Google, Just Dump the User Reviews

For some ads, Google shows this silly little ‘user ratings’ indicator at the very bottom of the ad, starting in gray text. It looks like this:

Clicking on the word ‘rated’ brings up a page of reviews, in this case of Nordstrom.com, that Google has scraped from BizRate and ReviewCentre and other websites.

Not considering all the other minor problems this “feature” has (such as Google’s inability to take a weighted average correctly and astroturfing from fake accounts) there’s one great overarching reason to dump user reviews entirely. Here’s one of the reviews I saw for Nordstrom:

I took this screenshot on July 3, 2010. The text says: “This is a 4 star review.”, but the user selected 5 stars as the rating. So there’s the fundamental problem with user-generated reviews: Many people are idiots.

I did another search today where Nordstrom was in the results and here’s one of the reviews listed:

Hmmmmmm. Apparently, ‘Online Shopper’ submitted a review to BizRate on April 30 saying “This is a 4 star review.”, but then rated Nordstrom as 5 stars. And then, on August 7, ‘dbm’ submitted a review to BizRate saying “This is a 4 star review.”, but then rated Nordstrom as 5 stars.

I smell bullcrap. So, I clicked on ‘read full review’, but ‘dbm’s review is nowhere to be found.

Seriously, Google, just dump the user reviews. It’s a bad idea, easily gamed and having it in the search results doesn’t make anyone look good.

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