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Amazon Fake Products and Fake Reviews 240

Posted by timothy
from the may-I-interest-you-in-a-defrobnosticator? dept.
rsk writes "The first time I came across fake reviews on Amazon, it was hilarious. Using Amazon's Window Shop app, I came across a great category, 'Peculiar Products,' and was more than happy to look through it. Almost every one of the products I found on the list (Uranium Ore, 1 Gallon of Milk, Parent Child Test, Fresh Whole Rabbit) were fake, with thousands of reviews on them. As a shopper, I wasn't aware of how easy it was to apparently fake product reviews and it bothers me. When I'm shopping, the first (and a lot of times only) place I visit is Amazon to read the reviews if I'm in the market for something. I don't expect the reviews to be the word of God, but I do assume a certain level of legitimacy for most of them. While this won't affect my use of Amazon (especially not at this time of the year) I would like to bubble this up to Amazon's attention so some time is spent on improving the quality of the reviews."
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Amazon Fake Products and Fake Reviews

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  • Worth every penny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nigelo (30096) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:34PM (#34504304)

    Free advice is worth every penny.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:34PM (#34504310)

    Even more shocking is how easy it is to fake penthouse letters.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:34PM (#34504320) Journal
    I did this way back in 2005 for IDC reports that cost thousands of dollars but were only 10 page PDFs [amazon.com].

    It's a joke. It's funny. It's not people gaming a system, it's people being funny. It's not some evil corporation pimping it's uranium, it's people who think half life jokes and Back to the Future references are the hip new thing.

    One of my friends posted the original joke review to the Three Wolf Moon T-shirt a long time ago and for about a week, we got our kicks writing joke reviews and people approved of them because, well, they were funny. I'm appalled that you think this is gaming the system when it's just regular people having a good time.

    As a shopper, I wasn't aware of how easy it was to apparently fake product reviews and it bothers me.

    How on earth could that bother you? You didn't notice it until you stumbled into a weird category on some beta app. Do you have any sense of humor?

    For what it's worth, Amazon is starting to allow reviewers who ordered the item from Amazon to mark on their review that Amazon confirms them as an owner. So you could probably in the future sort those reviews by those that wrote jokes and those that actually ordered the uranium (my god, how is this not on idle).

    It really bothers you? How? Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience.

    • And how is this different from the myriad vaporware announcements over the past three decades? At least there's some humor in these.

      • And how is this different from the myriad vaporware announcements over the past three decades? At least there's some humor in these.

        What the article really seems to miss is that there are meta-moderating for the reviews so you see things like "154 of 156 people found the following review helpful"

        And when you see a spam bot or some fan boy getting all hot and bothered over some new product that's being preordered, that review gets buried as people vote it down and add comments like "WTF?" So if you're worried about this being an indication that companies or people are gaming the sale of products through reviews, I usually vote that

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      It's not people gaming a system, it's people being funny. It's not some evil corporation pimping it's uranium, it's people who think half life jokes and Back to the Future references are the hip new thing.

      But the reviewer said that eating uranium ore for a month had caused him to grow three heads. I did the same and I still only have one head. I want my money back!

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:48PM (#34504598) Journal

      Except if you actually think it doesn't happen with real products too, man, I hate to break down your ideal world bubble.

      For a start, even as a joke, a lot of those jokes are just a cross between vandalism and fanboyism. E.g., it's trivial to run into reviews for games which not only aren't out there yet, but don't even have a beta or preview or much information out yet. I remember particularly Gothic 3 -- which eventually turned out to be a buggy bad joke -- which although just announced, and, really, all the information about it were a couple of screenshots that their engine works, and there were already gushing reviews for it on Amazon. You know, TEH GRATEST GAME EVAR!!! kinda reviews.

      It's vandalism because even if it may be identifiable as an unfunny joke at that moment, fast forward a year and it's just noise in the actually useful signal.

      Actually, even your kind of jokes sound like vandalism to me. It's having fun at the expense of spamming a useful resource and confusing the heck out of anyone who isn't magically aware whether the "Three Wolf Moon T-shirt" is a real product to buy or a joke, and whether the good or bad reviews are actual reviews or someone's bad idea of a joke.

