Greg Sterling points us to a provocative proposal from Ahmed of iBegin. Specifically, he advocates upfront fees and invites to separate the wheat from the chafe when it comes to user reviews. Now that user reviews are a standard feature on every “local” site, it’s painfully obvious that more is not necessarily better and that all reviews are not created equal. Amazon can brag about the breadth of its user reviews because they know it signals customers that there must surely be some useful information in there somewhere. But what if, instead of scanning 25 Amazon reviews in search of a few gems, you could be offered just five reviews, all of the gold?
Indeed, quality assurance is the next step in making user reviews truly useful. Look at a site like Epinions, the granddaddy of the genre. Take their page for the Nikon D50, for example. Nine reviews for this popular SLR camera, the latest one nearly four months old. And, jumping back to Amazon, I find that their subjective reviews for things like CDs and books tend to be much more helpful than the ones for electronics or housewares where a more structured review would work better than free-form opinion.
Of course, InsiderPages (recently bought by CitySearch) and others are built on the idea that a review/recommendation from a friend or even a friend of a friend is more valuable than one from a stranger. I’m not sure if Ahmed’s proposal is a viable one, but it’s something worth thinking about.