Hacker News

8 days ago by locallost

Generally I'd say product reviews are one of those ideas like passwords that work but don't survive introduction to the general public and mass use. The problems of authenticity are obvious, but I've also noticed that people who rely on word of mouth from their friends and colleagues are generally happier. And why wouldn't they be? A colleague tells you this e.g. monitor is perfect for your line of work so you get it and find it also good. No fuss, nothing nerve wracking, no time wasted. Compared with reading through dozens of reviews that even when authentic raise good points that are maybe entirely irrelevant to you.

I try to buy stuff in shops now. It's more expensive only if my time spent on reading reviews is free. And these days it's not even more expensive to buy in real shops anyway.

8 days ago by tchalla

In addition, reviews are a prime example of sub-optimal communication by us. A lot of people don't write reviews for others but for themselves and thus, many of them are just unhelpful to me.

"Great restaurant, food was lovely. price is OK!" - Well, what was great about the restaurant. What is an "OK" price? Is it 5€ or 30€? You didn't probably order the entire menu, so what did you order? What did you like about your order?

8 days ago by undefined


8 days ago by jasode

>people who rely on word of mouth from their friends and colleagues are generally happier.

The problem is that the vast majority of my non-grocery items are not purchased by my friends & colleagues so word-of-mouth information isn't available. E.g. I buy stuff like hi-end camera gear, woodworking tools, audio equipment. Even more common items like books don't work because my friends don't read the same type of books I do.

Even your example of a computer monitor doesn't work in my situation. About 15 years ago, I wanted a large 30" monitor but none of my friends had that so I have to research on my own. Likewise, they also can't depend on my experience with computer monitors because a big external 30" monitor is never something they'd need because they just use the builtin laptop screen.

A lot of times word-of-mouth works great for recommending local restaurants or grocery items such as the Costco brand of paper towels and olive oil being good buys. For all other items that your social circle doesn't buy, you have to research external information sources.

8 days ago by locallost

That's true of course, but I guess my point is it's better if you have it. I realized this since I know a lot of illustrators, and when I first started seeing them at work I saw a lot of them have the same setup: Macbooks, EIZO monitors, Wacoms etc. At first I thought it was a cult and group think, but eventually I realized they save a lot of time on figuring out what to get. There are probably better things than what they have, but what they have works good enough and that's fine.

8 days ago by raziel2p

There's a risk to this as well, though - marketing becoming more important than quality, and difficulty for new products to make it into the market means stifling of innovation, which can lead to semi-monopolies. In the case of Eizo and Wacom it's probably fine, but Apple are a bit more dubious.

8 days ago by wly_cdgr

Stop trying to make no passwords happen. It won't happen

8 days ago by threeseed

It sort of has happened for Apple users.

For all sites whenever you signup for a website a random password is generated. And then when you re-visit the site you use FaceID/TouchID to automatically pre-populate the password. At that point it really isn't a password in the traditional sense.

And for an increasing number of sites it bypasses this step entirely and just lets me use FaceID/TouchID.

8 days ago by netizen-936824

Why single out apple? This is the experience for anyone who uses a modern password manager

8 days ago by dotancohen

  > really isn't a password in the traditional sense.
Can it be sniffed out with XSS? Can it be sniffed out over the wire on the university Mitm'd network? Can it be stored on the server in plain text?

The user experience might have changed, but many of the security aspects have not.

8 days ago by johanneskanybal

The only reason for (consumer) passwords you have to remember is lack of an accepted good universal id in general. Here in Sweden it's provided by the banks and has a 94% share of smartphone users, if you look east you have other bigger markets with similar stats. Most passwords already have disappeared or are disappearing, the laggard cases will catch up too, I'd love a similar one for my "work persona".

8 days ago by papito

"But people will never let their on-prem servers go into an obscure, shared Cloud".

8 days ago by adolph

Password reset is almost as good as no passwords but with the added benefit of MFA.

