Frequently Asked QuestionsApril 28th, 2016
What is ReviewMeta all about?
We are an independent site that helps consumers get a better understanding about the reviews they are reading on various platforms such as Amazon and Bodybuilding.com. We examine reviews on the platforms, and then create a report for each product by running an analysis on them. Our reports help inform you about the origin and nature of the reviews for that product. See some of the best and worst reports here, or you can search for any product that has been reviewed on Amazon or Bodybuilding.com
Why don’t the platforms simply delete the reviews that look suspicious?
It isn’t quite that simple. Platforms such as Amazon and Bodybuilding.com are doing their absolute best to make sure their reviews are as honest as possible, but it’s not an easy task. They are constantly deleting overtly fake reviews, however they need to be extremely certain that a review is fake before they delete it, which can often be hard or impossible to prove.
Because ReviewMeta isn’t tasked with the enormous responsibility of detecting AND deleting suspicious reviews, we are much more aggressive about devaluing low-quality reviews. We understand that some honest reviews may get devalued using our approach. But if an honest review gets flat-out deleted by Amazon, it’s a lot more detrimental than ReviewMeta simply devaluing it: we aren’t silencing anyone’s honest opinion. Our method is just an estimate and we are by no means claiming it is 100% accurate. We simply offer an analysis of the existing reviews and our independent interpretation of those results.
So should I ignore the reviews on Amazon and just look at ReviewMeta?
Absolutely not! Review platforms like Amazon and Bodybuilding.com have done an amazing job at gathering hundreds of millions of datapoints of customer feedback on the products that they sell. They are an absolute necessity in helping customers navigate the millions of products available to them. Unfortunately, many brands have chosen to abuse the platforms that were created to help customers, flooding them with low quality and biased reviews to try and boost their own profits.
Think of ReviewMeta as a supplement to the reviews on Amazon and Bodybuilding.com. You should always start there, then check our reports if you want some deeper insights. We are definitely NOT a substitute for these review platforms, rather a tool to help improve your experience with them.
How can you tell if the reviews are fake?
First off, you’ll notice that we try not to use the word “fake” on our site. This is because there’s no practical way for us to determine, with 100% certainty, whether a review is fake or not. Our analysis checks for several patterns that may indicate whether or not the reviews are naturally occurring.
What do you mean by “Naturally Occurring Reviews”?
In a perfect world, reviewers would leave honest feedback on products based solely on the merits of the product. Their motive for writing reviews would be purely altruistic: to help their fellow customers. If a product has only natural reviews, you’d expect to see a diverse sample of reviewers. You’d see some newer reviewers and some experienced reviewers.You’d see short reviews, some long reviews and some reviews in the middle.You’d expect them to appear evenly over the life of the product, and not just on a few different days.
At ReviewMeta we expect reviews to be natural: they should have predictable patterns that we can easily identify. Since we know what natural reviews look like, it is easy for us to find clues that indicate that reviews might be unnatural. Whether they are straight up fake, written by the rep, or otherwise hand-selected, it still shows signs of manipulation, likely from someone with a vested interest in seeing the product succeed, blurring the lines of honest customer feedback and a sales pitch.
How do you calculate the ReviewMeta Adjusted Rating?
The ReviewMeta Adjusted Rating is the average product rating that you get after we remove the reviews that we determine to be unnatural . You can read more about the ReviewMeta Adjusted Rating here.
Wait a second… How do we know you’re not accepting backdoor bribes from brands to artificially “pass” some products and “fail” some others? How can we trust ReviewMeta?
This is a great question, and we don’t blame your skepticism. You’re here because you already have a healthy level of distrust in what you read on the internet, and we’re just another anonymous voice.
However, the great thing about our service is that you can double-check our numbers. The majority of the figures we show on our site are easy calculations based on what we see directly on the reviewing platforms. We also provide you with an abundance of sample reviews so you can examine them on your own and make your own decision.
