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View Full Version : In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5



Wayne K
08-20-2011, 03:48 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html?_r=1&hp


Determining the number of fake reviews on the Web is difficult. But it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers, who recently published a paper about creating a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers. They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews.

This would be nice if it works

NeuroFizz
08-20-2011, 04:05 PM
This is the best thread ever posted on AW. The use of algorithms to detect false reviews is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of taking the subjective to an objective analysis. And the OP has clearly underlined the great value of AW as a marvelous tool for all writers, whether experienced, developing, or new.

5 Stars.

Tongue-in-cheek aside, the proliferation of fake reviews is a pox on the publishing industry and nullifies the entire review process. And I am disgusted by the asshats who make money by producing these fake reviews.

Stacia Kane
08-20-2011, 04:24 PM
It would be fantastic if it worked.

As long as it doesn't accidentally remove genuine 5-star reviews, at least. :)

TAR11
08-20-2011, 05:07 PM
I think this will really level the playing field. I hope so anyway. It would be nice to get real information and real feedback before picking up a book and it would be great for authors that don't cheat to keep up with the rest of the booking world.

Mr Flibble
08-20-2011, 05:26 PM
As long as it doesn't accidentally remove genuine 5-star reviews, at least. :)

Exactly - I checked what they use to determine false and true reviews. False ones were more full of 'we' and 'i' etc and experiences. True ones had more description.

I checked out a review I did of a hotel on Trip Advisor. Full of 'we' and experiences (the owner of the hotel really did go above and beyond the call of duty) Might well have been flagged as fake, but I just wanted to say how phenomenal the service was. It almost seems like they're critiquing reviews...

PEBKAC
08-20-2011, 11:06 PM
I hope they're looking at this from both sides. False negatives are a problem as well. There are right wing seminars instructing people to spend just a few minutes every day rating books (and other products) they've never read or even heard of in the past -- giving 5 stars to those aligning with the conservative side and 1 star to those that lean liberal. I know it happens frequently on both "sides" but to see it as part of a large scale, organized effort just blew my mind.

Stacia Kane
08-20-2011, 11:28 PM
Exactly - I checked what they use to determine false and true reviews. False ones were more full of 'we' and 'i' etc and experiences. True ones had more description.

I checked out a review I did of a hotel on Trip Advisor. Full of 'we' and experiences (the owner of the hotel really did go above and beyond the call of duty) Might well have been flagged as fake, but I just wanted to say how phenomenal the service was. It almost seems like they're critiquing reviews...


Yeah, I actually don't see that as a reliable indicator at all, because when I leave a positive review I'm very inclined to say "I" a lot (in fact, many of my positive reviews have lots of "I" statements, now that I go peek at them), and most of the fake reviews I've seen hardly use "I" or "we" at all, instead just uttering meaningless platitudes, i.e.:

BOOK is a heartwarming and delightful journey through one woman's life. It will have you in tears of joy and sadness. AUTHOR will take you on an incredible voyage of self. She wrote something so beautiful that it could change lives. It evokes emotions and everyone should read it. It would make a wonderful gift for the women in your life.


I'm wandering through Amazon at the moment and looking at the 5-star reviews for book published by a certain notorious scammer; the majority of suspicious reviews for those (like written by people with the same last name as the author, who only have one review to their names) don't seem to contain much "I" or "we," really. Most seem to have more "you" and flowy adjectives.

Either way, I worry about legitimate reviews being removed.

SPMiller
08-21-2011, 12:47 AM
Ratings-obsessed review systems have accumulated too much power in various markets. Consider what Metacritic has done to the entertainment industry at large. It's not pretty.

gothicangel
08-21-2011, 01:13 AM
Ratings-obsessed review systems have accumulated too much power in various markets. Consider what Metacritic has done to the entertainment industry at large. It's not pretty.

Metacritic is a joke. My favourite films tend to have ratings of about 6, with a lot of the Marvel films having 8's or 9's. :Shrug:

It's as though people have lost the ability to think for themselves.

Jamesaritchie
08-21-2011, 07:16 AM
If reviews mattered, good or bad, half the bestselling novels out there wouldn't have sold ten copies, and there wouldn't be so many complete flops that received glowing reviews.

Old Hack
08-21-2011, 12:15 PM
Just this morning I was asked if I'd guarantee a positive review of a self-published book in return for a small fee. An amount wasn't suggested. I have ignored the email.

skylark
08-21-2011, 01:52 PM
Just this morning I was asked if I'd guarantee a positive review of a self-published book in return for a small fee. An amount wasn't suggested. I have ignored the email.

I'd be seriously tempted to post the email as the review.

Edit: Though I wouldn't.

