Guest Column: Pros and Cons of User Reviews
2. Allowing visitors to "rate" the reviews as to which are most useful. This helps bring the best reviews to the top of the queue, and eliminates reviews that are fake, misleading, or just not particularly helpful.
3. Presenting not only the results from their own reviews, but also aggregate reviews from other sources in order to paint a broader picture of sentiment about the product on the Web.
4. Delivering a real-time automated summary using a data mining approach such as sentiment analysis to report whether the current aggregate consumer experience with a product is positive or negative.
5. Providing expert testing and research findings—e.g., from laboratory testing—in addition to the user reviews.
6. Detecting and highlighting any discrepancies between user experience and expert results. If the users like a product that the experts don't, or vice versa, then try to define the reason.
7. Allowing users to engage in a dialogue with the experts and other users to understand the reason for review discrepancies and the appropriate fit of a product that matches the consumer's specific needs or interests.
We think this approach presents a better solution for consumers because it does two things: Combines user reviews with expert testing, and increases the relevance of data from social media with automated analysis techniques. If these guidelines were followed, it would help consumers better navigate a crowded marketplace, create more feedback and dialogue, and generate insights from real-time user experience that would help buyers and manufacturers alike.
So our long-term goal is to achieve the optimal blend of expertise, technology and features that will help consumers make better choices. PE
John Sateja is the executive vice president for Consumers Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. He oversees publishing, editorial, laboratory testing and consumer research for all Consumer Reports information products including: Consumer Reports magazine, ConsumerReports.org, Consumer Reports on Health, Consumer Reports Money Adviser, Consumer Reports Special Publications, Consumer Reports Auto Price Services, ShopSmart magazine, ShopSmart Mobile, as well as all new product development.