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Amazon Fake Products and Fake Reviews

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the may-I-interest-you-in-a-defrobnosticator? dept.

Businesses 240

rsk writes "The first time I came across fake reviews on Amazon, it was hilarious. Using Amazon's Window Shop app, I came across a great category, 'Peculiar Products,' and was more than happy to look through it. Almost every one of the products I found on the list (Uranium Ore, 1 Gallon of Milk, Parent Child Test, Fresh Whole Rabbit) were fake, with thousands of reviews on them. As a shopper, I wasn't aware of how easy it was to apparently fake product reviews and it bothers me. When I'm shopping, the first (and a lot of times only) place I visit is Amazon to read the reviews if I'm in the market for something. I don't expect the reviews to be the word of God, but I do assume a certain level of legitimacy for most of them. While this won't affect my use of Amazon (especially not at this time of the year) I would like to bubble this up to Amazon's attention so some time is spent on improving the quality of the reviews."

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240 comments

Worth every penny (4, Insightful)

nigelo (30096) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504304)

Free advice is worth every penny.

Re:Worth every penny (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504392)

Free advice is worth every penny.

Especially when it brings Amazon more pennies.

Maybe fake reviews only for fake products? (3, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504640)

The article complains that obviously fake products are allowed to have fake reviews, and then makes the assumption that fake reviews must be allowed for real products. This does not necessarily follow. It might; but it seems a bit more likely that Amazon just might put a little more care into reviews of real products than into fake ones. I have no idea... I'm just pointing out the fallacy.

Re:Maybe fake reviews only for fake products? (3, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504850)

No, fake reviews are allowed for all products because nobody is regulating the provenance of a review except the community itself through the review rating buttons.

Fake products attract obviously fake reviews because it's fun.

Real products attract non-obviously fake reviews because the reviewer is getting reviewer-grade points, or has a financial or social benefit to gain from astroturfing the product.

Steering Wheel tray (4, Funny)

MollyB (162595) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504422)

Re:Steering Wheel tray (2)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504600)

Are you posting this to mock the ridiculous deep links that Amazon generates? If so, mission accomplished!

Re:Steering Wheel tray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34505336)

thousands being 530 or so?

Re:Worth every penny (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504452)

Free advice is often more reliable then paid advice.

Re:Worth every penny (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504860)

Advice is frequently best not obtained. The number of morons and people with unconscious biases that give advice way outnumber the ones with reasonably accurate advice. Plus people tend to be better at giving advice than following it.

Re:Worth every penny (2)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505070)

And yet, even though social pressure is frequently negative, social pressure does have a positive impact (laws against murder, for example). Without collaboration, it is easy to end up with problems (especially when shopping). This is what makes the modern "recommendation" systems helpful. Amazon's system of recommending books is based off of millions of people buying millions of objects. With user input as to what is liked and what is not liked out of a recommendation list, the system can grow smarter and give better crowd-sourced advice to the buyer while avoiding (for the most part) the negative problems of fake reviews (or poorly written/thought out ones).

Re:Worth every penny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504964)

Here's some free advice: It's "than" not "then".

Re:Worth every penny (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505260)

People who give free advice are more likely to use "then" incorrectly.

Re:Worth every penny (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505146)

So is free air, free water, the Illinois Times [illinoistimes.com] print edition, slashdot, Google...

The concept of "free == worthless" is an incredibly stupid concept.

How easy it was to apparently fake product reviews (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504310)

Even more shocking is how easy it is to fake penthouse letters.

Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504320)

I did this way back in 2005 for IDC reports that cost thousands of dollars but were only 10 page PDFs [amazon.com] .

It's a joke. It's funny. It's not people gaming a system, it's people being funny. It's not some evil corporation pimping it's uranium, it's people who think half life jokes and Back to the Future references are the hip new thing.

One of my friends posted the original joke review to the Three Wolf Moon T-shirt a long time ago and for about a week, we got our kicks writing joke reviews and people approved of them because, well, they were funny. I'm appalled that you think this is gaming the system when it's just regular people having a good time.

As a shopper, I wasn't aware of how easy it was to apparently fake product reviews and it bothers me.

How on earth could that bother you? You didn't notice it until you stumbled into a weird category on some beta app. Do you have any sense of humor?

For what it's worth, Amazon is starting to allow reviewers who ordered the item from Amazon to mark on their review that Amazon confirms them as an owner. So you could probably in the future sort those reviews by those that wrote jokes and those that actually ordered the uranium (my god, how is this not on idle).

It really bothers you? How? Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504370)

And how is this different from the myriad vaporware announcements over the past three decades? At least there's some humor in these.

The Reviews Have Meta-Moderation As Well (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504480)

And how is this different from the myriad vaporware announcements over the past three decades? At least there's some humor in these.

What the article really seems to miss is that there are meta-moderating for the reviews so you see things like "154 of 156 people found the following review helpful"

And when you see a spam bot or some fan boy getting all hot and bothered over some new product that's being preordered, that review gets buried as people vote it down and add comments like "WTF?" So if you're worried about this being an indication that companies or people are gaming the sale of products through reviews, I usually vote that crap down if I see it. And, honestly, these reviews have helped me. Just last week, I was going to order a set of Barska binoculars but half the reviews reported a mirror alignment defect so I didn't care what kind of sale they had on them.

