Saturday May 18, 2024

Critique of Epinions from a user's perspective
  Posted by: AceBHound on Dec 21st, 2004 3:12 PM
Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of Epinions. If you've ever searched for product reviews you've probably stumbled across the Epinions site at one point or another. It seems they're even integrating their reviews into online retail sites, along the lines of Amazon. The problem I have with Epinions, and have always had with them, is there incentives for Epinion members to rate other Epinion members.

Way Back When
When I initially signed up with them way back in 2000 it was pretty straight-forward.. you could write a review, people would click on it, and you'd get paid per click of a review. This, however, caused reviewers to become advertising geniouses.. let me explain. When "average joe" browses the Epinions site looking for information on a product, he's able to list any reviews that exist for the product. The list shows the eye-catching title, sums up the general pros/cons and displays the first few lines of the review. Reviewers realized that in order to get more clicks, they needed to title their review cleverly to draw people in. They would make the first few sentences as vague as possible so that "average joe" would feel the need to find out "Is this the perfect

?". I got fed up with what I was seeing, so after writing 15 or 20 reviews and making the $20 I needed to cash-out (definitely not worth the time), I went on hiatus.

Things Have Changed.. Slightly
Over the last few years Epinions has changed the way members earn revenue -- you now get paid for helping to sell products directly from your review. So if "average joe" clicks on your review and then purchases a product from one of Epinion's affiliates, you share the wealth. This is all fine an good, if their entire model wasn't based around members rating other member's reviews.

Member Ratings
And so here's my gripe with the Epinion's model. There's incentive for members to rate other member's reviews because they get listed at the bottom as having rated that review.. and by clicking their name you can then browse their reviews. So the other night I decide to try out Epinions again after my 3 year hiatus to see if things improved at all. I wrote a helpful review of a gadget I now own and it was rated "Very Helpful" by a member not more than 10 minutes after it was posted. The following day, several other members had also rated it..LOW.. two of these members obviously knew nothing about the technology considering they wrote reviews about cat food, NyQuil and photography equipment. This in turn takes my review's reputation down, placing it lower in the list of reviews for that product and decreasing the chance of someone actually purchasing a product through my review.

I think it's a very bad model.. and between that and "advertising gimmicks" that a lot of members use to get people to click on their reviews, I neither trust the reviews or have any interest in writing any further reviews on the site. I think there's a model out there that would work, but this one certainly does not.

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