The Truth in Two Stars

Shopping isn’t what it used to be. Once upon a time we bought shiny packages with no more information than that which was printed on the box. If the box said it was the best remote control monster truck helicopter submarine on the market, well, we just had to hope that it really was.


Now, we read reviews. With our smart telephones we can access reviews on just about anything wherever we like. Advertisers know this, which is why they sometimes push to get positive reviews of their products or negative reviews of the opposition.

Does this make online reviews worthless?

Not really, but you need to be aware of what you’re reading. Here is how I break it down. Based on the number of stars a person can pretty easily see what the reviewer is likely saying about themselves.

  • 5 Stars – “I have been paid to give a great review, I am the author’s mother, or I am som sort of crazy fanatic for this product.”
  • 4 Stars – “I have no real opinion about this, but a lot of other people seem to like it so I guess I’ll give it a 4.”
  • 3 Stars – “I had some serious issues with this product, but I’m actually too nice to give anything a bad review. Also, I don’t know how to refuse when Amazon asks me nicely to rate a product.”
  • 2 Stars – “I really wanted to like this, but for some reason the product did not fit my intended usage.”
  • 1 Star – “I have been paid to trash this product, I am a raging ball of hate, or I did a horrible job of reading the existing reviews and ordered something that is so completely different from my intended usage that nothing can salvage its value for me.” Or “I absolutely hated this book, but read the entire thing, anyway. There is something seriously wrong with me because no sane person would do that.”

In case you can’t tell, I read the two star reviews when I want to know about a product. I read reviews critically, though. You didn’t like a book because there was too much magic? Well, I love magic, so I might buy that book. Those earbuds didn’t work because they were too big for your ears? Well, they might just fit my gigantic head-holes. It’s all just a matter of perspective, but I find that the two star reviews are the best place to find that sort of information.

Also, whenever I review something, I give it a four. So, I guess that tells you how helpful my reviews tend to be.

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