Web Culture

Ignore These Five Kinds Of Online Reviews

Harry Guinness 14-08-2015

Online reviews can be a great way to decide if something is worth paying but, even if you avoid the dodgy reviews 4 Ways Online Reviews Are Being Manipulated By Manufacturers Manufacturers and companies actually manipulate reviews in a variety of ways right here on the Internet. It's all about good press, of course. However, some ways are sketchier than others as you'll soon be able... Read More , there are plenty of other kinds you should ignore. Here are a few types you should look for, then ignore.


The Internet makes it easy for anyone to post their opinion online. The problem with that, though, is that anyone can post their opinion. Separating the good reviews from the bad can be tricky, but the following types of reviews are always bad.

The Review When It Isn’t Even Out Yet

Patrick Rothfuss is the author of one of my favorite series of books, the Kingkiller Chronicles. Two are released so far and the third book, the Doors of Stone, is long — and eagerly — awaited. It will hopefully be released next year but you wouldn’t know that to look at its Goodreads page: there are already more than 1,300 ratings and 220 reviews.


As great as Goodreads is Goodreads Reviewed: A Must-Use Site For Any Book Lover If you enjoy reading, and like to use the Internet for finding great new reads, you may well have heard of Goodreads before: This is a superb website hosting a vibrant community of book lovers,... Read More , the users aren’t psychics. I’m confident that Rothfuss will deliver an awesome book but it doesn’t warrant a four and a half star average before the publication date is even announced.

It doesn’t matter if a review is good or bad: anything written long before the product is even released isn’t worth reading. The only time this doesn’t hold true is when people are reviewing prerelease copies, or there are different release dates around the world.


The True Fan’s Review

If you love something it’s only natural to want to share it with everyone else. One way a lot of people do this is write online reviews. The problem is, the reviews they write tend to be absolutely useless. Take this review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

There are several glaring red flags that this was written by a True Fan. The reviewer’s username is HarryPotterfan25; if someone cares so much about a book that they name their Amazon account after it, they might be a little biased. The title is Harry Potter 4ever! and the content of the review is… light.

The Harry Potter series is great but it isn’t without its flaws. Reviews by True Fans will ignore them all. You will never get a sense of whether or not something is actually for you from the reviews of True Fans.

The flipside of this is that if something is getting thousands of badly written five-star reviews from fans, it actually might be worth checking out.


The Hater’s Review

At the opposite end the spectrum to the True Fan, the haters’ review. I’ve written about music snobbery These Kanye Fans Don't Know Who Paul McCartney Is, And That's Okay Kanye West and Sir Paul McCartney collaborated on a new track. You'll totally believe what happened next. Read More a few times Vinyl vs. Digital Music: 5 Reasons Why Digital Is Better In the age-old debate between vinyl music versus digital music, we think digital music wins. Here's why! Read More and this review of Justin Bieber’s Believe is the perfect example.

The reviewer has no interest in Biebs. This is not a fan of Bieber’s music. This is not a “Verified Purchaser”, so you know he or she didn’t buy the album on Amazon and almost certainly didn’t listen to it at all. The whole point of this ‘review’ is to decry “the modern generation” and rant about “music these days”. This is a classic case of someone not being able to see things from another person’s point of view Your Apple/Android/Windows Hatred Is Irrelevant, Give It Up Getting upset because someone is buying something you're not interested in benefits no one – so why do we get mad anyway? Read More . They just don’t get Justin Bieber, and refuse to acknowledge that someone else might.

It’s totally okay to not like the Biebs. Aside from one or two catchy songs, I’m not a major fan. What’s taking things a bit far, is to write angry reviews on his album’s Amazon page.

This isn’t to say that you should ignore negative reviews – they’re often best for learning more about something. Just that you should ignore the reviews from obvious haters. No matter what Bieber did, how he changed his sound, or what level of work he put into his albums, this reviewer is never going to like them.


They’re a hater, and haters gonna hate.

The Review Written by an Idiot

It’s a sad fact of life, but some people aren’t very smart. While they’re probably lovely people with many interesting traits, some of them should really steer clear of writing online reviews. Whenever you see a review written by an idiot, it’s best to ignore it. For example, let’s have a look at this review of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco from Trip Advisor.

Alcatraz is a site with a lot of important history – as a prison. That history is pretty much the only reason to visit the island. It’s small and has fences for simple reasons: people weren’t meant to have a lot of fun there, and they were kind of meant to stay there. While sandy beaches and a restaurant could undoubtedly be added now, they would utterly undermine the reason Alcatraz has any relevance.

Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but some opinions are just wrong. You can normally spot an idiot’s review a mile away. Don’t pay them any attention.


The Review Written By An Almighty Prick

Just as some people are idiots, others are almighty pricks. These are the people who kick off flamewars Worse Than Hitler: Why Do Flamewars Happen? Why are flamewars so common on today's web, and is it really a new phenomenon?  Read More . They go to a restaurant or a shop and treat the staff terribly, then when their every whim isn’t indulged, write a scathing review online. Look at this review of Noma for example.
Noma is one of the best restaurants in the world. You have to book a table months in advance to have any hope of getting in, and even then, you’ll often only be able to get on the waiting list. Eating there is an experience that many people would give up a kidney and their first born for.

This reviewer and their companions started by showing up late. From the tone of the review and their subsequent actions, we can safely infer that they probably weren’t particularly polite or apologetic when they arrived. While they were there, one of the party, by the reviewer’s own admission, interrupted the service taking a phone call. These are the actions of a prick. The chef, understandably, called them out on their behavior and the reviewer took offence and felt the need to leave a one-star review.

If, hypothetically, they’d arrived on time for the booking and turned their phones off at the table, the chances are the staff would have been a lot more courteous. To be honest, seeing that Redzepi told this guy off makes me want to visit more!

Pricks generally complain about the service. They feel they weren’t treated properly. Some places legitimately have bad customer service and online reviews will point it out, but, if the reviewer clearly acted like an ass – and basically admitted to doing so in the review – then don’t assume you’ll be treated the same.

What Reviews Do You Ignore?

It’s wonderful how easy the Internet makes it for people to find out more about products, services, places, or anything else. Online reviews can really help make difficult decisions. The problem is that, because it is so easy to post a review, anyone can do it. Some reviews just aren’t worth reading.

What are your review red flags? Other than obvious fakes, what reviews do you ignore?

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