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Belkin's Amazon Rep Paying For Fake Online Reviews

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the fake-them-yourself-like-everybody-else dept.

Businesses 369

remove office writes "I recently discovered that Belkin's lead online sales rep, Michael Bayard, has been secretly paying internet users to review his company's products favorably on Amazon.com and other websites like Newegg, whether or not they've ever used the devices. Bayard instructed the people he was paying to 'Write as if you own the product and are using it... Mark any other negative reviews as "not helpful" once you post yours.' Ironically, he was using Amazon's own Mechanical Turk service to hire his fraudsters. Did he honestly think he wouldn't get caught? Are Slashdotters aware of other examples of other such blatant astroturfing on behalf of a large tech company like Belkin?"

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369 comments

Micro$oft!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26497975)

Probably haven't heard of this outfit but you can Google them....

Re:Micro$oft!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498135)

Yes, the above is obviously a troll. Microsoft doesn't need to pay people to write positive reviews, they just get their staff to shill on their behalf on sites like Slashdot.

Re:Micro$oft!!! (1, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498467)

Funny, I wasn't able to find a registered cooperation under that name. It seems like MicroSoft would sue them for the name similarity, if this Micro$oft outfit is at all involved in technology products. I'm guessing from the name that they might make financial software of some sort?

Does this come as a surprise? (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498009)

I'm more surprised that there aren't more companies caught doing this. Its like being surprised that a professional was using hGH or 'roids.

Re:Does this come as a surprise? (2, Funny)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498219)

Its like being surprised that a professional was using hGH or 'roids.

... hemroids?

Re:Does this come as a surprise? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498509)

Steroids.

Re:Does this come as a surprise? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498287)

like being surprised that a professional was using hGH or 'roids

I'd be pretty surprised if my doctor or lawyer was on steroids.

Re:Does this come as a surprise? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498451)

They're on stimulant/focus/alertness promoting drugs like meth, coke, ritalin, provigil, etc. moreso than anabolics. Except for anesthesiologists, they're on opioids like fentanyl. Don't discount anabolic usage among professionals though. It's no accident that lawyers and doctors tend to be in much better shape than the general population.

Re:Does this come as a surprise? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498309)

From a historical perspective, Microsoft invented astroturfing.

Re:Does this come as a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498749)

Spoken like someone with no knowledge of history whatsoever. Pick up a book sometime, you dullard.

Re:Does this come as a surprise? (1)

Misch (158807) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498319)

Some shady companies have reportedly astroturfed at reseller ratings. [resellerratings.com]

I apologize that this is OT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498413)

If you are spiritual or religious in any way at all, please pray for or send positive energy and love to a lady named Melody. Believe me, she needs it. I am sorry that this has nothing to do with the story or the summary. Please find it in your heart to join me in sending love and truth to this person. It is one of the more wonderful and selfless things you could do and would only take a moment. Thank you.

Re:Does this come as a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498495)

Next you'll be telling me that CEOs who get $20+ million annual compensation packages aren't actually better and smarter than most everyone else.

Belkin are dodgy (5, Informative)

1s44c (552956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498017)

Belkin have a history of dodgy behavior and should be avoided where possible. Their last trick was hijacking something like 1 in every thousand http connections and directing them to an advertising site.

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1039_3-5104863.html [cnet.com]

This company should be avoided where possible.

Re:Belkin are dodgy (3, Insightful)

blang (450736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498065)

Well, I don't have much of their stuff but I think what I have is ok stuff. Probably just a matter of a grossly overreaching marketing department. Some idiot fatass willing to eat babies to get his bonus.

Re:Belkin are dodgy (4, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498729)

The company tolerated it, so the company ought to know that such conduct will not be tolerated by consumers.

I'll not be buying Belkin, and will ensure those who ask me what to buy will be steered away from their products.
Those who piss off geeks forget that non-geeks ask us for advice.

Sorry, i had to Mod you down (5, Funny)

deft (253558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498079)

It wasn't personal, I'm just supposed to do that after I post my glowing review of the belkin backpack as anon. otherwise I dont get paid.

Re:Belkin are dodgy (0)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498197)

I'm not sure who's wrong, but your account of what Belkin did is very different from what the article states.