I've rarely if ever found a review that was misleading and rated up.

You have to sign in with a legitimate account to do any of the above so it's not like there are spam bots out there gaming the reviews and the moderation of the reviews. If anyone else has seen this on Amazon, please speak up and link to examples, I'd be interested.

Re:The Reviews Have Meta-Moderation As Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34505012)

What the article really seems to miss is that there are meta-moderating for the reviews so you see things like "154 of 156 people found the following review helpful"

Except that in certain categories- primarily music- the downmodding of critical reviews is a blatantly obvious trend. I don't blame Amazon for this, I blame fanboys (and girls) of the groups, singers, etc. in question abusing the system to punish the writers or voice their disapproval. But the end effect is the same, the "useful" rating of reviews is useless for those categories.

Anyway, if Amazon were bothered about this, they'd find a way of weighting reviews so that the ratings of those who systematically abuse the "useful" rating for partisan reasons are given less significance.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504430)

Because while some fake reviews are obvious, many may not be.

IF someone can't rely on the features offered for shopping, then the experience has been ruined.

IT's a pretty easy concept. so easy, that someone who posts fake reviews on the Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt able to grasp in with just a few days of contemplation.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504738)

Because while some fake reviews are obvious, many may not be.

I am so sorry to whomever purchased the IDC report for $1,499.99 and read the ten PDF pages and found out that there was no plot between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD and the holiday season. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart for misrepresenting that product and tricking them into purchasing it. You know I found that IDC report after searching for Blu-Ray players way back in 2005. That's what I was suggested since none were out yet.

I would also like to review geekoid's post above at a +5. After the post arrived to my home via http, I immediately experienced a glowing sensation in my loins and instantly had the clarity and foresight of a million Jesuses plus two -- as advertised!

Seriously, you want to know what's corrupting Amazon? Check out the Wikipedia printing scam that Books LLC has been running. Just the other day I was looking for a book on Washington DC as a gift and was suggested this piece of trash [amazon.com] . It's just Wikipedia articles, as discussed on Slashdot [slashdot.org] . Except now that crap is being suggested to me in searches for books on specific subject matter!

But no, it's the reviews we are putting on products that no one should ever purchase that are "ruining the shopping experience."

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504566)

It's not people gaming a system, it's people being funny. It's not some evil corporation pimping it's uranium, it's people who think half life jokes and Back to the Future references are the hip new thing.

But the reviewer said that eating uranium ore for a month had caused him to grow three heads. I did the same and I still only have one head. I want my money back!

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (5, Funny)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504922)

But the reviewer said that eating uranium ore for a month had caused him to grow three heads. I did the same and I still only have one head. I want my money back!

Give it time. I'm sure you'll grow tu mor soon.

Except it happens with real products too (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504598)

Except if you actually think it doesn't happen with real products too, man, I hate to break down your ideal world bubble.

For a start, even as a joke, a lot of those jokes are just a cross between vandalism and fanboyism. E.g., it's trivial to run into reviews for games which not only aren't out there yet, but don't even have a beta or preview or much information out yet. I remember particularly Gothic 3 -- which eventually turned out to be a buggy bad joke -- which although just announced, and, really, all the information about it were a couple of screenshots that their engine works, and there were already gushing reviews for it on Amazon. You know, TEH GRATEST GAME EVAR!!! kinda reviews.

It's vandalism because even if it may be identifiable as an unfunny joke at that moment, fast forward a year and it's just noise in the actually useful signal.

Actually, even your kind of jokes sound like vandalism to me. It's having fun at the expense of spamming a useful resource and confusing the heck out of anyone who isn't magically aware whether the "Three Wolf Moon T-shirt" is a real product to buy or a joke, and whether the good or bad reviews are actual reviews or someone's bad idea of a joke.

You know, sorta like the guys posting goatse and rickrolling links on an unrelated mailing list. I don't doubt that in their deranged little brains it passes for freaking hilarious, but the rest of us just wish they'd die in a fire.

Re:Except it happens with real products too (3, Insightful)

dadelbunts (1727498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504750)

Oh no the humanity.My heart goes out to you and people like you. How dare amazon trick you into thinking the three wolf moon shirt was a MAGICAL item with otherworldly levels of sexual attraction while it was just a REALLY REALLY REALLY awesome shirt. Also to the poor people tricked by game reviews months before it was released. What are the sheep to do, use LOGIC!!?!?! MY GOD. What world do we live in that we dont immediately base our purchases on how many stars a product has on Amazon. Not a world i want to live in thats for sure. Not a world i want to live in.

