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Reviewing reform?


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Initial post: 21 Sep 2011 19:36:32 BDT
Agma says:
One topic I would like to share with you all is to get the general feeling about what support there might be for more stricter regulations targeted specifically towards review length. We've all seen them, many of these stupid and ridiculous one or two line reviews submitted with no energy or thought that don't tell anybody anything and are most useless. These also very short, irate and provocative troll contributions on product pages would be lessened as more effort and thought would have to be put into them making this type of trolling more difficult; the change would also I'd imagine significantly lessen the number of very short posted statements complaining about delivery times or condition of an item, which are of course clearly not reviews and are most annoying. In my book the current minimum of 20 words for a review to be accepted on amazon is I think a massive under-evaluation of what can reasonably be discussed in a helpful review. I think it would be a positive step to change it; raising the word count to a higher figure would I'd forsee increase the overall standard of reviews and help customers and other reviewers find the most helpful contributions on the site, could this also improve voting? I see this hindisght as a step in the right direction.? Who's with me.

Posted on 21 Sep 2011 20:15:08 BDT
Quiverbow says:
Increasing the minimum word count would not increase the overall standard of reviews. You will always get those "It wasn't delivered when they said" type reviews whatever the minimum count is. If you incresed it to 100 or 150, sensible reviewers may not bother at all. After all, some things don't deserve reviews of more than 50 words anyway.

Posted on 21 Sep 2011 21:34:42 BDT
Mikeedude says:
Problems may occur when someone has to review a '1.8m usb cable' or similar. Even the most eloquent of reviewers would be pushed to get more than two lines for small items like that.
I don't see how you could eradicate non-reviews without some sort of report button,and some cases small reviews are just as informative as walls of text.

Though it would be nice to get rid of non-reviews about delivery times and such I can't see it happening I'm afraid.

Posted on 21 Sep 2011 21:42:16 BDT
The Truth says:
Agma:
I know the type of reviews you're on about - but I don't really see them as that much of a problem. Just don't bother reading them.

Sometimes, a short review is perfect. With a bit of creative thought and a clever headline, for the right product one word or two words might say it all.

Off the top of my head - say you're reviewing a nut cracker - a review which just reads 'Cracking product', might be enough. OK - it could be far more helpful, but if there's loads of reviews doing that anyway, something like that with a bit of humour is usually just as well received.

Posted on 21 Sep 2011 23:45:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2011 00:31:56 BDT
Agma says:
Thanks for the initial feedback. One of the reasons I didn't hesitate about broadcasting this idea that I've been toying with for a little while is the fact that I was fairly confident in the knowledge that a interesting and respectful exchange could take place without the sometimes fiery and occasionally malevolent winds that overly-excited people sometimes whip up. I fully take on board the several short comings and limitations you have mentioned in my opening post. -However, I am still not really convinced that a short 20 word review (however approached) can be viewed as helpful within the entertainment sections of zon such as books, music and films for example. My beef I guess with the ongoing trolling, delivery of items and "minimum" length reviews within my entertainment "review comfort zone" is that these products require some degree of thought and effort put into them: Those "reviews" simply do not address the need for that. Perhaps that is where I am missing something as maybe because I don't often review outside music I don't have that "wide ranging" feel for the types of review, style and length that are more suitable for the different product categories amazon sell; even down to an item to item level. But certainly from my point-of-view within music (and to a similar extent film) the effects that short reviews have on average ratings are often distorting, as they are usually one star regardless of whether the item in question is deserving of such merit or not. I personally acknowledge the need to at least limit an ever mounting quantity of unhelpful material finding it's way onto many listings, even if is difficult to exercise. I guess it is very true that raising up the word count wouldn't deter all useless reviews and would likely deter some useful ones. That kind of counterproductive-ness would never solve the issue. It could well be unsolvable and something that we all just have to accept as part-n-parcel of review.

Truth, Quiverbow as you probably have written far more reviews and in many more diverse sections of zon than I have you are probably in a better position to offer your view into this own-posted question than I am and for that I'll reserve... Agma.

Many thanks to all posters and their associated contributions predeceasing and succeeding this post. Hopefully, I will be able to understand this aspect of reviewing better through discussion.

Posted on 22 Sep 2011 07:18:16 BDT
Crookedmouth says:
For what my opinion's worth, I would agree with TT - why does a review of a usb cable (or nutcrackers, or a tin of chopped tomatoes warrant a long-winded review?

If a review is unnecessarily brief? Well, that's what the "Not helpful" button is //really// for.* There are worse offenses on Amazon than brevity (which is no sin).

