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The Internet Businesses

E-commerce Sites Edit Customer Reviews 277

Posted by Zonk
from the not-quite-customer-reviews-then-are-they dept.
Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "Online retailers have a wide range of approaches to customer product reviews, with some struggling to balance candor with the desire to sell product. The Wall Street Journal Online has an overview of sites' policies. Newegg 'says it has a team of eight people who monitor reviews and reject submissions if they are too vague, mention competitors or criticize a brand without specific product insight, among other reasons. From July 1 to Aug. 2, the site received 18,188 reviews and rejected 15% of them, according to a Newegg spokesman.' Meanwhile, Overstock recently changed its policy: 'The Web retailer had been relying on its merchandising group -- the employees responsible for deciding which products to sell on the site -- to monitor reviews submitted by customers, but found that the group tended to approve only positive reviews. In January, the Salt Lake City-based company changed the monitoring responsibilities to its marketing team. The company now says it posts both positive and negative comments, as long as they are constructive.'"
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E-commerce Sites Edit Customer Reviews

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  • Newegg rev 01 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bigwavejas (678602) *
    Once you know, you never Newegg.
    • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by antifood (898331)
      Whats wrong with Newegg? I have always found that they have competitive prices, and have always taken care of any problems I have had. Any insight is welcome.
      • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The Warlock (701535) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:50AM (#13240343)
        Every review is a rave, and even the worst products have an average of three out of five stars (or golden eggs or whatever, it doesn't matter).

        That said, Newegg is a great place, but just know what you're buying before you go there; don't pay too much attention to the reviews.
        • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:5, Informative)

          by generic-man (33649) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @11:03AM (#13240582) Homepage Journal
          The last time I went to Newegg, they had a big red disclaimer above reviews saying something like "Don't base your purchasing decision solely on these reviews." At least they're being honest about random reviews not being a good sign.
          • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SpecBear (769433)
            Here's a test I use on any site that posts customer reviews: I check out the reviews for products that I already own. I love NewEgg for the prices, selection, and service, but their customer reviews are crap.

            I saw several reviews that described a hard drive I own as "quiet" among other things. It isn't, not by any stretch of the imagination that can be achieved without the use of mind-altering drugs. And anyone who owned on, or even read the drive's specs could tell this. After reading a number of NewE
          • "Don't base your purchasing decision solely on these reviews."

            Yes, they never lie and they are always right.

            Being honest about being dishonest still isn't very honest.
        • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:3, Informative)

          by idontgno (624372)
          You may be getting fooled by the fact that the item summary page displays the a few reviews, and pretty often they'll be raves because most customers wind up happy with their product (or give a pass to a marginal one). Even if the item you're looking at has 94 reviews, the item's catalog page may only display 3-5 of them, and odds are pretty good that the reviews will be positive. (The psychology of amateur reviewers and all.)

          There will also be a link saying "Read more reviews", and by looking at 100 review

          • I don't see much signs of an editorial conspiracy, since a few of the reviews I've seen are definitely in the realm of "very angry constructive criticism".

            Yeah, there are plenty of 1-star reviews on NewEgg.

            Which confuses me a bit. I've submitted 5 or 6 reviews there, all of which were basically positive ("It works!") but some of which contained a few caveats or gotchas. I tried to inlucde the sort of end-user-experience details that I wish I had been able to get before buying - stuff like "Win2K drivers n
            • Maybe they're trying to cut down on redundancy and save a little bandwidth. Who knows.

              When I buy from newegg (or hardware purchse), I usually have already researched my buy, but I always scan the reviews for the negative ones. Especially to find those little gotchas like you mentioned.

              I'd hate to blindly buy something that won't work, only to go check the reviews and see 10 people saying that it wouldn't work with the same hardware that I have.
      • Whats wrong with Newegg? I have always found that they have competitive prices, and have always taken care of any problems I have had. Any insight is welcome.

        I bought a Seagate drive that did not work from Newegg. They happily refunded my money after I paid them 50 dollars plus shipping cost plus the time it took me to do it.

        I partly bought the drive based on all of the positive reviews at Newegg. After reading at Amazon's customer feedback section about how _none_ of the Seagate 300 or 400 gig drives wor
      • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:2, Interesting)

        by pvxhound (845991)
        Because their user opinions aren't objective like their support. But I think they're excellent otherwise. I bought a modem that had a post claiming it was "controller based", and Linux compatible according to the mfg. It was a software modem and you needed to have the Linux source installed, which I didn't. I pointed this out three times nicely and constructively and was rejected 3 times. Heck, I even used IE for one. Last week a tv card on sale had 5 stars and 17 wonderful posts. All seventeen had st
    • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:2, Interesting)

      by acrolein (113485)
      So true. Painfully true. I submitted two reviews for two Newegg items that were basically shite. They both got rejected based on the merit that I suggested no one purchase them.
      • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:5, Informative)

        by GoodNicsTken (688415) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @11:28AM (#13240960)
        I bought a MSI K8N Neo board, and the PS2 keyboard didn't work. Not only that it was a known defect and MSI refused to do anything about it. Newegg rejected every attemp to post this bit of information. I started using competitors and ignoring the newegg reviews ever since.

