The New York Times on purchased reviews

35 replies
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/te...ws-online.html

They're paying attention, folks. And not just the Times.


Paul
#purchased #reviews #times #york
  • Profile picture of the author Elion Makkink
    Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/te...ws-online.html

    They're paying attention, folks. And not just the Times.


    Paul
    Cool. However, if I was a hotel/restaurant owner, I would be really worried about the "business rivals" that place those negative comments.
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    • Profile picture of the author hblzr1
      I don't get what you are alluding to Paul. Do you mean that "they" are paying attention to possible fake reviews of WSOs?
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  • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
    Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/te...ws-online.html

    They're paying attention, folks. And not just the Times.


    Paul
    Now as a programmer that smells like opportunity to me. Emulate that
    algorithm, into a desktop application , so you can feed your fake review into it, and the software can give you a thumbs up or down as to use it or not.

    Much like those programs you fee your email into to see if it will pass spam filters.

    Who ever came up with it would prob make an easy million bucks

    hhhhmmmmmmmmm

    i know that was not your point. but it was my first thought
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
    I don't get what you are alluding to Paul. Do you mean that "they" are paying attention to possible fake reviews of WSOs?
    The large retail and travel/entertainment sites are, to start with. They're looking for ways to filter them automagically. The challenges with that are obvious, but they're small next to what's going to follow.

    If enough really big sites start to have trouble with this, it won't be long before the lawsuits start flying, and regulators get involved. Which I would welcome, personally. Dealing with fraud is one of the more appropriate functions of government.

    The people in this industry who use paid reviews are hardly limited to the WSO section of this forum. As far as that goes, though, it's not something you want to get caught doing. We've nuked more than a few accounts for that.


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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    Fascinating to see that there are researchers actually spending time on it. We tend to think of it in our own little Internet Marketing product bubble but it appears that a lot of offline companies, such as hotels and restaurants pay for reviews as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author AdwordsMogul
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      Fascinating to see that there are researchers actually spending time on it. We tend to think of it in our own little Internet Marketing product bubble but it appears that a lot of offline companies, such as hotels and restaurants pay for reviews as well.
      You see, what constitutes a crime depends on the size of your company.

      Remember when Google scanned all those works without permission? What would happen if any of us did that?

      It doesn't matter how much money anyone makes - human nature always prevails. Everybody is a crook to some degree - from the shop assistant to the CEO.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alan Petersen
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      Fascinating to see that there are researchers actually spending time on it. We tend to think of it in our own little Internet Marketing product bubble but it appears that a lot of offline companies, such as hotels and restaurants pay for reviews as well.
      That's been going on for years. A couple years ago a Belkin employee was busted buying positive reviews on mturk.

      Fake reviews prompt Belkin apology | Business Tech - CNET News

      Amazon does have a cool feature where they identify if you actually bought the product. I look for those type of reviews when checking for reviews. But in the high stakes review world, it's feasible that some of the big companies with big budgets would pay folks for the item so they can leave the positive review.
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
    Suzanne,

    Anything that happens in this little world of ours has already been going on for a long time out there in reality. The creeps in our fishbowl just have the tools to automate it, and access to super-cheap labor that the brick-and-mortar places don't.


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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    I posted in the Offline section a week or so about the short sighted stupidity of buying reviews. Needless to day some people really could care less.

    Check this out.

    Cornell Chronicle: Cornell computers spot 'opinion spam'
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  • Profile picture of the author J Bold
    Many, many hotels are out there trying to buy reviews on tripadvisor. Not shocked at all that they note that one in the first sentence.

    I think consumers would be surprised how many reputable hotels are doing this.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    From the article:

    So the team developed an algorithm to distinguish fake from real, which worked about 90 percent of the time. The fakes tended to be a narrative talking about their experience at the hotel using a lot of superlatives, but they were not very good on description. Naturally: They had never been there. Instead, they talked about why they were in Chicago. They also used words like “I” and “me” more frequently, as if to underline their own credibility.
    From a consumer's point of view, I think it's a good idea to get a "poker read" to help determine if reviews are real or fake.