      You know, sorta like the guys posting goatse and rickrolling links on an unrelated mailing list. I don't doubt that in their deranged little brains it passes for freaking hilarious, but the rest of us just wish they'd die in a fire.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dadelbunts (1727498)
        Oh no the humanity.My heart goes out to you and people like you. How dare amazon trick you into thinking the three wolf moon shirt was a MAGICAL item with otherworldly levels of sexual attraction while it was just a REALLY REALLY REALLY awesome shirt. Also to the poor people tricked by game reviews months before it was released. What are the sheep to do, use LOGIC!!?!?! MY GOD. What world do we live in that we dont immediately base our purchases on how many stars a product has on Amazon. Not a world i want
        • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:23PM (#34505086) Journal

          Yes, and after the game is released, a few million people still have to spend collectively the equivalent of a couple of centuries just wading through the brainless drivel of some cretin who thinks he's funny. 'Cause obviously we wouldn't want to get straight to the actually useful information. I mean, oh noes, some people must be sheep if they just want to learn whether that product worked as a t-shirt (e.g., if it shrunk after the first machine wash) from other customers, instead of being delighted to wade through pages of idiots pretending that their "OMG it's magical" drivel is funny. Right?

          Obviously if we're actually shopping for a t-shirt, our time is there just to read some lame jokes, and not to actually compare t-shirts. Man, what would we ever do with our time if we didn't have to spend hours using TEH LOGIC to guess which products are real and which are lame jokes, and which reviews are real and which are lame jokes. Why, without your kind of selfless saviour providing all that crapflood to filter, we'd be done with the shopping in 10 minutes and probably be stuck for the rest of the evening getting bored and having nothing to do. Oh noes! I mean, it's not like there's TV, YouTube, games, websites, etc, to go to if we want entertainment. Without your kind crap-flooding Amazon, why, we'd just have to sit there and get bored.

          Heh.

          And that goes double for cases when basically the request to use logic comes from some cretins who aren't very good at logic or data to use it on in the first place.

          E.g., since the summary mentions Uranium, it must be an obvious joke, right? Well, no, actually depleted Uranium is perfectly ok to own and use for civilian purposes. It's even used as balast in boats and whatnot. Being very dense, it can lower your boat's centre of gravity a lot without taking much space. So someone could actually be trying to buy just that, in all honest.

          But don't tell that to the ignorant joker who's basing his idea that it'll be an obvious joke for anyone who isn't stupid... on his own being stupid and ignorant.

      • For a start, even as a joke, a lot of those jokes are just a cross between vandalism and fanboyism. E.g., it's trivial to run into reviews for games

        Woh, wait a second. Where in the summary or article do they link to a game where this has happened?

        You know, TEH GRATEST GAME EVAR!!! kinda reviews.

        Where in the world are you getting this from? Fanboys are a completely different problem. That's not funny and it's not something I do. The joke reviews go on products that nobody in their right mind would buy. If somebody puts up a joke product like uranium, how does it deserve anything other than joke reviews?

        Here's a free tip for you: if you try to do a joke review on a very popular product, about

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338)

          As I was saying in the other message, actually someone could genuinely be trying to buy or sell depleted uranium, which is a very legal thing to do. More common than you seem to think too. It's an inert and very dense material used, well, whenever you need something heavy and which doesn't take much space. E.g., it's actually used as ballast in boats. SRSLY.

          Granted, Amazon wouldn't be the first place to go looking for it, but if I were looking for something like that and happened to stumble upon something l

          • by shadowfaxcrx (1736978) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:44PM (#34505350)

            It's OK to buy and own non-depleted uranium too, actually. Very small quantities are bought all the time for wide-ranging projects like Geiger counter calibration, and school science labs.

            The amount in the canister on Amazon (which I do not actually believe is fake) is not enough to do anything dangerous with, even if you bought a whole bunch of canisters. You'd have to pretty much spend a sizable fortune to get enough to make even a very small nuclear reactor, and if you were trying to make a nuclear bomb you'd have to buy even more, and that's assuming you had the equipment and knowhow to make weapons-grade fissile material out of it.

