The Internet is full of invaluable information. It is also full of valuable information. And useless information. And misinformation.
I’m not talking about the Fake News that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue as though it’s some great revelation. (I guess for a lot of people it is.) The news has been full of shit since CNN went 24/7. I’m talking about ratings and reviews.
By now, everybody know that most Amazon reviews are bullshit and bought in bulk, typically from some typing pool in Southeast Asia. With books (mainly ebooks), it’s gotten to the point that reviews and ratings on Amazon are utterly useless. Especially, but not exclusively, in the self-published arena.
Then there are the “product review websites” that claim to be there to help consumers make informed decisions about their purchases. They are nothing more than link farms aimed at getting as many affiliate click-through purchases as possible.
Most of these sites are fairly obvious to spot, especially if they long URL’s peppered with hyphens, something like w*w.the-best-bluetooth-adapters.com. But, of course, the Fake Review Sites have had to up their game. They’ve gotten better at masking the smell of their bullshit.
The mother of all Fake Review Sites, Top Ten Reviews, makes a great effort to look credible. They put “real-looking” content on their sites, but you’ll never find a recommendation to NOT buy something. Every product they review fits the bill for someone. (Unfortunately, a couple years ago the Top Ten Reviews parent company acquired Tom’s Hardware, a once good site.)
To make matters worse, Google, the Internet’s convenience store, puts these Fake Review Sites front and centre like candy in a point-of-purchase display. It gets harder and harder to find genuine, critical reviews when the Internet’s vanguard, skipper and bully is pushing fake ones down our throats.
Yesterday, I did a Google search for “best bluetooth adapter”. The top result, out of almost 8 million, was a website I’d never heard of before. So i clicked to see what they had to say.
It was a very simple blog, but had a clean layout and appeared to have real content. But it didn’t take long to realize the content wasn’t real at all. It could very well not even be original content, given the prevalence of text spinners nowadays. There is even a WordPress plugin that spins someone else’s content into “your own”. This is the State Of The Internet today.
Looking at this website’s selection of best bluetooth adapters, it was #2 that sounded the alarm bells. After a recommendation for Plugable (a “real” company), it then recommends an adapter from Costech. I thought Costech, hmm. I’m not too familiar with them. There’s a reason for that. I left the following comment on the site, but (unsurprisingly) it was not approved.
This article is disingenuous at best, a scam at worst. Costech is NOT a real manufacturer. There is no such thing as a “Costech adapter”. It is simply an online company that buys buckets of USB dongles off some OEM on Alibaba then has “Costech” printed on them. I reckon this entire website is nothing more than page after page of articles pointing to any and all products on Amazon trying to scrounge together revenue through affiliate links.
I’m not looking at the past through rose coloured glasses. There have always been advertisers peddling their products everywhere and every chance they get. At sporting events, at the cinema, on television, on the side of the highway, in magazines, in newspapers, in movies, even at schools. And trying to come across as authentic and genuine is nothing new. Those actors with “not an actor” below their fake names in infomercials have been around for a very long time.
This is just a rant. It’s up to the individual to separate fact from fiction. It’s up to the consumer to identify bullshit. It would just be nice if there wasn’t so much bullshit to wade through.
Hopefully, someone with more technical prowess than myself will create a browser or plugin that blocks out the bullshit. Because Google certainly doesn’t care. Bullshit is their bread and butter.