Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spamming Online Genealogy at the Review Centre

Online polls and suchlike are very open to abuse - and I recently got a request from a well known family history web site to write a review on the service they provide. They provided a direct link so I wouldn't be tempted to write a favourable review on the wrong product. All I had to do was to type in the review and a star rating and the results would appear against their product. I don't need to tell you which company it was - simply visit the Review Centre and you will see that it features "Honest and Impartial Reviews". Type in "Online Genealogy" and (when I looked this evening) there were 7 reviewed products with 331, 15, 5, 3, 3, 2 and 1 reviews respectively.  Guess which one organised the "Write a favourable review campaign."

While got three 5 star reviews most of the others included some very negative reviews. This suggests the real reason for the campaign. I suspect that there were three or four devastatingly bad reviews and the aim was to swamp them out by inviting regular users (who presumably are not too dissatisfied) to support the product. As far as I can seen there is no way I can see the oldest reviews apart from scrolling back 10 reviews at a time ....

I suspect that if I urged all readers of this blog to write a favourable "Online Genealogy" review on Genealogy in Hertfordshire for the Review Centre it would quickly become second or third in the list - but don't worry - I won't urge you to do it. All such action would do would make people think whether the Review Centre was really Honest and Impartial.
I do the organisation an injustice - I decided to track back all 331 reviews and before the circular was sent out there were only two - both giving 5 stars - so the site was joint best in terms of review stars!. However the site persuaded 329 (plus more to come) of its customers to waste untold hours have written perhaps hundreds of thousands of words most of which will never get read.  

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