            It always amazes me how many people have such "OMG! NUKYEWLUR!" reactions to things like this. They must not know that glow-in-the-dark watches and gun sights are radioactive (tritium, which is also used to make weapons and yet civilians can get hold of it by buying a Luminox watch). Hell, pacemakers used to be powered by plutonium until Li-Ion batteries came along.

            Nuclear is no big deal in the amounts sold to the general public.
             

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        Those who think of false reviews as "jokes" are just boors with a limited world view. It exactly the same mentality that thinks "tagging" a building or park bench is cool. Juvenile minds have no respect for the value of a good, well tended community resource. To the small minded, the limited benefit they receive by defacing the commons is not over weighed by the damage done, because they are unable to understand the damage or value of what they are defacing.
      • While it's obvious that the Parent Child Test product isn't real, some or all of the others probably are!

        First of all, you really can buy uranium ore. If nowhere else, you can go on ebay and get a revigator [theodoregray.com]. Lots of countries can and do dig up uranium ore; but it takes a lot of processing to do anything nuclear-chain-reaction-related with it.

        I'm pretty sure the rabbit is real, probably sent packed in ice or something. Rabbit meat is sold; I once ate rabbit bought at a local grocery store.

        The only thing s

      • by mmaniaci (1200061)

        Welcome to the Internet, sir. Leave your morals at the door please.

    • First of all, I'm baffled that the guy never realized that some people may put up a fake review. Second of all, the review quality is great, if you know how to interpret them. I usually focus on longer reviews. I also usually look across the spectrum of the star ratings. For example, a lot of products have many 4-5 star reviews with a few 3 stars or under. I usually look at the lower star reviews to see what problems people had with the product (if people report the same problem, then it's more likely to be
      • by Surt (22457)

        You understand that a lot of those negative reviews are reverse astroturfing right? The competitor is going onto amazon and leaving detailed negative reviews about their competitor's products.

      • by Quirkz (1206400)
        This is what I came here to say. Always look at reviews from the different ratings brackets. Sometimes the 2-star and 4-star ones are a little more useful than the 1's and 5's, because those authors are less likely to be out to provide irrational hate or praise. Good way to get a sampling of opinions. Particularly for games, but also generally a great way to get contrary discussion on books.

        Also want to note the "reviews are just jokes" crowd apparently completely missed the transition from the author tal

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:57PM (#34504706) Journal

      It really bothers you? How? Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience.

      Really John? You have to ask that question?

      A couple years ago my Father wanted to get out of the Field Technician Business and get into a more desk type job at home, where he could be his own boss kind of stuff. For Christmas he had but ONE request, a semi-luxurious Office Chair. Given that my father could not come to terms with how I dropped out of school and still got a job without that piece of paper, we both have this grudge about things we shouted at each other one day. However, the holidays are about family and I could not help but feel compelled that perhaps fulfilling this one request might mend the broken family that came about as a result of me not finishing that damn technical writing course. (As a side note, I was seriously knee deep in working out Regular Expressions in Perl, how could they possibly expect me to do up a cover letter that made any sense at the same time?)

      Anyways, so after discovering this magic bullet to fix all the things that went wrong, I set out to get my father the best Office Chair Canadian money can buy. Having been recently thrown out and banned from Staples, Bestbuy, and Futureshop, for setting the IE Homepage on the display computers to the small local competitor down the street, I had no where to reasonably go but online. I did consider Ikea, but honestly I had enough trouble setting up some shelves with nothing but wooden dowels and an allen key, I did not want to take the risk of them making me set up a complex office chair with nothing but the same.

      So there I was, browsing the Amazons and the Ebays of the world over, just trying to find the best price and shipping combination for my buck on Office chairs with reasonable features. However, I noticed a shocking trend. A lot of people who recieved these shipments of Office chairs were horribly mauled and disfigured by what they claim to be a Bobcat. They would not buy again. Now, I know that occaisonally someone likes to post a little joke review here and there. But this was EVERYWHERE. It was like an epidemic. I rationally thought that there must have been some mix up at the factory, or they really should not have put that Office Chair Warehouse right beside the nature reserve.

