A user review is a review conducted by a computer user and published to a review site following product testing or the evaluation of a service. User reviews are commonly provided by consumers who volunteer to write the review, rather than professionals who are paid to evaluate the product or service. User reviews might be compared to professional nonprofit reviews from a consumer organization, or to promotional reviews from an advertiser or company marketing a product.
Advertisers, marketers, and other stakeholders have motivation to produce fake positive user reviews for products they wish to promote or fake negative user reviews for products which they wish to disparage. In a fake user review, an actor will create a user account based on some marketing persona and post a user review purporting to be a real person with the traits of the persona. This is a misuse of the user review system, which universally only invite reviews from typical users and not paid fake personalities.
One way to prevent fake reviews is to create barriers which favor long-term identified users who understand and support community rules in a review site.
Amazon is suing fake reviewers.
Evaluation of user reviews
Various systems have been proposed to evaluate the quality of user reviews so that consumers can access the best ones, avoid lower quality ones, and prevent mixing of honestly provided reviews with less honest reviews from advertisers or people with an agenda other than nonpartial evaluation.
Consumers perceive user reviews using good grammar and persuasive writing style to be of higher quality than those written in other ways.
The relationship between user reviews and the quality of a product is uncertain. For some levels of quality in some circumstances, there may be no relationship between quality and ratings. For top levels of quality, one study found that user ratings matched scientific ratings a little more than half the time. Furthermore, people reading user reviews tend to perceive them to be as objective as scientific testing, especially when there is an average user review score.
Motivations for contributing a user review
Review bombing is when user reviews are made en masse in order to more strongly influence the creator of a product or its sales, in response to an actual or perceived slight against the customers.
Research has shown that user reviews often influence consumer purchases in the hospitality industry.
User reviews have created criticism and questioning of health care practices, when before the advent of user reviews, health care providers were rarely criticized or evaluated by users.
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