Hone Your Eye For Fake Online Reviews

Online reviews have changed the way we shop, and mostly for the better. We're certainly more informed consumers, but online reviews aren't always trustworthy. Savvy consumer blog Consumerist offers a few tips for spotting fake online reviews.

For example, the post suggests taking reviews with a grain of salt when they:

  • Have zero caveats, and are full of empty adjectives and pure glowing praise with no downsides.
  • Are all left within a short period of time of each other.
  • Mainly tally off product features. (Real users talk more about performance, reliability, and overall value).
  • Reviewers names are all variations of one another, i.e. happykat1234, happykat7593, happykat6687

The first red flag — reviews featuring nothing but glowing praise — is always the most obvious tipoff, but it also seems like the most common route of a fake review. (Naturally, since the reviewer wants you to buy the product.) The suggestions above are a good start, but if you consider yourself a master of spotting a shill, let's hear what sets your Spidey sense tingling in the comments.

Spot Fake Online Reviews [Consumerist]


    This review satisfied me 100%. Great work, Adam.
    It has bullet points, a grey box and even a picture!
    Would definitely read this review again! *****

    I always try to look at the comments from people who disliked or were neutral towards the product, the tend to have more useful information and chances are the product will have the features I need so I just want to know what issues will come with it.

    The way they make comparisons to similar products are also a good way to tell. If the review trumps one over the other without giving reasons then that is usually a good tipoff, but if they compare features and other factors fairly its a good sign. Keep in mind that even legitimate reviewer are often biased.

    +1 to Sam's comment. If the review says the product is better in _every way_ compared to the competition, it's probably bogus, or at least not being written by someone who's given it careful thought. I'm much more likely to look at reviews which say "The Foozwidget is better for doing X, the Freemgizmo is better for doing Y." Particularly when the products being compared don't come from the same manufacturer or group of companies.

    Also look for unreasonably negative reviews potentially written by rivals.

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