Too greasy to be true

Online products and services depend on favorable reviews. It’s easy to gain an unfair advantage by asking staff, friends or associates to add their flattering comments.

This is despite the efforts of sites like Amazon to stamp out the practice by deleting the goods for sale or banning the vendor.

There are ways of identifying user feedback that isn’t genuine.

  1. It’s often one of the first reviews to appear, posted with the intention of seeding more responses. The prose is casual, but grammatically correct.
  2. It uses exaggeration such as brilliant, amazing, a dream! Exclamation marks are common.
  3. The review criticizes the product a little in order to look like the real deal, but only on matters that aren’t important.
  4. It covers all the marketing bases of price, functionality, delivery and appearance. No genuine reviews are that ordered or comprehensive.
  5. It often starts with “I was initially wary of this kind of product, but decided to give it a try”. And ends with “I’m so glad I did.”
  6. Other brands or competing products are heavily panned.
  7. The review is signed off with a common first name. Genuine reviewers are unafraid of suppling their real, full details.

Any site moderator soon learns to identify the phony reviews. They’re like a red flag. With a little practice, you can too.

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