    I also use an "olympic diving judge" method...I toss out the best and worst reviews and make an opinion on what's left in the middle. The best couple of reviews are often friends, while the worst reviews are often competitors, as "reviews" work both ways, and the fake reviews aren't always the positive ones.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells


    Do you know? Don' cheat either!

    The question is WHICH review is real, which one is fake. Not, they both look like spam or they both look real. 1 IS real 1 IS fake.
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    • Actually, they both sound like opinion spam.

      I'm like those Olympic judges who throw out the high and the low marks and figure what's in the middle is probably honest.

      Note that this has nothing to do with having your site reviewed on, say, a blog as long as the blogger discloses they're compensated for it.

      fLufF
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      P.S. Paul, government intervention to solve what seem like big problems is why I can no longer buy as much pseudoephedrine allergy medicine as I need, while there is no decrease in crystal meth sales and manufacture. Be careful what you wish for.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        The idea was to try and pick which review is real which one is fake.

        Throwing out the highs and lows is flawed logic and does not help you distinguish between real and fake reviews. The reason is apparent in the article I link to previously in this post.


        Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post

        Actually, they both sound like opinion spam.

        I'm like those Olympic judges who throw out the high and the low marks and figure what's in the middle is probably honest.

        Note that this has nothing to do with having your site reviewed on, say, a blog as long as the blogger discloses they're compensated for it.

        fLufF
        --

        P.S. Paul, government intervention to solve what seem like big problems is why I can no longer buy as much pseudoephedrine allergy medicine as I need, while there is no decrease in crystal meth sales and manufacture. Be careful what you wish for.
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        • And what link would that be, Mr. "Flawed Logic"?

          fLufF
          --
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          • Profile picture of the author Kurt
            Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post

            And what link would that be, Mr. "Flawed Logic"?

            fLufF
            --
            He posted a link a few posts up that's to the same report Paul posted in the OP.

            The "flawed" logic in the report Rus posted is that they don't address fake BAD reviews and have the flawed assumption fake reviews are only positive. There's plenty of negative fake reviews as well and to not address this issue doesn't address the whole picture.
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            • Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

              He posted a link a few posts up that's to the same report Paul posted in the OP.

              The "flawed" logic in the report Rus posted is that they don't address fake BAD reviews and have the flawed assumption fake reviews are only positive. There's plenty of negative fake reviews as well and to not address this issue doesn't address the whole picture.
              I said I tossed out the low reviews, too. Apparently Rus missed that in his haste to insult me.

              There are plenty of negative fake reviews. But there are very few fake mediocre reviews.

              Restaurants and such that buy reviews do it stupidly. Instead of trying to bring down a competitor by buying 3 out of 5 star reviews, they go for 1 star. I've never seen a 3 star review I thought was phony. And I'm a writer -- I can usually tell when someone's being insincere. Or...nope, won't go there.

              fLufF
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              • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
                Banned
                Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post

                I said I tossed out the low reviews, too. Apparently Rus missed that in his haste to insult me.
                --
                Oh Fluffy - he hasn't insulted you. This Dude is a gent. Never insulting or looking for a fight. Take a deep breath and say "Its just the internet". But really - he's a nice bloke.

                (How's that for a paid review Russ?)
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                • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
                  What was your Paypal email address again? How much did I owe you for this review? LOL

                  Seriously Malkie, are you feeling better yet, or are the paws still giving you trouble.

                  Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

                  Oh Fluffy - he hasn't insulted you. This Dude is a gent. Never insulting or looking for a fight. Take a deep breath and say "Its just the internet". But really - he's a nice bloke.

