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Belkin's Amazon Rep Paying For Fake Online Reviews 369

remove office writes "I recently discovered that Belkin's lead online sales rep, Michael Bayard, has been secretly paying internet users to review his company's products favorably on and other websites like Newegg, whether or not they've ever used the devices. Bayard instructed the people he was paying to 'Write as if you own the product and are using it... Mark any other negative reviews as "not helpful" once you post yours.' Ironically, he was using Amazon's own Mechanical Turk service to hire his fraudsters. Did he honestly think he wouldn't get caught? Are Slashdotters aware of other examples of other such blatant astroturfing on behalf of a large tech company like Belkin?"
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Belkin's Amazon Rep Paying For Fake Online Reviews

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  • by He who knows ( 1376995 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:21PM (#26497991)
    I will review any piece of crap i know nothing about for money.
  • by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:24PM (#26498009) Homepage Journal
    I'm more surprised that there aren't more companies caught doing this. Its like being surprised that a professional was using hGH or 'roids.
  • Belkin are dodgy (Score:5, Informative)

    by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:25PM (#26498017)

    Belkin have a history of dodgy behavior and should be avoided where possible. Their last trick was hijacking something like 1 in every thousand http connections and directing them to an advertising site. []

    This company should be avoided where possible.

    • by blang ( 450736 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:29PM (#26498065)

      Well, I don't have much of their stuff but I think what I have is ok stuff. Probably just a matter of a grossly overreaching marketing department. Some idiot fatass willing to eat babies to get his bonus.

      • Re:Belkin are dodgy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:40PM (#26498729)

        The company tolerated it, so the company ought to know that such conduct will not be tolerated by consumers.

        I'll not be buying Belkin, and will ensure those who ask me what to buy will be steered away from their products.
        Those who piss off geeks forget that non-geeks ask us for advice.

        • Re:Belkin are dodgy (Score:4, Interesting)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@wo[ ] ['rld' in gap]> on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:13PM (#26499041) Homepage Journal

          Belkin pitch themselves are a premium brand, but their products are actually the cheapest and crappyest on the market.

          Their favourite trick is to buy whatever cheap wifi chips are going that week, so you end up with 5+ revisions of the same product and have to get the right driver for that revision to make it work. Reviews of their products are totally useless because one chip might be brilliant and another rubbish. Worse still they change the VID/PID pairs so that the generic drivers from the chipset manufacturer don't work, forcing you to use their horrible ones.

          • Re:Belkin are dodgy (Score:5, Informative)

            by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @05:18PM (#26500093) Journal

            Yes, that is REALLY annoying, but Belkin are not the only ones who play this game.

            Linksys and Netgear, for instance, had many versions of each of their USB wireless. Many of them share the same. exact. model number, but have COMPLETELY different drivers due to versioning and other VID/PID games. I wish these guys would just append the goddamn number and make it easier for people.

            Oh, and I've found Belkins support site to be slow on occasion as well. Nothing like needing a driver yesterday and watching a 40+ MB file come in at 10 Kbps. :P

    • by deft ( 253558 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:30PM (#26498079) Homepage

      It wasn't personal, I'm just supposed to do that after I post my glowing review of the belkin backpack as anon. otherwise I dont get paid.

    • My father had an issue with his XP machine, an USB device was not recognized. He ended up re-installing XP, everything was fine, the device worked. He then added a few other devices, and everything broke again. Turned out that it was a shitty Belkin USB hub, that basically killed parts of the USB in windows as soon as it was plugged in. The devices that stopped functioning were NOT on that hub. You just had to connect it to any port to screw other devices.

      Yeah. No doubt they need to pay people to get good r

  • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:27PM (#26498037) Homepage

    Microsoft gave some nice Ferrari laptops to some bloggers recently. It's easy to figure out to whom: just google favorable Vista reviews. []

  • Oh heck (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpacePunk ( 17960 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:27PM (#26498039) Homepage

    I missed out. If anyone wants me to review their products, I'm sure I can do it for the right price.

    • by b4upoo ( 166390 )

      This bribery needs to be stopped in its tracks. It can get to the point at which all magazines and on line materials can be worthless as one never knows who gets paid to lie. I would expect that Belken will lose many thousands of sales due to this article. It sure makes me not wanting anything to do with their products.

