Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Amazon makes good on its promise to delete “incentivized” reviews

Amazon is making good on its promise to ban “incentivized” reviews from its website, according to a new analysis of over 32,000 products and around 65 million reviews. The ban was meant to address the growing problem of less trustworthy reviews that had been plaguing the retailer’s site, leading to products with higher ratings than they would otherwise deserve.
Incentivized reviews are those where the vendor offers free or discounted products to reviewers, in exchange for recipients writing their “honest opinion” of the item in an Amazon review. However, data has shown that these reviewers tend to write more positive reviews overall, with products earning an average of 4.74 stars out of five, compared with an average rating of 4.36 for non-incentivized reviews.
Over time, these reviews proliferated on Amazon, and damaged consumers’ trust in the review system as a whole. And that can impact consumers’ purchase decisions.
According to recent findings from ReviewMeta, a business that analyzes millions of reviews to help consumers find those they can trust, Amazon has been rapidly deleting incentivized reviews – even retroactively.
This is especially interesting because Amazon had said at the time of the ban’s announcement that it would only remove incentivized reviews from older products if they were “excessive” or if they didn’t comply with the prior policy.
But apparently, Amazon is going back to remove a large number of older reviews, as well.
Above: percentage of incentivized reviews per day since 8/1/2016
ReviewMeta checked up on Amazon’s progress by analyzing its own dataset of around 65 million reviews across 32,060 products in all categories.
It found that Amazon had deleted over 500,000 reviews, 71 percent of which were incentivized. The average rating for these deleted reviews was 4.75 stars – clearly much higher than the typical average. Some products even saw thousands of reviews removed – like this cosmetic scrub, which had 9,000 reviews removed, for example.
Above: average rating for all reviews per day since 8/1/2016
The company then analyzed a subset of products from over the past two weeks to get a sense of how many incentivized reviews still remain on Amazon’s site.
Across the over 10 million reviews analyzed (a dataset based on those consumers entered on the ReviewMeta website), only 1.5 percent of the reviews were incentivized.
“This is considerably less than we were seeing previously,” says Tommy Noonan, ReviewMeta CTO. “For every incentivized review we found on Amazon, there were 2.6 in our database that weren’t there anymore,” he adds, referring to the deleted reviews.
What the figures seem to indicate is that, though Amazon is deleting a large number incentivized reviews, it hasn’t managed to catch all of them. Part of the problem could be that incentivized reviews are still rolling in, despite Amazon’s ban.
That said, the number of incentivized reviews has dropped significantly following the ban, and this, in turn, has lowered the average rating for all reviews. The day before the ban was enacted, for instance, the average rating for all reviews that day was 4.73; on November 1, the average rating for all reviews had dropped to 4.65.
What’s also interesting, Noonan notes, is that Amazon’s product ratings were largely unaffected, despite the mass deletions. The product ratings – that is, when Amazon tells you that a product is “4.5 out of 5 stars” – appear to have already been adjusted to discount the incentivized reviews when calculating the overall rating.
“We’re seeing that many incentivized reviews effectively carry zero weight in Amazon’s product ratings,” says Noonan.
This is likely due to the fact that a majority (95%) of the incentivized reviews didn’t have the “Verified Purchaser” tag attached – meaning the customer had bought from Amazon directly. And unverified reviews were already carrying no weight in Amazon’s rating system. (The exception being if they were the only reviews a product had, in which case they were used to calculate the overall score).
Noonan concludes that Amazon’s actions have sufficiently addressed the problem with its ban.
“It’s obviously not 100% perfect,” he says. “It seems [Amazon has] removed a majority of the incentivized reviews and pretty much put an end to more being created. They effectively killed this industry,” he adds.

Friday, November 18, 2016

4 Ways To Improve Your Credit Score That Take Less Than 30 Minutes Each!

Improving your credit score is almost like losing weight: it takes small, consistent steps... and patience! Stick with the right actions (and avoid the wrong actions) and you WILL improve.

The best way to fix your credit is to manage it sensibly over time with solutions you implement today! (Yes... TODAY!)

The first step in fixing your credit score is to find out where you stand. You may obtain a copy of your credit report from : Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These companies are required to provide you with a free copy at your request, once per year. With your credit report in hand, consider the suggestions mentioned below to ameliorate your credit. They take less than 30 minutes to implement.

#1. Check Your Credit History Report

Your credit report contains a detailed history of all credit related transactions such as credit card and loan payments, loans you have borrowed, etc. Go over your credit report with a fine tooth comb to ensure that no late payments are incorrectly mentioned. Check the amounts owed on each open account for accuracy. Sometimes you may have on your report a late payment error or an account that was sent to collections, even though you paid off the balance on time. Accounts that were opened in your name without your knowledge are also subject to dispute. If you spot any errors, report them immediately to the credit bureau. Each credit bureau has specific instructions on how to file paperwork to fix errors.