Re:Except it happens with real products too (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505086)

Yes, and after the game is released, a few million people still have to spend collectively the equivalent of a couple of centuries just wading through the brainless drivel of some cretin who thinks he's funny. 'Cause obviously we wouldn't want to get straight to the actually useful information. I mean, oh noes, some people must be sheep if they just want to learn whether that product worked as a t-shirt (e.g., if it shrunk after the first machine wash) from other customers, instead of being delighted to wade through pages of idiots pretending that their "OMG it's magical" drivel is funny. Right?

Obviously if we're actually shopping for a t-shirt, our time is there just to read some lame jokes, and not to actually compare t-shirts. Man, what would we ever do with our time if we didn't have to spend hours using TEH LOGIC to guess which products are real and which are lame jokes, and which reviews are real and which are lame jokes. Why, without your kind of selfless saviour providing all that crapflood to filter, we'd be done with the shopping in 10 minutes and probably be stuck for the rest of the evening getting bored and having nothing to do. Oh noes! I mean, it's not like there's TV, YouTube, games, websites, etc, to go to if we want entertainment. Without your kind crap-flooding Amazon, why, we'd just have to sit there and get bored.

Heh.

And that goes double for cases when basically the request to use logic comes from some cretins who aren't very good at logic or data to use it on in the first place.

E.g., since the summary mentions Uranium, it must be an obvious joke, right? Well, no, actually depleted Uranium is perfectly ok to own and use for civilian purposes. It's even used as balast in boats and whatnot. Being very dense, it can lower your boat's centre of gravity a lot without taking much space. So someone could actually be trying to buy just that, in all honest.

But don't tell that to the ignorant joker who's basing his idea that it'll be an obvious joke for anyone who isn't stupid... on his own being stupid and ignorant.

Re:Except it happens with real products too (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505006)

For a start, even as a joke, a lot of those jokes are just a cross between vandalism and fanboyism. E.g., it's trivial to run into reviews for games

Woh, wait a second. Where in the summary or article do they link to a game where this has happened?

You know, TEH GRATEST GAME EVAR!!! kinda reviews.

Where in the world are you getting this from? Fanboys are a completely different problem. That's not funny and it's not something I do. The joke reviews go on products that nobody in their right mind would buy. If somebody puts up a joke product like uranium, how does it deserve anything other than joke reviews?

Here's a free tip for you: if you try to do a joke review on a very popular product, about a million people rate you down and your review is either removed or never seen again. So keep that in mind when you think I went around poisoning reviews for Fable III or whatever. Signal to noise ratio? Have you ever used the Amazon reviews? Because it really sounds like you haven't. I challenge you to post a joke review that genuinely ruined your shopping experience and explain to me how that happened.

If you ever made a review of "TEH GRATEST GAME EVAR!!!" it would be moderated down and never seen. It's so obvious you don't read Amazon reviews.

You know, sorta like the guys posting goatse and rickrolling links on an unrelated mailing list.

There we go, go ahead and try to draw some kind of link between these joke reviews for uranium and mailing goatse links out to thousands of people. Whatever helps you justify decrying this as a problem for online shopping. How many goatse links and rickrolls can you point me to in Amazon reviews? Hmmm?

Re:Except it happens with real products too (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505162)

As I was saying in the other message, actually someone could genuinely be trying to buy or sell depleted uranium, which is a very legal thing to do. More common than you seem to think too. It's an inert and very dense material used, well, whenever you need something heavy and which doesn't take much space. E.g., it's actually used as ballast in boats. SRSLY.

Granted, Amazon wouldn't be the first place to go looking for it, but if I were looking for something like that and happened to stumble upon something like that on Amazon, you can bet your ass I'd have a look at it starting from the assumption that it's a genuine product.

So what you guys did was only waste the time of everyone who wasn't ignorant enough to mistake it for an obvious joke.

Re:Except it happens with real products too (-1, Troll)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505318)

So what you guys did was only waste the time of everyone who wasn't ignorant enough to mistake it for an obvious joke.

Five stars. You should have been a poet.

Hey Noah, why don't you try reading the product review:

Radioactive sample of uranium ore. Useful for testing Geiger Counters. License exempt. Uranium ore sample sizes vary. Shipped in labeled metal container as shown. Shipping Information: We are always in compliance with Section 13 from part 40 of the NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules and regulations and Postal Service regulations specified in 49 CFR 173.421 for activity limits of low level radioactive materials. Item will be shipped in accordance with Postal Service activity limits specified in Publication 52. Radioactive minerals are for educational and scientific use only.

$40 for a little canister that varies in size and can only be used for education and scientific use only. Good luck ballasting your boat with that.

But I await your argument for calibrating your Geiger Counter ... you know I'm sure the reviews on Amazon are paramount to scientists looking to calibrate a Geiger counter. And the online uranium shopping experience has been once again ruined!

How come you stopped comparing me to fanboys and goatse trolls? Why not Hitler now?

Re:Except it happens with real products too (3, Informative)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505350)

It's OK to buy and own non-depleted uranium too, actually. Very small quantities are bought all the time for wide-ranging projects like Geiger counter calibration, and school science labs.

