Sunday, 29 August 2010

Astroturfing

A new word for me "Astroturfing"!
While looking at fireplaces online, I noticed that the reviews on both the Argos and Homebase sites were the same, word for word.
Mr Plummy Mummy who is a techie, explained this is called Astroturfing. It's where an organisation is created specifically to represent something and make it more popular. In California, they are are trying to outlaw this.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not naiive, I knew this happened.I've come across rather enthusiastic reviews on Argos before that smack of a corporate drone sitting there ensuring the common customer doesn't besmirch the good name of their company's products. And in China, internet spin doctors are used to shape bad news into good.
Leaves me with a bit of a dilemma as I like online shopping but don't know how to ensure reviews are genuine. Does astroturfing happen on Amazon? Or Play?
If you come across something suspicious, email the companies (i.e. Argos/Homebase) to inform them. Also the law is on your side in the form of the
The EU's Directive on Unfair Business-to-Consumer Commercial Practices.
Or just take the reviews with a pinch of salt.

3 comments:

Steph said...

I've seen similar duplication of information in the past - I think this one's 'incidental astroturfing' - as both Argos and Homebase are owned by the Home Retail Group...

My guess is they use all the same databases behind the scenes to cut costs and just 'skin' their web storefronts...

Plummy Mummy said...

Yep you are right. The CS bods at Argos got back with that info. So I'm a bit red faced now.
Should really do my homework.

Dave said...

This shameful practice is rife on Amazon. It's not unknown for writers to post glowing reviews of their own work and it's blindingly obvious that many 5 star reviews of lots of products are written by the company spin doctors. Of course it works both ways - give a 1 star withering critique of your competitors product!