Remember this. Everybody wants your money. That’s the heart and soul and very nature of living on a planet soaked with capitalism. Yet, we also live in an age where the information superhighway has become the misinformation superhighway; an era where it becomes ever more difficult to trust what we read because so much of what is available for viewing has an ulterior motive.
To take our money.
It works that way with website product reviews, too. How can you trust Amazon reviews when nearly every product search reveals thousands of 4.5-star reviews? How can you trust website reviews when the website gets a commission if and when you buy the product they reviewed?
Who can you trust?
Website reviews are a growing problem, and it’s not just Amazon’s seemingly corrupt review system. Early last year I highlighted something dangerous in “What I Found By Using An RSS Reader” which pointed out that many websites merely regurgitate the same headlines and news, without regard for fact checking. A long list of websites in my RSS reader made it clearly visible.
Just last month I highlighted “What Else I Learned From Using An RSS Reader” with the same visual techniques which revealed that many websites are selling products in their articles and reviews.
Money rules, folks.
My review process is simple and is derived from the early days of Mac360. I review apps I use or would recommend to a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor; knowing that a level of support on my recommendation is a requirement.
Eliza Brooke wants us to believe a trend toward unbiased recommendation sites is on the rise.
Consumer Reports has been subjecting everyday products to rigorous testing since 1936, but the past decade has seen a flurry of growth in the product review space, with the launch of publications like Wirecutter (2011), Best Products (2015), New York magazine’s the Strategist (2016), BuzzFeed Reviews (2018), and the Inventory (2018). Apart from the standalone sites, plenty of properties like The Verge (which, like Vox.com, is owned by Vox Media) have robust reviews programs. That’s not to mention the many, many individuals who review products on blogs and YouTube. As ever more authorities enter the fray, the question is this: When everyone claims to have identified the “best” product in a category, who do you trust?
Bingo! Jackpot! Who do you trust?
There is something inherently natural about humans in that we trust what other people say or recommend about a product or service. My father’s Scottish heritage tends to find the best of everything but even some of his recommendations– a few– have proven to be crap for me.
Different strokes for different folks.
Yet, here we are, moving rapidly into the 21st century where many of us buy more online every year, and shop at the mall less every year, and still we tend to rely on website reviews only to be disappointed after we purchase what they promoted.
In my mind there should be a difference between online selling and online reviews but that’s not the case.
E-commerce may be a key way for media businesses to sustain themselves. But that comes with the caveat that engendering reader trust is sometimes about playing the long game.
I like and use and recommend Apple gear because the iPhone maker plays a long game. I cannot recommend anything from Google because the company kills products with abandon.
Websites that review products are many and varied. Websites that review products with in-depth analysis are few and far between. Trust no one. Do your homework. Don’t buy on impulse. And avoid products that have thousands of 5-star reviews. That’s not how humanity works. Someone had to hate the product. Where is their review?