#2. Reduce Your Debt

How you use your credit affects your credit score. Referred to as credit utilization ratio, it is your total credit limit compared to the credit you are using. For example, if your credit limit is $10,000 and you have a balance of $5,000 across all your credit cards, then your calculated credit utilization ratio will be 50 percent. To improve your utilization ratio, stop using your credit cards and pay them down. I suggest to keep this ratio below 20 percent. Bringing it to 7 percent is my true favorite place to keep it, if possible. Most people are unable to pay off their debt all at once, so paying a little at a time also helps. Make note of all your accounts and check their respective statements to determine how much is owed on each account and the interest rate being charged. Create a payment plan that allocates your budget for debt payments, starting with the high interest cards first. You can maintain a minimum payment on your low interest accounts.

#3. Create Payment Reminders

Missing a credit card payment is a big hit to your credit score. Although some banks offer payment reminders, it is advisable to create payment reminders yourself. Setting up automatic payments to be debited from your account is another suggestion if you have difficulty remembering your payment due dates.

#4. Obtain A New Credit Card

This may seem counterintuitive, but it can help to raise your credit limit and lower your credit utilization ratio. Look for lenders that offer cash back incentives. With your new credit card in hand, think of it for building healthier credit not to get into more debt.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

18 Bizarre Things People Have Actually Spotted at the Gym

We understand people wanting to listen to their own music at the gym, but using an iPad to do so just seems like overkill, or at least in the "looking ridiculous" department. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that is just one of the many bizarre things that people have actually spotted at the gym while working out. Continue reading to see more.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

10 Unintentional Coincidences That Show Copy + Paste in Real-Life

Ever come across someone who just so happened to wear the same exact outfit as you? If not, here are some strange and unintentional examples that show CTRL + C -> CTRL + V working in real-life. We have the Wal-Mart electronics department browsers to the subway sleeping twins and plaid-wearing restaurant goers. Click here to view the first image in this week's funny work pictures gallery. Continue reading for a viral video of a French bulldog puppy that just doesn't want to go to bed.

EA Bar: A Gun-Equipped Restauraunt in Japan That Lets Guests Shoot Away Stress

Called the EA Bar, this unique themed restaurant in Tokyo, Japan is marketed exclusively to airsoft lovers. It comes complete with its own airsoft shooting range, various airsoft guns fashioned after their real-life counterparts, and plenty of food as well as cocktails. Some of the specialty drinks include, a chocolate liquor called Glock 18c, a SPAS12 with absinthe, and a vodka-based Thomson. Continue reading for a video and more information.

20 Clever Gadgets, Inventions That Aim to Make Your Life Easier

Ok, so a Darth Vader toaster won't exactly make your life easier, but for Star Wars fanatics who've always wanted to see the Sith Lord's face burned into their toast, this is just the gadget for you. It's a real product and will be released in July for a mere $45. Continue reading for 20 more clever gadgets and inventions that aim to make your life easier.

5 Interesting Facts About Bitcoin That May Surprise You

Did you know that the largest purchase with the cryptocurrency to date was payment for a villa in Bali using Bitcoin worth over US$500,000 at the time, on March 20, 2014? Or, that there are currently over 12-million bitcoins in circulation with an approximate creation rate of 25-bitcoins every ten minutes. The total supply is capped at the arbitrary limit of 21 million, and every four years the creation rate is halved. This means new bitcoins will continue to be released for more than a hundred years. Continue reading for more interesting facts.

5. Satoshi Nakamoto

Bitcoin was first mentioned in a 2008 paper published under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. In early 2009, the first open source client (or wallet software), called Bitcoin-Qt, was released and the first bitcoins were issued. Shortly after, a feature in the software was exploited and large numbers of bitcoins were created, due, in large part, because Bitcoin-Qt was the only software that facilitated bitcoin transactions and mining. Since then, the bitcoin open-source software has been maintained and enhanced by a group of core developers and other contributors.

4. $4-million Pizza

The first real-world Bitcoin transaction took place on May 21, 2010 when Laszlo Hanyecz, a programmer living in Florida, transferred 10,000 bitcoin (BTC) to a volunteer in England, who then spent about $25 to order Hanyecz some Papa John's. Hanyecz then uploaded the image above as proof that the transaction had been successfully completed. Today, those pizzas would be worth $4-million or more.

3. FBI Owns Largest Bitcoin Wallet

In September 2013, the FBI shut down the infamous Silk Road online drug marketplace, and seized Bitcoins Belonging to the Dread Pirate Roberts - the operator of the illicit online marketplace, who they say is an American man named Ross Ulbricht. The department now controls over 144,000 Bitcoins that reside at a bitcoin address that consolidates much of the seized Silk Road Bitcoins. Those 144,000 bitcoins are worth more than $100 million.

2. The Great Heist

The world's largest bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, collapsed into bankruptcy earlier this year - and the disappearance of $460 million, reportedly stolen by hackers, and another $27.4 million missing from its bank accounts - came as little surprise to people who had knowledge of the Tokyo-based company's inner workings. reports that "CEO and majority stake holder, Mark Karpeles, a man who was more of a computer coder than a chief executive and yet was sometimes distracted even from his technical duties when they were most needed."

1. James Howells

James Howells missing hard drive contains 7,500 bitcoins. It sat in a drawer for years and he'd forgotten that it contained bitcoins, which he obtained in 2009 for almost nothing, when he threw it out. A few years ago Mr Howells, who works in IT, had dismantled his computer after spilling a drink on it.