        They changed the review comment also. Here it is from the old site:

        Newegg.com is not a forum for product reviews. For product reviews, we recommend sites such as www.cnet.com, www.anandtech.com, and www.tomshardware.com. Newegg.com is a private site that conducts the business of selling computer hardware and as such, any specifications and information posted by Newegg.com regarding products for sale must be factual. However, customer comments in regards to their experience with said products are the opinions of the user. The customer opinion reviews are used at the discretion of Newegg.com as a marketing device for positive and constructive ways to share the benefit of the product. It is not used as a source for negative commentary as we cannot endorse the validity of any negative comment. Therefore, the Newegg.com site is moderated to remove any unproven biased negative comments. It is not the intention of Newegg.com to mislead any customer and therefore
        all purchase decisions should not be solely based on the customer review.
        • However, customer comments in regards to their experience with said products are the opinions of the user. [...] Therefore, the Newegg.com site is moderated to remove any unproven biased negative comments.

          Lemme see if I got this right. If a review is positive, then it's taken as FACT, but if it's negative, it's BIASED OPINION. That's some happy horseshit there.

          My experiences with their prices/shipping has always been fantastic, but this is a bit disconcerting. At least they're upfront about it, I guess.
      • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:3, Interesting)

        This hits close to my experience, since I purchased 2 external RS-232 modems from NewEgg recently and submitted reviews for both (after some test time with both). The cheaper one (an 'Amigo' [generic Conexant-chipset-based] modem) worked great. The more-expensive one (a Diamond SupraMax) was horrible -- wouldn't work with 'kppp', had no on/off switch, wouldn't remember (after an ATZ) S register settings that had been written to non-volatile RAM (AT&W), etc. Keep in mind that the Amigo modem had none of
    • NewEgg is fine (Score:5, Insightful)

      by everphilski (877346) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @11:07AM (#13240645) Journal
      New Egg is great. I've ordered from them multiple times. Only once have I had a defective part (I purchased a refurbished motherboard) and they replaced it promptly, shipping me a replacement before they received the defective part back from me.

      You should *NEVER* trust a review on a commerce site. That goes without saying. Always go to an independant source that doesn't have a bias. That's like going to a car dealership and asking the dealer their honest opinion on the car in the window. Stupid.

      -everphilski-
      • Agreed, NewEgg has always done right by me. I read the reviews but I usually go there with an understanding of the product I want beforehand.

        You've gotta love this though:

        changed the monitoring responsibilities to its marketing team

        Because marketing isn't responsible for putting a positive face on a companies products or anything.

        Never trust any opinion coming from an institution which stands to gain financially from one side of the opinion or the other.
      • You should *NEVER* trust a review on a commerce site. That goes without saying. Always go to an independant source that doesn't have a bias. That's like going to a car dealership and asking the dealer their honest opinion on the car in the window. Stupid.

        Basically, NEVER trust someone selling something -- except with your money?!?!

        I utterly despise sales people, or basically anybody that directly works for money. To me, my integrity is worth more than $10, $20, or even $1,000, but I guess that is why I'm n
    • It doesn't matter what website you're talking about. "Customer" reviews can't be trusted at face value, because you can never tell when one's a shill. [wikipedia.org]
      (Wanna see an industry that has a 1:billions signal-to-noise ratio on reviews? Try finding legitimate reviews of web hosting services.)

      In Newegg's case, they've always done a fine job when I've ordered from them, even though that free pen they sent me ran out of ink really quickly.
    • Re:Newegg rev 01 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      newegg reviews are useful. if you are looking for a kick arse motherboard, dont look at the reviews but the NUMBER of reviews.

      if one mobo has 4 reviews and another has 65,000 of them then I suggest checking out the one with high number of reviews, cut and paste it's number and go searching on google for more info. items with few reviews are typically items that nobody is buying, and there usually is a reason for that.

      it's like a ebay rating, you need to look at it carefully. I even go so far as to check r
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:40AM (#13240154)
    I once wrote something to the effect of: "I can't recommend this laptop backpack for anyone who travels a lot," and the site neatly editted out the "can't". Never filling out one of those things again.
    • I once wrote something to the effect of: "I can't recommend this laptop backpack for anyone who travels a lot," and the site neatly editted out the "can't". Never filling out one of those things again.

      i'd probably try using my gpg signature... although there's no guarantee that that wouldn't be edited out as well.