      As such I did not purchase an office chair, but rather settled on a Thelma and Louise DVD. Needless to say, relationships have since worsened, and he has recently ended up in the hospital. He doesn't even want to see me. He thinks I did this to him. Everything is just so messed up, and I had this one perfect opportunity to make everything all better. And I blame you and your ilk for completely ruining my shopping Experience, Christmas, and inadvertantly, the rest of my life.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      It really bothers you? How? Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience.

      It probably bothers him (not to be offensive) because his worldview before did not include a set of people who would willingly (for fun or not) enter false information on the internet. This experience has no doubt been a rude awakening, as he has probably had to challenge a lot of the beliefs he formed after visiting the Craigslist "missed connections" section and reading the post comments at Breitbart.com.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        I think people tend to assume that the bad reviews are mainly spam or by people that have something to gain financially by it. Reviews which aren't spam and aren't for profit, but aren't accurate either make it really hard to judge what's being offered.
    • "Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience."

      Well, I for one was really looking forward to my first Unicorn Meat Casserole [thinkgeek.com]. When I found out it was just a joke potted meat product I was crushed.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      It's a joke. It's funny. It's not people gaming a system, it's people being funny.

      If you haven't yet read the top review on the Tuscan milk [amazon.com], it is easily one of the most brilliant pieces of writing on the Internet. And done anonymously too.

    • by rsk (119464)

      Oh god the comments don't bother me at all, it bothers me how easy it is to game.

      All these examples are hilarious because it's harmless, but if some douchebag marketer hops on there and starts spamming reviews for an awesome screwdriver set that is a POS or a $100 sports jacket (or book, or camera or whatever) that's what I see happening in the near future (assuming it isn't happening already) and I'll end up buying those items and regretting it.

      I do rely on the reviews to at least be somewhat real and what

  • Fake post (Score:5, Funny)

    by PatPending (953482) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:35PM (#34504332)
    Fake post.
  • Ratings (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DanTheStone (1212500) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:36PM (#34504356)
    This is why Amazon likes to show you the top-rated positive comment and the top-rated negative comment. It's why they have reviewer ratings and the "Vine" program. It's why they have the whole meta-rating system in the first place. Don't ever take the star score at face value. Put more weight behind confirmed real names. Read review comments. It's not that hard to figure out.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Real names are nice, I suppose, but I'd rather they confirm that the person bought it or at least ordered it. Many times an item might be the same for practical purposes but have something substantively different about them. Most often with computer games where one version might be patched up to date, but for a former platform, but the other is patched up and supported on the most recent OS revision. They're the same, but there could very well be compatibility issues there.
      • by kormoc (122955)

        Real names are nice, I suppose, but I'd rather they confirm that the person bought it or at least ordered it.

        They do:
        What's an "Amazon Verified Purchase" review?

        When a product review is marked "Amazon Verified Purchase," it means that the customer who wrote the review purchased the item at Amazon.com. Customers can add this label to their review only if we can verify the item being reviewed was purchased at Amazon.com. Customers reading an Amazon Verified Purchase review can use this information to help th

  • by geekoid (135745)

    "but I do assume a certain level of legitimacy for most of them. "

    Why? the seldom have context, there often posted immediately after the item is received, and there are know astroturfs.

  • by h00manist (800926) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:37PM (#34504366) Journal
    If there is money or prestige involved, generally there are lies involved.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Probably because honesty is punished, harshly. Any honesty that doesn't go with the group think runs the risk of resulting in being shunned or run down.
  • It's funny (Score:4, Insightful)

    by A Friendly Troll (1017492) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:39PM (#34504418)

    It's funny.

    Laugh.

    If such an innocent thing bothers you, I dread to think what else you disapprove of.

    These reviews are just light-hearted humour, and to be honest, they ARE hilarious (always have been, always will be) and often just the perfect thing to make you smile after a boring three-hour meeting.

    You want to "bubble this up to Amazon"? Seriously, don't you have anything better to do?

    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      Fake reviews of joke items are funny, yes. But what about the part where the author asks if they can trust reviews of real products? That's a genuine question.
  • by Stregano (1285764) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:41PM (#34504466)
    Here is a big example: the release of Spore. That game had thousands of bad reviews because of the DRM. People who never played/bought the game.

