Zappos Uses Mechanical Turk To Correct Spelling/Grammar Errors In Reviews... And It Increases Sales

from the fascinating dept

Boing Boing points us to a fantastic story about how Zappos uses Mechanical Turk to fix grammar and spelling mistakes in product reviews. You see, research shows that if a product has well-written reviews, that helps sales -- even when the reviews are negative. The more well-written the reviews, the more people trust them. But, of course, on the internet, you get all sorts of grammatical and spelling errors (I should know, I make both all the time). So, to deal with that, Zappos runs its reviews through Mechanical Turk and lets the "crowd" act as its editor. There's no specific data, but apparently Zappos claims that this resulted in "substantial" revenue improvement, for a cost of a few hundred thousand dollars (across 5 million reviews). The corrections never change the actual intent of the content. They just make sure it's in proper English. I wonder what would happen if we did that for all posts and comments here...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Simple - you would call down Grammar Nazi, the English tweed-wearing, pipe-smoking superhero.

     

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  2.  
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    DH's Love Child (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:13pm

    My guess

    They just make sure it's in proper English. I wonder what would happen if we did that for all posts and comments here...

    My presiction is that darryl's head would finnally (sic) explode after seeing the extensive rewrites of his allways (sic) thotful (sic) expositions. But I digress...

     

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  3.  
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    DH's Love Child (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    Re: My guess

    Shit.. apparently I need it too. my PREDICTION. *sigh*

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Scote, May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    Editing the reviews to be more trustworthy is fraud.

    Grammar, punctuation and style are part of how we decide if a review is credible. For Zappos to artificially inflate the credibility of reviews by changing those qualities is a form of fraud IMO.

     

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  5.  
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    A Dan (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:16pm

    Effect on this site

    I don't think it would make much of a difference. People here are generally well-spoken (well-written?) and the stories are quite readable.

    I wonder if the sight would start to loose readers if are comments got worse.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Re:

    Maybe we need copyright hero to save us from grammar Nazi.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Effect on this site

    don't confuse lose and loose.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Effect on this site

    WHOOSH!!!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    I always think it's a shill if it's too well written or too lengthy.

     

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  10.  
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    Gwiz (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    Simple - you would call down Grammar Nazi, the English tweed-wearing, pipe-smoking superhero.

    NO ADJECTIVES FOR YOU! COME BACK ONE YEAR! NEXT!

     

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  11.  
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    Matthew (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re:

    Copyright Hero™ and Grammar Nazi™ are both Registered Trademarks of Inaction Comics™ and their use is not authorized in this discussion. Please cease and desist any invocation of these or any other intellectual properties of Inaction Comics™ or we will be forced to seek legal remedy.

     

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  12.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:04pm

    I am an active member of the Creative Spelling and Punctuation Society.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:04pm

    Techdurt; why u no doo dis fur heer?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Better idea

    Thou shouldith replacee everything withee olde thymee spellings methinks.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Your just going to get lame jokes from people who think there funny.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Re:

    *you're

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Mike42 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Editing the reviews to be more trustworthy is fraud.

    U R A Dorque, IMHO. An a winey 1 at taht.

     

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  18.  
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    Squirrel Brains (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    I am an Turker

    I will admit that I am a Turker and I have seem a couple of HITs for Zappos. I don't need the money. I am just fascinated with the concept and am interested in seeing out people use it. What a better way than to join up? It is like small mini-games you play in your favorite RPG... well... tedious mini-games that aren't really that fun. Everyday I see some new and interesting ways people are trying to use the tool.

    I have also noticed that if anything offers more than a $1.00 to do, it is probably a scam (yes, there are a lot of scams on there for the unsuspecting Turk).

    The most fascinating one I have run across is one for a jewelry auction site. You're suppose to go to the site and bid up three actions. If you end up winning, the requester will compensate you up to $20.

     

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  19.  
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    Joe, May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    Well we need a control group. How about we put all the comments here through the English to 12 year old AOLer translator.

    http://ssshotaru.homestead.com/files/aolertranslator.html

    Oh wait, YouTube already does that...

     

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  20.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re: My guess

    My presiction is that darryl's head would finnally (sic) explode after seeing the extensive rewrites of his allways (sic) thotful (sic) expositions. But I digress...

    The first thing I thought of when reading the last sentence of Mike's post was, "Don't do that, then people might actually think Darryl has cognitive reasoning!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Greg G (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re:

    and *they're

     

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  22.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re:

    And it's "they're" as in a contraction of "they are."

    You're welcome. See it's easy to use contractions. Whoops there I go again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: My guess

    Damn! Does Turk handle HTML formating gaffs?

     

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  24.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Effect on this site

    Don't confuse humor with actual intended content.

    The last sentence was a test, and you failed miserably. Especially for only calling out one of the several errors.

     

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  25.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Aw, man you beat me to it by being brief, and now I look like I don't refresh my page before I post.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    There's no specific data, but apparently Zappos claims that this resulted in "substantial" revenue improvement, for a cost of a few hundred thousand dollars (across 5 million reviews).

    Says a company too lazy to figure out how the border works. Heh.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Sambo, May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:07pm

    I am sure that the RIAA and MPAA are working on a similar program.

    It will work something like this:

    The words 'share' & 'copy' will automatically become 'steal, stolen or theft'.

    'Community' becomes 'thieving criminal bastards'

    'Fair use' becomes 'child abuse/r'

    All negative comments will be permanently changed to:

    'The RIAA/MPAA are your family. File sharing hurts your family. You are putting corn farmers out of work and
    with the reduction of revenue available for our hand-picked, talent-free (but good looking don't you think? Have you seen that little girl Justin Bieber? Whoa!) Pop superstars - the makers of Autotune are struggling to survive.

    Resistance is futile'

     

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  28.  
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    sehlat (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:16pm

    Please define "proper" English?

    Aussie: G'day, mate!

    Southern USA: Y'all listen up.

    Upper-Class England: (phonetic) Of course the mawb wouldn't understahnd propeh English.

    Cockney: Where 'ave all the aitches gone?

    Tech Support: (sing-song) I speak proper english very good, sir.

    The world teems with examples.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's the joke.

    That's also what I get for trying a different angle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ahhh. I see I wasn't clever enough to get the joke. I guess since that same joke had been used several times already in this thread I assumed you were being serious. Very good. Carry on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:48pm

    "Proper" English is also known as Queen's English, or recieved pronunciation.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    "There's no specific data,"

    And we can stop right there, because there is no way to quantify this report's causality AT ALL.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I was being totally being meta. Yeah, that's a good explanation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And we all know how much Inaction Comics™ hates to be forced to do stuff...

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 4:58pm

    Wat are you're porobelem wit mi englishh?

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 10:41pm

    Re:

    y u no use f7

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 11:53pm

    Re: Re:

    wat ish f7?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Dohn Joe, May 4th, 2011 @ 8:48pm

    I go now...

    I wud nevir powst on yur blawg evur aggen!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Androgynous Cowherd, May 8th, 2011 @ 10:25pm

    Mental note to self: in future, introduce intentional misspellings and poor grammar into negative reviews of products, else those reviews will have opposite of intended effect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    geoffandersontop, Jun 25th, 2011 @ 4:29am

    Mechanical Turk is okay but all the jobs are way under minimum wages. I make cash in Varolo by letting other people do the work for me. Takes a few weeks before I got critical mass but now it grow by itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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