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Review Checker and Vine Voice

Making moves

(I posted this on reddit earlier today, but was informed I would be better served to post it here.)


Although I have been a long-time FF user, today I saw for the first time the implementation of Review Checker. As a member of the Amazon Vine Voice program I was eager to see how the program's (ie, Review Checker) creators had approached reviews from folks like myself. To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement.

Whatever prejudices the human creators of the so-called AI driving this feature transferred to the code should be re-evaluated. Whether they're born of ignorance or malice or some combination in between, the entire purpose of the program must be called into question if such an important part of the Amazon review process is in error.

Specifically, what I found was any product page that had more than a couple of Vine Voice reviews received an F. It is statistically improbable that so many products could contain so many reviews with the assumption that those reviews were somehow tainted with criteria which calls their veracity into question. So, in an effort to offer some factual basis from which to begin, allow me to explain the program.

  1. No one outside of Amazon knows how the algorithms are structured which identify those who get an invite. I am a retired Physician Assistant who has grandchildren and typically very busy on projects in and around our home. I like to stay busy. Through the years I submitted many reviews for many different products (and, ironically, those reviews would pass muster under your stated FAQs even though they are no different than how I do things now).

  2. There are two levels, silver and gold. Silver level is the ability to pick three items per day none of which can exceed $100. Gold level can choose 8 items per day for any amount. We have no idea how many or which products are going to be available. Sometimes it's 30,000, sometimes twice that much. Everyone is placed on silver level for six months then, if they meet certain criteria, can choose to go to gold level.

  3. At no time are we ever influenced as to how we should rate an item. I have given out plenty of 1 and 2 star reviews if the product warrants that rating. Also, just like anyone else, we can later edit or annotate a review if the product fails or develops a problem. I have done that several times. If a seller attempts to contact us (which they do, but only rarely) about a low review, we are instructed to not communicate with them and they can be disciplined by Amazon if they persist. To the seller, the product is shipped just as it is to a regular customer. So there is no, nada, zilch influence from any seller for any item.

  4. When free is not free. When one sees a VV review they will be notified that the item was "free" to the reviewer. This is and is not correct. From Amazon's point of view it is correct, which they use as write-offs for tax purposes. But for the member reviewers, we must agree to receive an IRS tax form which shows the item amounts as taxable income. While it is true we don't pay full price, we do have to keep self-employed business records and are responsible for paying tax on that income.

  5. Reviews are a cut above. Here's the irritating rub at Review Checker. My reviews are thorough and they almost always include pictures to help with spatial understanding, instructions, points of interest, flaws, poor machining or construction, proper use, etc. Occasionally I will use videos as do other members. I can't vouch for all VV members and I realize some do the bare minimum to stay in the program, but to stereotype all of us is exceptionally lazy thinking.

I would end by stating and reiterating--if you don't make appropriate changes in the AI programming you might as well just trash it as it is misguiding and misleading people and cannot and should not be considered a dependable source of reference.