8 days ago by darkerside

This is a big reason I think influencer marketing is picking up steam. Everyone knows that reviews and SEO can be gamed, with little to no consequence. If an influencer tells you something is good, at least their reputation is on the line. If they continually sell out, they kill the golden goose.

So, as dumb as it sounds, influencer reviews are higher signal to me than typical online reviews.

8 days ago by antihero

> at least their reputation is on the line

I don't think it is though, the sort of people who follow influencers generally aren't blessed with the greatest critical thinking skills.

7 days ago by darkerside

What makes you say that? We are all followers (how do you think we learned from our teachers?). We all choose what sources to trust implicitly and which to question, and most of us don't use logic-based methods for making that choice.

I'm sure that wasn't just you repeating a statement you've heard before without carefully considering it.

8 days ago by kexx

Also most of them are willing to sell themselves out for $200 in a moment

8 days ago by tdeck

I have a small side project (a Google Docs plugin) that makes a trickle of money. One of my competitors launched one day and somehow they had 10 5-star reviews already, but the gSuite marketplace said they had only 3 users. One of those users had the same name as the author, but wrote their review as if they'd just stumbled upon it that day. Another literally had the name "Fiverr User" on their Google account next to their review.

I think this has become so common that many people assume it's a necessity of doing business. Maybe it is. Since I don't depend on my project to survive, I choose not to do these things, or even to give discounts to incentivize reviews. Many platforms don't care at all, and don't even try to combat fake reviews.

EDIT: Another thing worth mentioning: the natural review rate for these plugins is really low. Maybe half a percent of users leave any kind of review, at least in my experience.

7 days ago by webinvest

Comment the name of their plug-in here and maybe someone here will nicely ask the FTC to check for wrongdoing here that undercuts a more honest business.

7 days ago by tdeck

It's honestly not worth it for me. I just wish Google would either have and enforce policies for these reviews of get rid of the review feature entirely.

8 days ago by georgeburdell

Maybe a silly question, but is there a special way to report fake reviews, or is it just the normal site? [0] I was semi-scammed (they delivered what was promised, but the quality was awful) by a specialized goods dealer. A few years later, I see the business has attempted to whitewash its Google reviews with recent stellar feedback from obviously-fake people (e.g., "Matthew McConaughey"). I reported them to Google, but I see the reviews are still up as of this writing.

[0] https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/submit-consumer-...

8 days ago by silisili

Can't answer your question, but give advice. Get good with Amex or Chase, and buy everything with a credit card.

Anymore I don't even worry about such scammers, I just get my money back and move on.

8 days ago by ottodebals

Is it much of a hassle to get your money back or is it a single paper to file?

8 days ago by silisili

I call Amex, tell them my story, get money back immediately 'pending investigation', and never hear another thing.

Don't abuse it, they have top notch investigation. When you spend on a credit card, it's not your money they're stealing.

I've used it probably 5 times in 10 years, and never had a problem.

8 days ago by undefined


8 days ago by Loughla

I would add to the other poster - I use visa, and it is easy as well. I call, report a scam/fraud. Within 10 days the money is back on my card. I have never had an issue with this process.

8 days ago by jeanvaljean2463

As a rule, I always check the four, three, and two star reviews since they have the least propensity for a scammer to create and waste time. 1 and 5 star reviews usually are an inane mix of "They're TERRIBLE" or "FANTASTIC" with no additional information, whereas the 2,3, and 4 star reviews will normally go into specifics that warranted the stars being removed. Not only that, but they are normally much fewer in number meaning that a sufficiently popular location with real reviewers will have enough 2, 3, and 4 star reviews to give me a relatively transparent view of the good and the bad that I can read quickly. Mixed into this analysis is to scan for made points rather than worry about the star rating.