    • by bluGill (862)

      If true (and someone claiming to be you has said it isn't) you should sue. They can edit your words for grammar/spelling. They can edit it to make it shorter. However editing to make it mean something other than what you intended is illegal. Your lawyer will have a fun time deciding which laws to apply. (forgery, copyright, slander, and more could apply depending on how the courts in your area work)

    • Hell, I've seen NEWSPAPERS do that. A friend of mine got interviewed on a city council race and the newspaper editor did that to him. I've never trusted a newspaper since. Always get independent confirmation before believing anything you read, see or hear in the news.
  • Heh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlackCobra43 (596714) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:41AM (#13240170)
    The company now says it posts both positive and negative comments, as long as they are constructive.'"

    Nothing's easier than saying "Sorry, I won't do it again" and pulling up your pants after getting caught. It doesn't change the fact you WERE caught and you DID do what you were caught doing.I also in no way guarantees that this behavior will not resurface at a later date.
    • Re:Heh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ingolfke (515826) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:46AM (#13240288) Journal
      Nothing's easier than saying "Sorry, I won't do it again" and pulling up your pants after getting caught. It doesn't change the fact you WERE caught and you DID do what you were caught doing.I also in no way guarantees that this behavior will not resurface at a later date.

      They had a problem... people would post useless reviews "it's good", "I hated it", "Buy me an Ipod", etc. and this was detrimental to the customers who were trying to figure out whether or not they wanted the product. So they tried a solution... to have the product team screen the reviews to make sure they were accurate based on what the product teams new about the products. A good idea, in that who is better to validate a review than the people who manage the product. Of course, the unforseen consequence was that the product team didn't want to look like they were buying crappy products and not doing their job (or they just though they had the best products) so they biased the screening process. The marketing team has in theory less bias (and less knowlege of the product perhaps), and in theory should do a better job with the screening process this time. The point is that the company is interested in providing the customers with valueable meaningful reviews and in order to do that they are willing to continuously improve their process.

      As long as they keep working to make it better for the customers and then that is a good thing.
      • Doesn't mean it's valid. I was looking in to getting a particular synthesizer and found a review site with some information. The only review on there was a bad one, and a fairly lengthy one. However it was worthless. The reason was that the person clearly purchased this device thinking it was something else. They spent most of their time whining about the lack of features that were never supposed to be there in the first place (as in they weren't advertised, weren't in development, and weren't consitent wit
      • No, it's not a good thing. The interests of the retailer are tied together with the interests of the makers of these products, so they are not a neutral third party that should be trusted to make censorship decisions on product reviews. I'm sure some retailers manage to stay ethical, just as you might grow up to be an upstanding citizen in a mob family, but any system that requires the highest level of ethical human behavior is not a good system.
    • Ah, shit. You're supposed to pull up your pants too? No wonder nobody believed me.
  • I usually check reviews at www.cnet.com
    To my knowledge they're an independent reviewer
    • They sure do have a lot of Sony and Dell adds on their site though.
      • Even a "non-biased" site will do what they have to do in order to retain advertisers. I would never expect a company to allow criticism of an advertiser on their site, for obvious reasons. This is why buyers need to research product information on multiple sites before deciding to buy something. Anyone can throw up a fake review site with glowing user testimonials, kind of like the ones you see on infomercials. A general rule of thumb should be to not believe everything you read on the internet, but if you'
      • Sony

        It's kind of funny that you mention Sony [yahoo.com].

    • To my knowledge they're an independent reviewer

      The only true independent reviewer that I know of is Consumer Reports. Of course, there is the problem that they don't necessarily review the types of products that New Egg sells.

  • by ChrisF79 (829953) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:42AM (#13240205) Homepage
    This really shouldn't come as a suprise at all. The fact is, companies are out to sell product. I'm not saying they should delete all of the negative reviews, but don't be surprised if a lot of them do get deleted.

    When you watch any type of commercial, you're not going to hear a negative review mentioned, correct? Why should the web be any different?
    • by kebes (861706) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:58AM (#13240494) Journal
      False advertising is illegal. There are laws regarding what types of claims you can make, and how much you have to back them up. You can say "our product is great" but you cannot say "the President loves our product" (unless of course he publicly said that, or you've arranged a contract with him, etc.). Similarly, you couldn't say "we have conducted an independant scientific survey, and determined that 99% of people love our product" if that isn't true. Of course there are cases where companies commision "independant" reviews, or distort stats to their favor. But laws exist to constrain advertising, and prevent out-and-out lying.

