Online customer reviews have become the way everyone decides what to buy it seems. When we do anything from buy a camcorder to rent an apartment, we always check the reviews. If that blender has a lot of complaints, we move on. If a lot of people say they love that restaurant, we give it a try ourselves.
The problem comes in when there are only three reviews, and they all say, “Wow this thing is great! Really! Wow wow wow!” When you see a review that good, you feel pretty sure it was left by the owner.
Or the review from the person who drones on for three paragraphs about how awful his experience was. (I say, “his” because only we guys waste time trying to get vengeance by leaving bad reviews.)
So here’s my idea
A review system needs to be built that counts how many reviews individuals leave, and the general tone of those reviews. Then based on those reviews, the reviewer is given something akin to a Google Adscore – next to their name, you see a gauge of their trust level.
Since most review sections only show the last three to five people who visited the site and left reviews, that group has the most say about the product. If there was a score for reviewers, the most trusted ones could be placed on top. Perhaps you could balance the reviews against the age of the review, so they’re still always changing. If a restaurant gets a lot of bad reviews, then shapes up and starts doing a great job, they should be allowed to show off the new, positive reviews, right?
Why would anyone sign up for a review system where they might be bashed? A review system like this would eventually catch on because of it’s trust level, just as Google became the de facto search engine because of the quality of it’s search results. Over time, businesses would be hurt by not being listed.
Look at Amazon: They’re a huge marketplace that manufacturers need to have their products listed on. Still, people can leave horrendous reviews of their products if they want to. You take the good, you take the bad.
A site like Facebook could pull this off, seeing as how they’re already trying to be everywhere online all at once. Yelp would be a more logical choice, though, since they’ve built their business on intelligent reviews. Google has the trust factor to get people to install the comment widget that would be necessary. (And that would doubtlessly help the business’ website do better in search. Google products ALWAYS seem to help sites in search.)
Whoever uses this idea, I just want credit for having thought it up. That, and a pile of money.