Re:Belkin are dodgy (4, Informative)

codegen (103601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498301)

The post(by ls44c) and the article are describing different incidents. The post is describing an incident from 2003 involving Belkin routers. The article is describing a recent incident involving astro turfing.

I believe that the point of the post is that the incident in the article is little more than a pattern of behaviour from a company that continues to break trust with users and is stupid enough to get caught.

Re:Belkin are dodgy (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498303)

I'm not sure who's wrong, but your account of what Belkin did is very different from what the article states.

Ok I said one connection in a thousand, actually it was one every 8 hours with an opt out if you actually click 'no', which nobody would do in practice.

Re:Belkin are dodgy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498505)

i'm not sure if you can read. and why did this get modded up? every other mug on this site was able to discern TWO different incidents being described.

Re:Belkin are dodgy (1)

7 digits (986730) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498425)

My father had an issue with his XP machine, an USB device was not recognized. He ended up re-installing XP, everything was fine, the device worked. He then added a few other devices, and everything broke again. Turned out that it was a shitty Belkin USB hub, that basically killed parts of the USB in windows as soon as it was plugged in. The devices that stopped functioning were NOT on that hub. You just had to connect it to any port to screw other devices.

Yeah. No doubt they need to pay people to get good reviews...

What a tard (-1)

blang (450736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498025)

Criminals get dumber and dumber.

If he was not such a retard he'd just sign up with bogus accounts and write the reviews himself, from a public library terminal.

Re:What a tard (3, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498277)

Criminals get dumber and dumber.

If he was not such a retard he'd just sign up with bogus accounts and write the reviews himself, from a public library terminal.

Actually I think they are getting smarter and smarter.

It's just the ones that don't learn that get caught.

Oh heck (4, Funny)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498039)

I missed out. If anyone wants me to review their products, I'm sure I can do it for the right price.

Re:Oh heck (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498415)

This bribery needs to be stopped in its tracks. It can get to the point at which all magazines and on line materials can be worthless as one never knows who gets paid to lie. I would expect that Belken will lose many thousands of sales due to this article. It sure makes me not wanting anything to do with their products.

Chinese Astroturfing (5, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498049)

It was recently reported that the Chinese government pays 300,000 astroturfers to go online and talk positively about the Chinese and the chinese government. Basically a modern day propoganda campain (melamine and lead based toys sold separately).

I own a Belkin wireless router (1)

Maestro485 (1166937) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498055)

I bought a Belkin wireless router a couple years ago because it was around $35 which was $15 less than I could find anywhere. What a mistake. The configuration interface is pathetic, and the configuration options are severely lacking. I ended up just putting it into an 'antenna' mode and hooking it up to a Linux box that handles all the routing. A few friends of mine have similar experiences/opinions about Belkin products that I only heard after mentioning my own problems with one.

The model number is F5D7230-4, if anyone cares.

Zango spyware comapany's CEO edited Wikipedia (1)

Kligat (1244968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498057)

Look through the history of the article and its talk page and you find the CEO's mark and those of Zango employees all over it.

Has there been a backlasth? (5, Funny)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498075)

Why did Belkin even both to do this? They make wonderful products. Just the other day, I got a Belkin Tunebase FM Transmitter with ClearScan for iPod and it was my best purchase ever. It plays my ipod over the radio with amazing fidelity, and my truck gets better gas mileage to boot. I've sold my home and I'm living out of my truck because the sound is so much better. (Where's my money?)

Seriously, the first thing that needs to happen is a bunch of people should "review" Belkin's products with the evidence that they're faking reviews. It'd pretty much finish them, at least with Amazon customers. This is extremely annoying and we need to make it as painful as possible.

NO....belkin makes horrible products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498167)

Why did Belkin even both to do this? They make wonderful products. Just the other day, I got a Belkin Tunebase FM Transmitter with ClearScan for iPod and it was my best purchase ever. It plays my ipod over the radio with amazing fidelity, and my truck gets better gas mileage to boot. I've sold my home and I'm living out of my truck because the sound is so much better. (Where's my money?)

Seriously, the first thing that needs to happen is a bunch of people should "review" Belkin's products with the evidence that they're faking reviews. It'd pretty much finish them, at least with Amazon customers. This is extremely annoying and we need to make it as painful as possible.

