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Poll: How much do you rely on user-submitted ratings?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / November 27, 2012 9:13 AM PST

To give you some context to this poll, please read this article:
How to spot fake user reviews while shopping online

How much do you rely on user-submitted ratings for your purchasing decisions?

-- I heavily rely on them.
-- I somewhat rely on them.
-- It depends on the product I'm shopping for.
-- I don't rely on them at all.
-- I trust no one.

Note: This post was edited by its original author on 11/27/2012 at 5:15 PM PT

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I somewhat rely on them
by itsdigger / November 27, 2012 9:22 AM PST

as a starting point, Than I go on forums like here @ Cnet and open a real time conversation with people and I do rely on the moderators to give straight up opinions as well as the people that post opinions, than I act accordingly ....Digger

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I heavily rely on them.
by david17page / November 27, 2012 10:25 AM PST

which does not mean that I only buy 5 star items. I read the longer reviews to get an idea of features, which are frequently poorly explained in the retailer or manufacturer description. Those are most likely to mention flaws, which may be of greater or lesser importance to me personally, but which are nice to know about. The 4 star reviews are nice because they each mention some drawback, but from the perspective of a user who generally liked the item. I never decide on the basis of a single reviewer; but a single review may make or break the sale if it explains a compatibility question e.g. I found this (Bluetooth keyboard, headphone) worked well with this (phone, tablet) when I have the (phone, tablet) and want a compatible accessory. Strangely, even a manufacturer may not be clear when they make both the device and the accessory (see Motorola Lapdock devices as an example) and the reviewer would know whether (s)he got it to work.

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Reviews are for discussion of products; not just ratings.
by richard coombs / November 27, 2012 10:29 AM PST

Any review can be faked, but you can spot most fakes if details don't make sense. If no details given, then the review is worthless to you anyway.

When someone says the product is "built cheaply," or "built sturdily," I look for the reasons they have for their conclusions. Compared to what? How is it being used?

I look for discussions of product in the reviews, not just a simple conclusion. Sure, we know that likes/dislikes are very subjective, but the most valuable reviews give reasons.

Simple one sentence reviews or just the number of stars, only tell us the reviewer's preference. Not much help to you or me, and may just exist to drive up rating averages. But I have found valuable products even in poorly rated reviews.

The most valuable reviews give reasons; during the review content you can get an idea if the user is similar to you or not, but the discussion helps you understand the product's performance and function for your purposes.

One outstanding example was a review of electric weed wackers. It was obvious that 25% of the reviewers complaining of premature motor burn out could have caused the problem themselves because they were using undersized extension cords, especially when 50% of the reviewers were showing good motor durability for weekly usage that I would likely be giving the product.

It helps to understand reviews and reviewers if you take time to learn how a product should perform and how it should be used. Read CNet performance testing reports, Consumer Reports, or other professional sources to understand what you want/need before reading reviews to help select the reviews which might make the most sense for what you want/need.

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Now we've told them
by billone / November 27, 2012 7:06 PM PST

The major problem with the CNET article is not whether or not it is accurate but, now that it has been published, all the fake reviewers know exactly how to fix their fake reviews so that we don't spot them.

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I rely on them heavily but do the research
by haroldb / November 27, 2012 11:48 PM PST

As often as posible I look for multiple reviews from professionals and users on various sources CNET, Amazon, etc. ususally via a Goggle search. The more the better as I always check the one star and the moderates to see what was the problem and is there a pattern in multiple reviews . If there are little or no reviews then depending upon how much the item cost, I follow my gut feels about the risk and possible loss (money, time, inconvenience and impact). The more you know about the manufacturer and sellers also helps. If the product is sold locally in a store, it's worth a visit and may be worth buying locally to reduce risk.

In the end, whether a review is fake or not it boils down to what or who you believe. It's your decision and your money.

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Think People, Think
by STIHLBOLTS / November 28, 2012 12:01 AM PST

Newst and hotest products will always get quick reviews, service reviews are the hardest to spot fake reviews. But most people can rely on their gut feeling and trust it. The old thing "If it's too good to be true" is ususally just that.

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reliance on reviews
by ladamson / November 28, 2012 12:37 AM PST

When I decided I had to have a digital camera, I spent about six months reading reviews of digis (that's how I found c/net, incidentally) before deciding. I did this because I had minimal experience with cameras in general and none at all with digitals. Since I started the shopping process in near total ignorance, I relied completely on reviews, and I was satisfied with the camera I eventually bought.

If I'm buying something else, something I'm familiar with already, I rarely resort to reviews. Occasionally a book review, for example, will get me interested enough to get the book, but that just doesn't happen often at all.

So my reliance on reviews is directly related to my knowledge of and experience with what I'm interested in buying, though I'll admit to getting help for big-ticket purchases like cars. Then I think it would be crazy not to look for professional input at least, like Consumer Reports reviews.

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It depends on the product I'm shopping for.
by robertjvan / November 28, 2012 12:43 AM PST

I generally read most of them, but depends on the item; I may or may not rely on them. Even if I do the web site I'm on may have a greater influence.

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I somewhat rely on them
by dangnad1 / November 28, 2012 10:57 AM PST

I skip the 5 and 4-star reviews, especially the ones that start "I am pleased with..." I usually read the negative reviews and trust myself to ferret out the idiots and whiners.

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Try to get reviews from more than one site.
by Gretel38 / December 2, 2012 9:23 AM PST

Consider the number of reviews. Amazon usually has a fair number for each product. Look at unbiased sources that do reviews, like Consumer Reports and JD Power, although these don't publish most reviews on-line. One of the most important critrion is reliability, i.e., how long will the product last before something goes wrong. That's one thing that bothers me about Amazon reviews: They send you a review form soon after you bought the product. Bottom line is there is no good, reliable way of evaluating a product. The rater must be unbiased but also qualified in the statistical techniques needed to compare products. The best you can do now is try to look for a number of reviews from several sources.

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Reliable user ratings.
by m coste / December 26, 2012 1:45 AM PST

I somewhat rely on them.
I avoid making an opinion on an item when there are no reviews, or when the only reviews are by people who "just bought" or "just installed" and then say the really like the item.
I also look for the negative review. These help more.

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-- I somewhat rely on them
by wpgwpg / December 26, 2012 2:00 AM PST

but not as much as the ones from the organizations or publications I'm familiar with. I usually look for consistency in reviews. I put great significance on reliability because I don't want something that's going to create hassles a year or two after I buy it. E.g. I've seen so many user complaints from users for Samsung TVs in contrast to CNET's very positive reviews, I'm inclined to wonder if CNET takes frequency of repair into account. I've never had any problems or complaints with my 2 year old 47" LG TV or my 18 month old 32" Sony TV or my 6 month old 32" Visio TV, so I'm strongly inclined to stick with those brands. I find the reviews in Consumer Guides to be the best and most dependable because they place great importance on repair frequency.

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