* As opposed to a way of pushing one's own review to the tiop of the pile, or punishing another reviewer for criticising something one likes.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Sep 2011 16:01:51 BDT
Picard says:
"...why does a review of a usb cable (or nutcrackers, or a tin of chopped tomatoes warrant a long-winded review?"

Because the author likes to describe things with great detail? Look beyond the concept of the product and you could say the same thing about a DVD; summing up a film could be as brief as "Piss poor." or a 2000 word dissection.

Posted on 22 Sep 2011 17:00:15 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2011 17:04:28 BDT
A higher minimum word count, eh? Well, in response to that, I would say imagine having a word limit or word minimum for telling a friend about something verbally; it would be either restrictive or lead to very bland, expletive-filled outpourings (expletive in a unnecessary word sense, not naughty words). It would be rather "anti-communication" in my view. The problem about any catch-all solution, like one-size-fits-all socks, is that the extremes are rarely catered for. Some people are verbose reviewers, and some are more laconic.

It`s not surprising that Amazon are happy with the "it`s great, buy it now!" reviews; despite them being relatively unhelpful (although even that would be helpful with some products, I suppose...I just can`t think of anything that that description would help address any concerns I have). These are almost always 5*, which can`t hurt if people are just looking at the related items page, not the specific product. I`m not a fan of "How can I review it? It hasn`t arrived"-style reviews either, and I am surprised Amazon isn`t stronger on this, as it brings the overall star-rating down and makes some difference to potential sales of the specific item, maybe? Even then, buyers will probably just buy an alternative, so it doesn`t really affect Amazon profits.

At least people are involved and engaged, and I can`t imagine that there is any other reason to have such forums as these and the review options. Whilst I`m doing this, I can`t be shopping elsewhere! So my conclusion would be whilst there is a valid point to this discussion, we are all currently enjoying a golden age of compromise with regards to reviews, and life; where everyone is slightly unhappy with things :)

Posted on 22 Sep 2011 17:41:00 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2011 19:29:13 BDT
The Truth says:
S.A.M/Agma:
I'm not suggesting it - but I think a Maximum word count would have a greater impact on review quality. Some reviews are way too long and I stop reading, and having a maximum word count would focus the reviewer and tighten up writing.

It would force you to include only the best points and consider every word... mind you that's what I have to do on the day to day, so it would also take a lot of the enjoyment out of it. For me at least anyway.

I like the freedom Amazon gives me. Having to 'stick to the facts' when you're trying to write compelling 20 word copy for bingo halls or whatever, gets tedious. As long as it's accurate, on Amazon I can be as flowery and stupid with my writing as I like... I think that's a good thing.

PS: Agma - your opinion is as valid as mine or anyone else's. And sometimes, fresh eyes on a problem are the best way to see what's going wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Sep 2011 17:51:01 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 22 Sep 2011 18:15:42 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2011 10:42:34 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Sep 2011 11:01:01 BDT
On Amazon.com, I've heard it said that "delivered" is one of the trigger words that cause reviews to be diverted for manual inspection, specifically to allow Amazon to stop feedback about shipping to clutter up the review pages. It's not in the UK trigger word list, but maybe it should be. One of my reviews written a few weeks ago containing "delivered" posted immediately here but was held up in America.

Other than adjusting the trigger word list, I don't think there's a lot else that Amazon could do without upsetting a lot of customers.

Review length has long been the subject of debate among customers and reviewers, but the reality is that people look for different things in reviews. You'll never get agreement on this subject.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2011 10:50:47 BDT
"I am still not really convinced that a short 20 word review (however approached) can be viewed as helpful within the entertainment sections of zon such as books, music and films for example. "

I can't ever see Amazon amending their software to enforce different rules for different product types. It would simultaneously confuse customers and complicate the software.

Personally, I think 20 words for any product is far too short, but the shortest review I ever saw was in a magazine circa 20 years ago. It was for It Won't Be the Last and simply said ....

Pity.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2011 10:59:56 BDT
"a Maximum word count would have a greater impact on review quality. "

The limit used to be 1,000. It is now 5,000 but there are reviews on Amazon.com exceeding that. There are good reasons to allow long reviews, particularly on gadgets with a lot of features or on DVD or CD boxed sets that are, in effect, reviews of multiple products. As with minimum length, I don't see Amazon setting variable maximums, so they sensibly set a catch-all maximum.