                  (How's that for a paid review Russ?)
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                  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
                    Banned
                    Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

                    What was your Paypal email address again? How much did I owe you for this review? LOL

                    Seriously Malkie, are you feeling better yet, or are the paws still giving you trouble.
                    $5 Dude. Yeah the old Carpal Tunnel is much better. I just got the surgeon to take the arm off and hey! - no worries.
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            • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
              Hey Kurt,

              Actually the link Paul posted is the news story, my link is to the source by Cornell.

              I don't see the report as flawed just because it doesn't address fake negative reviews. The report study was conducted about fake positive reviews, and lets be real.

              If a business has 1 bad review in most cases we will overlook that review because we are as humans are usually gracious, and chalk it up as something that could have just been a bad day for the business or even the customer.

              Lots of bad reviews on a business could indeed mean bad business. And from what I've personally seen online that is becoming more prevalent is, the business owner gets a chance to address those bad reviews.

              Fake bad reviews are rather obvious, they tend to target the key selling points of the business, and that's where the competitor wants to discredit them at.

              This is my opinion on it but we are free to disagree with each other.

              fluf, if you took my remark as a personal insult it wasn't intended to be.

              Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

              He posted a link a few posts up that's to the same report Paul posted in the OP.

              The "flawed" logic in the report Rus posted is that they don't address fake BAD reviews and have the flawed assumption fake reviews are only positive. There's plenty of negative fake reviews as well and to not address this issue doesn't address the whole picture.
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        • Profile picture of the author Kurt
          Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

          The idea was to try and pick which review is real which one is fake.

          Throwing out the highs and lows is flawed logic and does not help you distinguish between real and fake reviews. The reason is apparent in the article I link to previously in this post.
          I didn't say I threw out all the best and worse reviews, only a few on each end. The logic is, this gives me a better "spread", as very few fake reviews give anything but the best and worst possible ratings. The goal isn't to ID "fake" reviews, it's to get a more accurate AVERAGE of ALL reviews.
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          • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
            Right, I understand what your saying but the thing is. We as humans can't really tell between the more subtle fake reviews versus real reviews. So while you may ignore some on both ends your still susceptible to reading and believing fake reviews.

            Can you tell which review is fake and which one is real in my post above?

            Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

            I didn't say I threw out all the best and worse reviews, only a few on each end. The logic is, this gives me a better "spread", as very few fake reviews give anything but the best and worst possible ratings. The goal isn't to ID "fake" reviews, it's to get a more accurate AVERAGE of ALL reviews.
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            • Profile picture of the author Kurt
              Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

              Right, I understand what your saying but the thing is. We as humans can't really tell between the more subtle fake reviews versus real reviews. So while you may ignore some on both ends your still susceptible to reading and believing fake reviews.

              Can you tell which review is fake and which one is real in my post above?
              I would guess the one on the left is the real one...However, using my method is doesn't matter as I don't rely on any particular review, but rather all reviews and I would toss out a few of the extremes.

              Since both say the same thing, and it's a given that one is real and one is fake, it really doesn't matter from a logical perspective which is real, in this exact example.
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            • Profile picture of the author Kay King
              This is more widespread, I think, than most of us realize. When I was shopping online for a couple major purchases a few months ago (physical products) I noted the SAME consumer reviews for two or more items that were totally different brands. One in particular was a long, glowing "consumer review" from "someone who uses the product" - and that same long review appeared for FOUR similar products.

              3-4 years ago that was not the case when I was buying products-or at least it wasn't so blatant that I quickly noticed it.

              kay
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post



      Do you know? Don' cheat either!

      The question is WHICH review is real, which one is fake. Not, they both look like spam or they both look real. 1 IS real 1 IS fake.
      The one on the left is real, without looking below to see if I chose correctly.

      Shows the value of social proof in all industries, not just ours. But you see how buying reviews can make a site like TripAdvisor irrelevant if no one can believe their reviews. And Amazon too. I actually read the reviews on Amazon to help me make decisions on some of the things I buy there and as aware as I am of fake reviews here, I really didn't give that much of a thought at Amazon.com. Silly me.
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    • Profile picture of the author drmani
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post



      Do you know? Don' cheat either!