    Actually the review issue will be super simple to fix: if somebody buys a product from Amazon, if they also write a review on the product, there will be a special piece of text that says that the user who left the review bought the product from Amazon. To get rid of most of the bad/fake reviews, all Amazon needs to do is require that all reviews be from people who actually bought the product. This would also eliminate reviews on fake products, since unless the person paid for and bought the paid product, no review for them.

    As for fake products, you would think there is some way to flag fake products to alert Amazon about it.

    So, Amazon could easily fix these issues with items that are already in place (unless flagging products is not in place, but that sounds like something very odd that should be place if it is not), but it appears they choose not to. Maybe contacting Amazon directly and informing them about this would help out much better than a /. article, but maybe that is just me
    • by Stregano (1285764)
      Some of us do leave great reviews:
      Amazon Review [amazon.com]

      A product that was well known to be hated, even though many people did not know why they were hating it, so I gave a real review on it, and it got very positive feedback. Unfortunately, weeding through fake/dumb reviews to find real reviews sucks to do
    • by demonbug (309515)

      Spore is a bad example, because it actually is a crappy game.

      But yeah, there have been numerous examples of things getting massive numbers of bad reviews fro things like DRM. If you are actually thinking about buying something, hopefully you have the sense to look past the simple star rating and read some of the reviews; it becomes immediately obvious if the rating is based on the actual merits of the product, or if people are just giving bad ratings to protest some action by the company.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here is a big example: the release of Spore. That game had thousands of bad reviews because of the DRM. People who never played/bought the game.

      Uhm, excuse me but your point is...? I bought Spore and it certainly didn't hold up to the media hype, actually it was one of the worst games I've ever bought when they came out. And the DRM *did* suck. While I generally agree with your point I'd say the thousands of reviewers got it right in case of Spore.

    • "Verified Purchase" (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mr 44 (180750) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:53PM (#34504668)

      This exists! It's called Amazon Verified Purchase [amazon.com]. See, for example:
      http://www.amazon.com/review/R23WKI375G1JJM [amazon.com]

      I don't know if their ranking algorithm rates reviews from verified purchases higher or not, but wouldn't be surprised...

      • by Stregano (1285764)
        Thanks. That is what I was referring to and did not remember what it was called.

        My example with Spore was that even if the game was horrible, I would rather see thousands of reviews of people saying the game was horrible, then thousands of reviews about people complaining about DRM. I won't say DRM is good, but if you did not buy the product, let the people who wasted their money on Spore tell you why it was a waste of money.
    • by dunezone (899268)

      Here is a big example: the release of Spore. That game had thousands of bad reviews because of the DRM. People who never played/bought the game.

      I saw something like this on Newegg(I believe), was researching graphic cards when I came across a review which had no depth to it. The review stated that for the same price you could purchase two graphics cards and basically have dual cards and have about 10% performance gain. The review neglected to say anything about having to purchase bigger case, motherboard that supports two video cards, and upping the power supply to accommodate the additional card.

      So the review was obviously made by someone who

    • by houghi (78078)

      Amazon is not interested in correct reviews. They are interested in people on their site and in the end people buying stuff. As long as investing time and money to let this go away NOT result in more money coming in, why would they change it?

      Remember that they deal with huge number of people, not only /. readers. Soccermom finds it perhaps funny as it was forwarded from a cow orker and then sees this nice add and buys something else.

    • by adisakp (705706)

      Actually the review issue will be super simple to fix: if somebody buys a product from Amazon, if they also write a review on the product, there will be a special piece of text that says that the user who left the review bought the product from Amazon. To get rid of most of the bad/fake reviews, all Amazon needs to do is require that all reviews be from people who actually bought the product. This would also eliminate reviews on fake products, since unless the person paid for and bought the paid product, no review for them.

      Amazon already marks reviews from actual buyers... look for the "Amazon Verified Purchase" label next to the review. Sometimes a product gets reviewed legitimately on Amazon that isn't a verified purchase. Maybe it was a gift or purchased elsewhere. It's still nice to have these other reviews but I do give more weight to verified reviews.

      • by Surt (22457)

        Actually the review issue will be super simple to fix: if somebody buys a product from Amazon, if they also write a review on the product, there will be a special piece of text that says that the user who left the review bought the product from Amazon. To get rid of most of the bad/fake reviews, all Amazon needs to do is require that all reviews be from people who actually bought the product. This would also eliminate reviews on fake products, since unless the person paid for and bought the paid product, no review for them.

