Online reviews are a classic example of the new web mantra of consumer-driven content gone bad. Yes, that’s right – gone bad. There’s nothing wrong with the premise of consumer-driven content, but online reviews bring out the worst in us. Here’s five true-to-life examples that we have all likely encountered in our search for seller and product information on the web.
1. The Blowhard
If you have ever attended school or worked in an office setting, you have undoubtedly been a captive audience for the blowhard. All sexual innuendo aside, a blowhard refers to that special individual who takes no greater pleasure than to tell you every last detail about his or her day regardless of the usefulness of the verbal diarrhea. I find blowhard reviews on Amazon.com all of the time and I wonder how could anybody have so much free time and use it so perversely? Please, save our precious time by trying to stick to the facts and be concise. Maybe someone, besides me, would read your review and not feel as if they lost a part of their life that they will never get back.
2. The Fluffer
Ignoring the adult film connection, the fluffer refers to a freelance writer who crafts titillating reviews for a living. Yes folks, there is no Santa Claus and people write reviews for a living (i.e., not real reviews for those still wondering). While it may seem reassuring that the product you just purchased has a least one glowing review, despite the litany of negatives reviews, I have this to say – you’ve been lied to again, the review is a fake. I hope you kept the receipt.
3. The Fatal Attraction
There are some people you just shouldn’t piss off, because they will obsessively spend every waking hour trying to crucify the person that wronged them. I know this first hand. No, I don’t piss off a lot of people (you would tell me if I did – right?), but I have had the opportunity to review online reviews prior to publishing them. I used to put together a “bad review” top 10 list each month with the funniest non-publishable reviews for some comic relief. The two worst business categories for downright mean-spirited reviews usually came for child daycare centers and pet care facilities (you know, I guess not everybody wants children). Needless to say, save everyone the hate lust and buy a punching bag if you need to exorcise your rage.
4. The Fanboy
I do like consumer electronics and have a secret passion for computer hardware. When I review related products, I undoubtedly will run across reviews by people who have absolutely no experience whatsoever with the product. They leave reviews because they “just love the company” – what a waste of my time.
5. The Manic-Depressive
This type of review usually starts out something like this: Day 1 – I love this product, it has completely changed my life and how I use this type of product.” Day 2 – “This product is a worthless piece of crap and totally a waste of time.” Day 3 – “I found this great feature and it has completely transformed my opinion of this product.” Day 4 – “What a letdown, same problem as before but it has gotten worse.” Three weeks later, “I finally got around to looking at the owner’s manual and ….” – you can guess where this is going. Do us a favor — read the damn manual before posting a review.
Despite the obviously flawed personas aforementioned, online reviews do serve at least two positive functions:
Whether it’s a seller, product, or service, you can generally spot a trend – positive or negative – by reviewing a good cross section of the reviews. Discount the “outliers,” the overly positive or negative reviews, and there’s often useful information in the trends.
2. No Reviews
When a business, product, or service doesn’t have any reviews at all, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Does anyone care about the business, product, or service? If they did, wouldn’t there be some sort of review, good or bad? Did the business, product, or service reinvent itself after some massive public relations issue or criminal complaint? Is the business, product, or service too new to have any meaningful reviews and do I want to be a risk-taker and be the first person to find out?
In conclusion, use common sense when using online reviews. If a review seems too good or too bad to be true, it probably is.