Long ago I realized that Belkin made the absolute worst quality electronics of any other company. I was a CTO for a mid sized company and responsible for purchasing all IT hardware. I've never experience 100% failure for any manufacturer before or since. However, every single Belkin product I purchased failed.....every single one! It's not like I bought 2-3 there were upwards of up to 20 or 30 and everything failed - they just quit working.

Re:NO....belkin makes horrible products (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498377)

Wow, now I know why you arent the CTO anymore.

Re:Has there been a backlasth? (5, Interesting)

sribe (304414) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498405)

Seriously, the first thing that needs to happen is a bunch of people should "review" Belkin's products with the evidence that they're faking reviews.

I couldn't disagree more. The first thing that needs to happen is that Amazon should remove the reviews from all Belkin product listings, and put in an obvious disclaimer: "Reviews of this product have been removed because the manufacturer was caught paying individuals to post fake reviews."

Re:Has there been a backlasth? (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498427)

Perhaps a few false negative reviews would sober Belken up.

Re:Has there been a backlasth? (4, Funny)

rk (6314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498633)

The problem with Belkin products is that is extremely difficult to write a review that is both negative and false.

"This Belkin router was actually a Decepticon, which when I was out of the house, would transform and sodomize my pets."

Have you done your part? (1)

burningcpu (1234256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498507)

I have already left an negative review on a Belkin product on Amazon. If this story makes you mad, you should do the same.

Well Duh (5, Insightful)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498085)

Anyone with a brain who has checked out any product online, be it cars, computers or anything, finds a user group or ten with reviews. Some reviewers have used the product. Some reviewers have not. There is always "this is the bestest thing in the whole world" review. And there is the "this is the largest POS known" review. You toss the lovefest, and toss the POS review. Trust the middle. If all the reviewers seem happy, then it's probably good. If they all hate, then not so much. You are your own editor.

Re:Well Duh (3, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498265)

That's not how I roll...

I look for the worse review possible, extract why the review thought it was bad and then judge whether I find that particular thing worthy of caring about.

However I must admit this doesn't always work, for example I was reviewing headphones and there was an elitist audio expert which marked them down. I bought them anyway and they're really good, I really can't understand why he'd marked them down for the quality.

Re:Well Duh (4, Funny)

rajafarian (49150) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498717)

I really can't understand why he'd marked them down for the quality.

Maybe he has a crappy sound card or receiver/amp? Or maybe he just can't! I have a friend who can't tell the difference between regular TV and HD (on my 24" Dell LCD monitor for a fact). No kidding. I also showed her some dry, brown, stemmy weed and I go, "Ah, look, such excellent bud!" and she totally agreed until I go, "Dude, this is dry, brown, stemmy weed, yuch!"

Desperation can make people dangerous (1)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498087)

As people spend less and less money, expect retailers and the vendors themselves to perform any "guerilla" tactics necessary to get you to spend your cash on their products.

Businesses with management who have yet to embrace the Internet or mobile aspects of "word of mouth" and marketing will lose market share to those that do this sort of thing.

Is it wrong to abuse online comments/reviews, sure, but it's no different that paying people to stand in line on a product launch day or hiring false paparazzi to follow an up-and-coming celeb.

Re:Desperation can make people dangerous (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498555)

Is it wrong to abuse online comments/reviews, sure, but it's no different that paying people to stand in line on a product launch day or hiring false paparazzi to follow an up-and-coming celeb.

No. Exactly. None of these things are acceptable. None of them are done by ethical businesses. If you're prepared to do business with people who do things like this, what does that say about your ethics?

Caveat emptor.

Shillington Labs (2, Funny)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498089)

Shillington Labs provides independent product reviews. Our corporate motto is: "Product Reviews, Your Way!"

Bribes to remove bad reviews (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498095)

My wife posted a bad review of one company on Amazon- it really wasn't even bad, it was Neutral. They missed shipping their product by Christmas when there was time. And they kept calling us...once at 11pm at night. We weren't answering and thought they would give up but the harassment continued.

So finally she answered the phone and they offered her a bribe to remove the review. They offered to pay for the item she ordered. Sadly, she accepted.

