Amazon has taken the first steps to augment product reviews, one of the largest initiatives the company has taken in their 20 year history. Amazon reviews have proved to be critical for people looking to buy a product and have come to trust Amazon more than any other website.
A new in-house machine learning program will be putting more weight on verified purchases, new reviews and reviews that people have rated as being useful. This will be a tremendous benefit to books that often have a ton of negative reviews from customers who haven’t even read it.
There is a stark contrast between negative reviews and critical reviews. Critical reviews won’t be buried at all if they are helpful with this new system. They could instead jump up to the front page. Unhelpful critical reviews will be buried — as they should be.
“The system will learn what reviews are most helpful to customers…and it improves over time,” Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law said in an interview. “It’s all meant to make customer reviews more useful.”
The new review system sounds swell, and should go a long way with combating paid review services and internet trolls. On the other hand I know plenty of book reviewers that might not buy a book or Kindle e-book from Amazon, but leave amazing reviews. Does this new system mean that just because its not a verified purchase, less weight will be given to it? I guess if enough people give it an up-vote, it might not.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.