The amount in the canister on Amazon (which I do not actually believe is fake) is not enough to do anything dangerous with, even if you bought a whole bunch of canisters. You'd have to pretty much spend a sizable fortune to get enough to make even a very small nuclear reactor, and if you were trying to make a nuclear bomb you'd have to buy even more, and that's assuming you had the equipment and knowhow to make weapons-grade fissile material out of it.

It always amazes me how many people have such "OMG! NUKYEWLUR!" reactions to things like this. They must not know that glow-in-the-dark watches and gun sights are radioactive (tritium, which is also used to make weapons and yet civilians can get hold of it by buying a Luminox watch). Hell, pacemakers used to be powered by plutonium until Li-Ion batteries came along.

Nuclear is no big deal in the amounts sold to the general public.
 

Re:Except it happens with real products too (1, Troll)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505126)

Those who think of false reviews as "jokes" are just boors with a limited world view. It exactly the same mentality that thinks "tagging" a building or park bench is cool. Juvenile minds have no respect for the value of a good, well tended community resource. To the small minded, the limited benefit they receive by defacing the commons is not over weighed by the damage done, because they are unable to understand the damage or value of what they are defacing.

Re:Except it happens with real products too (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505128)

If people are really fooled by these fake reviews they deserve to waste their money on crap. Think of it as a punishment for being an idiot.

Some of these are real products! (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505172)

While it's obvious that the Parent Child Test product isn't real, some or all of the others probably are!

First of all, you really can buy uranium ore. If nowhere else, you can go on ebay and get a revigator [theodoregray.com] . Lots of countries can and do dig up uranium ore; but it takes a lot of processing to do anything nuclear-chain-reaction-related with it.

I'm pretty sure the rabbit is real, probably sent packed in ice or something. Rabbit meat is sold; I once ate rabbit bought at a local grocery store.

The only thing suspicious about the milk is its price. I'm sure milk can be easily bought online.

So some or all of these products are real products that have been the unfair butt of too many jokes.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (2)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504638)

First of all, I'm baffled that the guy never realized that some people may put up a fake review. Second of all, the review quality is great, if you know how to interpret them. I usually focus on longer reviews. I also usually look across the spectrum of the star ratings. For example, a lot of products have many 4-5 star reviews with a few 3 stars or under. I usually look at the lower star reviews to see what problems people had with the product (if people report the same problem, then it's more likely to be true). This is usually where I find the most valuable information to make a purchasing decision.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504662)

Do you have any sense of humor?

You know, it's just possible that the submitter too wasn't entirely serious with the text of the submission either...

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (5, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504706)

It really bothers you? How? Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience.

Really John? You have to ask that question?

A couple years ago my Father wanted to get out of the Field Technician Business and get into a more desk type job at home, where he could be his own boss kind of stuff. For Christmas he had but ONE request, a semi-luxurious Office Chair. Given that my father could not come to terms with how I dropped out of school and still got a job without that piece of paper, we both have this grudge about things we shouted at each other one day. However, the holidays are about family and I could not help but feel compelled that perhaps fulfilling this one request might mend the broken family that came about as a result of me not finishing that damn technical writing course. (As a side note, I was seriously knee deep in working out Regular Expressions in Perl, how could they possibly expect me to do up a cover letter that made any sense at the same time?)

Anyways, so after discovering this magic bullet to fix all the things that went wrong, I set out to get my father the best Office Chair Canadian money can buy. Having been recently thrown out and banned from Staples, Bestbuy, and Futureshop, for setting the IE Homepage on the display computers to the small local competitor down the street, I had no where to reasonably go but online. I did consider Ikea, but honestly I had enough trouble setting up some shelves with nothing but wooden dowels and an allen key, I did not want to take the risk of them making me set up a complex office chair with nothing but the same.

So there I was, browsing the Amazons and the Ebays of the world over, just trying to find the best price and shipping combination for my buck on Office chairs with reasonable features. However, I noticed a shocking trend. A lot of people who recieved these shipments of Office chairs were horribly mauled and disfigured by what they claim to be a Bobcat. They would not buy again. Now, I know that occaisonally someone likes to post a little joke review here and there. But this was EVERYWHERE. It was like an epidemic. I rationally thought that there must have been some mix up at the factory, or they really should not have put that Office Chair Warehouse right beside the nature reserve.

As such I did not purchase an office chair, but rather settled on a Thelma and Louise DVD. Needless to say, relationships have since worsened, and he has recently ended up in the hospital. He doesn't even want to see me. He thinks I did this to him. Everything is just so messed up, and I had this one perfect opportunity to make everything all better. And I blame you and your ilk for completely ruining my shopping Experience, Christmas, and inadvertantly, the rest of my life.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (4, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504872)

You selfish insensitive clod, your father is still alive while mine was horribly mauled, disfigured and killed by what appeared to be a Bobcat after I gifted him this same office chair! Your father may be in the hospital but mine is dead because I did not read those online reviews. If only I had been so lucky!

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34505136)

THIS IS SO OBVIOUSLY FAKED ITS UNBILEVABLE, WHY R PEOPLE SO GULLIBLE??? MORONS

I'm not really yelling.

