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The Review Factory

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On August 21, 2011 @ 2:00 pm In Really, really bad calls,Web/Tech | Comments Disabled

“For $5, I will submit two great reviews for your business.”
-help-for-hire site Fiverr

“I will pay for positive feedback on TripAdvisor.”
-Digital Point

“If you have an active Yelp account and would like to make very easy money please respond.”
-Craigslist

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As if you didn’t know that the many reviews were purchased:

The boundless demand for positive reviews has made the review system an arms race of sorts. As more five-star reviews are handed out, even more five-star reviews are needed. Few want to risk being left behind.

Sandra Parker, a freelance writer who was hired by a review factory this spring to pump out Amazon reviews for $10 each, said her instructions were simple. “We were not asked to provide a five-star review, but would be asked to turn down an assignment if we could not give one,” said Ms. Parker, whose brief notices for a dozen memoirs are stuffed with superlatives like “a must-read” and “a lifetime’s worth of wisdom.”

Determining the number of fake reviews on the Web is difficult. But it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers, who recently published a paper about creating a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers. They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews.

“The whole system falls apart if made-up reviews are given the same weight as honest ones,” said one of the researchers, Myle Ott. Among those seeking out Mr. Ott, a 22-year-old Ph.D. candidate in computer science, after the study was published was Google, which asked for his résumé, he said.”

Yelp’s business model? Not so good. This should be a boon for Zagats . . .

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Source:
In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5 [1]
DAVID STREITFELD
NYT, August 19, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html


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[1] In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html

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