My Journey Into Blogging...
(and how I found a lot of questionable material.)
What do you do, when you get this nagging suspicion that the reviews you're reading on an item, are either too good to be true, or a downright hustle?
Oh, sure, I came across a TON of reviews that claimed that so-and-so provider is the best, top-notch, can’t be beat, etc. Seems pretty tempting, right?
And the prices were amazing! $2.95 a month for a whole year?! Yes, please!
The huge caveat to this very tempting deal, is that this is most often the bare-minimum of services that the provider will offer, and in order for a more developed and higher form of quality standard of everything, including security, storage space, support, etc., the prices can go up dramatically. And I understand: you get what you pay for. But when comparing certain services and deals to others, plus comparing other… “legit?” reviews, this fascinating, awesome, wonderful website host provider doesn’t seem so amazing any more.
That brings me to the actual reviews.
In my search for a decent provider, I came across too-many to count blogs, websites, articles, etc. claiming that a particular provider is THE best, and, by the way, “if you sign up with MY link, you get an extra 60% off the normal price!”
I’m sure if you’ve come across this page you’ve encountered the same thing and learned that this is what is known as an affiliate link. This is one way bloggers, website developers, and so on earn money. And I’m not knocking this type of sponsorship. I understand that it’s a legitimate way of making money online and plan to do it myself. But I do have reservations when someone advertises a product that they (perhaps) have not used and/or are solely promoting it based on monetary gain.
I don’t know about you, but it immediately conjures up this image in my mind:
Now, again, I have no problems with people sponsoring their products or other products that they actually endorse. But when they advocate for a product simply for monetary gain… that’s where the issue lies. (Literally.)
How Do You Know Which Review to Trust?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits all. But there are clues in helping you to make an educated discernment.
– Is the person telling facts, and not just heaping praise? Be wary of a very highly overpraised product. Chances are it is a paid/endorsed sponsorship and not a legitimate review.
– Does the reviewer have any incentive to “exaggerate” or “lie”? (monetary gain, for example?)
– Ask yourself if there is a possible relation with the business. (Such as family member, owner, workers, friends, stock/shareholders, etc. If this is the case, chances are the reviews are fake.)
– Is the person listing pros and cons? (This is not always the case, however. If it is a product I fully endorse and find no faults with, there wouldn’t be much negative to say about it).
– Make sure you look at reviews from a myriad of different sources. (Don’t just look at reviews from one website – especially not the website that owns the product).
– Try to look for individualized reviews, instead of a big name website that will, more often than not, steer you into a specific decision. This is a direct marketing tactic in which these websites make money through from their “advice” and advertisement.
– In some cases, the less reviews, the better. A lot of people will only leave a review if their experience is a negative one. Rarely do people leave a positive review unless directed to, or unless they had a remarkably good experience.
– Be wary of paid testimonials. (How will you know for sure? A lot of the times, you won’t. But just knowing that these exist will help you look at it with a critical eye and make better judgments.)
Perfect Example of Fake Reviews/Testimonies:
In 2017, CBC News uncovered this scam of people being paid to give false testimonies/reviews. One lady (who went by the username “sanpan”) even went so far as to pose as a licensed dietician to promote diet pills.
Although the company “Fiverr” who employs these people for their freelance services had this disclaimer on their site: “The testimonials they provide on your behalf are paid, promotional materials, and you should indicate this to your customers.”, the reliance on the business and “paid actors” to be upfront and honest about this has regrettably fallen through the cracks.
This video also recognizes Scott Stratten, who exposed the phone company Bell Mobility for having their own employees leave fake reviews for their newest app. You can read his article here.
The lack of moral compass that some individuals have is a dire situation in the nature of human ethics. This can be attributed to greed, selfishness, indifference, desperation, ignorance, etc. Or any combination of the above.
No one wants to be scammed, but it seems many people are willing to be the scammer. Where did “integrity” go? Is our greed and self-gain so important that we’re willing to sellout (or sell our soul) for material possessions? (That’s an interesting word… possession.)
And even if these people are doing this because they feel as if this is the only way to make a living, I would have to disagree. This is no “living”. This is conning, manipulating, deceiving, lying and stealing.
I think it will be an amazing time when people can finally think of others and refuse to partake in such actions.
Do I believe it's possible?
Yes. I truly do.
Maybe that’s me being highly optimistic, but I honestly believe that once people realize the hurt and pain they are causing others (which, in turn, comes back to them), they will be more self-aware and conscious of their decisions, and start taking steps to better themselves and help others.
A Different Kind of Review
SIDE NOTE: Sometimes, I fear what I’m going to see in my life review. Some of the negativity that I have spread I have reflected upon, and am ashamed at my actions. When we come upon our life review, we will see the hurt and deception we have caused others. Not only see it. We will feel it, as well.
Don’t believe in the life review? That is for each person to decide. I will not tell you what to believe one way or another. But during my experiences and research, find it fascinating that so many people, on their death bed, DO encounter this phenomena. Even if some people speculate that it is “just a brain trauma”, the fact that so many people come to this realization seems too important to ignore. Would cause one to consider that there is a reason they came back with that message.
On the bright side, I do see people making a difference and doing the right thing, and want to thank them for setting a wonderful example for others to see. They are the true heroes, and should be heralded and celebrated.