As we've noted many times, Amazon is cluttered with fake reviews, and it takes work to sift through them. BuzzFeed dives deep into the economy of these fake reviews, which includes a subreddit tragically named /r/slavelabour. (The name is kind of a joke, but a very sad and true one.) The whole piece is just as depressing, as it basically spells out how utterly doomed Amazon reviews are.
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One-star reviews, in addition to being the least helpful kind of review, are also the longest and the worst-spelled. Data journalism blog Priceonomics analysed 100,000 online product reviews and found that 40 per cent of one-star reviews have at least one spelling mistake, vs. under 30 per cent of five-star reviews.
Until recently, Amazon's review system allowed for a deceptively biased loophole: Users could receive free products from companies in exchange for an "honest" review. These were still pretty biased, so Amazon's getting rid of them.
It goes without saying that not all Amazon reviews can be trusted. That glowing five-star review for an el cheapo hair drier was posted by the manufacturer. That scathing review of the iPhone 7 came from an Android fan who never tested the product. And so on and so forth.
But what about reviews from regular users who received a free or discounted product in exchange for "unbiased" feedback? Well, it turns out they're the least trustworthy of all. According to a new study by ReviewMeta, Amazon reviewers who use incentive disclaimers usually rate the products a lot higher. Well, duh.
"Your review on Yelp is destroying my business," he says to me, clearly clenching his teeth, "How long do I have to suffer because of your negative review?" A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from a contractor because of a review I'd left. What ensued was a weirdly emotional conversation that ventured between harassment and a plea for empathy.