        Amazon already marks reviews from actual buyers... look for the "Amazon Verified Purchase" label next to the review. Sometimes a product gets reviewed legitimately on Amazon that isn't a verified purchase. Maybe it was a gift or purchased elsewhere. It's still nice to have these other reviews but I do give more weight to verified reviews.

        Exactly as you should, because neither astroturfers or reverse-astroturfers have budget to buy products through amazon!

    • by Surt (22457)

      Unfortunately, astroturfers and reverse-astroturfers will still be posting, because they have a substantial marketing budget. It costs you no more than the tax and shipping to buy your own product, and the cost to buy your competitor's product is a small price to pay to leave them a negative horror story review.

  • Immediately following the script kiddies calling off their DDoS on Amazon, /. posts a negative article regarding Amazon.

    Funny timing. Like an infant screaming and kicking trying to show the world that it matters.

  • most of those are posted by marketing firms and meant for idiots who don't know any better. it's like when my wife is bugging me about something she says that cnet gave it a good review. i tell her that no one reads cnet anymore

  • by tempestdata (457317) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:47PM (#34504576)

    This is an issue that you can see Amazon and users taking seriously. If you notice Amazon allows you to meta moderate reviews, as well as comment on reviews. I have spotted a lot of fake reviews by reading comments on reviews, and I make it a point to comment on fake reviews as well providing my rationale for why I think it is a fake review. Just like on slashdot, community moderation is key here.

    Amazon also provides an additional level of verification with the "Amazon verified purchase" where by Amazon lets you know that this reviewer at the very least did purchase this product from Amazon.

    In the end reviews are like asking for advice. Often you get bad advice, often you get advice from people with hidden motives, and often you get good advice. Amazon's review system is just a representation of real life. Go anywhere on the web, or go call up some real estate agents/mortgage brokers and ask them "When is a good time to buy a house?" and the answer will almost invariably be "If you can afford it, _now_ is a good time to buy a house". They have a hidden agenda they want to push.

    I am not singling out real estate agents though. They are doing their job. Dealing with people is dealing with hidden agendas. :)

  • by MrKevvy (85565) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:57PM (#34504700)

    Unsure if in an article or the comments, but it's arguably the most famous so surprised it wasn't mentioned.

    $1000 Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable [amazon.com]

    • Sometimes, however, things aren't quite so black and white. I ran across this thing [amazon.com] the other day looking for trackballs. Actually looked really interesting until I noticed the price.

      It's a real product (although apparently discontinued). Would somebody pay $500 for a trackball? Hell, for that much money, I'll build them by one a time out of hand selected Unicorn hooves.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RJHelms (1554807)

      What I find exceptionally absurd about this is that author of the article, Riyad Kalla, is complaining about fake reviews on Amazon, but the TFA has a link to another article in the "related articles" section, by the same author, celebrating that Denon one you mention [thebuzzmedia.com]. So he finds fake reviews hilarious, except when he doesn't. And writes articles about them in both cases.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:01PM (#34504776) Homepage
    The reviewers didn't seem to get the Parent Child Test. Unless I miss my guess, the cost of $10,000+ coupled with the "cool" figurine is the test. If someone orders it, they are clearly fascinated with shiny figurine toys and completely lack any concept of money, ergo they are children.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:02PM (#34504790) Homepage

    Since the big October 27, 2010 change to Google search, in which "places" results appeared at the top of web search, reviews have become much more important. Google's web search was mostly based on links, but Google Places is heavily driven by reviews. For a local business, there typically are few reviewers, so spamming reviews is far more effective than creating link farms.

    Google is not too good at filtering out phony businesses, either. See "Dominating Google Maps- The Most Effective Spam Ever And What You Can Learn From It" [convertoffline.com], from an aggressive search engine optimization firm. That's an outright scam that fools Google easily.

    Over on Bing, it's even worse. Search Bing for "New York City Locksmith". All 5 of the Bing locations listed are the same company, and they don't really have all those locations.

  • Oh wait. That's their business model.

