Online Review Practices and Misuse

Online reviews and suggestions are a huge part of online retail stores and often times determine what gets sold and what doesn’t. People use the suggestions of others, either expert reviewers, or everyday people, to decide if that product is right for them. These reviews aren’t always genuine though, and often times they come from reviewers with hidden agendas. Shay Davis and Trevor Pinch conducted a study to determine how exactly people do use the review feature offered by many online retail stores. They did this by using software they created themselves to detect when nearly identical reviews were being used for two different products.

What Davis and Pinch found in the study is that people are using the opportunity to post reviews in multiple ways. People post reviews to several items to promote personal agendas, they copy reviews to promote items, they use multiple user names to get support for an item, and they also do it to promote personal identity. The consequence to all these different types of reviewing is a change in the economics of online retail stores.

Citation:

žShay, D, & Pinch, T. (2006). Six Degrees of Reputation: The Use and Abuse of Online Review and Recommendation Systems. First Monday, 6. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1590/1505
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Posted on July 24, 2011, in Discussion Leader. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I really enjoyed your presentation. I think that ratings are a very interesting thing about online shopping. sometimes we take them too much at their face value. We don’t realize that not everybody is doing the ratings out of the goodness of their heart, and some people have other incentives to rate items. Looking at reviews going forward, we have to be critical of what we read and always take it with a grain of salt.

  2. Awesome article! I find that I will shop go to amazon sopecifically because it has user reviews when I am looking for something non-specific. for instance, my boyfriend needed a pair of shoes because all of his flip flops hurt his feet. We looked at REI and Sports Authority and we couldnt find anything. I went to Amazon, went to the highest rated flip flops, chose ones to review that had siginicant feedback, and found him the perfect pair of shoes. I guess I always knew that someone could post a bad review just because of service or other unrelated to the product factors. I did not factor in ‘goof reviews’ and the effect that it can have on people. Kind of funny the amount of influence that people allow themselves to be swayed because of a star rating by someone we know nothing about!

  3. Nice job on your discussion leader. I know the last question you asked before time was up was, “Do you use review?”

    Well, usually when I want to buy something online, I do tend to look at reviews. I don’t know if I take the reviews into count, but I still like seeing what others have to say about a product. Of course, if the reviews are horrible than I don’t buy the product. But then I take in consideration of everyones own taste. For example, I like to buy a lot of make up online. I read reviews from different sources, but I have to take in consideration that everyone has different skin types, skin tones, and different features. On Sephora each review has a profile that identifies their skin type and skin tone, which is great because the information is relevant!

  4. The biggest qualm I have about reading reviews online is the majority of extremities. Hotel reviews on TripAdvisor, for example, are made up of many disgruntled travelers who give a place one-star for not having a large enough pool, or those who gush over a hotel for it’s great bar but neglect to mention the shoddy location.

    This seems to be a factor of inadequate technology. Few want to sign up for a TripAdvisor account and force themselves to say something useful for the sake of it. Simple rating systems like Google Places and Foursquare’s tips make the process a lot easier and much more accurate. A lot of basic ratings and short-reviews are much more useful (though perhaps not necessarily as effective) than a few detailed, but emotionally charged critiques.

  1. Pingback: week 6 – Monday (25 July 2011) « COM300: Basic Concepts of New Media

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