      • Re:'can get to' ?? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by zmollusc ( 763634 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:28PM (#26498631)

        What? You thought magazines were objective and impartial?

      • Re:Oh heck (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JohnBailey ( 1092697 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:16PM (#26499077)

        This bribery needs to be stopped in its tracks. It can get to the point at which all magazines and on line materials can be worthless as one never knows who gets paid to lie. I would expect that Belken will lose many thousands of sales due to this article. It sure makes me not wanting anything to do with their products.

        CAN?? It has been so for decades!

        I remember buying a game creation app from a game company in the early nineties which had a three page review in a magazine. Plenty of features that the reviewer raved about were not even in the app.

        Any website/magazine that has advertising or sponsorship paying the bills can and will give favourable reviews. Even feedback on sites like Amazon and forum posts are suspect, as there is quite a bit of astroturfing going on. I doubt Belkin or any of the other companies doing this will lose any sleep over a /. article though. Even though we are their customers, there are still plenty of people who will never see this site or any similar sites, and never hear of it. And if we boycotted each and every offender, there would be nobody left to buy from.

  • Chinese Astroturfing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:28PM (#26498049)
    It was recently reported that the Chinese government pays 300,000 astroturfers to go online and talk positively about the Chinese and the chinese government. Basically a modern day propoganda campain (melamine and lead based toys sold separately).
  • Look through the history of the article and its talk page and you find the CEO's mark and those of Zango employees all over it.
  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:30PM (#26498075) Journal

    Why did Belkin even both to do this? They make wonderful products. Just the other day, I got a Belkin Tunebase FM Transmitter with ClearScan for iPod and it was my best purchase ever. It plays my ipod over the radio with amazing fidelity, and my truck gets better gas mileage to boot. I've sold my home and I'm living out of my truck because the sound is so much better. (Where's my money?)

    Seriously, the first thing that needs to happen is a bunch of people should "review" Belkin's products with the evidence that they're faking reviews. It'd pretty much finish them, at least with Amazon customers. This is extremely annoying and we need to make it as painful as possible.

  • Well Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by speedlaw ( 878924 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:31PM (#26498085) Homepage
    Anyone with a brain who has checked out any product online, be it cars, computers or anything, finds a user group or ten with reviews. Some reviewers have used the product. Some reviewers have not. There is always "this is the bestest thing in the whole world" review. And there is the "this is the largest POS known" review. You toss the lovefest, and toss the POS review. Trust the middle. If all the reviewers seem happy, then it's probably good. If they all hate, then not so much. You are your own editor.
    • Re:Well Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:47PM (#26498265)

      That's not how I roll...

      I look for the worse review possible, extract why the review thought it was bad and then judge whether I find that particular thing worthy of caring about.

      However I must admit this doesn't always work, for example I was reviewing headphones and there was an elitist audio expert which marked them down. I bought them anyway and they're really good, I really can't understand why he'd marked them down for the quality.

      • Re:Well Duh (Score:5, Funny)

        by rajafarian ( 49150 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:38PM (#26498717)

        I really can't understand why he'd marked them down for the quality.

        Maybe he has a crappy sound card or receiver/amp? Or maybe he just can't! I have a friend who can't tell the difference between regular TV and HD (on my 24" Dell LCD monitor for a fact). No kidding. I also showed her some dry, brown, stemmy weed and I go, "Ah, look, such excellent bud!" and she totally agreed until I go, "Dude, this is dry, brown, stemmy weed, yuch!"

  • As people spend less and less money, expect retailers and the vendors themselves to perform any "guerilla" tactics necessary to get you to spend your cash on their products.

    Businesses with management who have yet to embrace the Internet or mobile aspects of "word of mouth" and marketing will lose market share to those that do this sort of thing.

    Is it wrong to abuse online comments/reviews, sure, but it's no different that paying people to stand in line on a product launch day or hiring false paparazzi
    • Is it wrong to abuse online comments/reviews, sure, but it's no different that paying people to stand in line on a product launch day or hiring false paparazzi to follow an up-and-coming celeb.