8 days ago by stronglikedan

I just read the 1 and 2 star reviews looking for trends. Most of them are complaining about things the product doesn't have (but they knew that before they bought it), or specific little things they don't like about the product (but no one else cares). But there are some specific things that many people will complain about, and those are the reviews that matter, because those are the real problems with the product. If I think I can't live without the problems that many people are complaining about, I'll pass on the product.

8 days ago by skeeter2020

the problem with 1 or 5 star reviews is that most "real" reviews are as useless as the fakes. They tend to be emotional responses based on shallow, immediate experiences. Thanks social media.

8 days ago by formvoltron

Thanks. About 8 years too late to save my business... Scanner911. Killed by fake reviews on Apple's App Store. RIP

In reality vast swaths of the world economy are entirely fake, supported with fake reviews, or fake analyst stock calls.

It can be argued that much of the value in the technology space is entirely fake. Look at the current insane multiples.

My point is that all this lying is supercharged due to Fed printing money. And a sizable part of that problem was caused by a near 20 year war with Afghanistan & Iraq -- completely useless wars - as most are. With the world teetering into collapse due to climate change. And most "technologists" more interested in travel to Mars.

The real technology in this world is biological. Way beyond human understanding. So go and make some silly new technology. Get some VC money to pump it up into the land of nonsense valuation. Hurry up, get yours before the whole pile falls back into the gutter.

8 days ago by keleftheriou

Can you share more details about how your business was killed by fake reviews on Apple's App Store? I’m @keleftheriou on Twitter.

8 days ago by ausbah

money is fake but "printing all that money" cushioned many of the economic side effects of the pandemic

7 days ago by undefined


8 days ago by piokoch

"completely useless war", this is true for people living in Afghanistan. From the military perspective ability to test equipment, tactics, soldier's skills in a very difficult territory, without risking too many casulties is invaluable. No other major army has similar combat experience.

Yes, Afgan war costed a lot, but people do the math in the wrong way. The same troops would have to be fed and trained at home too, equipment had to be maintained, etc. so this kind of fixed maintenance and training costs should be subtracted from the overall Afghanistan campaign costs.

8 days ago by strogonoff

A couple of days ago I realised that I started treating vast amounts of followers or positive reviews as a red flag.

This first happened as I was looking at a Blackmagicdesign product with staggeringly many 5-star reviews and seemingly zero <4-star ones. Sure, some of them are sincere, but what am I supposed to think if I know that even the best product in the world is bound to have poor feedback from bad units, mismatched expectations, courier mishaps, etc.?

Those manufacturer could be innocent; outlier where somehow everyone’s satisfied. Still, it’s an illustration of the erosion of trust in a world where buying fake reviews, followers, etc. has become the norm. Platforms, sellers—pretty much everyone profits from it, just not the end customer. For a business (seller, influencer, entertainer, etc.), it looks like if you don’t do it then your competitor will.

I believe many would give this a second thought if an authority has drawn a clear line saying “that’s illegal”. (I’m sure platforms have it in their ToS, but they are rarely read and the implicit consensus is that they’re, of course, enforced when it benefits the company.) Even if it’s difficult to prosecute each case, a few precedents and the understanding of the illegality could do wonders.

8 days ago by chx

Indeed -- the real meat often is in two star reviews. One star is a knee jerk reaction, competitor buying fake review and more, usually useless. But two star typically means someone thought a bit before writing it. I found many genuine problems with products reading two star review -- and more than once, I decided to do buy because the problems were acceptable. This tactic works more often than not but I am worried what happens when this last bastion fails and two stars get flooded with fake BS.

8 days ago by strogonoff

My tactic is similar: find 2–3 star reviews; find what they didn’t like; if it’s for reasons irrelevant to me—buy. Sadly, it breaks when there’s a flood of paid reviews or when factual reviews are censored.

8 days ago by sundvor

It's gotten to the point where if you leave an honest review of a bad experience you might face a defamation lawsuit.

I wish I was joking, but: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-20/before-you-write-that...

