This paper reports initial findings from a study that used quantitative and qualitative research methods and custom–built software to investigate online economies of reputation and user practices in online product reviews at several leading e–commerce sites (primarily Amazon.com). We explore several cases in which book and CD reviews were copied whole or in part from one item to another and show that hundreds of product reviews on Amazon.com might be copies of one another. We further explain the strategies involved in these suspect product reviews, and the ways in which the collapse of the barriers between authors and readers affect the ways in which these information goods are being produced and exchanged.
I think this confirms the common wisdom about Amazon reviews: take them with a pinch of salt. Unless they’re written by Debra Hamel.