"Manipulation of the Crowd"

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by KmH, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    "New concerns about the trustworthiness of online ratings."

    There is an interesting, short article by Michael Moyer in the July issue of Scientific American magazine (pg 26).

    In the article Mr. Moyer notes that:

    According to Eric C. Clemons, a Professor of Operations and Systems Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, online ranking systems that use the so-called crowdsourcing strategy, used by many online retailing outlets like Amazon.com (and hundreds of others), suffer from a number of inherent biases.

    Again looking specifically at Amazon, Vassilis Kostakos, a computer scientist at the University of Madiera, found that a small percentage of users accounted for a huge majority of the reviews. (95% of Amazon reviewers have reviewed less than 8 products.)

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    It looks like making product purchase decisions based on online product reviews might not be a good methodology.

    As always Caveat Emptor. (Buyer Beware) :study:
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010
  2. Robin Usagani

    Robin Usagani Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yup, thats why I like posting a product here and see what people think about it. Thanks Keith for the article.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes, it's true that on-line, as in the "real" brick and mortar world, there are opinion leaders, trend-setters, and trusted leaders, who are few in number, but who are responsible for forming or shaping the opinions of many,many others. One of the absolute WORST "reviews", if one can call it that, is the one done by an excited, gushing new owner. You know, the guy that buys a new camera or lens, and who before the end of his first full day with the item, is busy filling out on-line ranking surveys about how wonderful his new toy is. There are quite a few on-line retailers with web sites that allow these brand new owners to enthusiastically gush about how fantastic their new product is...and one of the sites is a very,very big and influential camera-gear retailer...
     
  4. Robin Usagani

    Robin Usagani Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    How about B & H? I trust the review over there. How about you guys?
     
  5. R.D.

    R.D. TPF Noob!

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    Seems to be a problem across the board not just photography.. a product can be the greatest thing in the world until it breaks, you know?

    anyway, I think review should be a screened a little and averages of the star's rating shouldn't be harped on so heavily..

    consumerreports.org is a big offender.. a lot of their ratings come from surveys and the questions are not fair or informative to a researcher. its a money hole.

    cheers.
     
  6. cfusionpm

    cfusionpm TPF Noob!

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    I always take user-reviews with a grain of salt. I usually check out the worst ratings first and then gradually work my way up. Those having problems will be vocal about it, whereas these "excited new ones" will just spout how much they love the 4 hours they've had to play with it.

    Plus, you can generally tell a user's knowledge level by how the review is written, and I usually ignore ones issuing no criticisms. No product is perfect, but a smart consumer can get a good idea after reading a handful of carefully screened reviews. Sad thing is most consumers don't put as much thought into the things they buy. =/
     
  7. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    Derrel
    Are you talking about the guy who states - "just love the box it came in"... :lmao:
     
  8. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I never really pay attention to the stars - read the reviews. Some of them are good, some of them are quite obviously written by someone that does not know how to use the item they just bought.

    I report those when I see them.

    I saw one where a guy gave a 40" reflector 1 star because it was smaller than he thought it would be...

    Bad rating because the guy doesn't know how to use a tape measure and didn't know that 40" is smaller than 60".
     
  9. AgentDrex

    AgentDrex No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree.

    I don't go for reviews too often to gauge whether a certain product will meet my expectations or not. I am poor, live in a small town in Northern Minnesota and so the advice to go to a local retailer to check out this or that product is not too convenient for me.

    I pretty much rely on my ability to decipher the blatant BS out there. cfusionpm put it best when he stated that how the review is written tells a lot about the reviewer. Also, in my humblest of opinions, people in general are too often quick to let others do the thinking for them and they end up buying some junk product after reading a comment that the product was "all dat i cood hope 4 n mo'".

    This was a great conversation, thanks everyone!
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010
  10. supraman215

    supraman215 TPF Noob!

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    I know there are some review sites, Newegg for example, that ask the reviewer to state how long they have owned the product. Then there's B&H who ask the person to rate their skill level. These all help to mitigate the issue KHM stated. Nothing's perfect even if you go to the store they are going to try to sell you the thing that will make them the most profit. Then there's idiots online. Nothing wrong with crowd sourcing reviews.
     
  11. magkelly

    magkelly TPF Noob!

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    It depends upon what I am buying really as to whether or not I give any user reviews credence. Some things I just don't tend to buy online anyway, at least not before doing some major searching for opinions on boards related to said thing. I also accept that personal taste has often a lot to do with how certain people see certain things and how they feel about using them/having them.

    Popularity doesn't always translate to something being well made.

    If that wasn't absolutely true then there wouldn't be 50 zillion people merrily going off to see the next Twilight film this weekend. Excellent case in point. These are IMHO, some really bad films, based on a really badly written series of YA books. These books and the films the series has spawned completely disrespect women. They even celebrate the fact that a "romantic" guy (albeit a supposedly cute and vampiric one) is quite literally stalking and threatening to kill a girl he supposedly loves. He almost loses her to a werewolf. They marry, she then gets knocked up and nearly dies having his baby only to become his eternal undead soul mate, forever. Oh and "happy ending" even for the spurned werewolf because their baby ends up imprinted upon the werewolf and likely marries him down the road.

    (Yeah, that's Twilight in a nut shell.)

    Please. I personally love a good vampire/werewolf tale, but I think this series is truly the most campy, misogynistic, badly written piece of crap possibly ever written. Yet, you have women from 8 to 80 sighing over these characters like it was another Gone With The Wind or something.

    Personally I just don't get it at all, but I do realize that some people live for Twilight and they will give the books and movies great reviews even though I can't see them as worthy for anything, except maybe the rubbish bin.

    Are they wrong those reviews? Not for other Twilight lovers I guess, but I probably still wouldn't go see a Twilight movie if you paid for me to go do it.

    When I want good opinions, valid researched and measured opinions on something I go to where I can find people who know what they are talking about. I read and read, and if at all possible I go check the item out in person before I decide to buy it or not.

    But the vast majority of reviews on Amazon etc? Uh, maybe for a pack of batteries, I might take a chance. Very rarely do I go to just the site something is being sold on to get reviews, particularly when it comes to photo gear. I want unbiased opinions, and someone who knows their tech, and in those places, you seldom get that.

    I don't trust your "average consumer" to be honest when it comes to buying anything of any real importance. Average consumers either tend not to be too choosy or they're overly critical. Or sometimes they're just plain dumb, shrug.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010

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