My longest music review is of a boxed set containing 7 original albums. I have two book reviews that are both longer, but customers have shown their appreciation by their votes and comments. But I write plenty of relatively short review too.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2011 11:15:17 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Sep 2011 11:19:44 BDT
"Who's with me[?]"

Not me. You don't have to read short reviews and I don't really understand why you have such an issue with it. Not everyone wants to read essays - there are thousands of two sentence reviews that have received plenty of positive votes. Leave the policing of this site to Amazon.

Posted on 23 Sep 2011 12:50:13 BDT
The Truth says:
PDH:
''The shortest review I ever saw was in a magazine circa 20 years ago. It was for It Won't Be the Last and simply said .... Pity.''

Genius. It illustrates my point perfectly.

"There are good reasons to allow long reviews"
Totally agree - I wasn't saying that Amazon should impose a word count limit at all, just that - while it's under discussion - I think a maximum word count would have a bigger impact on the quality of reviews than a minimum.

Posted on 25 Sep 2011 21:59:26 BDT
Crookedmouth says:
The Truth: "Pity"

Unfortunately, reviews like that are likely to be rated unhelpful on Az...

Posted on 25 Sep 2011 22:25:00 BDT
The Truth says:
Crooked:
True. But it would be worth doing anyway I reckon.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2011 08:38:04 BDT
Molly Brown says:
I saw a comment on a reviewer who sometimes posts here, along the lines......."blimey, I could have read the book in the time it took me to read your review"!

Posted on 26 Sep 2011 08:52:26 BDT
Crookedmouth says:
Truth: I would have thought so, but I'm becoming more than a little disillusioned by the negging that 1 or 2 star reviews get no matter how hard you try to make them helpful/sincere/humorous/justified (short OR long).

I've just withdrawn my review of Paul [DVD]. It got about 10 positive reviews when I first posted it when the DVD was released and it was the most helpful (literally) critical review. Then the neggers got hold of it and trashed it. Same thing's happening to my review of Splice [DVD].

I'm seriously considering NOT posting reviews on stuff I don't like.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2011 10:14:13 BDT
They are unhelpful, because they don't actually say anything that would help anybody to decide whether they should buy it or not. Remember that we all have different tastes.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2011 10:31:41 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Sep 2011 10:33:29 BDT
Crookedmouth says:
It's not clear what you're referring to, Peter but if you mean the two reviews I mentioned I will assume that you've actually read them. I disagree that they say nothing helpful. Well, I would, wouldn't I? :-) But having watched their voting progress and the balance of other reviews for those two films, I can be pretty sure in my own mind that my reviews were well received to begin with but got voted down for being low-star, rather than for being unhelpful.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Posted on 26 Sep 2011 10:40:47 BDT
Crookedmouth says:
And anyway, when considering a novel or music (or a painting), reviews pretty much HAVE to be subjective (unless the music is off key or the book is full of spelling mistakes) and subjective reviews boil down to little more or less than "I liked the music" or "I hated the story". Sometimes very short reviews (e.g. The Truth's example; "Pity") can express those sentiments well.

I sense that we're going off topic and these matters are probably covered elsewhere. I was probably just attention-wh0ring.

Posted on 26 Sep 2011 11:39:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Sep 2011 11:46:35 BDT
Quiverbow says:
"They are unhelpful, because they don't actually say anything that would help anybody to decide whether they should buy it or not."

No, you don't think his reviews can help anyone decide, etc. At least ten people thought his review of 'Paul' was helpful. His review of 'Splice' tells you he didn't like it and why. Isn't that the idea of any review? What else do you expect him to put?

Posted on 26 Sep 2011 11:53:49 BDT
Quiverbow says:
I doubt Amazon are going to change anything regarding reviews. They have no reason to. The only thing they should do is not to allow anything to be reviewed until it's available to buy.

Posted on 26 Sep 2011 12:15:34 BDT
Crookedmouth says:
I think that anything that affects the quality of reviews should at least be looked at by Az. My naiive reading is that Az consider high quality reviews to be a selling point for their service. If the public perceived that there was a bias towards positive reviews, then ther sales could (note "COULD") suffer. The possibility that my reviews will be run down simply because they are critical affects WHAT I review and could (note: "COULD") affect HOW I review.

I suspect that "Neggiing" is one of the more boringly predictable topics on Az forums, so returning to the OP, I believe that quantity does NOT equal quality but would caution that the shorter a review is, the harder one should work to ensure that it is unambiguous and informative (i.e. "helpful")
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Participants:  12
Total posts:  37
Initial post:  21 Sep 2011
Latest post:  1 Oct 2011

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