Why are there bursts of positive reviews?

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Herts, England - Not specified -
Andy
Kudos: 12,466
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Why are there bursts of positive reviews?
27 Apr 2017
A few people have contacted me, or posted on review threads, to question the authenticity of positive reviews that have all been submitted within a few days by new site members.

I completely understand these concerns, and have decided to post here so we can have an open discussion about it.

Our policy on reviews (and other forum posts) is here:

www.webretailer.com/forum/174-posting-rules.asp

There's a specific section on reviews, and another for those who are connected with the ecommerce software/services industry in any way.

Our rules are clear that suppliers cannot review their own products, and must not provide an incentive to customers to submit reviews either.

We monitor reviews in a few different ways, including:

  • Reacting to reports about specific reviews
  • Monitoring the data for all new reviews including IP address
  • Reading and investigating a proportion of new reviews when they are posted

  • We take a zero-tolerance approach to fake reviews, investigating and deleting reviews whenever it is warranted. Not long ago, it was quite unusual for fake reviews to be submitted but sadly it has become more common in recent months so we have scaled up our processes to match.

    To address the specific point about spates of new reviews within a few days:

  • This is normally because a supplier has sent an email to all their customers asking them to leave a review. When a supplier with a large user base does this, many reviews in a short time is to be expected and not evidence of abuse in itself.
  • We are OK with suppliers doing that as long as they do not provide an incentive, or ask the customer to give a positive rating, or ask them to make specific comments in the review.
  • Many (probably most) review sites encourage businesses to ask their customers for reviews - it's the norm. People don't often go out of their way to leave reviews, unless they have had an exceptionally good or very bad experience, and otherwise do need to be asked.
  • Our system allows people to register and submit a review at the same time, so if they have visited the site specifically to leave a review then you would expect to see a review submitted on the same date that they registered and no other posts. That in itself is not suspicious.
  • The pattern we see when suppliers submit fake reviews themselves is very different. They tend to "drip-feed" the reviews over a longer period of time, use disposable email addresses, and often (but not always) have matching technical data such as IP address.

  • When our members have concerns about reviews, we ask them to report them using the link provided rather than posting in the forum. From our Posting Rules:

  • Do not criticize other reviews or reviewers, for example, by questioning their authenticity. Suspicious reviews can be reported to staff using the "Report review abuse" link below each review thread.

  • The reason for that rule is that is seems unfair to question the authenticity of a review based just on what you can see publicly. We have more data behind the scenes and are in a better position to investigate suspicious reviews.

    It is fine to discuss the content of a review on the review thread itself, but please bear in mind that opinions and experiences of a product/service can differ greatly. Someone can have the opposite opinion to you without being a fake.

    Please post your feedback on this thread.
    Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
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