      No. Exactly. None of these things are acceptable. None of them are done by ethical businesses. If you're prepared to do business with people who do things like this, what does that say about your ethics?

      Caveat emptor.

  • by Migraineman ( 632203 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:31PM (#26498089)
    Shillington Labs provides independent product reviews. Our corporate motto is: "Product Reviews, Your Way!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:31PM (#26498095)

    My wife posted a bad review of one company on Amazon- it really wasn't even bad, it was Neutral. They missed shipping their product by Christmas when there was time. And they kept calling us...once at 11pm at night. We weren't answering and thought they would give up but the harassment continued.

    So finally she answered the phone and they offered her a bribe to remove the review. They offered to pay for the item she ordered. Sadly, she accepted.

    So apparently this sort of manipulation of reviews is not uncommon.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I can't believe people would think otherwise. I mean Ebay feedback anyone. The default assumption when you read *anything* on the net (yes, even The wiki) should be that it is BS.
      • by mollymoo ( 202721 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:54PM (#26499897) Journal

        eBay have improved their feedback system. Now people don't always give the maximum rating, sometimes they give a 4/5. If the seller raped their mother, wife and daughter in front of them, they might get a 3/5. Nobody really uses the bottom half of whatever rating scale you pick, so the scale needs to be at least twice as large as the graduations you want to see. Really eBay need a 1-10 scale, not because you can really discern a 10% difference in something so intangible as quality of service, but because then people could be expected to rate adequate to good from 7 to 9, which would provide some granularity. Even professional reviewers do the same - check any games site and you'll see games getting scathing reviews with a 6/10 score. It's incredibly rare for something to get less than 5/10. Movie reviews are more subjective than most reviews, so you might expect them to be more varied, yet still most stuff is still scored from 3-5/5.

        There's probably some interesting research into this phenomenon. I wouldn't be surprised if it's been condensed into a "$luminary's law" too.

    • Why are you complaining? You got your bribe (other would call it compensation for damages) and in return you are deleting a negative review (your experience also got less negative after your complaint has been heard and you have received payment).

    • by jcnnghm ( 538570 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:21PM (#26498559)

      That's not a bribe, it's called customer service. The customer was dissatisfied, so the company took measures to rectify the situation. I would be happy to deal with a seller that acted in such a way.

  • Jeez (Score:4, Funny)

    by AlterRNow ( 1215236 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:33PM (#26498109)

    I went into an electronics store recently and the staff let me try out wireless adapters to find out if it would work on my laptop ( running Ubuntu 8.04 at the time ). The first one we tried was a Belkin USB adapter and it worked fine. I brought it and haven't regretted my purchase in the slightest, in fact, I'd purchase more. The signal strength was way better than other adapters I'd used and it's never dropped the connection ( to a Linksys WRT54G ).

    I'd probably recommend them for their hardware but it seems their ethics need to catch up.

  • Just speculation... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoeSixpack00 ( 1327135 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:34PM (#26498119)
    Although there is no way to prove any of this, 2 incidents immediately come to mind:

    1) While reviewing The Orange Box game set on Amazon and seeing all the complaints about Steam, some guy actually had the nerve to make the assertion "Steam single handedly resurrected PC gaming" - as well as other off the wall comments like bragging about how many millions they've sold. After I highlighted a few statements of his and responded to his review - and implied twice that he must work for steam - the entire review and all the responses mysteriously disappeared.

    2) Amazon's own reading device, Kindle. When it was released initially, you had people literally declaring war on anybody that said anything even remotely negative about it. Even if they complained about how certain features work, they would fall victim to endless insults and accusations of not having used the product. It was an all out witch hunt.
  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:36PM (#26498143)

    Sites like Thepiratebay don't generally have people hired by the entertainment industry writing favorable reviews about, say, Snakes on a Plane. There are advantages to buying, selling, and aquiring things illegally. People don't lie -- after all, their reputations are on the line. And depending on what's being bought and sold, sometimes quite a bit more.

    There's an irony that illegal business is the most honest kind.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rhizome ( 115711 )

      There's an irony that illegal business is the most honest kind.

      As the old saying goes, there's no honor among thieves. Usually this is interpreted negatively but you illustrate another way to approach it.