      When it comes to online user reviews, the situation gets a bit sticky. The reviews are hosted on the company's site... but something that claims to be "user reviews" implicitly indicates that these are the comments from all the users who cared to enter a comment. To modify or distort the comments is to change the implicit nature of the commenting system. So the company needs to clearly state "these reviews have been filtered and edited by our staff" or else they have to let the comments stand, consistent with a reasonable person's expectation of what is meant by "user reviews." To do otherwise is to purposefully mislead the customer. You cannot say "this medication is approved by doctors" if by "doctors" you mean some English professors who have Ph.D.s ... that would be misleading. Similarly, you cannot label them as "user reviews" if they have been edited.

      (Note: a certain amount of filtering to remove blatantly inflamatory or irrelevant reviews is of course okay, since this doesn't contradict a normal expectation of what a "user review" is.)
      • When it comes to online user reviews, the situation gets a bit sticky. The reviews are hosted on the company's site... but something that claims to be "user reviews" implicitly indicates that these are the comments from all the users who cared to enter a comment.

        No it doesn't. It merely says that these are customer reviews rather than the yammerings of the company's salesmen. It does not imply that they are all of the customer reviews nor even a random subset thereof.

        Anyone who takes such reviews s


      • Oh, so those "paid endorsement" people actually use things like that term life insurance and whatnot?

        You cannot say "this medication is approved by doctors" if by "doctors" you mean some English professors who have Ph.D.s ... that would be misleading.

        Although it may be "legal", I've seen some snakeoil salesmen on TV that were PhDs (supposedly, maybe from one of those email buy a PhD cheap programs).

        Basically, I've learned that there is an inverse relationship between quality of product and advertising/marke
  • Edit vs rejection (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dionysus (12737)
    Isn't there a difference between editing a review, and rejecting a review? Maybe I didn't RTFA close enough, but I didn't read anything about editing any of the reviews.

    • you're forgetting that this was posted on Slashdot, where "edit" is synonymous with "reject or accept".

      sigh, I suppose the winky face is required. ;)
  • Edit or filter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Linus Torvaalds (876626) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:43AM (#13240220)

    Seems to me that this is just filtering. While that's still not good, it's a lot more understandable and acceptable than editing what people say. Yet another misleading Slashdot headline, I guess.

  • by EvilStein (414640) <[ten.pbp] [ta] [maps]> on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:43AM (#13240221) Homepage
    "Astroturfing" certainly isn't something new, and neither is the practice of manipulating articles. Advertising slime certainly *would* stoop to that level to promote a product.

    Heck, even movie reviews are total garbage. Sony just got busted for publishing "reviews" penned by someone that didn't even exist.

    I don't trust *any* online review, be it on newegg, epinions.com, or amazon. Best reviews are still the ones you get from friends.
    • I don't trust *any* online review...

      Putting trust in something, and merely paying attention to it are two totally differnt things. I "pay attention" to reviews, not looking for truth, but to perhaps gain some insight on specific product details that I hadn't thought about, and may sway my decision.

      It's kind of like reading /. I would never trust *all* of the opinions, but the ideas flow rampantly. It's up to me to decide if should get further investigation or not.

      Even truly bogus garbage can be thought prov
  • Trustworthy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I don't think this should really be much of a surprise. It is impossible to trust the reviews that you read. The only person who benefits from truth is the consumer. Everyone else benefits from praise, false or not. The fact that Amazon had a great many reviews of their books posted by the authors or people related to the authors/publishers should give some insight into whether or not "customer reviews" are a good way of judging a product's merits.
  • I've seen constructive criticism of products in NewEgg reviews and if anything they made me more likely to buy. For example, there was a case that had the Firewire ports connected wrong but the reviewer pointed to a page that showed how to correct the pinout. I bought it and made the suggested change immediately.

    I have seen NewEgg reviews where they censored prices and competitor sites but still posted the review, so they don't always reject an entire review because of that.
  • Fry's (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DarkHand (608301) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:46AM (#13240263)
    Fry's Electronics owns Outpost, and I know someone who works at Fry's... At the penalty of losing their job, they're not allowed to say ANYTHING negative about any product whatsoever. They can't specifically say one product is better than another either. I wonder if this policy will change now as well?
    • I wish companies would realize, that if one product is reviewed negatively, then the customer can see that and turn to a different better product. Very rarely will the business lose a sale because of honesty. If anything, it will help to drive bad products off the market, and replace the bad products with good products. These bad products are surely only a drag on the market system, and creating friction. Does Newegg want to receive customer support calls, handle bad motherboards that keep getting sent
    • At the penalty of losing their job [. . .] [t]hey can't specifically say one product is better than another.

      That's not necessarily so bad, depending on how it is enforced in practice rather than inferring from a statement.