So apparently this sort of manipulation of reviews is not uncommon.

Re:Bribes to remove bad reviews (2, Informative)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498215)

I can't believe people would think otherwise. I mean Ebay feedback anyone. The default assumption when you read *anything* on the net (yes, even The wiki) should be that it is BS.

Re:Bribes to remove bad reviews (1)

AtomicJake (795218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498261)

Why are you complaining? You got your bribe (other would call it compensation for damages) and in return you are deleting a negative review (your experience also got less negative after your complaint has been heard and you have received payment).

Re:Bribes to remove bad reviews (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498543)

Because reviews are useful if they come from a random subset of customers. To achieve that you can't have any correlation between those who write a review and those who get compensation for damage.

Re:Bribes to remove bad reviews (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498305)

I am about to get a TON of free stuff. Thank you!

Re:Bribes to remove bad reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498511)

Why treat them as scum for trying to compensate you for their own mistake? In a perfect world, every seller would do that whenever possible.

Re:Bribes to remove bad reviews (5, Insightful)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498559)

That's not a bribe, it's called customer service. The customer was dissatisfied, so the company took measures to rectify the situation. I would be happy to deal with a seller that acted in such a way.

Jeez (4, Funny)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498109)

I went into an electronics store recently and the staff let me try out wireless adapters to find out if it would work on my laptop ( running Ubuntu 8.04 at the time ). The first one we tried was a Belkin USB adapter and it worked fine. I brought it and haven't regretted my purchase in the slightest, in fact, I'd purchase more. The signal strength was way better than other adapters I'd used and it's never dropped the connection ( to a Linksys WRT54G ).

I'd probably recommend them for their hardware but it seems their ethics need to catch up.

Re:Jeez (5, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498349)

OMG. Astroturfing Belkin in a story about astroturfing by Belkin.

Re:Jeez (1)

onecheapgeek (964280) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498457)

Not necessarily. The only Belkin products I have ever used were gender changers/adapters and minor accessories. They always did the job with no issues (exception was the ADC-DVI adapter for a G5 tower - didn't realize it was DVI-D only). Did I just astroturf?

Just speculation... (5, Interesting)

JoeSixpack00 (1327135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498119)

Although there is no way to prove any of this, 2 incidents immediately come to mind:

1) While reviewing The Orange Box game set on Amazon and seeing all the complaints about Steam, some guy actually had the nerve to make the assertion "Steam single handedly resurrected PC gaming" - as well as other off the wall comments like bragging about how many millions they've sold. After I highlighted a few statements of his and responded to his review - and implied twice that he must work for steam - the entire review and all the responses mysteriously disappeared.

2) Amazon's own reading device, Kindle. When it was released initially, you had people literally declaring war on anybody that said anything even remotely negative about it. Even if they complained about how certain features work, they would fall victim to endless insults and accusations of not having used the product. It was an all out witch hunt.

Slashdotted (1)

Gorgonzolanoid (1394311) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498127)

The article site appears to be slashdotted.
OTOH, I'm using a Belkin router. Do you think they'd dare...?

Re:Slashdotted (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498453)

Certainly. A few years ago, their home router firmware would occasionally redirect web page requests to their own web page where they tried to sell you stuff.
As far as they're concerned, once you buy their stuff, THEY own YOU.

I know where there isn't... (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498143)

Sites like Thepiratebay don't generally have people hired by the entertainment industry writing favorable reviews about, say, Snakes on a Plane. There are advantages to buying, selling, and aquiring things illegally. People don't lie -- after all, their reputations are on the line. And depending on what's being bought and sold, sometimes quite a bit more.

There's an irony that illegal business is the most honest kind.

Re:I know where there isn't... (2, Insightful)

rhizome (115711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498739)

There's an irony that illegal business is the most honest kind.

As the old saying goes, there's no honor among thieves. Usually this is interpreted negatively but you illustrate another way to approach it.

Microsoft via Digg.com (5, Interesting)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498161)

As the build up of Vista 7 started it became apparent to me that this sort of thing was happening on Digg.com. Critical review of Microsoft simply disappeared as anything was just dugg way down to hide it.

