Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Truth & the Internet



"You can't handle the truth!" – from the movie “A Few Good Men”

If you do any shopping on the internet like Amazon or eBay, chances are you look at the reviews of fellow users to judge quality of a product. Sometimes the reviews are helpful and posted by real users – but other times the reviewer has a hidden bias. Perhaps they work for the company or its ad agency. Perhaps they work for a competitor and want to trash the product. How can you tell the difference?

Check out the Consumerist story, 30 Ways You Can Spot Fake Online Reviews.
Here are some of the techniques listed:

  • Normal people do not write in marketing speak. They rarely spell out the full product name, “I loved the ABC Widget 3000X”, or faithfully follow the company guidelines for product capitalization or spelling.
  • They give a discount code or tell you where to go to buy the product.
  • There's "only a few reviews, all overwhelmingly positive."
  • The review predates the product release. In the case of books this could be early drafts given to friends and fans to (positively) review .

Bottom Line

I love the internet but you have to take everything online with a grain of salt. There are lots of lies and deceptions out there. Just this week there was a scam ad on Facebook that fooled tens of thousands into providing personal information for a free $1000 gift certificate that will never arrive.

I recently saw an ad that said, “No joke, you really are the 10 millionth visitor. Click here for a prize.” Then I saw the same ad on a second site. Wow what are the odds of being # 10,000,000 on two sites at the same time?

Last night I encountered an ad with audio – “You’ve won a mystery prize! Click here!” It’s annoying when ads flash but I really hate it when they cover the screen or talk to me. Or worse yet when an ad starts a video playing.

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