  • by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:37PM (#26498161)

    As the build up of Vista 7 started it became apparent to me that this sort of thing was happening on Critical review of Microsoft simply disappeared as anything was just dugg way down to hide it.

    It seemed readily apparent to me that someone was artificially altering anything Microsoft or Windows on I noticed a change where anything negative about Microsoft and Vista were dugg down and anything positive was dugg up. It didn't matter if the negative was spot on and making valid points, it was dugg down. Anything about Microsoft was dugg up. Even if the company was doing nasty things still.

    I attributed it to: 1) either a few people had been creating multiple accounts in order to influence the vote, 2) people were being paid by Microsoft to go to digg and change the outcome, or 3) a bunch of Microsoft employees were actively seeking to alter the vote to make Vista 7 and Microsoft look better.

    I also noticed several other people commenting as they saw the same thing.

    This was like an overnight thing. One day everyone is telling it like it is about Vista and Microsoft and the next day anything anyone said that was negative was dugg way down. Anything positive was dugg way up, even if it was utterly false and few in the face of history.

    I will say that has declined. I have had to bury a slew of articles that were purely fluff, and moreso of late. Way too many totally stupid posts, uninformative conjecture articles, and poorly thought out pieces that tend to just waste my time.

    Combined with the seemingly altered rankings of pro and negative comments regarding Microsoft and Vista I concluded that was headed for a big decline.

    Now that I see this sort of thing occuring regarding other large company products I can only conclude that there must be something more to my observations on

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There are even companies that specialize in this sort of tactic. I can't find it anymore, but I found one around the time that I was doing work for a gaming site. It basically said that it would use Digg to increase a site's exposure. That meant lots of "Diggs" and positive reviews on the site via established accounts.

      I'm not surprised that MS (or anyone else) is doing it - I am, however, surprised how effective it is. I thought that these corporations wouldn't be able to compete with the large masses of us

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by danknight ( 570145 )

      Attention Microsoft and Belkin, I currently have 3 (count 'em! ) Three MOD POINTS, and I am not afraid to use them to your favor for the right price !

    • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:14PM (#26499055) Homepage

      I will say that has declined. I have had to bury a slew of articles that were purely fluff, and moreso of late.

      WTF... "lately"?! I stopped using Digg *over two years ago* because it had become a worthless POS full of sensationalist-attention-getting-vacuous-submissions, a partisan, pack-modding, friend-promoting, adolescent-mentality, moronic, herd-driven mouth-breathing circle jerk.

      (There was a really good critique of it on Kuro5hin, but it seems to have disappeared).

      Considering it had been hyped as the poster boy of Web 2.0 and an improvement on Slashdot, it was never that great- but I swear it declined noticably even over the few months that I used it. Though I doubt it was *ever* as good as its fanboys implied, even in the beginning.

  • I worked for a company that did this and we used different computers so we could have different ip addresses. It was pretty funny but our competitors did this as well and were stealing our marketshare.

  • Astroturfing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:40PM (#26498179)

    Astroturfing is an extremely harmful practice to companies in the long run. I remember a couple of particular travel companies on a site I frequent which did this. The companies themselves had a pretty decent reputation, but a few members were just a little bit too enthusiastic about recommending them, and were outed after a couple of months. Any goodwill the company had instantly collapsed, and any time a new traveler asked for advice relating to these companies, they were told to avoid them because of their marketing practices.

    Somewhat strangely, it's actually the successful astroturfing campaigns that do the most damage in the long run. There's thousands of obvious attempts each year which immediately get spotted, and everyone nearly immediately forgets about them. But the few times it flies under the radar and is "trusted", the loss of that trust upon discovery is total and final, and it'll take years for the company to recover (if they ever do).

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:43PM (#26498227)

    First, Belkin is astroturfing Amazon and Newegg. Next thing you'll be telling me is that Monster Cable's stuff isn't actually any better than the generic stuff!

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @01:45PM (#26498249)

    Some of these products had 50, 5 star reviews.

    I marked as helpful the 1-4 star reviews and marked as unhelpful all the 5 star reviews.

  • I have no doubt in my mind that Belkin is not one of the few. I wouldn't be suprised at all if most major companies do this.

    It's just that Belkin did it in such a way that they were easily caught. Don't trust any reviews you see!

