Fake Reviews

How to Spot a Questionable Product Review

Fake Reviews

Many people have come to rely on product reviews when making purchasing decisions. The product review section is often the final stop between browsing and buying. Shoppers check out what others have to say about their proposed purchase, and they base their decision to buy or keep looking on what they find.

The problem is that some of those product reviews are planted by the manufacturers themselves. While most product reviews are legitimate expressions of consumer opinion, the job board are full of solicitations for biased reviews. If you have ever browsed an online job board, you have probably seen such a solicitation.

So how can you tell if that glowing review really comes from a happy customer and not from a paid advertiser? There are a few red flags to look out for, and you should check for the warning signs of a fake review before putting the item in your cart. Some of those warning signs include:

  • Effusive praise or excessive criticism — No product is 100% perfect, and few products are totally without merit. Watch out for reviews that heap praise on the item being reviewed without acknowledging any shortcomings. Also watch out for reviews that have nothing good to say; they could have been placed there by a competitor.
  • Lists of specs or features — People who are paid to review a product may never have actually used it, or even heard of it before they were paid for their opinion. As a result, the paid reviewer may simply look the product up online and list its features and specifications.
  • Superlative adjectives — Watch out for adjectives like amazing, unbelievable, life-changing and the like. In the real world it is extremely unlikely that a new mop or smartphone will change your life or solve all your problems. Paid reviewers often turn to linguistic flourishes and other tricks to make their reviews more interesting.
  • The review is posted multiple times or on multiple sites — If you suspect a review is a fake, try searching for the reviewer. If you find the same reviewer attached to dozens of products or posting across many different sites, you are probably looking at a paid reviewer.
  • One or five-star reviews with little actual information — If a legitimate reviewer feels strongly enough to rate an item at the top or bottom of the scale, they should be anxious to back up that opinion. Fake reviewers and product manufacturers sometimes plant five-star reviews simply to drive up the average for their items. Likewise, competitors may plant one-star reviews to drive down the ratings on competitors’ products.
  • Similar reviews posted by different users — Watch out for reviews that use similar language and reach similar conclusions but post under different user names. This is a favorite trick of fake reviewers. They often make up dozens of new accounts and then post eerily similar reviews of the same product. It can be easy to miss the similarities, especially when browsing through hundreds of reviews, but a careful reading should reveal them.

Legitimate product reviews can help you get the best deal and avoid inferior products, but falling prey to a fake review could suck money right out of your wallet. Knowing how to tell a real review from its fake counterpart is an essential part of being a smart shopper in the digital age.

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