Also leaving anything other than a 5 star review is basically criticizing the company and guaranteed to upset.

This is absolutely rubbish; an e.g. 3/5 should be the baseline for acceptable service, and 4/5 reserved for exceptional quality.

8 days ago by slfnflctd

> 3/5 should be the baseline for acceptable service, and 4/5 reserved for exceptional quality

My first experience of this was in rideshare reviews, as a driver. Anything below five stars and it counts as a mark against you, for which eventually you can be deactivated. Then I started seeing this behavior copied everywhere. It really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I agree with you on what it should mean, but unfortunately I've got no idea how to convince businesses of this.

7 days ago by strogonoff

For that reason I think it’s worth drawing a distinction between rating service by very small businesses (taxi drivers, family-run guesthouses, etc.) vs. a mass/retail product.

Rating the former tends to be 1) personal, 2) having much influence over individual’s livelihood, and 3) much more dependent on my preexisting expectations. If there was something I didn’t like, I try to not give any rating instead of rating poorly unless there was an exceptional issue.

Rating a product, especially by a bigger company, 1) does not necessarily criticise the company itself (I can still admire it while objectively having bad experience with a unit) and 2) has much less influence over company’s overall success (my review is probably a drop in the ocean), and 3) I tend to think of it as more objective than rating a service (compared to a service provided by a human, when evaluating a physical product there’re absurdly fewer variables and you’d be better informed about what you’re supposed to expect based on tech specs).

9 days ago by beebmam

There's a whole fraud economy that has emerged in the last decade or so. Its existence has done deep harm to social trust, in my opinion. It extends far beyond just fake reviews of course; it reaches deep into the corrupt business practices and politicians/governments around the world.

9 days ago by ekianjo

How do you know reviews were more reliable before ? In pretty much all industries people were hacking reviews before especially when channels were more limited. Nobody invented fraud yesterday.

9 days ago by zipiridu

The "fraud economy" was democratized in the last decade but it has always existed. Previously you needed to be rich, powerful, and well connected to have media companies cover your business/product. Now you can buy fake engagement, reviews, upvotes, etc with a few click so everyone does it. If you don't do it you will be outcompeted by the ones who do. I've experienced this myself. I tried buying ads and writing organic posts but got little traffic on a site I wanted to promote. Then I decided to spend a few hundred dollars on fake upvotes and my ROI was easily 20x better than on ads. I had to be a bit more careful so it wasn't too obvious but I learned that these dark patterns work. I've heard of similar tactics used by unicorn startups in their early stages at much larger scale. The reviews weren't trustworthy before either, it's just more obvious now.

8 days ago by lifeisstillgood

>>> The "fraud economy" was democratized in the last decade but it has always existed. Previously you needed to be rich, powerful, and well connected to have media companies cover your business/product. Now you can buy fake engagement, reviews, upvotes, etc with a few click so everyone does it.

Yes. And this is a pattern we are seeing all over - thank you. It's it necessarily good or bad. just more open, democratic, cheaper.

8 days ago by Scoundreller

What I find funny is when some multibillion company buys tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, but each post gets like 1 like or 1 comment. Like, hello!!!!!

But maybe it's because of FTC rules: fake followers are legally okay, but fake likes and fake comments could be considered a fake review and therefore FTC violation.

8 days ago by nprateem

A friend was wondering where you learnt about this stuff?

9 days ago by mkhpalm

One example I can remember from 10+ years ago was newegg. I don't recall ever really feeling like I got "duped" based on the many online reviews there. I think that sentiment was pretty well revered and not just my personal opinions of it. Everything was pretty well spot on from my experiences. That said, I have no idea how that would fair these days.

I'll even go so far as to say back when Amazon was getting started their reviews were a lot more reliable as well.

8 days ago by makeitdouble

It should be pointed out that current fake review issues are not just on fraudulent products.

