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Tuesday, 29th June 2010

Manipulation of the Crowd: How Trustworthy Are Online Ratings?

Unfortunately, some people often believe everything they read. This is nothing new. Unfortunately, they don't have the digital/info literacy skills to either do more research or even take a only a couple of seconds to step back and ask some important questions. How did the review get online? Was it reviewed/edited? How current is the review? Do we know anything (probably not) about the author? What about the the service that hosts the reviews? What is their motive? Their revenue stream?

From the Article:

...the wisdom of crowds may neither be wise nor necessarily made by a crowd. Its judgments are inaccurate at best, fraudulent at worst.


In a 2009 study of more than 20,000 items on Amazon, Vassilis Kostakos, a computer scientist at the University of Madeira in Portugal, found that a small percentage of users accounted for a huge majority of the reviews. These super-reviewers—often celebrated with “Top Reviewer” badges and ranked against one another to encourage their participation—each contribute thousands of reviews, ultimately drowning out the voices of more typical users (95 percent of Amazon reviewers have rated fewer than eight products). “There is nothing to say that these people are good at what they do,” Kostakos says. “They just do a lot of it.” What appears to be a wise crowd is just an oligarchy of the enthusiastic.


The article continues with a discussion of some issues Yelp has faced in the past.

Access the Complete Article

Source: Scientific American

This is an important issue and info pros MUST be part of the discussion.

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