"... Yesterday I presented a short, introductory talk called “7 Core Principles of Social Design” at the Voices that Matter Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the principles I talked about was “reciprocity”, and how reciprocity is at the core of a lot of social interaction online, especially things like customer reviews and recommendations. When people read customers reviews from other people, they feel like returning the favor and write reviews of their own.
I pointed out that Amazon.com has had reviews for years, and only recently have their competitors added them. For example, Best Buy only added them within the last year, and Circuit City not too long before that.
I suggested that the reason for the failure to add reviews was not a technical one. These sites certainly had the technological know-how to add reviews to their sites if they chose to. They’re doing much more complicated backend processing in other parts of their site: customer reviews would have been relatively easy to add.
I proposed that the real reason they didn’t add reviews was fear. They feared that allowing the public to criticize products on their site would have several negative effects, including:
* Decreased Sales: people would buy less product because they would avoid products with negative reviews
* Angry Manufacturers: manufacturers of goods whose products got negative reviews would begin to be upset if their sales went down, souring the relationship
... 1 Most of the time, negative reviews are genuine. Many products are bad. If someone truly has a negative experience with a product, they will write a review not just to get it off their chest, but because they actually want to help others avoid the same fate as they had. Most people write negative reviews to be helpful.
2 Negative reviews are an opportunity. If you treat negative reviews as input into your design process, then you can actually use them as research to improve your offering. This is a tough pill to swallow, however, as it’s not easy to admit shortcomings.
3 People seek out negative reviews. As someone in the audience mentioned, they almost always zero-in on the negative reviews. Why? Because they’re already interested in the product, they know the positive aspects of it. What they’re looking for are the negative aspects, that crucial information that the manufacturer or the site will never tell you. People know that products are never as good as they’re advertised to be, and seek out the balancing information so they can make a smart decision." (Continued via Bokardo) [Usability Resources]