    Never mind.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Of course, Amazon.Com bought Woot.Com last year. Probably because of the business model. I see a pattern emerging.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:09PM (#34504890) Homepage Journal

    The only reviews I take at all seriously are at epinions.com [epinions.com] and ConsumerReports.org [consumerreports.org] .

    And I read only the negative reviews for anything, anyway. Once I'm looking at something reviewed, I probably already want it, so I'm looking for reasons not to get it. And negative reviews are harder to write convincingly without actually knowing something about the thing and its context, anyway. Anyone mad enough at something to go to all that trouble is itself an honestly negative review.

    • Do you still read only the negative reviews if they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by positive ones (e.g., 1 in 50)? At Amazon, I tend to look at the overall rating, and then the percentage of negative reviews. A quick scan of the negative reviews, and the more substantive positive reviews, typically gives me a good feel for a product/brand/seller.

      Have you ever run into instances where all the negative reviews are from a few years ago? I've run into some products that, though they still have the same mod
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        I was exaggerating, because there are some times (unusual) when I'm turning to reviews before understanding the thing, in which case I sometimes read positive reviews for a description by someone else who's dealt with it personally. I also read positive reviews sometimes if I'm choosing between multiple strong candidates whose negatives haven't already decided it.

        But I do count the number of positives, or rather the ratio of positives to negatives, which depending on the thing might weight my overall take o

    • by Surt (22457)

      Yep, no one ever reverse-astroturfed their competitor's product on epinions!

  • by jomama717 (779243) <jomama717@gmail.com> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:22PM (#34505062) Journal
    I wonder if one prong of an organized DDoS attack on site X is posting a story about site X on slashdot. More likely all of the hubbub has the conspiracy center of my brain in overdrive...
  • by HikingStick (878216) <<z01riemer> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:33PM (#34505206)
    That's why they started including the "verified purchase" link. If the reviewer bought the product through Amazon before leaving the review, that flag is applied to the review. It's intended to make consumers more confident that the reviews are from real owners of the product.

    At the same time, it was another way Amazon was trying to put some parameters around its reviewer community. A lot of them out there are very picky about their status as reviewers, and many voiced concerns about people who were just going online and writing reviews for anything and everything. The way I figure it, most shoppers will be able to tell the difference between a well-thought out review, and a lot of the brief first impressions, one-liners, and flames ("It didn't work out of the box--I'll never buy from that company again!") that abound.

    For the record, I am a regular reviewer at Amazon, but don't get my undies in a bunch about the interal squabbles. I'm happy being a top-2,000 reviewer for now, and hope to make the top 100 someday. Contrary to Amazon's advice, which states that shorter reviews are most helpful, some of my highest rated reviews are quite long and fairly detailed. I always try to include information that might make a difference in someone's purchasing decision--the same type of information I was often seeking before making a purchase.
  • by Steauengeglase (512315) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:39PM (#34505276)

    Now I'm gonna have to crush like 20 yellow Fiestaware pitchers to test my homemade GM tubes. Thanks for nothing Amazon.

  • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:46PM (#34505374)

    If you look closely, there's actually a pretty thorough disclaimer for these products.

    "Disclaimer: While we work to ensure that product information is correct, on occasion manufacturers may alter their ingredient lists. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and/or different information than that shown on our Web site. We recommend that you do not solely rely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. For additional information about a product, please contact the manufacturer. Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. Amazon.com assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products."

    Not much left to chance on that.

  • Some might be, but the uranium probably isn't. You can also order it from United Nuclear. The vendor on Amazon, Images SI, has a website that offers various scientific kits, geiger counters, and, yes, radioactive samples like the same uranium ore they sell on Amazon.

    Granted, Tuscan Whole Milk is now wholly fake, but it might have been real at one point. I've even seen a Tuscan Milk truck here in Massachusetts.

  • My favorite is to start researching a product and get into the reviews.

    I often find the same review is cross-posted, copied, plagiarized, and just plain rewritten over and over. Sometimes I search on a distinctive phrase and marvel at how many different sites carry this crap. It both dilutes the trustworthiness (IMHO these review whores are just untrustworthy) and potential accuracy of reviews.

    I read through reviews pretty carefully anyways, as I have read glowing reviews of products that I've purchased,

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