Old Hack
08-21-2011, 08:56 PM
I considered blogging about it, but thought that would be inappropriate. Damn.

juniper
08-22-2011, 01:17 AM
Just curious - If you didn't mention name of book or author, why would it be inappropriate to blog about it? I'd post the email itself, minus the names.

I think alerting people to the inappropriateness of offering to paying for reviews (and the fact that these offers exist) is entirely appropriate.

Whole networks of self-pub people go around and 5-star each other. Not for money, that I know of, but just for a 5-star review in return. No shame.

Old Hack
08-22-2011, 01:22 AM
I might well blog about paid-for reviews: but the text of this particular email was gloriously wrong in all sorts of ways, and that was a big part of its brilliance (!) for me.

DreamWeaver
08-22-2011, 03:10 AM
Now we're REALLY curious. Post an expurgated version...please??????

Libbie
08-22-2011, 06:09 AM
Wow...if this works, I totally want to see it!

LauraAnnSwanson
08-22-2011, 06:25 AM
Once they perfect weeding out bogus 5 star reviews the scammers will just start posting bogus 4 star reviews.

Alessandra Kelley
08-22-2011, 06:26 AM
I saw that article, and I thought $5? Really? You'd do that for $5? Wow.

Of course, just yesterday I posted about the latest 5-star review of my husband and his brother's physics book (http://www.amazon.com/Three-Steps-Universe-Mystery-Matter/dp/0226283461). Then this article showed up, and I thought, yikes. Needless to say, none of his reviews were solicited or paid for.

Still, I wonder about the accuracy of the detection algorithms. I hope they don't falsely call out genuine reviews.

DennisB
03-26-2012, 04:17 PM
I think we can all agree that this is serious. One writer has a slickly-produced Trailer for her E-book. "Crackles with suspense..." writes AJ. "A page-turner," gushes RS. "The best book of its genre I've read in years..." enthuses MT.

Why no names? So, I check out Amazon, and find it's priced at 99 cents. And, after reading the sample, I can add this endorsement: "Worth every penny!"

djf881
03-26-2012, 05:51 PM
If Amazon really wanted to scrub bogus customer reviews from its site, it would only allow people to review products they've purchased, it would remove the customer ratings from the algorithm it uses to recommend products to site visitors, and it would hide or downrate reviews from people who have only reviewed one product.

Marian Perera
03-26-2012, 06:15 PM
Just this morning I was asked if I'd guarantee a positive review of a self-published book in return for a small fee.

I always want to say to these people, if you're going to behave as though someone's integrity can be bought, at least don't do them the further insult of pricing it low.

Old Hack
03-26-2012, 06:45 PM
djf, I've reviewed on Amazon several ARCs that I've been sent for free, though, and books I've bought elsewhere. I understand what you're saying: but allowing only reviews of bought items wouldn't stop people buying books them writing fake reviews of them, and it would stop people like me from writing reviews of books we've bought elsewhere and enjoyed--which would potentially harm writers.

veinglory
03-26-2012, 07:11 PM
If you go to fiverr there are screenfuls of people offering to write fluff reviews...

ViolettaVane
03-26-2012, 07:33 PM
I really prefer the system they use on Netflix, where my movies are rated according to what other people who have similar tastes to me rate them. So the latest Werner Herzog documentary will actually show to me as having a much higher rating than, say, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. If Amazon moved to a system like that, or maybe dual review scores—a "just plain" score and a taste-skewed score—they would be a lot more valuable.

As it is, I pretty much only use Goodreads for determining what books to buy. When people alert them to sockpuppeting, they do crack down on it.

Manuel Royal
03-26-2012, 07:56 PM
It's as though people have lost the ability to think for themselves.I agree with this, and with anything else you might say.

thothguard51
03-26-2012, 08:01 PM
Wow...if this works, I totally want to see it!

And this too shall be gamed...

Phaeal
03-26-2012, 09:40 PM
The ubiquitous system gaming is why I pay zip attention to star ratings. Look the horse in the mouth yourself by reading a few pages.

I read reviews for amusement. While doing so, I get to know the reviewers and am gradually assembling a "stable" whose critical chops I can trust.

I'll still read pages before purchase, though.

James D. Macdonald
03-29-2012, 04:45 PM
This guy has a ton of five-star reviews ... a whole pile of them on the same day, a whole pile of them from folks who've never reviewed anything else:

http://www.amazon.com/EFFORTLESS-MARKETING-Thousands-Minutes-ebook/dp/B007O2B1VY/

Since then he's gone on to e-mail spamming.

His promotion advice is this: Be a sig-line spammer.

Its nonsense like this that gives self-published authors a bad name.