Most importantly, allowing brands to pay to be treated differently completely undermines the entire mission of the site.
If a product fails, does that mean there are definitely fake reviews?
No, it would not be correct to assume this. And again, we don’t like to use the word “fake”.
A product will fail because the adjusted rating is much lower than the original rating, or because a large chunk of reviews were devalued, or both. But we suggest that you don’t rely on our adjusted rating alone – make sure to read our report thoroughly and check the sample reviews before making a determination on your own.
Furthermore, keep in mind that amazing products sometimes have unnatural reviews. Building up reviews is a very well known aspect of selling products on Amazon, and many quality brands have had to get their hands dirty in order to stay competitive.
Where does RevewMeta get the data?
We’re getting the data from the same place as you: the publicly available web pages that contain the reviews.
By showing such detailed reports, aren’t you just giving brands detailed instructions on how to defeat the system?
We’ve definitely considered this, however we’ve chosen to show as much detail as we can for the following reasons:
- Transparency – we want our visitors to know what’s going on behind the scenes so they trust our insights.
- Education – part of the purpose of the site is helping educate consumers about how our formula works and why some reviews are potentially unnatural.
- Subjectivity – not everyone believes in all the criteria we use. For example, some of our users believe that unverified purchase reviews are no less trustworthy than verified purchases. These users can click “View/Edit Adjustment” on any report and recalculate the adjusted rating based on their own personal preference.
- The threat of brands knowing how to “cheat the system” isn’t going to do them much good. Manufacturing reviews that don’t raise red flags on our site will be MUCH harder to do, takes exponentially more time and energy and ultimately isn’t something that many brands will bother with.
I noticed a product that either fails/passes when it definitely shouldn’t!
Our algorithms aren’t going to be correct 100% of the time: it’s simply not possible. However, we are constantly reviewing our data to ensure the highest possible accuracy. There’s a few things to consider if you’re not feeling an analysis:
- Are you looking at a full report or just a preliminary report? Our full analysis has considerably more data so it might be worth adding your email and getting it queued up for a full analysis.
- Just because the ratings are “natural” or “unnatural” doesn’t mean that the product is good or bad. We’re only able to look for suspicious patterns in the data, not make an assessment as to whether or not you’ll like the product.
- If a textbook “snake-oil” product passes, consider this: it’s impossible to really weed out the placebo effect. Some honest reviewers might buy into the hype or drink the cool-aid, or hop on the bandwagon or whatever you want to call it. They honestly have bought the product, used it and honestly think it works. Since their review is “honest” it won’t get detected by our system. We still haven’t figured out a way to automatically detect stupidity.
- Some items are highly subjective (media, books, movies, etc). Just because you thought a product was terrible doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else shares your opinion and any review to the contrary are automatically fake.
After taking those points into consideration, if you still don’t agree with a report, please contact us and let us know the URL to the report on our site, along with why you believe the report to be inaccurate. Keep in mind that we will never make individual changes on reports but will take your comments into consideration when tweaking our algorithms.
How does the site make money?
We have banner ads on our site to help recover some of the high costs of running the servers.
Your service is awesome! How can I browse products without having to manually look up each report?
Glad you asked! Check out our extensions that plug right into your browser and quickly shows you our adjusted score without having to search our site. Want more info? Just click the extension button and it will open the full report on our site in a new window!
Best of all, it’s free!
The report says it’s not ready for the product I want. What gives?
There is A LOT of data out there and it requires a ton of computing power to analyze everything, so it’s natural that we might not have everything ready for you right when you want it. However we absolutely need your input to know where to prioritize our resources. This is why we developed the insist feature. If we haven’t analyzed a product yet you can submit your email and insist that we analyze it. Adding your email is like casting a vote that you want that product to be analyzed sooner. Plus you’ll get a single notification email when it’s ready. We hate spam even more than we hate biased reviews, so we delete your email immediately after sending that notification so you’ll never hear from us about that product again.