People Feel Compelled To Give Away Reviews Online

from the just-can't-help-it dept

One of the most useful features of Amazon are all the book reviews from other readers. I use reader reviews all the time in deciding whether or not to buy certain books. The Seattle Times is now looking at why people give up so much free time and free content writing reviews. For some, it’s almost an obsession. They even quote someone who realizes that his 664 reviews on Epinions are practically a book’s worth – and he’s not getting any royalties for all that work that Epinions now uses to sell ads. Of course, this is the general economics of the web. The market for this guy’s reviews when he starts out is basically none (other than a few friends and family, who are unlikely to pay for them). Online sites give this guy a place for his reviews that gets them attention. He wouldn’t have any attention without those sites. Now, if he’s used the free content of all of his reviews, and has a following, perhaps he can now take that fame and leverage it for a paying gig – such as writing a book or creating his own reviews website where he can sell ads or something else along those lines (or maybe not). But without giving away the free content, he has nothing. At the same time, there’s a wide variety of competition out there, made up of lots of others giving reviews as well – all for free (or close to free). Therefore, the market has set the price fairly low for these reviews on their own.

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Comments on “People Feel Compelled To Give Away Reviews Online”

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Tony Lawrence (user link) says:

It's no always money

Money isn’t always the driving force. For some, being “famous” (however limited) is important enough to drive them.

My website is a money making venture, but it didn’t start out that way, and someday, when I retire, that part will be far less important once again. I’ll keep doing it because I enjoy it – which is just why people write reviews for Amazon (and I’ve done some of those myself).

Frank says:

No Subject Given

But the point isn’t that these people are creating content for free and enjoying it. It’s that the company is taking all their work, making money off it in various ways, and the people who contributed the content get nothing. It’s kind of like the way people contribute all their personal information to a dating site, then have to pay a hefty subscription fee to access each other’s e-mail addresses, which they gave the site for free! I have no problem putting free content on my own web site, but I’m not stupid enough to just give it to a company that’s using it to make money for themselves. It’s not a charity you’re contributing to, after all.

Beck says:

Is it Worth Money?

How many times do you read a review by someone who exclaims “I bought this camera yesterday and I love it!”

Is that review valuable? Is it worth as much as a review from someone who has been using the device for three months and can include information about problems or good points that might not be apparent immediately?

Who can determine whether a review is worth the price paid for it?

Frank says:

Re: Is it Worth Money?

I understand there are commercial sites that can’t pay users for submitted reviews because they publish any and all reviews. I’m fine with that. I just think that people who write really detailed reviews for those sites are letting themselves get used. I wrote in-depth reviews for a print magazine a while back because they paid me. For this site I’ll only spend a couple minutes writing a post because I’m not being paid for it and it’s a vehicle for Techdirt’s commercial intelligence venture. Why would I spend a crapload of time on a CNET review when they’re going to slap a banner ad or affiliate link over my writing? I don’t profit from that.

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