To give a disclaimer, we realize that this isn’t exactly an end-of-the-world, iCloud hack, headline-breaking type of story. But, we notice the details at Echidna, and we care about the little things. This is one of those little things. And it could affect the buying patterns of you and millions of others.
It all started when we were innocently reminiscing on an old video game, Halo 4 (don’t ask us why). Okay, if you really want to know, let’s just say, hypothetically, that an individual at Echidna had written a critical review of the game on Amazon that was marked as helpful by a good number of folks. That specific review even had a good run sitting in the “Most Helpful Critical Review” spot. Sadly, it has since been supplanted. While that’s to be expected (no one can stay on top forever), it was surprising to see that in its place is a review with only three helpful votes to its name. An incriminating screenshot of the evidence is below:
So while there are reviews with much more critical mass to their helpful/not-helpful rankings, Amazon’s algorithm must go based more on simple percentages, which is ridiculous. It not only affects the two “Most Helpful” spotlight reviews — it also affects the order of the main chunk of reviews, which are sorted by helpfulness by default. And in case you think this is a problem isolated just to Halo 4, it’s not. After searching for no more than a minute, the same phenomenon was seen across many products, including the diapers below:
You might be asking why this matters. Well, whether you’re simply a consumer, a merchant on Amazon, or a company whose products are sold on Amazon, something like this could have big implications for you personally.
As we said at the beginning of this post, this isn’t exactly a scandal, but Amazon should ultimately take responsibility for the credibility of its reviews and fix this problem. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will ultimately benefit Amazon by strengthening its dominance and instilling even more confidence in its users on both the merchant and customer sides. If you buy or sell on Amazon (who doesn’t?), then we would urge you to strongly consider sharing this post in order to bring it to Amazon’s attention.