What is a trusted review?

One of the themes you’ll read on this periodic blog is the general notion of a trusted review. What does it mean to really trust a review or a recommendation, and how can people differentiate between high value user generated content, and low (or some would say inverse) value content?

This topic is near and dear to our hearts, and indeed, it is why we started huduyou. After all, there are plenty of sites out there where you can find reviews on just about anything. But can you trust what you read? And is there a way to figure out which reviews are authentic, and which ones aren’t?

I’ve previously written about the almost impossible task of picking out authentic reviews (see research done by Cornell) from bogus ones.  But rather than trying to pick and choose quality reviews, some people assume when looking for a restaurant, hotel or book, that a large number of reviews will ensure the ‘average’ review is representative. To put it simply, if I see a lot of reviews, I can probably assume the average ranking is correct, right?

Not so fast. Check out this recent article in the NYTimes about Amazon’s purge of thousands of book reviews. What Amazon found is that in many cases authors or publishers are creating dozens of reviews to influence potential book buyers. Indeed, some of the reviewers have not even read the books and yet still provide 5 star rankings. So Amazon decided to get rid of thousands of reviews they assumed were not trustworthy, but of course the authors then complained that Amazon was being haphazard.  And if Amazon, long considered to be the gold-standard of reviewed products, is accused of being haphazard, you know there is a problem.

We at huduyou believe the best way to solve this problem is to attach a real identity to each review. That way, if you are searching for a business and find a review from one of your friends, or someone you know, no company needs to write an algorithm to determine trust for that opinion.  Or as the famous Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart put it, “[Trust] is hard to define, but I know it when I see it.” (Replace the word trust with pornography and then you’ve got the real quote.)

Check out huduyou to see if you trust the reviews and comments of your friends. And of course, please feel free to comment here, or send mail to feedback@huduyou.com with any additional thoughts. Thanks.