Really I'm not.

OK maybe I am.

Getting this comment accepted is harder than building a soundstage on Mars.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34505190)

Nice troll. BTW obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/325/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504734)

It really bothers you? How? Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience.

It probably bothers him (not to be offensive) because his worldview before did not include a set of people who would willingly (for fun or not) enter false information on the internet. This experience has no doubt been a rude awakening, as he has probably had to challenge a lot of the beliefs he formed after visiting the Craigslist "missed connections" section and reading the post comments at Breitbart.com.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504932)

I think people tend to assume that the bad reviews are mainly spam or by people that have something to gain financially by it. Reviews which aren't spam and aren't for profit, but aren't accurate either make it really hard to judge what's being offered.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (1)

Avalanche_Joe (582320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505108)

Apparently you didn't RTFA. The first sentance of the summary even states "The first time I came across fake reviews on Amazon, it was hilarious" - the point of TFA is that the reviews of real items can be bogus/gamed. From TFA: "Again, I don’t actually care about the fake posts. I find them hugely entertaining to read. What bothers me is apparently how easy it is to create reviews on products that doesn’t exist by people that either don’t exist or have never bought them." So RTFA, joker.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34505122)

Article is even more clueless - two of the cited products are REAL, but have bizarro reviews.

The rabbit:
http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/meat_rabbits_and_some_statistics.htm

Uranium ore:
http://unitednuclear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_4&products_id=460

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505282)

"Please tell me how I've ruined your shopping experience."

Well, I for one was really looking forward to my first Unicorn Meat Casserole [thinkgeek.com] . When I found out it was just a joke potted meat product I was crushed.

Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505334)

It's a joke. It's funny. It's not people gaming a system, it's people being funny.

If you haven't yet read the top review on the Tuscan milk [amazon.com] , it is easily one of the most brilliant pieces of writing on the Internet. And done anonymously too.

Fake post (4, Funny)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504332)

Fake post.

Re:Fake post (4, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504438)

*CaptainPatent found this review to be helpful*

Re:Fake post (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505118)

1 of 1 people found the above review helpful

Re:Fake post (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505142)

Captain Patent, he's our hero!
Gonna take our money down to zero!

Re:Fake post (2)

RCGodward (1235102) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505156)

Excellent poster. Would read again. Makes /. a pleasure. A+++++

Ratings (3, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504356)

This is why Amazon likes to show you the top-rated positive comment and the top-rated negative comment. It's why they have reviewer ratings and the "Vine" program. It's why they have the whole meta-rating system in the first place. Don't ever take the star score at face value. Put more weight behind confirmed real names. Read review comments. It's not that hard to figure out.

Re:Ratings (1)

Coldegg (1956060) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504570)

What, you mean those posts that sounded like whole milk erotica weren't real?

What's this world coming to?

Re:Ratings (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504960)

Real names are nice, I suppose, but I'd rather they confirm that the person bought it or at least ordered it. Many times an item might be the same for practical purposes but have something substantively different about them. Most often with computer games where one version might be patched up to date, but for a former platform, but the other is patched up and supported on the most recent OS revision. They're the same, but there could very well be compatibility issues there.

what? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504360)

"but I do assume a certain level of legitimacy for most of them. "

Why? the seldom have context, there often posted immediately after the item is received, and there are know astroturfs.

Honest truth is rare. (4, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504366)

If there is money or prestige involved, generally there are lies involved.

Re:Honest truth is rare. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504978)

Probably because honesty is punished, harshly. Any honesty that doesn't go with the group think runs the risk of resulting in being shunned or run down.

Affect (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504386)

Yes, but how will it AFFECT your use of Amazon?

It's funny (3, Insightful)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504418)

It's funny.

Laugh.

If such an innocent thing bothers you, I dread to think what else you disapprove of.

These reviews are just light-hearted humour, and to be honest, they ARE hilarious (always have been, always will be) and often just the perfect thing to make you smile after a boring three-hour meeting.

You want to "bubble this up to Amazon"? Seriously, don't you have anything better to do?

Re:It's funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504886)

Seriously, don't you have anything better to do?

The same question came to mind when I though about the people who write those reviews ...

it USED to be true, but no longer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504450)

"but I do assume a certain level of legitimacy for most of them."

Remember the internet as it was back in around 1985-88? Back then you could largely trust reviews on usenet and such.

But then the net got flooded with the marketeers and the ad men. Now? You can trust very little of it.

Thanks, marketeers and ad men, for ruining a great thing for everybody else out of your own greed.

your belief system is flawed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504454)

you believe the word of god, with no proof, and question the reviews of 100% honest human beings still living??

Amazon Reviews can't be trusted all the time (4, Insightful)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504466)

Here is a big example: the release of Spore. That game had thousands of bad reviews because of the DRM. People who never played/bought the game.

Actually the review issue will be super simple to fix: if somebody buys a product from Amazon, if they also write a review on the product, there will be a special piece of text that says that the user who left the review bought the product from Amazon. To get rid of most of the bad/fake reviews, all Amazon needs to do is require that all reviews be from people who actually bought the product. This would also eliminate reviews on fake products, since unless the person paid for and bought the paid product, no review for them.

