I stopped trusting book, gaming, movie, and product reviews years ago after seeing too many that were either paid for by the company or author or were hatchet jobs by people who didn’t like the company, product, or writer. I am not picking on Amazon, but there are so many poor reviews on it as to make using Amazon’s reviews a waste of time. By poor reviews, I don’t mean people leaving one or two star reviews. I mean reviews where the reviewers say a product or book is only worth 20 – 60% of what they paid for it, but the reviewer leaves a four or five star review. It doesn’t matter if the reviewer is a verified purchaser of the product since they could have purchased the product outside of Amazon. I have items that I purchased from other retailers, and in the case of books, that a friend loaned me the book or I read a copy from the library. I belong to a number of Facebook writer groups and many of the group members won’t leave anything less than three star review and a fairly large number will only leave four star or in some cases, five star reviews, opting to not give a review if they can’t give the writer whatever number they set as their minimum. They are doing a huge disservice to the writers by not leaving honest reviews and many times people will say I gave the writer a higher rating than they deserved. They are also doing a huge disservice to potential readers because they leave a less than honest review or no review.
My biggest use of reviews these days is when I review the one and two star reviews. In many cases, it is obvious somebody gave the review because they took issue with the company or writer and not because they didn’t like the product or book. For book reviews, compare the reviewer’s comments to the blurb provided by the writer. In many instances, the reviewer is relying on the blurb or comments left by other reviewers and hasn’t read the book. In some cases, it’s apparent the reviewer has read the book and is leaving honest feedback. I look for what type of feedback the reviewer gave. I also look at the reviewer’s other reviews. How many are four or five star? How many are one or two star? Is there a trend that indicates to me the person is a fanboy/girl of the writer or somebody who dislikes the author?
Using a well-known writer who is very popular as an example, I have never purchased one of his books, but a friend loaned me a fair number of the writer’s books. My friend was a diehard fanboy of this writer, but after the latest book, I think he’s either no longer a diehard fanboy or the writer actually turned him away from being a fanboy. I expect he will continue to buy the writer’s books, but he won’t be buying the hardbound editions and will settle for ebooks or paperbacks. This writer is published by one of the larger traditional publishers available. The books are so full of typos and grammar errors one would think they were self-published by somebody who couldn’t afford to pay for a decent editor. The traditional publisher knows he’s a popular writer and has plenty of fanboys/girls who will buy anything he puts out which may be why they don’t edit his work. If I were the CEO of the publishing company or the writer, I would be ashamed to put out such unprofessional work. My friend defends the typos claiming the writer can’t afford to pay an editor. This writer has books very high on Amazon’s list of sales so he should be doing well enough to hire an editor. If that’s not bad enough, many popular review sites hype how wonderful this writer’s latest book is going to be. A more cynical person might wonder if the fact the review sites accept advertising from the publishing companies has anything to do with the lack of bad reviews.
I used to read movie reviews, but five minutes before going into to see a movie cured me of it. The reviewer who worked for the local paper made it sound like the sequel wasn’t as full of bathroom humor as the first movie in the series. I went into the theater with this comment in my mind. After watching only a short portion of the movie, I wondered if the reviewer had seen the movie as it had a lot more bathroom humor than the first one. After watching the entire movie, I didn’t know why the reviewer could remotely claim less bathroom humor as it easily outpaced the first movie in this aspect.
I see the same thing in PC and console games where the gaming sites often receive large sums of advertising from gaming companies, but rarely give bad reviews to a new release.
I find any reviewer who works for a company that receives advertising from a company whose products are reviewed tends to get much higher marks in the reviews. I would love to find independent reviewers who aren’t receiving any kind of financial incentive to review products. There are a handful of companies who don’t accept advertising or financial incentives who evaluate products, but those tend to be focused more on consumer products like vehicles, appliances, etc. and not too much on books, games, movies, etc.
My suggestion is to leave an honest review and it doesn’t matter if it’s one, two, three, four, or five stars as long as you are being honest. Leave an objective review. In my product reviews on this blog, I try to cover several things: 1) what I liked about the product or service; 2) what I didn’t like; 3) ways I think it could be improved; and 4) miscellaneous. I realize there are some things l will like/dislike that others will have the opposite opinion.
Addit: For my DNA company reviews, I think it’s important that people are aware of companies that many experts wouldn’t recommend since some people are looking for specific things that may be applicable to a less well-known company.
Addit: Will be adding a blog post of an example of where reviews can be fun to read.