There are bad apples no matter where you go, and there are some pretty unscrupulous reviewers out there that make things worse for everyone involved. What makes a bad reviewer? Let me count the ways, literally.
- Grabs as many free items as possible with no real discernment, the end goal being only as many freebies as possible and the review is an afterthought, if a review is left at all. These are greedy people, looking to “game” the system.
- Does not take item out of package, does not use item, but somehow is able to leave a review. Miraculous.
- Reviews all items as 5 star, and will say it is the best item ever.
- Copy and pastes the same review over multiple items in an effort to save time, or reviews the same item multiple times with different accounts.
- Leaves a one sentence (or in some cases a one word) review.
- Does not review item, so much as copy and paste the item description from the manufacturer as the review (complete with a 5 star rating, of course.)
- Plagiarizes other reviews, word for word.
- Reviewer receives cash to review, thereby making them a paid shill.
- Writes reviews for items they never even received, for monetary compensation.
- Down-votes other product reviews at the request of unscrupulous sellers.
How does this harm the reviewing world in general? If the average person shopping online runs into these fake reviews they very well may get the impression that all product reviewers who get product for free are of the same ilk. I have gotten many nasty comments on reviews I have done for free product. They all sound somewhat the same “Your review is fake” or “You can’t be honest when you get a free product” (some are worded a bit more colorfully than that). My reviews are thoughtfully written, but these people obviously have formed their opinions based on a few bad apples and then apply that opinion broadly for all reviewers. Is it fair? No. Is that how the world works? Yes. It only takes a few crappy reviewers to ruin it for everyone – be it buyer, honest seller or other reviewers.
There is already a large contingent of people crying foul about reviewers receiving free product, and I agree they have a point in a lot of instances. They feel that some of the products that have massive amounts of glowing reviews from professional reviewers are corrupting the buyer experience, and making reviews less valuable as a tool of discernment. Let’s be honest, if I see a product has 100 reviews and all of them are in exchange for free product, and all of them seem to be 5 stars; I get suspicious. So should everyone. That isn’t how reality works. Even the best products would naturally have some bad reviews.
I don’t know what the future will hold, but Amazon (or any other online entity) can’t continue to let poor reviewers keep on reviewing en mass forever without losing the customer’s trust in the review system. Eventually I believe they will have to crack down on habitually bad reviewers, or sellers that seek out these kinds of reviewers. I don’t pretend to know how anyone can police it, but my gut says that someday change will have to occur.
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