Oct 16, 2014

Amazon's Fire Phone falls victim to spam reviewers

The vocal minority

That graphic, taken on 10/16/2014, shows an average 2/5 rating on Amazon's Fire Phone. Unfortunately for Amazon, most of the reviews are spam.

As of this writing, Amazon's Fire Phone has 3,026 customer reviews, or 188 pages of reviews. When ordering these reviews by Newest First, the first review was on July 25th, when the phone was released. However, by narrowing the pages down (quickly done by manually keying in the desired page in the URL for this product where it has "pageNumber="), we can see that on page 156, coinciding with September 25th, the phone begins receiving a deluge of 1-star reviews. In fact, though the phone has been out for ~12 weeks, 82% of its reviews have been given in the past three weeks.

The bulk of these reviews pertain to Amazon's environmental stance with its cloud, seemingly spurred by a Greenpeace blog post from September 25th.

Regardless of who is actually creating these reviews and for what reason, they certainly don't help potential customers figure out whether the phone is a good fit for them, and aren't doing Amazon any favors. I have seen other products unfairly hurt--or helped--by Amazon's review system, but this is an indication that even Amazon is directly hurt by it. Although reviews have helpful/non-helpful indicators, I think a good way to address this would be to allow filtering of reviews. Amazon already gives its reviewers a rating, and it's possible to see the top most helpful or unhelpful reviews, but it ought to be possible to completely filter out and ignore reviews from reviewers who don't have a sufficient rating, thus granting the customer the ability to ignore all the noise from spam.

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