Considering the quality of Yelp, I really don't think they should be showing up in the search results.
However, it would take a huge culture change at Google for Yelp to stop showing up in search results, IMO. Even if the quality of their reviews continues to degrade.
I believe there is value in reviews, especially at a local level; I've found out about some really great local businesses based on the reviews but I'm so tired of people trying to game us. I'm tired of business owners who would rather argue with me for months on end and threaten legal action to have a totally legitimate negative review removed, or have their friends post glowing reviews, rather than just providing a good service and recognising they can't please everyone.
I wish there was a sure fire way of determining a persons intention when they write a review but it's impossible, so this problem will remain unsolved.
I guess this is what YouTube is for...
Most reviews posted for his restaurant are either 4 or 5 stars, with the majority of lower reviews referencing the other restaurant either by name, menu items, or decor. I'm not sure if the issue is one of UI design, mobile app, or poor search handling - although I heavily suspect search is the culprit.
Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a way to address these mis-posted reviews, that I've seen. I would love to hear any suggestions that would help though.
Names are relatively cheap to change and if you select a name that is related (like say, shortening it or incorporating part of the old name in the new one) and communicate what is going on with regulars, you'll limit any short-term decline in business.
I tend to use that to flag those jerkface reviews that are basically "I would never go there" rants.
That said, I assume that their 0.0-10.0 ratings they introduced a few months ago are basically random.
I think that you haven't been looking for it, then: that exact thing is hugely important to Yelp and is why they filter out so many reviews in the first place!
"In the meantime, they benefit from charging businesses to allow positive reviews to appear and to suppress negative reviews (if they're doing that, it would explain why they don't focus on credibility)."
We try to address this issue in our paper. Take a look at Section 3.4. Short summary: we do not find any noticeable differences in filtering between advertisers and non-advertisers, but there are limitations to our analysis.
A business owner hears from a Yelp sales guy about the benefits of sponsoring their page (top placement for a good review of their choice) and hears it as a "threat" to hide all those one shot five star reviews they talked their regulars into writing last month.
Exactly. And, as well they should be. No business should base its revenue on taking money from those it reviews. Period. I'm not sure why this is even a gray area. Even if it runs as clean an operation as possible, it invariably will come off as extortionate at some point.
The BBB has been running this scam for so long and it amazes me that the FTC hasn't put them out of business.
As a small business owner, I have been on the receiving end of their extortion. A single complaint in 5 years, and they extort you into responding through their system, thus adding value to their business. They literally threaten that if you do not respond, they will be "forced" to give you a negative rating. They know nothing about your business and could not assess the good faith validity of any response, yet have no problem making representations about you to the world, while asking you for money.
This whole third-party review service just lends itself to abuse all the way around.
Uh, I don't really think Facebook's real name policy has any effect here (it's policy is actually a lot weaker than Google in practice afaik). I do think people share their real opinion on Facebook more often but I think that's because of Facebook's huge audience. People basically want to share their real opinions with their real friends (not necessarily their friends there under real name). And people don't really have that many opinions about just plain products. And when people do, they mostly feel kind of sleazy sharing those opinions with the world for commercial purposes. Facebook is always trying to get people to integrate their socializing with advertising/commercial-recommendations but it has been unsuccessful and would probably start to truly lose users if it really forced people's hands.
The problem is most people care so little about the products they buy that they'd rather not write a review. That's unlikely to change.
I'm a business owner and don't want my business to be listed on Yelp — can I have it removed from Yelp?
Consumers have the right to talk about what they like (and don't like) about a meal they ate, a plumber they hired, or a car wash they visited. We don't remove business listings, so your best bet is to engage with your fans and critics alike, and hear what they have to say.
If he wanted to go your way as the 'real news' he would have headlined it sometime like:
"NY state starts prosecuting fake Yelp reviews" or something along those lines.
I don't often agree with Nicholas Carr, but in this particular case, the wisdom of the crowds fails miserably, with or without astroturfing.
Facebook isn't that transparent. You can't scrape Facebook.
small bar...lighting was too low...but great food and service