It seemed readily apparent to me that someone was artificially altering anything Microsoft or Windows on Digg.com. I noticed a change where anything negative about Microsoft and Vista were dugg down and anything positive was dugg up. It didn't matter if the negative was spot on and making valid points, it was dugg down. Anything about Microsoft was dugg up. Even if the company was doing nasty things still.

I attributed it to: 1) either a few people had been creating multiple accounts in order to influence the vote, 2) people were being paid by Microsoft to go to digg and change the outcome, or 3) a bunch of Microsoft employees were actively seeking to alter the vote to make Vista 7 and Microsoft look better.

I also noticed several other people commenting as they saw the same thing.

This was like an overnight thing. One day everyone is telling it like it is about Vista and Microsoft and the next day anything anyone said that was negative was dugg way down. Anything positive was dugg way up, even if it was utterly false and few in the face of history.

I will say that Digg.com has declined. I have had to bury a slew of articles that were purely fluff, and moreso of late. Way too many totally stupid posts, uninformative conjecture articles, and poorly thought out pieces that tend to just waste my time.

Combined with the seemingly altered rankings of pro and negative comments regarding Microsoft and Vista I concluded that Digg.com was headed for a big decline.

Now that I see this sort of thing occuring regarding other large company products I can only conclude that there must be something more to my observations on Digg.com

Re:Microsoft via Digg.com (0, Troll)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498283)

You forgot:

4) Many people who actually used Vista, like it, and were tired of the babies crying about it, most of whom were Nix/Mac Zealots or jealous XP users with antique hardware.

But, I wouldn't expect you to entertain the idea that someone might actually like a Microsoft product. Why, that would just be silly!

Re:Microsoft via Digg.com (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498417)

4) Many people who actually used Vista, like it, and were tired of the babies crying about it...

Real mature.

However your scenario is easily dismissed because as the original poster said, this happened overnight. A change due to factors you lay out would be more gradual, not instant.

Re:Microsoft via Digg.com (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498437)

The fact is that most *nix users that I know haven't been near Vista. The real disaster for Vista is that lots of people who actually quite like XP couldn't stand Vista.

I switched to Vista on my main office PC, and also on my home desktop. I tried my best to use it for about 6 months - waited for SP1 to fix everything. When it didn't, I got rid of Vista on both machines, and even paid the extra £60 required to get XP instead of Vista on my new laptop.

Re:Microsoft via Digg.com (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498517)

Few people do like Vista though given the poor performance on even new PCs with decent specs like mine (Core 2 Duo 2Ghz, 2 gig RAM Geforce 8600 with 512 Meg RAM).
Admittedly it runs a bit better now than it did now I've reinstalled Vista but there was precious little OEM crap on it in the first place and in any case it's harder than it should be to find out if there's anything non-MS dragging the system down.

Re:Microsoft via Digg.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498755)

1) XP is available to purchase on modern hardware today due to the large demand for it (i.e., WIndows Vista does not fulfill the needs of a large number of customers; see Microsoft keeps extending the availability of Windows XP to OEM's for example)
2) Users who buy Windows XP and have it on their machines, or buy new machines with Windows XP, clearly do not have a problem with Microsoft products. Yet they chose Windows XP over Vista. Why is that?
3) I have worked in the computer industry for more than a decade and I can say without equivocation that Windows Vista is the biggest piece of shit to come out of Microsoft. Making its customers into paid beta testers for this piece of shit is a wholly unacceptable business practice. You may enjoy it -- people who have to actually accomplish work on their PC computers for a living do not.

Re:Microsoft via Digg.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498343)

Digg is like slashdot.

Except everyone gets to be a moderator. And they're all more retarded than the worst slashdot trolls you've ever seen. And they've all friended everyone they agree with so anytime anyone of them digs something up or down there's a rush by the rest of the tards to jump on the bandwagon.

Re:Microsoft via Digg.com (2, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498351)

There are even companies that specialize in this sort of tactic. I can't find it anymore, but I found one around the time that I was doing work for a gaming site. It basically said that it would use Digg to increase a site's exposure. That meant lots of "Diggs" and positive reviews on the site via established accounts.