As for fake products, you would think there is some way to flag fake products to alert Amazon about it.

So, Amazon could easily fix these issues with items that are already in place (unless flagging products is not in place, but that sounds like something very odd that should be place if it is not), but it appears they choose not to. Maybe contacting Amazon directly and informing them about this would help out much better than a /. article, but maybe that is just me

Re:Amazon Reviews can't be trusted all the time (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504592)

Some of us do leave great reviews:
Amazon Review [amazon.com]

A product that was well known to be hated, even though many people did not know why they were hating it, so I gave a real review on it, and it got very positive feedback. Unfortunately, weeding through fake/dumb reviews to find real reviews sucks to do

Re:Amazon Reviews can't be trusted all the time (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504620)

Spore is a bad example, because it actually is a crappy game.

But yeah, there have been numerous examples of things getting massive numbers of bad reviews fro things like DRM. If you are actually thinking about buying something, hopefully you have the sense to look past the simple star rating and read some of the reviews; it becomes immediately obvious if the rating is based on the actual merits of the product, or if people are just giving bad ratings to protest some action by the company.

Re:Amazon Reviews can't be trusted all the time (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504654)

Here is a big example: the release of Spore. That game had thousands of bad reviews because of the DRM. People who never played/bought the game.

Uhm, excuse me but your point is...? I bought Spore and it certainly didn't hold up to the media hype, actually it was one of the worst games I've ever bought when they came out. And the DRM *did* suck. While I generally agree with your point I'd say the thousands of reviewers got it right in case of Spore.

Re:Amazon Reviews can't be trusted all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504664)

The uranium ore probably isn't fake. It's quite easy to purchase: http://www.unitednuclear.com/

"Verified Purchase" (4, Informative)

Mr 44 (180750) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504668)

This exists! It's called Amazon Verified Purchase [amazon.com] . See, for example:
http://www.amazon.com/review/R23WKI375G1JJM [amazon.com]

I don't know if their ranking algorithm rates reviews from verified purchases higher or not, but wouldn't be surprised...

Re:"Verified Purchase" (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504770)

Thanks. That is what I was referring to and did not remember what it was called.

My example with Spore was that even if the game was horrible, I would rather see thousands of reviews of people saying the game was horrible, then thousands of reviews about people complaining about DRM. I won't say DRM is good, but if you did not buy the product, let the people who wasted their money on Spore tell you why it was a waste of money.

Re:Amazon Reviews can't be trusted all the time (1)

dunezone (899268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504904)

Here is a big example: the release of Spore. That game had thousands of bad reviews because of the DRM. People who never played/bought the game.

I saw something like this on Newegg(I believe), was researching graphic cards when I came across a review which had no depth to it. The review stated that for the same price you could purchase two graphics cards and basically have dual cards and have about 10% performance gain. The review neglected to say anything about having to purchase bigger case, motherboard that supports two video cards, and upping the power supply to accommodate the additional card.

So the review was obviously made by someone who didn't purchase the product.

Re:Amazon Reviews can't be trusted all the time (1)

rfc822 (598132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505084)

I second that about the reviews, I see currently two problems:

1) Reviews by people not having bought this product on Amazon

Really, wtf? Why should I care about someone reviewing it who hasn't bought it *there*? Doesn't make sense to me. If I want to get a general review of a product, I need to got somewhere else, ideally where you don't buy it, period.

2) Reviews of similar items mixed together

Search for some random DVDs with BluRay counterparts. Or VHS. You'll suddenly find people reviewing/rating the product (e.g. I'm looking at the BluRay entry of the movie), the talk about the bad quality or something about the content and it's only until later you realize: they talk about the DVD or VHS version. Wtf? Again, IMHO that's complete BS to me.

Re:Amazon Reviews can't be trusted all the time (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505154)

Amazon is not interested in correct reviews. They are interested in people on their site and in the end people buying stuff. As long as investing time and money to let this go away NOT result in more money coming in, why would they change it?

Remember that they deal with huge number of people, not only /. readers. Soccermom finds it perhaps funny as it was forwarded from a cow orker and then sees this nice add and buys something else.

I've seen what I assume were paid reviews too... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504504)

Just look at the Windows 7 "upgrade" from starter to home premium. It costs around $80 and is targeted at netbook users. Most of the victims where I live who buy netbooks get Starter Edition and I find it very hard to
believe that they would pay $80 to "fix" a deliberately broken product, whilst at the same time giving it a 5-star rating. I just refuse to believe that people can be that dumb...

Coincidently, this is another reason I want to get off the Titanic that is the Windows platform. I moved to Linux, but if it didn't exist, I would have likely gone Mac. Hopefully the trend of console games and mass-adoption of smart phones will finally dethrown the devil.

Re:I've seen what I assume were paid reviews too.. (0)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504606)

I just refuse to believe that people can be that dumb...

