How do you go about getting a good review for your product? Simple - hire people to write you sparkling reviews on Amazon.
The Daily Backgrounddiscovered a listing on Amazon's Mechanical Turk - which advertises basic jobs that computers can't do, like identifying graphic samples - that called for people to write glowingly positive reviews:
A request from somebody named Mike Bayard to review a product and "give [it] a 100% rating (as high as possible)." It doesn't matter if the reviewer doesn't own the product or has never tried it- the requester has helpfully written, "Write as if you own the product and are using it." It even goes a step further, asking the Mechanical Turk user to "Mark any other negative reviews as "not helpful" once you post yours."
Now, while this may be dubious in its legality, it's very misleading and unethical.
Who, you may ask, is Mike Bayard? None other than the Business Development Rep for Belkin; the product he was trying to give a boost was the Belkin Router, which got slammed harder than Spore by the regular Amazon-goers given that it's "loaded with Bugs, goes on & off whenever it feels like, and comes at a hefty price."
There were dozens of these requests on Mechanical Turk, paying a measly 65 cents per review. Belkin has since yanked the listings. Bayard's personal pages are also gone.
Belkin's president, Mark Reynoso, expressed regret for the situation, calling it an "isolated incident":
Belkin has always held itself to the highest standards of corporate ethics and its employees to the highest standards of personal integrity. Similarly, we support our online user community in discussion and reviews of our products, whether the commentary is good or bad. So, it was with great surprise and dismay when we discovered that one of our employees may have posted a number of queries on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment.
Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this. We know that people look to online user reviews for unbiased opinions from fellow users and instances like this challenge the implicit trust that is placed in this interaction. We regard our responsibility to our user community as sacred, and we are extremely sorry that this happened.
We want to stress that this is an isolated incident and to re-instill trust with you, we have taken the following courses of action:
- We've acted swiftly to remove all associated postings from the Mechanical Turk system.
- We're working closely with our online channel partners to ensure that any reviews that may have been placed due to these postings have been removed.
It's also important to recognize that our retail partners had no knowledge of, or participation in, these postings.
Once again, we apologize for this occurrence, and we will work earnestly to regain the trust we have lost.
No news as of yet, no news of Bayard's future with Belkin, but an eagle-eyed poster also spotted R.Wood and B.Ekim (Reverse ftw!) who also spam positive reviews on Belkin products.
Let the E-buyer beware.
Source: The Daily Background