Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ABC covers Yelp sting on "paid reviews"

On Monday, November 19, 2012, ABC World News presented a story on its own investigation of fake "phony" reviews on Yelp. Apparently Yelp has been running a sting to nab fake reviewers by posting ads on Craigslist for them.  The practice occurs when companies pay people to write favorable reviews, a practice supposedly illegal under FTC rules. 

The link for the story (with video) is here

One San Francisco retail business owner, a young male, was unapologetic about getting caught. To him, it was just business.

Angie’s List, on the other hand, says emphatically that you can’t pay to be reviewed on the list. 
I do get review copies of movie DVD’s from companies (or book publishers, especially self-publishers) sometimes, and I note that I have a review copy when I write the review.  But  I do not favor films or books just because I got a “free” copy.  Most of my reviews concern the issues underneath the story in a film or book.  I generally don’t assign “star counts”.  I do apply stars on Netflix (not visible) and sometimes Amazon, but I am not influenced by how I received the material.  Sometimes it is easier to review a movie “fairly” from a DVD because of the interviews and other extras on a DVD.  But then there is the saying from Regal Cinemas, “Go big or go home”.  And, by the way, for theatrically viewed films, I often comment on the technical presentation at the venue and on the audience size and reaction.

Maybe you can write an Argo-style fake review of a fake hit movie!

Here is a video by Luis Estrada about “paid blogging networks” such as “pay to blog”. 

I haven’t gone as far down this path as he suggests.  That’s because I want to keep the freedom to write about exactly what I think needs to be covered. – the “existential issues”.  I’ll get into more about how this came to be soon.

One can make a living, if good enough, reviewing technical products, ethically.  I recall one time a review called "printer therapy", way back in the good old 90s.  

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