Pages on the wiki about businesses, organizations, events, and government agencies will eventually accumulate reviews. People will leave both positive and negative comments, and the quality of those comments will range greatly as well. If you are a business owner, try reading the quick start guide.
Critical Thinking 101 (Use Common Sense)
The reviews you read here are worth what you paid to see them. As you're assessing the usefulness of a comment someone has left on a page, ask yourself:
- Is the review all negative or all positive?
- Does it point out both good and bad points?
- Does it use proper English? Does the reviewer use slang or profanity?
- Does the reviewer complain about service, but you can feel his or her attitude in the review?
A high quality review will almost read like a story. The reviewer will tell you the story of his or her patronage, pointing out both good and bad and giving you a context for the valuation.
Learning more about the Reviewer
So how do you know who the person who left the review is? Can you trust this reviewer? If the reviewer used his or her real name then it is a little easier, but even without that you can learn some things. Look at the username; does it have a dotted underline or a solid? Dotted usernames indicate that the person hasn't created a personal page on the wiki yet. Click on the name and then click Info and User's Info. How many edits has he or she made? Check a few—is this reviewer just a negative person in general?
Why do people leave reviews? More have motivation to leave negative reviews than positive for any business. Some may want you to give your business to either the business that the page features, or another one.
Remember the aphorisms about customer service and the ratio between how many people a satisfied customer will tell, versus one who feels mistreated.
Why Negative Reviews aren't Deleted
Reviews are not deleted just because they are negative reviews. They may contain some useful information (even if it is information about the person who left the review). That is not to say reviews are never deleted; personal attacks on private individuals or "hit and run" reviews (made by an account created just to post a negative review) are generally removed. The remaining ones are the opinions of the community and are generally protected as such.
Another form of questionable review is somebody who makes an account just to slam a single subject. The reviewer might be named "AcmePharmacySucks." These reviews are often deleted and the person encouraged to post under his or her real name (or a regularly used pen name). It's seldom that you run into an actual Mr. or Ms. Sucks.
If something has gathered a large number of reviews over the years, older reviews are generally archived to let the more recent reviews be more prominent, as these best reflect the current community view of the subject.
How to spot Fake Reviewers
Reviews should reflect the opinion of real people. Some wiseguys create a number of accounts and try to appear to "be a crowd." These bogus accounts are generally referred to as "sockpuppets", and experienced editors can usually spot them fairly quickly. Picture if you will Shari Lewis holding Lamb Chop. Look for edits being made from different accounts from the same IP address, but be aware that roommates can discover the wiki and legitimate posts be made from the same IP.
Recent court settlements point to this kind of activity not only being illegal, but also being actively prosecuted.