The Amazon reviews system is the first thing that most people look at when checking a product. The only snag is that anyone with an Amazon account can post a review.
Amazon.co.uk has been plagued recently with review spam. You have something to sell, usually a web-site to promote, so you create a fake account and start posting reviews on any items you want.
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Many other Amazon customers, who value the product reviews, have been commenting back. This is unnecessary as Amazon provides a ‘Report this’ link at the bottom of each review. Just click the link and report the content as inappropriate, Amazon will do the rest. Usually cancelling the account. In which case the spammers will just create a new one under a different name. And so it goes on.
The other flaw in the review process is the fact that Amazon allow people to review products that haven’t been released yet. The ones that I saw related to game reviews when you read comments like:
This game rocks!! I’ve seen the screen-shots and vids. 5 Stars.
The reviewer won’t have played the game and so could not possibly pass judgement.
Amazon themselves have fallen foul of product reviews today when they announced Kindle. According to posts on the products forums Amazon were deleting the less favourable reviews. At the time of writing it has received 128 customer reviews and currently has a 2.5 star rating. All for a product that no one could possibly have used.
I believe that both problems can easily be solved by applying one rule to product reviews - you have to have bought the product from Amazon to review it.
This will unfortunately stop customers who have bought the product elsewhere from voicing their opinion, but that’s a small price to pay for accurate, fair and spam free reviews. If things continue as they are then the extra value that Amazon obtains from this ‘free’ customer driven content will fall.