For instance Aukey has been caught by Amazon, but in my experience their products were pretty good, and they probably played the fake review game mainly due to everyone else playing it, and it became an arms race.

8 days ago by hodgesrm

Newegg reviews were pretty good--they steered me away from a lot of noisy gear when building servers. That kind of feedback does not exist in the specs.

8 days ago by TedDoesntTalk

Ebay seller reviews have been fraudulent for 20 years or more (not ALL reviews, of course).

And i think you are talking about the times before NewEgg had 3rd party sellers.

8 days ago by tw04

I think you mean duped?

9 days ago by ghaff

Reviews were more "expert"-based 20 years or so again in magazines that had some editorial oversight and processes for selecting and reviewing products.

Of course, there were far fewer reviews available, companies still gamed reviewers/magazines but in different ways, and there was sometimes outright fraud around benchmarks, etc.

9 days ago by lazide

A huge portion of those reviews were payola, plain and simple. If a reviewer didn’t provide at least a somewhat positive review (even for complete dreck), they were often blacklisted.

8 days ago by ekianjo

> in magazines that had some editorial oversight

such magazines had massive conflicts of interest and could not be trusted in the first place.

9 days ago by MrStonedOne

before, people got reviews from friends and personal connections, not a sidebar on google maps.

8 days ago by lotsofpulp

People still get that. They just also get reviews from others online. Forums have been invaluable to me for finding out information about niche fields where I do not have a person familiar with that in my social circles.

8 days ago by joebob42

I think it existed before, controlled by larger parties (media etc, professional reviewers and critics). With the rise of the internet, there was a brief period where anyone could share their opinion with you, and sellers hadnt figured it out yet. Now they mostly have and we're back where we were or worse.

8 days ago by victor9000

Could you be more specific?

8 days ago by twofornone

It's an open secret that stores on amazon will send out free goods in return for positive reviews. The people "buy" items by the dozen and then resell them as third parties.

8 days ago by undefined


8 days ago by devwastaken

Good. Now also fine game companies releasing broken products. Fine any company selling products with "warranty void if removed" stickers. Mass shut down fake sale websites that do not sell the product imaged. I want to see the ftc breaking down doors and deleting entire companies off the face of the earth for their illigal practices. I can dream of course.

8 days ago by thereisnospork

It is staggering the extent to which we as a society tolerate flagrant lying[0] and I worry about the long reaching implications of the inevitable erosion of trust it will cause.

[0]A personal pet peeve: Dump trucks with 'not liable for broken windshields' on the back. A patently incorrect assertion in every jurisdiction I've come across, written for the express intent of coercing wronged persons out of owed compensation. Yet somehow this doesn't seem to meet the bar for criminal fraud.

8 days ago by jiveturkey

thank you! i seethe every time i see that sticker. i almost (almost) want to get hit with debris when i see that, so i can stick it to them.

8 days ago by Kiro

> Now also fine game companies releasing broken products.

Do you have any example where this happened?

8 days ago by schmorptron

Most recently, eFootball released incredibly broken. Or the last gen versions of Cyberpunk 2077 on launch. (And to some extent still now)

8 days ago by heromal

This really is something you just Google, it's not uncommon at all. I just Googled "broken game release" and all I saw were examples. Cyberpunk was a recent high profile one.

8 days ago by Kiro

First result is this: https://www.goliath.com/gaming/10-games-that-were-broken-at-...

Some of my all-time favorite games in that list so I definitely do not agree that those companies should be fined. I've gotten extremely good bang for the buck considering the thousands of hours I've put in.

8 days ago by devwastaken

Elite Dangerous: Odyssey. Couldn't even get a refund because it took more than 2 hours to get the game to even play, still was broken. Company stole $60 from me and somehow never fined.

8 days ago by rytcio

Pick any big budget game released by a AAA studio or publisher

8 days ago by kwertyoowiyop

This seems exaggerated.

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