The Abuse of Online Review Systems

A very interesting article flagged up by Steve Clackson over on his Sandstorm blog suggests that online reviews may be subject to more abuse than their hosts would have us believe.

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 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 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.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

One thought on “The Abuse of Online Review Systems”

  1. Thanks for the rider!

    And for mentioning the article. I’m printing it out for a careful read.

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