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." -- Henry Menken

Funny Jugs (1)

cdoggyd (1118901) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504508)

The 1 Gallon of Milk product and it's reviews are legendary.

Re:Funny Jugs (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504766)

I've just found a new place to hang out! Holy crap those are funny! The "One Friday, Without the Milk" review is just stunning and brilliant. I'm brilliantly stunned. More fake products, please! And pass me a hearty tumbler of Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz, because that's what life's about, friend. Good friends, good reviews, and Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz. Now, more than ever, Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz.

This post brought to you by the Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz advisory board of Italy.

Funny timing for anti - Amazon post (2)

Coldegg (1956060) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504538)

Immediately following the script kiddies calling off their DDoS on Amazon, /. posts a negative article regarding Amazon.

Funny timing. Like an infant screaming and kicking trying to show the world that it matters.

people still read reviews? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504562)

most of those are posted by marketing firms and meant for idiots who don't know any better. it's like when my wife is bugging me about something she says that cnet gave it a good review. i tell her that no one reads cnet anymore

Amazon Does try its best (2)

tempestdata (457317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504576)

This is an issue that you can see Amazon and users taking seriously. If you notice Amazon allows you to meta moderate reviews, as well as comment on reviews. I have spotted a lot of fake reviews by reading comments on reviews, and I make it a point to comment on fake reviews as well providing my rationale for why I think it is a fake review. Just like on slashdot, community moderation is key here.

Amazon also provides an additional level of verification with the "Amazon verified purchase" where by Amazon lets you know that this reviewer at the very least did purchase this product from Amazon.

In the end reviews are like asking for advice. Often you get bad advice, often you get advice from people with hidden motives, and often you get good advice. Amazon's review system is just a representation of real life. Go anywhere on the web, or go call up some real estate agents/mortgage brokers and ask them "When is a good time to buy a house?" and the answer will almost invariably be "If you can afford it, _now_ is a good time to buy a house". They have a hidden agenda they want to push.

I am not singling out real estate agents though. They are doing their job. Dealing with people is dealing with hidden agendas. :)

Denon AKDL1 Link Cable (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504672)

There's always the Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable [amazon.com] . Oh wait, that's not a prank (sadly Denon doesn't still have this listed on their site, as it used to be a legitimate product).

This one's been posted on Slashdot before... (2)

MrKevvy (85565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504700)

Unsure if in an article or the comments, but it's arguably the most famous so surprised it wasn't mentioned.

$1000 Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable [amazon.com]

Re:This one's been posted on Slashdot before... (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504912)

Sometimes, however, things aren't quite so black and white. I ran across this thing [amazon.com] the other day looking for trackballs. Actually looked really interesting until I noticed the price.

It's a real product (although apparently discontinued). Would somebody pay $500 for a trackball? Hell, for that much money, I'll build them by one a time out of hand selected Unicorn hooves.

Re:This one's been posted on Slashdot before... (3, Interesting)

RJHelms (1554807) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505092)

What I find exceptionally absurd about this is that author of the article, Riyad Kalla, is complaining about fake reviews on Amazon, but the TFA has a link to another article in the "related articles" section, by the same author, celebrating that Denon one you mention [thebuzzmedia.com] . So he finds fake reviews hilarious, except when he doesn't. And writes articles about them in both cases.

The Story About Ping (2)

milonssecretsn (1392667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504702)

While we are mentioning funny amazon things, don't forget the reviews for the essential book on the network tool "Ping" [amazon.com] . (Read the first Customer Review)

They already know it, relax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504710)

"I would like to bubble this up to Amazon's attention so some time is spent on improving the quality of the reviews."

Just in case someone thought Amazon might not be aware of these reviews and fake products, relax. They are fully aware of existence of these things; it's one of favorite pastimes of anyone working for item master and catalog teams to check these out occasionally. And while it is not exactly supported as a practice, it seems somewhat tolerated; with occasional outburst of activity for removing some comments and products. But one problem is that actually deleting any products is hard if not impossible; system is designed not to lose information and keep references via product ids available.

This is based on knowing a few people who worked (or still work) at Amazon. They were able to show the funniest products (beyond the usual three-wolf, badonkadonk tank, brass balls etc there's treasure trove of other funnies). And recommendation system is also pretty good at strengthening correlation between funny products so you can just follow suggestions to Tuscany Milk, bear poop and such.

Parent Child Test (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504776)

The reviewers didn't seem to get the Parent Child Test. Unless I miss my guess, the cost of $10,000+ coupled with the "cool" figurine is the test. If someone orders it, they are clearly fascinated with shiny figurine toys and completely lack any concept of money, ergo they are children.

Re:Parent Child Test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34505298)

you insensitive clod!
They could be autistic, and idly wealthy :P

THIS IS OLD NEWS (0)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504780)

2008 called. It wants to know how you like your three wolf moon shirt.

Google Places has similar problems (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504790)

Since the big October 27, 2010 change to Google search, in which "places" results appeared at the top of web search, reviews have become much more important. Google's web search was mostly based on links, but Google Places is heavily driven by reviews. For a local business, there typically are few reviewers, so spamming reviews is far more effective than creating link farms.

