Amazon is reportedly changing how it displays customer reviews on product pages in the U.S. It's using machine learning to figure out which reviews are most helpful to users, and giving those more weight in the algorithm. It's also putting more weight on newer reviews.
This is according to a report from CNET, which interviewed Amazon spokesperson Julie Law about it. According to her, the system will "learn what reviews are most helpful to customers," and "improve over time" to "make customer reviews more useful".
The new system, which also influences products' star ratings, apparently went into effect on Friday, though it may not be noticeable by many right away. Products' star ratings are expected to change more frequently due to the way reviews are now weighted. CNET's Ben Fox Rubin reports:
The new platform was something the company looked at "very closely" before instituting, Law said, though she declined to say how long Amazon had been developing it.
"It's just meant to make things that much more useful," Law said, "so people see things and know it reflects the current product experience."
While it's still early, I suspect we'll be hearing a lot of feedback from people who have products listed on the site. Reviews - especially the ones that are most visible - can make or break a product's sales, and I'll be surprised if we don't see some anger arise from this.
Ultimately, the system should better serve customers if it works as it's supposed to, but anytime there's a major change like this that has a direct effect on others' ability to make money, there's almost always a built-in controversy. We'll see how this one plays out.
Image via Amazon