I'm not surprised that MS (or anyone else) is doing it - I am, however, surprised how effective it is. I thought that these corporations wouldn't be able to compete with the large masses of users who had contrary experiences. Apparently, getting paid to do something makes up in efficiency and dedication what is missing in numbers.

Re:Microsoft via Digg.com (3, Insightful)

danknight (570145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498513)

Attention Microsoft and Belkin, I currently have 3 (count 'em! ) Three MOD POINTS, and I am not afraid to use them to your favor for the right price !

Standard business (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498171)

I worked for a company that did this and we used different computers so we could have different ip addresses. It was pretty funny but our competitors did this as well and were stealing our marketshare.

Astroturfing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498179)

Astroturfing is an extremely harmful practice to companies in the long run. I remember a couple of particular travel companies on a site I frequent which did this. The companies themselves had a pretty decent reputation, but a few members were just a little bit too enthusiastic about recommending them, and were outed after a couple of months. Any goodwill the company had instantly collapsed, and any time a new traveler asked for advice relating to these companies, they were told to avoid them because of their marketing practices.

Somewhat strangely, it's actually the successful astroturfing campaigns that do the most damage in the long run. There's thousands of obvious attempts each year which immediately get spotted, and everyone nearly immediately forgets about them. But the few times it flies under the radar and is "trusted", the loss of that trust upon discovery is total and final, and it'll take years for the company to recover (if they ever do).

Yes, Linux (-1, Flamebait)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498183)

Not much different than the Linux zealot who hasn't touched a Windows machine since 1997 making up a bullshit story on the net about Windows XP taking 8 minutes to boot on his P4, but when they switched to Linux all their programs ran 325% faster under WINE. Others make up bogus stories about converting everyone from 90 year old grandmothers to mentally challenged school children. While they could not remember if they should click the left or right mouse button on Windows, they are now writing their own bash scripts.

Lying trolls are a dime a dozen. The only exception here is someone is actually paying for them, when others get them for free without even trying. The motivation isn't money for some, but the game is the same.

Re:Yes, Linux (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498433)

you mean like this post: /. Post [slashdot.org]

Obvious bias (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498485)

Not much different than the Linux zealot who hasn't touched a Windows machine since 1997

Gee, from looking at your chain of posts it seems you have a certain bias yourself. Have you EVER used a Linux system, or are you in fact the very uninformed Hater you dismiss so readily?

Well ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498191)

That explains the shitty Belkin Nostromo N52 I have here, gathering dust.

fuddles tried to FUDge a nyt forum for 4 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498195)

3-4 paid2post FraUDsters, 24/7 on the 'ms as monopoly' forum. not only were we there for them, but we were deleted dozens of times for our assertions towards the FraUDs. that's wayback when robbIE was just starting to take advertising from the softwar gangsters. just before he himself became a phony stock markup payper FraUD billionerror. does anyone know of any other big fakes in the decaying blog 'industry'?

Say it ain't so! (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498227)

First, Belkin is astroturfing Amazon and Newegg. Next thing you'll be telling me is that Monster Cable's stuff isn't actually any better than the generic stuff!

Obvious in restrospect (2, Informative)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498249)

Some of these products had 50, 5 star reviews.

I marked as helpful the 1-4 star reviews and marked as unhelpful all the 5 star reviews.

I'm sure everyone does it. (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498271)

I have no doubt in my mind that Belkin is not one of the few. I wouldn't be suprised at all if most major companies do this.

It's just that Belkin did it in such a way that they were easily caught. Don't trust any reviews you see!

By the way, my Netgear router is the best, you should buy one! :)

Ethics (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498317)

I did business with a web store that offered a cash discount to any purchaser that wrote a glowing review of them on a retailer rating site. The store owner honestly did not seem to understand what was wrong with his new method of promoting his web store. The owner of the retailer rating site had to explain to him what the rating site considered acceptable conduct. I wouldn't have been as nice about it.

Other products, too (1)

scotts13 (1371443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498397)

I'm not surprised in the slightest; I think the majority of "product reviews" on the internet are corrupted this way. But it works. A friend was looking for floor mats for her car. She pointed out a brand I personally KNEW to be garbage, and said they had "perfect feedback." Well, all the review were written in the same style, and the text even repeated every dozen or so reviews. But she ordered them anyway, and it took her three months to get them to issue an RMA.

