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Amazon has removed hundreds of thousand of incentivized reviews since it banned the practice

By midian182 ยท 11 replies
Nov 24, 2016
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  1. Back in early October, it was reported that Amazon was banning incentivized reviews. It’s been nearly two months since the company brought in the new rule, and in that time it has deleted hundreds of thousands of these often untrustworthy opinions.

    Before Amazon introduced the ban, research carried out by ReviewMeta showed that incentivized reviews are extremely biased in favor of the products, and that many people post positive comments in the hope of receiving more free or discounted goods in the future.

    ReviewMeta has been monitoring Amazon’s progress, analyzing 65 million reviews across 32,060 products in all categories. It found that 71 percent of the 500,000+ reviews deleted by the retail giant were incentivized.

    Not every incentivized review is being caught by Amazon; some still appear on the site. To get an idea of how many remain, ReviewMeta analyzed over 10 million reviews from across the past two weeks. It found that only 1.5 percent of these were incentivized.

    It seems the claim that these reviews artificially inflate ratings is true. Before the ban, the average rating for all reviews across the entire site was 4.73 out of 5, by November 1 it had fallen to 4.65.

    You can use ReviewMeta’s tracking tool to see a report card for items sold on Amazon by simply copying and pasting its URL. This Coffee scrub, for example, has had 9010 reviews deleted.

    Tommy Noonan, ReviewMeta’s CTO, told me that Amazon has done a good job of tackling the problem of incentivized reviews but there are still other ways of skewing ratings. One example is allowing people to leave a review without purchasing the product, as was the case when trolls attacked Megyn Kelly's new book.

    "It does seem that what Amazon has done is sufficient to address their problem of incentivized reviews. Not only have they essentially stopped the influx of incentivized reviews, but they seem to be deleting the majority of them. That said, I still believe Amazon's review platform is far from perfect, and there are plenty of other ways for sellers to acquire dishonest reviews even though incentivized reviews are out of the equation," he wrote in an emailed statement.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,676   +940

    Thank god for this, should reduce the time I have to sort though obvious BS reviews and get to the good ones. If I were them I would also require people to wait 1 month before posting a review as well. You see far too often that people will post glowing reviews when they haven't even used the product for a decent period of time. Just one of many things amazon can do to help make better reviews.
    Reehahs, Puiu and EClyde like this.
  3. EClyde

    EClyde TS Guru Posts: 974   +274

    All the reviews are incentivized.
    I review because I like to write and hope Amazon will continue to give me free stuff.

    There is no way to tell if a review is bogus >95% of the time...BTW Clinton is going to win by 11 points....

    I like what they are doing though
  4. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Evangelist Posts: 1,117   +479

    I also dislike reviews where the person has not been verified as having bought the product they are reviewing
    Phr3d and SirChocula like this.
  5. Technosense

    Technosense TS Member Posts: 40   +21

    Yes there is, most of the time, it's called a "Vine" review. I down vote those every time I see and and ignore "Non-verified" purchases anytime I read reviews. Many of the foreign sellers also answer yes to any questions about products, which should also be dealt with. So after a while you can sniff out suspect reviews pretty easily.

    After building a new PC, I probably read about 100 reviews between all the parts and between Newegg and Amazon was able to avoid a lot of issues so they're important to many people and I'm glad Amazon is doing the right thing.

    They should also require more than 3 words to "review" a product. I love the "good" or "I like it" time wasters.
    SantistaUSA likes this.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 2,516   +1,320

    They also have removed quite a few negative comments about products that deserve a negative review. I noticed a couple of mine were removed on products they should have dropped years ago but apparently are making them too much money. I used to buy a lot on line, but more and more I'm avoiding it, especially if Amazon's name is involved.
  7. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,388   +442

    Not to start a conspiracy theory, but I hold crapAzon in such low regard that I would not be surprised if removing product reviews that express a negative opinion of a product was their intent behind this. After all, if they have product inventory and the negative reviews are keeping that product from selling, it is in their interest to remove negative reviews so that the product will sell.

    That said, for me, this is too little, too late for them to convince me that they are actually a company worth doing business with. I will buy from sellers, but not from crapAzon itself.

    And - Consumer Reports just rated online retailers, and B&H came out on top. I've bought things from them many times over the last year, and they frequently give free two-day shipping on items I buy, and even when they don't give free two-day shipping, they often give free shipping that takes only marginally longer than two days.

    I used to be a Prime subscriber at crapAzon, and from conversations with at least one other here at TechSpot that was never a Prime subscriber, I am convinced that when I do order something from crapAzon, they play all kinds of games that are intended to coerce me into renewing my sub-Prime subscription. Their games included asking FIVE TIMES during one checkout process whether I wanted to renew my sub-Prime subscription. No thanks, crapAzon. I'll buy from someplace else.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
  8. Phr3d

    Phr3d TS Guru Posts: 353   +71

    Not that this was your case, Al, but Many of the 'it took too long/it was broke on arrival and I couldn't return it/it was the wrong color/my boyfriend din'tlikeit' 1 star reviews were removed, and I appreciate that, as a customer (I tend to ignore one & five star reviews, regardless).

