ReviewMeta.com and Fakespot.com are tools for analyzing online reviews. ReviewMeta is for Amazon only, while Fakespot works on several e-commerce sites including Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and eBay. Of the two, Fakespot is the most convenient, while ReviewMeta is the most thorough.
E-commerce sites are filled with bogus reviews, both positive and negative. Many sellers buy fake positive reviews to make their products more desirable and fake negative reviews to make competing products look bad. So how can you know which reviews to trust? Tools like ReviewMeta.com and Fakespot.com claim to help you out, but how reliable are they?
Potential Shortcomings of These Tools
Fakespot is convenient because it's a Google Chrome extension. Once installed, it provides a letter grade as you scroll through products. While this is user-friendly, it can also be confusing because the letter grades represent the quality of reviews, not the quality of the products.
"Fakespot does not review any products or companies. We only grade the product reviews."
I went over my past Amazon orders and several good products I've bought have ratings of C, D, or F. One of those F products is the Good'N'Fun Triple Flavored Rawhide Kabobs my dog is crazy about. This is one of the reasons for that low rating:
"Our engine has detected that the listing/variation has anomalous review count history."
When I checked the listing on ReviewMeta, I discovered a likely reason why these kabobs have an anomalous review count history.
"Review Hijacking Alert! 5 reviews are coming from a seemingly different product variation"
Review hijacking happens when a product changes but the reviews remain. This happens when sellers hijack an unrelated listing and add it as a product variation to make it look like their product has lots of positive reviews. You may have seen this on Amazon where a product has a 4.5 star rating, but when you scroll down to the reviews, many are referring to a completely different product.
In the case of these dog kabobs, ReviewMeta provides a list of the previous products that were available under that listing. All are variations of the same Good'N'Fun Triple Flavored Rawhide Kabobs. This looks like hijacking, but it isn't. Because ReviewMeta provides a lot more details about why it rates products the way it does, I could easily determine what the problem was with this listing. For this item, Fakespot's grade is F while ReviewMeta lowered the 4.8 rating to 4.5 after removing "43% of potentially unnatural reviews."
Both tools can come to very different conclusions about the quality of reviews. When I was looking for a 30-pin adapter for my Bose SoundDock, I was trying to decide between the ZIOCOM 30 Pin Bluetooth Adapter Receiver for iPhone iPod Bose SoundDock and the CoolStream Duo Bluetooth Adapter Receiver for 30 Pin Bose Sounddock. As I write this, Fakespot gives the ZIOCOM adapter reviews a C and the CoolStream reviews an A.
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Fakespot made this determination about ZIOCOM:
"Our engine has determined that the review content quality is low."
"Our engine has profiled the reviewer patterns and has determined that there may be deception involved."
ReviewMeta determined that One-Hit Wonders rated the ZIOCOM adapter harshly compared to reviewers who had written more than one review. A lot of reviews from accounts with only one review may be a sign of deception. The rating from One-Hit Wonders is 3.3/5 versus 4.4/5 from reviewers who had written more than one review.
"The One-Hit Wonders have rated this product an average of 3.3 while the reviewers who have posted more than one review have rated this product an average of 4.4. Based on our statistical modeling, the discrepancy in average rating between these two groups is significant enough to believe that the difference is not due to random chance, and may indicate that there are unnatural reviews."
It's possible some of the deception Fakespot is picking up is fake negative reviews from competitors rather than fake positives planted by the seller.
For these particular products (at the time of writing), Fakespot and ReviewMeta.com have come to very different conclusions about review quality. According to Fakespot, CoolStream reviews are more reliable, but on ReviewMeta.com ZIOCOM reviews are more reliable.
7% of potentially unnatural reviews removed
14% of potentially unnatural reviews removed
72.5% of the reviews are reliable.
90% high quality reviews are present
Don't put too much emphasis on Fakespot's letter grade when deciding what to buy because again, it's looking at review quality, not product quality. I ultimately chose the C-rated ZIOCOM over the A-rated CoolStream because the ZIOCOM device uses the latest version of Bluetooth while the CoolStream device uses an older version.
The major benefit of Fakespot is that it works on several major retail sites. ReviewMeta only works on Amazon but provides a lot of data to support why it is giving a product the adjusted rating it provides.
Both tools are useful and can easily be used together. However, you shouldn't place blind trust in these tools just like you shouldn't place blind trust in the reviews themselves. The analyses from both of these services are only estimates and the algorithms can potentially detect deception where it doesn't exist and it's possible they miss dishonest reviews as well. While you can't always trust reviews, you can't always trust review analyzers either.
Spot fake Amazon reviews in a flash
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2021 LT Wright