      For example, it could be as innocuous as forcing clerks to promote the positives and let the customers decide. Even if the clerk IS knowledgable about a subject, I don't necessarily want them telling me which is better. Then their opinion gets into it, and if there are sales commiss

  • Who bases their entire decision process (or any substanial part of it) on comments from J.C. from Dallas?

    I guess I always assumed that these comments were spiked. Go look at a lot of books on Amazon. The first ten reviews are always by the writer of the book and their family. I found one book in which the review was the same, but just the paragraphs were changed around. Eight different people wrote the same words but re-arranged? Don't think so.

  • I knew that many people couldn't have liked the DVD Night at the Roxbury!
  • Amazon does this all the time. I've frequently left reviews for products on Amazon, and if the review is anything but glowing adoration for the product, they tend to not post the review at all. Or, they'll simply edit the review so it doesn't say anything at all helpful.
  • by AEton (654737) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:46AM (#13240284)
    The WSJ article only mentions Amazon in passing (it no longer allows anonymous reviews), but they have the strongest review censorship I've seen yet.

    Any bestselling item will never have an average review of less than 4.0/5.0 stars.

    There is a much higher standard for poor reviews than good ones; and even excellent reviews of a product may disappear if they are unfavorable.

    (And we can't forget the time that Amazon.com accidentally slipped and published the identities of every reviewer, so that it became obvious which were editorial, publisher, or even authorial! shills.)

    On the other hand, Amazon does occasionally allow wonderful things, like hundreds of reviews of Bil Keane's work [amazon.com] that are mostly interested in the ontological existence of being. But these are rare and hard to find.
    • Any bestselling item will never have an average review of less than 4.0/5.0 stars.

      I wondered about that too. Sometimes, I wonder if those folks even read the book or used the item more then once. What I like to do is to look for the 1 or 2 star reviews and read what they have to say. If they're along the lines of "This sucks!", then I ignore them, but if the review goes on to itemize the things they had a problem with, then I find the review to be helpful. It's the same the other way when folks post "This

    • I don't know if Amazon actually does anything with reviews until someone complains about one, to be honest. It seems to me that there are just too many products on Amazon for them to review all the reviews manually before they're posted.

      One thing I'd like to see on Amazon is a way to add comments that don't affect the review average. But you _have_ to select a star value, even if all you want to do is clarify/correct someone else's review. I'd do that for my latest book :-) (Mind you, I'm not sure how muc

    • I said it was basically only something absolute completists would want, as it was a compilation of remixes with no new material, and anyone wanting to enjoy IS's work who's new to it should definitely buy other specific titles that Amazon carried, instead. They rejected the review saying I was being unfair to the artist. I appealed. Was ignored. I think that was the last time I tried to do a review.

      I see reviews there all the time that talk about products in glowing terms, by people who are listed as top 10
    • I think the problem is more that there are far more "this product is PERFECT" and "this product is HORRIBLE" reviews than any middle ratings. You won't be motivated to go back to Amazon and comment on the product unless either you had such a bad experience that you do want to take the time to warn people away from it, or it makes you so orgasmically happy that you can't stop talking about it. If you were reasonably satisfied, you just keep using the product without a second though to the buying process. If
    • by ianscot (591483) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @12:46PM (#13242100)
      Any bestselling item will never have an average review of less than 4.0/5.0 stars.

      There is a much higher standard for poor reviews than good ones; and even excellent reviews of a product may disappear if they are unfavorable.

      I doubt Amazon is really able to pull off that sort of thing consciously, but we'd have to know more about how their process works to say for sure. From my limited experience -- okay, mod me an embarrassed loser, but over several years I've posted a bunch of Amazon reviews [amazon.com] -- things seem much less calculated than that.

      I've never had a review disappear entirely, and really most of the "editorial" changes to my reviews have seemed like arbitrary, almost nonsensical elisions made by rigid formula. Two easy examples I can think of:

      • I compared the (godawfully calculating and soulless chick flick) movie "Love Actually" to a well-produced episode of "The Love Boat." The Amazon editors removed the name of the series, but left in the names of the characters - Julie, Doc, Gopher, and Captain Steubing.
      • For one history book I said something about how people wanted "bastardized" history. They removed the bad word and stuck in a "..." for it. That's happened a few times, in places where my use of the language was not at all offensive.

      So, okay, I can see a simple filter catching the bad words, but when did "The Love Boat" become a bad word? Did they think it was a copyright problem? Or what?

      Most of my negative reviews are left as-is, but you know, I tend not to post "This SUX."

      The overall effect might be to push products, in sort of the same sense that the overall effect of our court system can be racist. I don't think individual decisions within either system are rational enough to amount to a conspiracy, though. You'd have to look at how the process works to figure out why that happens.

