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Author Topic: Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal  (Read 3846 times)

Stephen66515

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Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal
« on: September 04, 2012, 05:47:27 PM »
rof.jpg

Now, we all know that User Reviews have always been a dubious thing to see, and we could never know if they where legitimate or not.  Now, it has been uncovered, that big-name authors RJ Ellory and Stephen Leather have been writing fake reviews, promoting their own books, whilst slamming other authors work.  Now, that's not to say they are the ONLY people doing this.  It is well known that reviews are easy to buy online, be it video, or written.  One can buy these on sites such as Fiverr, and as the name suggests, they cost $5 each.  I am sure, that somewhere, somehow, you can get them for much cheaper.

Do people even read user reviews?

In short, yes.  I, myself, have dismissed an app on Android based on the comments of users.  I do this even when I know that user reviews are mostly fake.  Now, I don't know the true figures of Fake vs Real, and I am not honestly sure that anybody really does.  However, I still read them, and somewhat trust them.  

Gary Marshall over at TechRadar writes this week about why these fake reviews are so prominent -- in short, because they work so well:
Quote
You can see the appeal. Imagine you have a restaurant, and in these tough times you need every customer you can get - so why not try to steal your rivals' customers? Why not pay a few friends to go to your rival's restaurant, booking via one of the restaurant booking sites, and then leave a damning online review for other would-be diners?

It wouldn't cost much, and if it persuades even a couple of people to go to your restaurant rather than theirs then it's been a good investment.

That story from TechRadar seems to focus heavily on reviews for books, however, it is easily transferred to any other service or product.

Here's Eileen Brown at zdnet writing about Google's attempts to catch fake reviews:
Quote
A new software algorithm was announced last week at the World Wide Web 2012 conference in Lyon, France.  It tries to detect groups of spammers working together to influence products.

Opinion spamming is quite common. Have a look at any successful web sites with multiple reviews on the site. Some reviewers try to game the system by promoting or demoting target products. Groups of reviewers can work collaboratively to write fake reviews and can often take total control of the sentiment of the site.

Eileen makes a point of showing two reviews, one real, and one fake, both VERY similar to each other.  I don't know about you, but I can't tell which is fake, and which is real!

Do you trust user reviews?  Do you have a technique on how to filter fake from real?  I would love to hear your take on this!



Related Content:

Fake Reviews: Amazon's Rotten Core (DonationCoder Forum Discussion)
Estimating the Prevalence of Deception in Online Review Communities (Technical Paper) - PDF
« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 06:35:35 PM by Stephen66515 »

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2012, 07:08:21 PM »
I've vaguely known about fake reviews, but somehow treated them as an inevitable evil and took them with several seas of salt.

Very roughly I ignore the reviews that make the easy mistake of rocketing to 5 out of 5 or whatever and glowing "this book changed my life! A+. Would buy again. Single best book in the history of publishing ever!"

Depending on the topic you are looking ay and how much you know about it, one fast and ugly starting point is to look at the 4 ratings, or 5's with complaints. If it's a programming book for example, and the review complains "The first couple of chapters are great, but then it strays too much into esoteric theory and whatever real world examples it does show are too trivial to hold up in a production environment." (Or something.) That kind of review is hard*er* to fake, (never impossible), because it just takes that much more sophistication to peel off a word like "esoteric" and still give it a 4 out of 5.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2012, 07:11:41 PM »
For Another take:

"DonationCoder changed my life! A+. Would Post Again. Single best site in the history of micro-payment enabled donation-ware ever!"

Now the problem is that it might be true!

 8)  :D   :Thmbsup:  :P  :-*  ;D

rgdot

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Re: Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2012, 07:31:36 PM »
For me I would not 'need' to look at ratings for things like books, either I know of the author or a friend or acquaintance recommends it. For gadgets and electronics I have never found consensus anyhow so ratings, fake or otherwise, have not been helpful. Example: DSL modems, there isn't one that has excellent ratings, across multiple sites at least.

Other stuff that I have bought over my lifetime like a car, furniture and clothes....consumer reports may be but not user ratings and reviews.


TaoPhoenix

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Re: Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2012, 07:44:00 PM »
For me I would not 'need' to look at ratings for things like books, either I know of the author or a friend or acquaintance recommends it. For gadgets and electronics I have never found consensus anyhow so ratings, fake or otherwise, have not been helpful. Example: DSL modems, there isn't one that has excellent ratings, across multiple sites at least.

Other stuff that I have bought over my lifetime like a car, furniture and clothes....consumer reports may be but not user ratings and reviews.

Not all reviews are "equal". I like to look at Slashdot reviews for example because they aren't bought "quite as badly" and tend to be in depth.

iphigenie

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Re: Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2012, 03:48:47 AM »
I'm not sure why people are surprised.

The "customer testimonials" on product advertisements, in brochures and websites are also usually fake, crafted by the marketing department. Not necessarily because the product is bad, sometimes because most people don't want to be quoted in ads no matter how they like the product.

And in our day and age where people increasingly hesitate to buy a product on amazon that doesn't have reviews, of course people start thinking of ways to kick start it

40hz

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Re: Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2012, 11:58:48 AM »
+1 w/iphigenie

There's nothing that is beneficial or advantageous that won't eventually attract someone who will attempt to game it for their own benefit. As Terry Pratchett observed, whenever two people get together, it's only a matter of time before a third person shows up and tries to sell them something 'onna bun.'
 ;)

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Fake User Reviews...The unwinding scandal
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2012, 11:32:20 PM »
We're surprised because the other half of Web 2.0 is Your Friends Sharing. So people faking "friendly stuff" is kinda irritating.