    By the way, my Netgear router is the best, you should buy one! :)

  • I did business with a web store that offered a cash discount to any purchaser that wrote a glowing review of them on a retailer rating site. The store owner honestly did not seem to understand what was wrong with his new method of promoting his web store. The owner of the retailer rating site had to explain to him what the rating site considered acceptable conduct. I wouldn't have been as nice about it.
  • by jridley ( 9305 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:08PM (#26498449)

    After their fiasco a few years ago where they decided that it was acceptable to program their home routers to occasionally redirect web requests to their own page to sell people things, they hit my "certified 100% evil" list.

    There's no getting off that list. I don't care if they start sending me flowers and candy. Nothing they can do will make me consider giving them a dime again. I don't even buy cables from them; last year I ordered a cable online and waited a week for it rather than buy one locally, because the local place only had Belkin cables in that type.

  • Are they still hiring reviewers?
  • I saw multiple favorable reviews of a belkin usb hub that has been an utter piece of garbage. I though maybe I had it plugged in wrong or something.

  • I'd like to see them try this with a book like "The Analysis of Linear Partial Differential Operators II: Differential Operators with Constant Coefficients (v. 2)" by Lars Hörmander and come up with anything that wasn't laughable.

    "I liked it! Much better than 'Cats'! I'm going to read it again and again!"

  • by arizonagroovejet ( 874489 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @02:22PM (#26498571)
    There are a lot of reviews on Amazon and other retail sites written by people who clearly do not own the product. A lot of reviews are written by people who don't understand the concept of a review. You can find reviews for things which aren't even available to buy yet but Amazon have created a product page for. Seems to me there's a very easy to get rid of reviews people are being paid to write or are just idiots - sites should only allow people to post reviews for products which they have actually bought from that site. It would be easy enough to implement, just check against the would be reviewer's order history. Sure there would be a lot less reviews, but the ones that do get posted will worth something. Quality, not quantity.
    • by Immostlyharmless ( 1311531 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:16PM (#26499075)
      I'm not sure how it is on other sites, but on it allows anyone to review a product, but it will also say right before any review if the reviewer has purchased the item from or not.

      I personally wish there was a way to filter out those who had not purchased the item at newegg. That being said, at least being notified that the person didn't purchase the product from that site alerts you to the fact that the reviewer just may possible be full of crap...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RyoShin ( 610051 )

      I'd recommend a middle-ground:

      Everyone with an account that is X days old can write a review. However, those who have not purchased the product through the site are initially minimized, and the overall rating is made up only of those who have bought the product. By the rating, there's a small label that "This rating does not include reviews of users who have not bought this product from Amazon", and when you go to view one of the non-owner reviews you get a nice, bright, bold message above it that says "Am

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @03:52PM (#26499399)
    Meanwhile newegg & will have a hard time telling the good reviews from the bad (Amazon can just check the Mechanical Turk logs). So what will Happen? Reseting the scores was suggested, which is great for Belkin, they get a fresh start. This seems like a win-win for them.
  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @04:23PM (#26499665) Homepage

    They've made it onto my shit-list. They are specifically a company whos products I will avoid, and will avoid recommending in any instance where there is a reasonable alternative. And, due to their product lines, there are always alternatives.

    If the company has any brains they will prosecute the manager criminally, or fire HIS boss who put him up to it.

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @05:31PM (#26500217) Homepage

    The Internet is where people can interact anonymously. I can write someething that you can't trace back to me personally, so no matter what I say or do, it has no effect on the rest of my life.

    I try to explain how incredibly dangerous this is to people. If you could drive a car and never, ever suffer any consequences of either personal injury or responsibility for damages you cause many people would drive recklessly and irreponsibly. Why not? Well, this is pretty much the situation on the Internet.

    Everyone's "net friend" Lori Drew is likely to get off completely. Now did she directly reach out and kill someone? No, but partly because her obnoxious behavior happened on the Internet she is likely to receive no punishment, fine, saction or anything else. Most people that get "caught" doing evil on the Internet have no one but themselves to blame, because they bragged about it, often publicly. What about the folks that can keep quiet? Nothing ever happens to them.