  • by Dun Malg (230075)
    I personally have no problem with them going through and removing "reviews" that say "Nvidia is teh sux0rz. this video card is not as good as teh ATI - 1 star".As for tending to remove negative reviews more often, I reckon they seldom run into spurious positive reviews.
  • For the most part, when I read a negative review I realize that the only reason for the negative review is either user incompetence or inflated expectations.

    The first type is when a user gets their new electronic device home, and can't figure out that you need to take the lens cap off before taking pictures. Or they set the resolution of their new video card to 16 colors and post about how the specs lied and it looks like crap on their monitor.

    The other type are the reviews that scream about features
  • I have seen constructive negative reviews on their site, so in my experience they do a pretty acceptably balanced job. Obviously, relying solely on customer reviews as your sole criteria would be insane, but they can be helpful.

    For example, I was all set to buy an external hard drive enclosure from them, but some of the customer reviews noted a known dataloss problem with that enclosure's particular firewire-to-IDE bridge. So I selected another model. Normally I'd have done my homework before buying,
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:54AM (#13240414) Homepage Journal
    I've been on both sides. I ran the message board for a (small-signal) radio station for a while, and fought with management over posts about competing stations. Hint: don't admin a board unless you and the management are completely clear on such issues! Especially if you have something of an emotional investment in the subject.

    But sometimes it just gets out of hand. The message boards for Woot.com [woot.com] are full of spam postings, whining, and just plain crap. But they pride themselves on their free-wheeling tolerance for criticism, so they tend to not censor *anything*. It makes the board nearly useless for its intended purpose of reading the kudos and flames about a product.

    The best compromise would be have a clear policy about what will be deleted, and stick to it. That way, you can field complaints from management for letting opposing viewpoints through, and you can also get flamed by whiners wanting to crapflood. If you're catching hell from both sides, you know you're doing something right.
    • But they pride themselves on their free-wheeling tolerance for criticism, so they tend to not censor *anything*. It makes the board nearly useless for its intended purpose of reading the kudos and flames about a product.

      I wonder then, how about a system where editors can flag the spam and other junk posts as "filter out". These posts would then only appear on a separate page ("Filtered posts" or some such), linked to from the main review. This eliminates outright censorship, since the original spam/junk p

    • These web sites need some sort of moderation like Slashdot--but perhaps with a little more "professional" scoring. Users who login and have a history of responsible opinion should be rated higher than others.

      In addition, when it comes to product reviews, there needs to be a weighting system by date. Saying a camera is 4 out of 5 doesn't mean much if it is two years old. A new model at the bottom of the barrel may be better than the best of two years ago with the way the technology changes. So I find reading
  • I think product review comments should be moderated just like discussion forums. When posts are edited, they should be clearly marked as edited with an explanation.
  • by Stone Cold Troll (894857) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:54AM (#13240430)
    I wrote a review on TireRack that got silently rejected last winter. The thing is, I wrote the review specifically to warn people that a particular set of "All-Season" tires was dangerously inadequate on even a light dusting of snow, despite the manufacturer's claims. Unfortunately, I suppose when you get up in the $250/tire range, sales trump safety.
  • by davidu (18) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:55AM (#13240436) Homepage Journal


    There is nothing in that article to suggest the reviews are being edited. Rather, the article states that reviews are simply being approved or rejected which, regardless of perspective, is an entirely different thing.

    Editing someone elses words would be far worse than simply applying some editorial control as to what is posted on their own site. Slashdot does the same sort of thing in the form of moderation. Moderators can affect what is seen by readers but they can't change individual posts.

    Thanks,
    David
    • Perhaps the editor added their own personal knowledge. Would you like an example of NewEgg editing a user's review submission? This review [newegg.com] contains a complaint by a user that their previous review had been edited.

      -Chris
    • A crucial difference here is that Slashdot's moderation is essentially a reputation system which has nothing to do with censorship. Post intelligent, insightful remarks and you are rewarded with a higher reputation, meaning people are more likely to see your posts in the future.

      But, it's an optional reputation system. Anyone can browse Slashdot at -1, and see *everything* that's been posted to an article, AC trolls, flamewars, and all. It's moderation, not censorship, and that censorship is why what so
  • by jokestress (837997) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @10:55AM (#13240438)
    In March 2004, Amazon purged 34 negative reviews of a controversial book overnight, which drove the book's overall rating up from two to three stars and eliminated a number of reviews by well-known commentators. One of their Top 500 Reviewers had to try three or four times before they would not subsequently delete his negative reviews of this eugenics-based screed on sight.

