Are Amazon reviews useful?

I have previously written about why review sites, such as Trip Advisor, are nowhere near as good as books like the Leeds Restaurant Guide. The problem is that the reviews are inconsistent, lack quality and depth, and may be written by someone who works for the restaurant.

It occurs to be that Amazon reviews might be similarly useless.

Recently, I was searching Amazon for some cake tins. There was plenty of options. However, working out which was the correct choice was a tricky business. Some of them had plenty of five-star reviews with short comments such as “amazing cake tin”. But they would also be accompanied by the odd one-star review saying “it leaks”. The same pattern was repeated over and over.

Then other products had no reviews, so you either had to take a chance or exclude these as options.

This results in me having a huge array of options, but no quick way of deciding which was best. I had to spend time looking through the quality of the reviews to try and discern which ones could be trusted and which could not be. I had to weigh up what the required numbers of reviews were before I could assume the star rating could be trusted.

This also places a huge amount of cognitive processing time on my brain. This kind of decision making is frustrating and tiresome.

Amazon reviews certainly can be helpful in validating our purchasing decisions, or, given a sufficient number of them, helping us make the decisions in the first place. However, I think do not believe they are a perfect replacement for reviews from trusted sources and can often cause more problems than they solve.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 at 10:39 am and is filed under Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.