    So, if someone offered you $100 to stand in front of a movie theater telling people what a great movie you just saw when you hadn't seen the movie you probably wouldn't do it. However, offer someone $100 to write 10 reviews on the Internet about products they have never heard of and they often will. Because they have no personal connection with writing those reviews. Nothing at stake, so nothing to stop them.

    Lots of people grew up with the idea that things "in print" are reliable. Basically, the Internet is "in print" and no part of it can be trusted at all. Think you are getting the real story anywhere at all> Why? Is it because you trust the person that wrote it? Why would you trust them? Why do you even believe the author is really the person identified with whatever it is you are reading? If you see something supposedly written by Barak Obama on the Internet why would you believe he wrote it? Were you there when he did it? Why couldn't it be anyone (me, for instance) just using his name? Why wouldn't anyone do that? Because it is wrong?

    Anyone that really trusts a review, news article, diary, or anything else on the Internet needs to have some bad things happen to them so they wise up. Why do you think people are endlessly taken in on scams? Because they trusted something on the Internet.

  • Intimidation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @05:55PM (#26500443) Journal

    I had something similar to happen to me. I gave a software engineering book a poor review, and it was removed without explanation a month or so later. I waited 6 months and submitted a watered-down version of same review under an alias, which has remained since. This is perhaps why you rarely see any grades below "C" on Amazon reviews. Publishers apparently bully Amazon and readers.

  • by Haydon Jurai ( 906143 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @08:17PM (#26501639)
    Is this really news?? Most positive product review are sappy BS about the product being the best thing since sliced bread or the internet, with very little insightful commentary. That leads me to believe they're always fake. I consider product reviews a form of advertising. And since most consumers, who are already easily influenced (such as by TV commercials and other mass advertising) won't bother looking for articles about fake reviews, the fake reviews will do their job, and convince people to buy the product. If you really want to find out about a product, you can dig through all the BS to find a review with insightful commentary (and then do some cross reference to verify the claims), but that can be difficult. I find it more helpful to read all the negative reviews of a seller or product. If the negative reviews don't paint a horrible picture, you can use them to weigh the product's or service's faults against its claimed benefits.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @10:00PM (#26502371) Homepage

    Company X is Belkin [] -- Belkin had a router which would redirect an occasional page view to an ad -- and which could be reconfigured from the OUTSIDE. They tried to make this sound less bad with Usenet postings, then deleted the postings later.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Saturday January 17, 2009 @10:46PM (#26502621) Homepage

    It's a pretty safe bet that the good reviews are going to be astroturfed to some degree. If you don't assume that, you're living in a dream world. If you look at the bad reviews, you can see what pissed people off about the product. If what they say resonates for you, don't buy it. Sometimes what they say just indicates that they don't know what they're doing. But you can be pretty sure that they weren't astroturfed.

    Although I suppose at some point manufacturers might start astroturfing the bad reviews too...

  • by Erikderzweite ( 1146485 ) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @01:32AM (#26503581)

    I use a belkin home router and it is awful. I have a high-speed internet connection and if I try to download something via wireless it gets blocked and I need to restart the router. Turning firewall off didn't help. Very crappy product...

  • USB TV adapter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GWBasic ( 900357 ) <> on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:27AM (#26504031) Homepage

    I recently bought a USB TV Adapter for a "premium" computer from the "premium" computer store in the mall. The "premium" computer's web site had a 5-star rating.

    The first device stopped working after 3 hours. I exchanged the device; but now the included software is very unreliable for scheduled recordings. (It works fine for live TV; my computer significantly exceeds the requirements.)

    I don't understand how something that's so unreliable can get a 5-star rating.

  • by antispam_ben ( 591349 ) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @03:33AM (#26504057) Journal

    Can anyone tell me if these reviews are real or astroturfed? Of 271 reviews, almost half are five-star: []

  • by lee1 ( 219161 ) <> on Sunday January 18, 2009 @10:15AM (#26505733) Homepage

    hasn't it? What about the stories about Microsoft?

    Gary Null, the quack health guru, has his employees writing reviews of his "books" [].

    Mark Bernstein, who sells hypertext software for the Macintosh, unsubtly suggests that he'll advertise on your blog if you mention his products, []

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