    This is an abiding flaw of a non-transparent system in which an anonymous editor employed by the company chooses from anonymous reviews. They have tried to remedy this a bit with Real Name, but the fundamental problem remains: one or two dedicated shills or critics can easily manipulate the system.

    As another example, some of you may remember the fake Amazon reviews of Bil Keane's Family Circus books during the heyday of spinnwebe's Dysfunctional Family Circus.

  • How does rejecting some reviews based on inappropriate content, time-sensitive information, mentioning competing products, etc constitute "edit[ing] customer reviews"?

    In fact, it looks like they're taking lengths to avoid editing customer reviews by simply rejecting the entire review. I feel sorry for the guy who couldn't post his comments on Newegg.com because he was breaking the rules, but if he'd actually read the review guidelines first he could've gotten it posted the first time.

    Tangentally, the main p
  • If I have a brick and mortar store and an unsatisfied customer enters my store and begins passing out fliers and berating my business with a megaphone, INSIDE MY STORE, do you think that's acceptable?

    Should I even permit him to do the same thing in at the entrance door or even in the parking lot??
    What about on the sidewalk across the street?
    Where is the line drawn?

    I think not. Go try that at Wal-Mart or just about any other physical store and see what happens to you.

    Allowing people to criticize them on the
    • If I have a brick and mortar store and an unsatisfied customer enters my store and begins passing out fliers and berating my business with a megaphone, INSIDE MY STORE, do you think that's acceptable?

      That's not a fair analogy. These websites are not required to post user reviews if they don't want to. The question is, once they've said that they are posting user reviews, are they allowed to edit and control that content? The brick-and-mortar analogy would be to say that you're going to have a "discussio
      • The brick-and-mortar analogy would be to say that you're going to have a "discussion night" about your store, and encourage everyone in town to show up. Then, anyone who speaks up with a negative opinion you tell to leave your store immediately, and when someone expresses a positive opinion, you let them stay.

        It works for Dubya...
    • You're forgetting something though. These people aren't waving a massive flag around saying "THIS STORE SUCKS" they're saying "this specific product on the shelf is not worth your time, try this one over here". It's the same store, just a single product in the store is being targetted though.

      It's much like the same thing big biz does with radio, pay the radio stations big bucks to only play their songs (eerily similar to communist propoganda) and either totally filter out, or only allow mild critisism
    • If I have a brick and mortar store and an unsatisfied customer enters my store and begins passing out fliers and berating my business with a megaphone, INSIDE MY STORE, do you think that's acceptable? Should I even permit him to do the same thing in at the entrance door or even in the parking lot??
      What about on the sidewalk across the street?
      Where is the line drawn?


      That's a good question, where is the line drawn? Should I now not criticize a company because it may make them unhappy if I do so?
    • If I have a brick and mortar store and an unsatisfied customer enters my store and begins passing out fliers and berating my business with a megaphone, INSIDE MY STORE, do you think that's acceptable?

      Nah, just keep doing what pissed off that customer and watch that one customer turn into two, then three, etc.

      Overall, I have found that the "customer is always right" go away and be replaced with "the dollar is always right".

      I wish there was a more discriminating retailers in the electronics world that only so
    • What about on the sidewalk across the street?

      Um, public property?
    • A company is within their rights to not allow criticism of the merchandise that they carry to be shown on their own premises. Even if it is annoying not to allow it (e.g. I go to Amazon intending to buy a book on C# programming, or a digital camera and I look through the reviews to see which one suits my needs best - reviews that are not just happy happy advertising praise drivel are a great help here) they are within their rights to conduct their business in any substandard or backward manner that they ch
    • If you don't want criticism, you shouldn't start a forum. If you want to edit your forum, it's not surprising if people call you on it.

      There probably are some folks out there who don't know that the reviews are weeded. They deserve to know. That's what this discussion is documenting.
  • Sony recently was busted [reuters.com] for promoting some of their films using reviews from fake film critics. So the pressure to present good reviews to the public is clearly not limited to Tech. It is funny how we as consumers can be so affected by the recommendations of people we have never met (and may not even exist-or worse, may be lying).
    • Not only busted, but there was a class action formed and a settlement has been proposed.
      So.. If you got fucked out of $12 (or whatever a movie ticket is now), the courts have generously decided to award you a whopping $5 (plus an additional $5 per child if uhh... you took children with you)

      The following movies are eligible Hollow Man, Vertical Limit, A Knight's Tale, The Animal or The Patriot.

