Review Meta: Illuminating the Peer-to-Peer Review Mentality

by Kimo Gray // September 22nd, 2016

It’s Monday night, and my wallet has finally broken. To be fair, this has been a long time coming; it’s been almost two months since I swore off cumbersome leather wallets full of old receipts and faded punch cards in loo of a cleaner, more minimalist approach. I’m talking, of course, about a rubber band, a reliable elastic that holds all my essentials (debit, credit, ID, T Pass) and nothing else. But upon it’s demise, I decided to turn to Amazon to find a compromising “mini-wallet.” Or more specifically, to the Amazon reviews. That same night, I found this via Reddit, and it redefined my whole search process:

Seriously. Watch it. Did you watch it? Wow, right?

Monetized incentives are nothing new in Marketing. There is always a need for new information, and offering incentives to a consumer for that information is often an equivocal exchange. Conversely, in the world of online shopping unbiased information is hard to come by. When deciding between similar products, I’ve always relied on the word of my internet peers. Though opinions can often be varied even on a single product, these reviews come off as genuine, and are a comfortable influence.

This video by Review Meta surprised me by revealing the shark in the water: incentivized reviewers. Though this seems obvious in retrospect, it never occurred to me that my noble review brethren would be so easily bought: and why wouldn’t they? This is nothing new to marketing. But it somehow left me feeling jaded and distraught. If I can’t trust the reviews for the wallet, how could I ever trust a wallet again?

But here’s where Review Meta came to the day. Not only did they expose the deception, they offered a solution. On their website, there is a url bar where you can place any link to a reviewed project. Using their algorithm they can remove any review that’s been incentivized, display the genuine reviews, and display an adjusted rating based off only those reviews. This helped me find an unbiased view of the product options.

This problem, and this service, are interesting in the context of the peer-to-peer internet. Reviews are themselves a form of social media. To be a savvy social user, you must know the context in which you are experiencing it, and helps to clear that up. For someone like me who values an organic online shopping experience, Review Meta, and my new wallet, are welcome finds.


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