“I Don’t Want To Buy Online” — Part 3

Dishonest Reviews

Quality reviews sold in bulk, come one come all

Trustworthiness of online reviews is a problem. We tend to base our opinion on the opinion of other people who already tried and tasted what we want to obtain — and even if we end up disagreeing with them, one way or another it shapes our point of view and influences our decision.

For a business owner, it’s no longer a secret that even with all the advertising and presentations, people tend to buy things based on other people’s reviews and recommendations. These, however, appear to be easy to fabricate — and so the supply and demand for fake online reviews keeps growing exponentially. In the past, these were quite easy to spot, but by now most of the subjects that make their earning in this questionable field learned to make their work look even better than life. On the other hand, because of this, buyers have no reliable way to figure out which review is real and which one’s fake — and as a result, there’s no way to form a true-to-life opinion about your product of interest.

Just searching for something as simple as “buy reviews” online gives you a plethora of websites offering just that, and here is just a small collection of their catchphrases:

“Learn how to get reviews, bury bad reviews, obtain A+ rating”

“Check out this underground railroad of reviewers. Start fixing the damage done by negative online reviews!”

“Buy reviews — Buy your reputation — Request free quote”

“We are here to help you promote your product with paid reviews”

Makes the whole “shopping online” thing seem more and more sketchy with every word, doesn’t it?

How to counter it: Creating an honest marketplace

So, how are you supposed to deal with the fake reviews and find recommendations you can trust? People, by their nature, want to share information with one another and help each other — and so Internet is full of specialized communities where people can exchange honest reviews. Usually, these are forums or groups that focus on a certain niche market or type of goods, like beauty products or electronics. Any and all users who wish to join and post their own opinion have to fit the stringent requirements:

· User-specific requirements — As a rule, only registered users can post their opinion. Some go even further — the review functionality is unlocked only for the users who reach a certain reputation threshold (earned through posting comments or having an account with a big enough lifetime);

· Quality photos in reviews — Moderators ensure that all reviews are accompanied by good-quality photos taken by the reviewer and not just used from elsewhere online;

· Review structure restrictions — All reviews posted in certain communities must follow a certain structure and be unbiased and informative.

In addition, similar restricted communities and websites exist for the service industry (including cafés and restaurants), and all reviews there get appended to the venue’s profile that contains its brief info and contact details. In these communities, all venues are ranked by number of reviews and the summary rating. More often than not, venue owners can get accounts of their own to respond to the critique and private messages.

Still, even these communities do not provide full and complete guarantee that all reviews are honest. And besides, they are not omnipotent — many companies have next to no reviews or even representation there.

Marketplace solution to the problem

The marketplaces that care about their reputation also pay great attention to the fake reviews problem. Amazon, for example, takes the fake reviewers into court. According to the files made public by the company, as many as 1,114 persons are facing charges for offering fake review services via Fiverr.com. The company claims these people were ready to post a positive review or a high rating for any product for a small price of five dollars. During their own investigation, Amazon managed to log the IP-addresses of these people.

And that is not the first of Amazon’s investigations in the area. Just this April, the company began proceedings against buyamazonreviews.com, one of the websites that offered rewards to users for posting fake positive recommendations. However, Amazon representatives hold no accusations against Fiverr, noting that the website owners helped them locate and identify the perpetrators.

While the results of these cases is no doubt interesting, these publicized cases are there for a reason: the big businesses set a trend for honest reviews, highlight the issue, and show what might happen to you if you decide to take “the easy way out.”

Storiqa will offer a unique solution to this problem — which we’re going to review in our next article.

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