      Link to PDF of settlement form. [bamlawca.com] Of course, the wonderful "we can't punish Sony too much, so if too many people sign
  • Now, granted, I have no knowledge of the reviews that Newegg rejects, but they do post negative reviews. The only edits I've noticed have been removal of prices and mentions of competitors. I can understand them not wanting to have a review that says that web site X has this same item for Y amount less, but still finding value in the other content in the review.
  • a lot of bad reviews are result of nitwits who don't know how to install computer hardware but tried to anyway. I've got a local shop here that sells used computer hardware, and they'll often put stuff back on the shelf that comes back 'broken' because there's nothing wrong with the hardware, the customer just doesn't know what they're doing.
  • Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smchris (464899) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @11:17AM (#13240793)

    Obviously they need a scoring system!

    Would that be -- oh, shall we say -- "insightful"?
  • Just a side note, but I used to order thousands of dollars in PC related equipment from Newegg. For years and years I also used to tell everyone I know to shop there since they had such great prices. Now they stupidly charge tax in NJ. Bad Newegg, you let me down bigtime and now I shop elsewhere.

    • Um, if you'd have done just a smidgeon of research, you'd realize that Newegg didn't let you down - your state government let you down. Newegg didn't have a choice in charging tax in NJ. Their HQ's in NJ, NJ statutes REQUIRE mail-order/catalogue businesses with physical presences in NJ to collect sales tax on all purchases made by NJ residents. Same for Tennessee - Newegg has a distribution warehouse here in Memphis and is required by state law to collect TN sales tax for all sales to TN residents. So d
  • I recently bought a new case from NewEgg. Typical aluminum miniATX case [newegg.com], nothing special. The case and power supply were fine, but the screws it shipped with kept binding up in threads, and one even broke off in the hard drive. I wrote a review praising the case, but suggesting that the user toss the screws and use ones out of their stash. And for this NewEgg rejected my review. It's a shame, I was positive for the case, and just wanted to warn users about the one pitfall it had.

    I suppose it could have
  • Consumer Reports (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nobodyman (90587) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @11:25AM (#13240922) Homepage
    I have a hard time finding fair, accurate reviews regardless of whether the reviews are written by staff or by consumers. There is a very real conflict of interest for sites that depend on manufactures for advertising dollars and testing samples. On the by-consumer side, you have to filter out shills and zealots (pick your favorite site and check out the consumer reviews of Quicken and Microsoft Money... it's like a holy war).

    That said, I've been very happy with consumer reports [consumerreports.org]. They only review items that they purchase themselves (i.e. no 'freebies' or higher-quality items specifically earmarked for product reviews). Furthermore, they accept no advertising and get all their revenue from subscriptions. These two factors take away much of the conflict of interest and/or bias issues that can plague other review sites.

    Downsides? Cost (not necessarily expensive imho, but still a tough sell to people who expect everything online to be free). It's also doesnt work with early adopters because they wont review items before they available for purchase. Finally, though they've been getting a bit more 'hip' lately when it comes to technology I doubt your going to find an exhaustive video card shoot-out anytime soon.

    What I'd really like to see is a site (or magazine) that can does a decent video game review. They seem to be either clearly biased, drip with ego and/or condescention, but usually they are just TOO LONG. Why is it Ebert can give a fair review of "Mullholland Drive" on a quarter-page of the chicago sun-times, but nobody can seem to encapsulate "Mario Tennis" in under 5 printed pages??
  • I have not one problem with this "constructive criticism" approach to review editing/rejection. I use Newegg.com all the time, and I follow their rules to ensure that my review gets posted. I think it's in both our best interests.

    First, for them, in ensures that their vendors don't come by, see a shitty review for a product, and then get pissed and raise pricing and or pull their products. I'm not sure that CVS would carry, say, a cosmetic line if, for example, CVS had a very accessible website filled wi
  • Evolution (Score:2, Funny)

    by burtdub (903121)
    It's time to turn every one of these articles into a debate on creationism vs. evolution.

    Gosh... it sure is a pity these guys are monkeying with the reviews.

    FLAMEBAIT!
  • At my place (Score:3, Informative)

    by localman (111171) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @12:57PM (#13242238) Homepage
    At Zappos.com [zappos.com] we're pretty straight with reviews. We reject anything that is irrelevant or vulgar, but let through positive, negative, even weird reviews. Because of this they're one of the most popular features of the site.

    Vaguely related: there's been a huge increase in review spamming for online casinos recently... they never get through, but that bot just keeps on trying.

    Cheers.
  • C-Net Reviews (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danger Stevens (869074) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @01:03PM (#13242315) Homepage
    Lately I've been loving the way C-Net reviews items. They seem to be in contrast with retailers in the way they accept everything.

    Whenever I want to review something I first go to the negative comments. Through those I can find out what the downsides of a certain product are. If none of those qualities will impair my ability to use/enjoy it then I consider it a good purchase.

    Positive reviews only tell me that a large percantage of folks don't have problems with stuff they buy.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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