    I've had constantly good experience with Amazon, but they obviously don't need me as a cheerleader.
    As someone buying online for decades, I have had the Very least number of problems with them, my current beotch is that I can no longer narrow my search between 'Zon and products by BillyBob but Shipped by 'Zon. I do Not want products not researched and stocked by LLC, and wonder how many bad experiences come from those purchases (NOT Prime -eligible-, that Used to weed out the 'other sellers'.. now you hafta' check the print below the price to see if it is indeed Amazon LLC buying and shipping, or product supplied by Phr3d-Inc, Ship by Amazon.. grrrr).
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,272   +2,179

    Well that and......First we have "Prime", for a hundred bucks a year, it gives you back the free shipping, which was actually free before Prime happened. While granted, it includes other benefits and services, at its core, it's little more than, "a police action / honey trap, to enforce customer loyalty".
    Most of the business I do with Amazon is limited to CD/DVD purchases.. Greater than 95% of those purchases come from the sellers in the "Amazon Marketplace" not Amazon itself.
    I use Adorama for camera purchases instead of B & H. Adorama has had more "refurbished" deals on Nikon equipment than B & H. Being cheap, I go that route. Adorama and B & H are in direct competition, and both companies are run by orthodox Jews. Both are superior outlets, with impeccable business ethics, neither offering better service than the other. This is good to know, with all the fly by night possibilities in the camera trade. Both stores are the most reliable in their fields.

    Buying from Amazon makes almost no sense for me, especially when dealing with high end merchandise. For musical instruments and such, you're way better off heading to "Musician's Friend", or, "Sweetwater". M'sF has a customer loyalty points discount program, so in most instances, at the time of the purchase, and later on down the road, their prices are the best online.
    I ordered a car stereo from Amazon, as it was 80 cents cheaper than another seller whose identical product would be, "fulfilled by Amazon". Since I don't have Prime, they let it sit in the warehouse for about 4 days, until I called up and b!tched about it. I had a bad feeling about not springing the 80 cents when I placed the order, and sure enough, they tried to screw me by delaying the shipment. Since they have warehouses on the east coast, had they shipped the day of the order, I would have gotten "two day free shipping", without joining Prime". Had I have opted for the seller's item, it likely could have been the identical item, and Amazon would have had to ship it the day of the order, to maintain good relations with its partner!

    By my biggest complaint with Amazon, is they are getting very close to being as aggressive a Google, with their tracking and sales tactics. Certainly taking only the constant spam into consideration, they are much worse. In fact, the other day I tried to follow a spam "just for you" ad email, and the sons of b!tches expected me to log in to see the rest of it! :mad:

    Once upon a time, you could simply buy an Mp.3s from them outright. Now, you're forced to install software,(just like iTunes), and go through a bunch of "cloud BS" before you can have the download.

    The same is true of buying videos from them, only much worse. You're again forced to install software, (for DRM purposes), and somehow they feel obligated to make it run as a startup program. Add the constant spam from "your weekend video guide", and you feel like you're lost in the desert with vultures wheeling overhead.

    When companies, and especially their owners/CEO get to Amazon''s level of sales volume, "success leads to excess", and all you're dealing with are a bunch of sociopaths, hell bent on "world domination". Really, they're people you wouldn't want anything to do with in day to day living. They're "war mongers", not with weapons, but every bit as ruthless.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,272   +2,179

    Well those type of, "review it the day you got it pointless nonsense", should go. But perhaps more importantly, where somebody says nothing about the product itself, and instead goes off on a wild tantrum about "Fed-Ex's lousy shipping and drivers".(*)

    (*) Or whoever happened to be the unfortunate carrier tasked with the junk's delivery.
    Evernessince likes this.
  11. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,388   +442

    We actually agree on something, Cranky! :)

    I have also dealt with Adorama, and I, too, would not hesitate to deal with them again. I agree that both B&H and Adorama have impeccable business practices. The fact that they are closed on Saturday does not bother me in the least. The buying experience at either is far superior to that of crapAzon. For one, I don't have to wade through tons of useless results that crapAzon flings at you hoping that something will stick.

    It sounds like crapAzon is playing that not a Prime member and want free shipping - well in that case, we will just forget that you placed your order for about a week or so, then ship it - in effect saying, Next Time, Join F-ing Prime. It reminds me of my past experiences with UPS. A ground package would arrive in Ohio from California in about two days. Then it would sit in Ohio, a day from where I am, until they remembered that it needed to be delivered one week from the time it shipped.

    Bandcamp.com does not carry that many titles, but at least you can download right away, in several different formats without having to download some useless DRM software. Money, there, sounds like it goes directly to the artists, too. I have also bought from www.hdtracks.com They carry a wide range of selections, classical and much, much more.
  12. robb213

    robb213 TS Addict Posts: 325   +97

    That's where there's a thin line as I see it. If you go into detail about the product, which literally shows you do own it and use it, then I'm fine with it. Otherwise, I do agree.

    For instance: I bought both of my GTX 970s from Newegg. So I put my first huge blob of a review on Newegg. Awhile ago, I don't recall being able to edit reviews on Newegg, since I wanted to add more new and modified info, so I eventually copied it to Amazon because at the time there were still barely any semi-detailed reviews for the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX on Amazon. With the amount of detail I put in there, it's obvious I own the product and use it. Coincidentally, its still the top review for that card as well.

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