Iphone App Store System (1)

HaloZero00 (1075829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498429)

Why don't online stores only allow people who actually buy the item to review them like the Iphone App Store has done. It would make the system more honest (though you obviously won't get as many people). It would make buying reviews expensive for companies.

They were already 100% evil in my book anyway (4, Informative)

jridley (9305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498449)

After their fiasco a few years ago where they decided that it was acceptable to program their home routers to occasionally redirect web requests to their own page to sell people things, they hit my "certified 100% evil" list.

There's no getting off that list. I don't care if they start sending me flowers and candy. Nothing they can do will make me consider giving them a dime again. I don't even buy cables from them; last year I ordered a cable online and waited a week for it rather than buy one locally, because the local place only had Belkin cables in that type.

This is good to know... (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498545)

I saw multiple favorable reviews of a belkin usb hub that has been an utter piece of garbage. I though maybe I had it plugged in wrong or something.

What about graduate math lextbooks? (1)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498547)

I'd like to see them try this with a book like "The Analysis of Linear Partial Differential Operators II: Differential Operators with Constant Coefficients (v. 2)" by Lars Hörmander and come up with anything that wasn't laughable.

"I liked it! Much better than 'Cats'! I'm going to read it again and again!"

DIdn't buy it? Then you can't review it. (5, Insightful)

arizonagroovejet (874489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498571)

There are a lot of reviews on Amazon and other retail sites written by people who clearly do not own the product. A lot of reviews are written by people who don't understand the concept of a review. You can find reviews for things which aren't even available to buy yet but Amazon have created a product page for. Seems to me there's a very easy to get rid of reviews people are being paid to write or are just idiots - sites should only allow people to post reviews for products which they have actually bought from that site. It would be easy enough to implement, just check against the would be reviewer's order history. Sure there would be a lot less reviews, but the ones that do get posted will worth something. Quality, not quantity.

is this a criminal act? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498583)

Obviously more subtle cases would be difficult to prove, as reviews are subjective and intent unknowable.

But in a blatant case like this, where you have an agent of the company describing in writing what is wanted and explicitly stating that the review does not need to be true -- does this provide enough elements to prosecute under any criminal law?

Typical (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498607)

I've built more than a few systems for myself and family. Most of the time I have not had a problem from Newegg. The one time I did have a problem, and it was Negegg's fault, I rated the product as superior and Newegg's service below par. My review never saw the a pixel on the interwebs.

To be fair, it's their website and their bandwidth, but if you take a review or ever a bunch of reviews as the gold standard then you are eventually going to get burned. This should be common sense but maybe not.

Mmm, fire up the grill, Meat Puppets! (1)

JehCt (879940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498613)

This practice is called Meat Puppetry [wikipedia.org]. Hiring shills is a bad idea because it only works until the results start to make a difference. Then somebody notices and your reputation gets shot to hell.

Helpful (1)

Oakk (1453545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498643)

I liked it when my Belkin routed me to advertising sites, it was like being kidnapped and taken to a mall! I don't see the issue with them reviewing their own stuff... how else are people going to learn how great their products are? LL Belkin

Other examples? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26498657)

Are Slashdotters aware of other examples of other such blatant astroturfing on behalf of a large tech company like Belkin?

Yes. [riaa.com]

This happens alot more than you think (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26498713)

My current employer does this kind of thing alot, we're part of the game industry. In fact, there are entire companies which are devoted to these kinds of services. You setup secret rewards programs for random people to go around and post good things about you. You setup a moderation system where users can rate the sincerity and effectiveness of other people's posts. People end up writing very reasonable and very believable snippets about your product, and the vast majority of the time they are in no way obvious.

Ultimately the company ends up with a very cheap word of mouth marketing system that can be very effective. You pay out t-shirts and gift certificates and other schwag, and the total cost is a very small part of your multi-million dollar marketing budget. It tends to be quite effective as in many cases the posters are able to effectively blend in with the crowd but still create a positive perspective of your product. I don't know overall how much it helps sales, but it's still being done.

These days I tend to totally ignore most user rating systems, especially if they're driven by comments. I think I used to be pretty skeptical that this kind of thing was feasible, until I found out that my company has it done.

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