Alternate blog title: Blogging, a great way to procrastinate from running and other productive activities.
So, if you’re a savvy Amazon shopper, no doubt you’ve noticed that Amazon reviews have serious issues these days. I am a person who used to buy the product with the best reviews most of the time, unless it was significantly more expensive. I’ve found that fake or paid for reviews are absolutely pervasive on Amazon. I’ve found that my entire shopping approach has changed. Nowadays, I look for name-brand products, because I’ve found that brands like Asics and Sony don’t pay for their reviews. However, I miss the days when I could buy the no-name cheaper product because a bunch of people tried it, and it was awesome. I got burned a few times on products that had hundreds or thousands of 5-star reviews and turned out to be absolute crap. The solitary one-star reviews I left made no difference, I’m sure. I’ve also mostly given up writing reviews these days, and I’ve found that when I do write reviews with less than 4 or 5 stars, they’re often rapidly down-voted. There was a time when I used to watch my reviewer rating, and this kind of thing is a motivation not to write honest, negative reviews.
Nothing irritates me more than, “I received a free product in exchange for my fair, unbiased review.” Ha. I immediately mark such reviews as “not helpful.”
Enter fakespot.com. I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s possible to spot fake reviews. You can tell in various ways. Sometimes, a whole bunch of 5 star reviews appear one after the other, during the same couple of weeks. Other times, half the reviews are only one or two words. The reviewer either has ONLY reviewed this product, or only leaves 5-star reviews on other random products. And so on. This is fine, but it’s a pain to do manually. I don’t know what fakespot’s algorithm is, but in my spot checks, they are spot on, ha ha.
These days, I routinely run Amazon URLs through fakespot to determine whether a product is too-good-to-be-true or actually awesome. It seems to work well for all categories, including books. There’s nothing more annoying than spending 2 or 3 hours reading an entire book that received wildly positive reviews, think it’s horrible, and notice that it was self-published and, hmmm, who are all these reviewers anyway?
I decided to blog this after being just about to put Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart on my to-read list. Now, I have not read this book. It may be fabulous. It has a rating of 4.5 stars with 998 reviews. However, after reading the plot synopsis, I became suspicious. Basically, women decides to hike PCT to escape pressures and distractions of modern world and meets lots of interesting and lovely people along the way. Sound familiar? I mean, it’s been written a few times before. Why did so many people find this particular version of that plot line extraordinary? Well, Fakespot gives the reviews an overall C, for a fairly high percentage of low-quality reviews, and provides an adjusted rating of 3. Given my suspicions, I’m inclined to give this one a miss.
Try it for yourself. I know I sound like a pitchman, but I assure you, *I’m* not getting compensated by anybody. I just believe in reviews that are ACTUALLY fair and unbiased.