      The question is WHICH review is real, which one is fake. Not, they both look like spam or they both look real. 1 IS real 1 IS fake.
      From the NY Times article:

      "We evolved over 60,000 years by talking to each other face to face,"

      Considering how a year in Internet time is like 11 years in the
      real world, we've only got another 60,000/11 = 5,454 YEARS to go
      before we can reliably rely upon digital 'signals'.

      We don't often need 'trust cues' in real, face-to-face interaction.
      That's because evolution has hard-wired the capability to read them
      in thousands of nuances UNCONSCIOUSLY - as a 'survival' skill.

      Once it reaches those dimensions online, we'll evolve - rapidly.

      Until then, we look at 'intangibles'... and they can/will be gamed
      by the less than scrupulous.

      My 2 cents.

      All success
      Dr.Mani
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  • Profile picture of the author Fernando Veloso
    Major brands pay 50K-250K for a public figure to add their face to advertising in Portugal. Wanna have them also on your show or party? 15K per night.

    Same ****, different smell.

    The big difference is now hotels, gyms or local shops can pay 5$ at fiverr to get a normal guy/girl advising them.

    Edit: Or in the opposite direction they can pay 5$ for a bad review on their competitors...
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      Yeah, some of those fiverr reviewers must be RICH as all get out too!

      roofing replacement review in Dallas, then that afternoon reviewing their favorite deli in New York and then back to San Diego that after noon to give a glowing review to the kitchen contractor who remodeled their kitchen!

      Especially easy on Google so see EXACTLY who is buying reviews.

      Originally Posted by Fernando Veloso View Post

      Major brands pay 50K-250K for a public figure to add their face to advertising in Portugal. Wanna have them also on your show or party? 15K per night.

      Same ****, different smell.

      The big difference is now hotels, gyms or local shops can pay 5$ at fiverr to get a normal guy/girl advising them.

      Edit: Or in the opposite direction they can pay 5$ for a bad review on their competitors...
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  • Profile picture of the author addykho
    Testimonial can be bought easily nowadays.. so one still have to do their own due diligent carefully...
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  • Profile picture of the author WhiteStarlight
    I don't like that this stuff is happening. Why was review system created? For me it's just for sharing your honest opinion, not to cheat others
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    • Profile picture of the author jimmymc
      What's the big stink or new about fake reviews. When you start believing any form of advertising it's time for the wacky farm.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Russ, the real review is the one on the left.

      Recently I've had cause to look at reviews for an AC guy, a water system guy, and a car window guy. All three categories had the same phenomenon discussed in the articles linked.

      I did use reviews to find three very positive outcomes, but I didn't do it by throwing out reviews and looking for some kind of median.

      The number of reviews available was small enough that I could take the time looking for nuances like the amount of detail offered, the presence or absence of exclamation points or calls to action, etc.

      The phony reviews read like ads. The real ones read like customers.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        Hey John,

        When looking at reviews by Google users its very simple to really see what's going on.

        Simply click the hyperlink displayed as the user name. Its takes you to a page the that shows all the reviews left by that user.

        Hence my rich reviewer comment. = )


        Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

        Russ, the real review is the one on the left.

        Recently I've had cause to look at reviews for an AC guy, a water system guy, and a car window guy. All three categories had the same phenomenon discussed in the articles linked.

        I did use reviews to find three very positive outcomes, but I didn't do it by throwing out reviews and looking for some kind of median.

        The number of reviews available was small enough that I could take the time looking for nuances like the amount of detail offered, the presence or absence of exclamation points or calls to action, etc.

        The phony reviews read like ads. The real ones read like customers.
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        • Profile picture of the author bostonterrierjoe
          anyone here into selling fake tripadvisor or yelp reviews?
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