Google is not too good at filtering out phony businesses, either. See "Dominating Google Maps- The Most Effective Spam Ever And What You Can Learn From It" [convertoffline.com] , from an aggressive search engine optimization firm. That's an outright scam that fools Google easily.

Over on Bing, it's even worse. Search Bing for "New York City Locksmith". All 5 of the Bing locations listed are the same company, and they don't really have all those locations.

The Wolf Shirt (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504796)

Is this fake? Sure, but it's fake poetry

This item has wolves [amazon.com] on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that's when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to 'howl at the moon' from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn't have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn't settle for the first thing that comes to him.

I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side saddle so that my wolves would show. While I was browsing tube socks, I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants and flip-flops standing there. She told me she liked the wolves on my shirt, I told her I wanted to howl at her moon. She offered me a swig from her mountain dew, and I drove my scooter, with her shuffling along side out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you wolf shirt.

Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women
Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the 'guns'), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.

Re:The Wolf Shirt (1, Insightful)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505332)

In spite of the fact that I just wasted 45 minutes of my work day reading Wolf Shirt reviews (er, and slashdot :) ), I have to thank you for this post... these are waaay too funny to be complaining about. Some selections:
  • The Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt gave me a +10 resistance to energy attacks, +8 Strength, and added 30 feet to my normal leap. I cannot list the specific effects involving the opposite sex as I am still discovering these. And they are many.
  • In Soviet Russia, I could afford two wolf on shirt for 4000 ruples ($25). Thanks to free market economy, I can have three wolf for $11.95. Its very good deal.
  • I admit it, I'm a ladies' man. And when you put this shirt on a ladies' man, it's like giving an AK-47 to a ninja.

Woot.Com has the same problem. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504882)

Oh wait. That's their business model.

Never mind.

Re:Woot.Com has the same problem. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504888)

Of course, Amazon.Com bought Woot.Com last year. Probably because of the business model. I see a pattern emerging.

epinions and Consumer Reports (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34504890)

The only reviews I take at all seriously are at epinions.com [epinions.com] and ConsumerReports.org [consumerreports.org] .

And I read only the negative reviews for anything, anyway. Once I'm looking at something reviewed, I probably already want it, so I'm looking for reasons not to get it. And negative reviews are harder to write convincingly without actually knowing something about the thing and its context, anyway. Anyone mad enough at something to go to all that trouble is itself an honestly negative review.

Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504900)

Guess you didn't get the memo. We're not DDOSing Amazon at the moment. Please post article relating to paypal.com.

Anonymous (Coward)

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34504916)

I've seen the opposite problem. About two years ago I bought a $100+ textbook that was supposedly an intro to data processing. Even though I've worked in IT for 30+ years and I'm currently the CIO of a small IT consulting company, I had to get the book for a course I was taking at the time. I thought the book was terrible -- poorly organized, outdated information, etc. -- and I wrote a fairly negative review. My review appeared only briefly, then was apparently deleted.

Backdoor DDos? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34505038)

Hmm, Anonymous is trying to DDos Amazon today, and a front page submission to Slashdot just happens to have a bunch of juicy links to Amazon, driving traffic their way? Nice.

Clever, Payback (3, Funny)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505062)

I wonder if one prong of an organized DDoS attack on site X is posting a story about site X on slashdot. More likely all of the hubbub has the conspiracy center of my brain in overdrive...

Amazon reviews...they know about it. (3, Interesting)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505206)

That's why they started including the "verified purchase" link. If the reviewer bought the product through Amazon before leaving the review, that flag is applied to the review. It's intended to make consumers more confident that the reviews are from real owners of the product.

At the same time, it was another way Amazon was trying to put some parameters around its reviewer community. A lot of them out there are very picky about their status as reviewers, and many voiced concerns about people who were just going online and writing reviews for anything and everything. The way I figure it, most shoppers will be able to tell the difference between a well-thought out review, and a lot of the brief first impressions, one-liners, and flames ("It didn't work out of the box--I'll never buy from that company again!") that abound.

For the record, I am a regular reviewer at Amazon, but don't get my undies in a bunch about the interal squabbles. I'm happy being a top-2,000 reviewer for now, and hope to make the top 100 someday. Contrary to Amazon's advice, which states that shorter reviews are most helpful, some of my highest rated reviews are quite long and fairly detailed. I always try to include information that might make a difference in someone's purchasing decision--the same type of information I was often seeking before making a purchase.

Dammit! (2)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505276)

Now I'm gonna have to crush like 20 yellow Fiestaware pitchers to test my homemade GM tubes. Thanks for nothing Amazon.

Completely Disclaimed (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34505374)

If you look closely, there's actually a pretty thorough disclaimer for these products.

"Disclaimer: While we work to ensure that product information is correct, on occasion manufacturers may alter their ingredient lists. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and/or different information than that shown on our Web site. We recommend that you do not solely rely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. For additional information about a product, please contact the manufacturer. Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. Amazon.com assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products."

Not much left to chance on that.

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