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Thread: Online reviews

  1. #1
    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    Online reviews

    I do rely on online reviews for various things, but realize we probably just can't trust them. How do you figure it out?

    I'm having a toe problem, and did a search for podiatrists in my area.........of which there are many. I read some good things about this one guy, so I made an appointment with him.
    Now I'm reading some bad stuff about him. What do I believe? It goes for many other things..........online buying, searching for doctors, dentists, etc.

    How do you sort through those reviews and how to do you which to believe and which not?

    I guess there are always going to be varying opinions about things. I usually choose doctors based on mostly all good reviews, and the intelligence that seems to come through from the reviewer.

    I guess some of the problem is what we want out of certain "service-type" people. A bunch of reviews might say that someone is very compassionate. Yeah, that's good, but I want them to be competent too.
    Then again, I don't want competence if they are assholes.

    Seems unfair that you can say untrue things about someone/business, etc., when it can have such a big impact on them. If I give an online opinion, I try to be very careful what I say.

    Funny........I was looking up psychologists around the city near here, and none of them seemed to have the ability to review them. haha I suppose that's both good and bad.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Simplemind's Avatar
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    I look at reviews (Amazon, TripAdvisor) and often when they are extremely good or extremely bad I will look into the reviewers other reviews to see if they tend to review the same on other things. If they do then I can tell they have probably been compensated in some way. People in the middle of the road generally don't leave a review.

  3. #3
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    I go by the "preponderance of evidence" model. I read as many reviews as I can and evaluate how important the reviewers' criteria are to me.

    The reviewer who writes a one-star review because (s)he waited 25 minutes past his/her scheduled appointment time doesn't get a lot of attention from me -- unless many other reviewers mention waiting past their appointment times.

    I recently replaced the tires on my car. I read tire reviews and tried to stick to reviews in which it seemed the driver had my driving style and drove a compact front-wheel-drive car. I also discounted the reviews done before a few hundred miles (and the mold parting compound) had worn off the tires (when they're brand new they should seem feel better than the old tires).

    Reviews with credentials get more of my trust: weed-whip reviews written by groundskeepers; computer app reviews by IT people; knife reviews by people for whom cooking is a hobby or vocation; etc.

    I also look for the same story related across several Web sites. You usually can tell from the sequence of events that's related in the review or by the same unusual wording; some people are (un)happy enough to sprinkle their news across as many review sites as they can find.

    "The truth lies somewhere in between."
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  4. #4
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    For medical my state government has a site you can check for education, publications and other good things as well as discipline, criminal convictions, malpractice cases, etc.

  5. #5
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    For most things, I tend to trust the reviews in the middle more than the reviews at either end.

    Just as there are overly glowing positive reviews for things, there are overly negative reviews for things. Some of these reviews may be paid reviews. Some glowing reviews may come from friends of the author/business owner/whatever. Some of the really negative reviews may come from people who have an interest in a competitor and who are trying to jinx the competition.

    The reviews in the middle (on a scale of, say, 5, the 2-4 star reviews) tend to give you a good picture of the pluses and minuses of the thing being reviewed. If there are enough reviews, you can judge for yourself if the negatives are even a factor for you, or if they just aren't something that would bother you. For example, some people may downgrade a doctor because they do not allow children who are not the patient in the waiting room. For me, that is not a concern because I don't have children. For someone with 5 kids and no childcare during normal doctor's hours, that's a major problem.

    Now, if most of the reviews are negative, just one or two stars, then I'd probably just steer clear. But if the majority of the reviews are three stars or above, for me, it is worth checking things out.

  6. #6
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    I recently bought a little hand vac specifically for pet hair. Amazon reviewers gave it mostly glowing five stars with only a couple of not so great ones listing very specific issues. It ended up being a piece of junk - doesn't pick up hair and when it does, blows it all over the place out the back. I am getting somewhat cynical about online reviews as I have experienced this with other products. For services, I usually try to find a local recommendation such as NextDoor or neighbor/acquaintance.

  7. #7
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    I tend to trust the reviews if there are a lot and the average is good, and will then just read the one and two star reviews to see if there were legit concerns about the product. For the most part I've been reasonably happy with stuff I've bought online, probably because if it's something that seems super cheap I just assume it's not going to last. For instance my computer monitor has a DIVX (I think that's what it's called) connector, but my (newer) laptop only has HDMI output. THe only converters I've found are super cheap (under $5 apiece) chinese ones that last anywhere from a month to a year. I have bought replacements 3 times now, 2 at a time (so 6 replacements in all). THat way I have a spare on hand for the inevitable failure. Most of the 1 and 2 star reviews have been because of early failure, so my experience matches the reviewers. Now that monitors are expected to go up in price due to the trade war instead of continue to fall I will probably go ahead and splurge on a new monitor with an HDMI input, but in the meantime I've gotten an extra few years' use out of my old monitor.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Gardenarian's Avatar
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    Like pinkytoe, I go to Nextdoor for recommendations - doctors, painters, dentists, etc.

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    I am sketching out a trip for next year along the Eastern seaboard and had Atlantic City on the list until I kept running across the same comments on Yelp regarding various attractions and lodgings - dirty, expensive, crime-ridden. Now I have scratched it off and penciled in one of the Native American casinos instead.

    I didn't care for Las Vegas either when I went there.

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    Orchard Grove, NJ is lovely.

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