As many around Lunch.com know, before I came here I used to review primarily on Amazon.com. From time to time my reviews would show up elsewhere. Yet when reviewing on Amazon there was something seriously wrong with its voting system. And over the years it began to get worse. So we'll start things off with an anecdote of how Amazon's voting system seems to be far worse than it used to be. Or rather, how the community began to go out of control and how Amazon made a couple of missteps along the way.
I joined Amazon in the year 2000 or so. When I began I was a terrible reviewer. I deserved every negative vote I ever got. I improved, and it was a good thing that I did. Yet as time went on, and as Amazon's community became larger, the voting started to get out of hand. If you haven't been to Amazon when a review is done with and you're at the bottom of it, you'll see a question: "Was this review helpful?" or something like that. You can vote "yes" or "no". Problem is, the voting community of Amazon can be tough... and other times they never really vote on the review but rather they vote on whether or not they agree or disagree with the reviewer.
Since coming to Lunch the difference between the voting on Amazon and the voting on Lunch is quite big and obvious. When Amazon went to their new system was when things got to be awful. Amazon now has "Fan Votes." Unfortunately, it's a system that hasn't really been quite that well explained. Amazon is rather vague on whether or not fan votes count or not. Some believe that if fans vote on your reviews then eventually their votes won't count. It's hard to understand why, or what exactly was Amazon's intent with doing this. One thing that became clear, however, was that acquiring positive votes for your reviews became harder somehow.
Anyone can hop on Amazon and start voting--even if they're not reviewing. When posting a new review you might find the negatives shoot up while the positives don't. Another thing that's hard to swallow on Amazon is that sometimes the people voting can be like lemmings. If someone sees the "0 of 3 People Found the Following Review Helpful," the next person who votes on it is apt to vote in the same manner. It can sometimes feel like you're getting no recognition for your work. Even if your review happens to be well written. Let's not get mixed up, however. Sometimes people really shouldn't get a helpful vote. When you post a review that reads, "dis is teh kewest ting evar!" or something akin to what you'd find in an lolcatz book... your review probably really isn't helpful. And sometimes people go against the grain and write terrible reviews. So I won't say there are not bad reviews on Amazon. The place is flooded with them. But the ones that are good--and there are many good reviews--don't always get recognition for their work. In part because negative voting campaigns run rampant.
What makes Lunch's compliment system so nice is that you can find recognition for your reviews even when someone votes you down. You can give any review three thumbs up or one thumb down. You WILL find reviews on Lunch that are in the negatives on helpful votes, but unlike Amazon you won't find people who feel pressured into voting something down because everyone else does. In short, Lunch's compliment system seems to really make people focus on the helpfulness of a review rather than focusing on whether they or not they agree or disagree. You can vote on whether or not it's Remarkably Helpful, Very Helpful or just plain helpful. Sure, you might find something on Lunch that's less than helpful, but no one's credibility is destroyed based on the votes of a review. What's better is that you can only vote on a review ONCE... but you're also able to change your vote should something arise. So say you're pissed off because someone wrote a review criticizing your favorite movie. Perhaps you'll be overwrought with emotion and vote negatively. Later, however you just might rethink it. You might even come to the conclusion that even though you disagree that doesn't necessarily make the review, you know, bad... or any less helpful. So you can always change your vote. This doesn't happen often but you can do it.
What's best about the compliment system however (besides positive reinforcement) is that it really DOES make people focus on the helpfulness factor of a review. You can't for example, give a review a negative three score. In a way that's a little hard to explain you're actually being forced to weigh the content of the review based almost entirely on the fact that you can give three different levels of helpfulness... but only one level of unhelpfulness. This also works in a way because now you won't find too many people giving a non-helpful vote just because they don't agree. I've got a few single thumbs up and lots of two thumbs up but I've gotten multitudes of three thumbs. It helps me know that perhaps I'm doing something right (or it could mean people are being really really nice... your choice). It works as feedback for other users as well, but it at least keeps them from feeling like they've been insulted for their opinions. Yet in some ways it does force people to show some kind of respect. You don't have to agree... and if you're looking for a debate or argument the compliment system on Lunch drives home that those things need to stay out of the review and that they're meant for the comments section or private messages. But it also means that even if you disagree you'll find yourself thinking, "A thumbs down just isn't enough..." People will see it, but what's the point if a a +3 negates that?
It should also be noted you can look at whether or not peoples reviews are thought provoking, fun to read or well organized. At first glance those things seem miniscule, but I've found that people actually pay attention to that stuff as well. I've received plenty of Three Thumbs up in all categories, but the categories of Thought Provoking, Fun to Read and Well Organized are slightly lower. Because people are paying attention to those too. No one pretends that an awesomely well written review means it's automatically organized. Though you're less likely to get a Thumbs Down there, you'll probably find yourself getting a lot of varied responses.
There have been several discussions on Amazon about how to counter negative voting campaigns and negative voting trolls. The most common solution is to get ride of the "No" vote all together. A better solution, I think, would be implimenting Lunch's compliment system.
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About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes (Sean_Rhodes)
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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To compliment the helpfulness of a review. Click on the thumb icons on the bottom of a review to rate it as "not helpful" (one thumb down), "helpful" (one thumb up), "very helpful" (two thumbs up), or if it's amazing, "remarkably helpful" (three thumbs up). The idea here is to focus on rating reviews based on the usefulness to the community, and not on whether you agree or disagree with the opinion. The ratings your reviews receive go towards your Top Contributor ranking too. Knowing that your reviews are rated according to helpfulness inspires the community to create better, more thoughtful content.
Furthermore, you can compliment a review as "thought-provoking" (light bulb icon), "fun to read" (happy face icon), or "well-organized" (pencil icon). You can also give more than one compliment to an outstanding review. Keep compliments in mind when writing reviews, since the compliments you receive will also factor into your Top Contributor ranking. To see the community opinion of a review, at the top right corner of the review is a count of people who found the review helpful, thought-provoking, fun to read, and well-organized.