How to understand Amazon user reviews


For being such a giant online store that is much based around the user reviews and we all know that first hand feedback from an actual person weights a lot more than what the manufacturer says about his own product. So how to understand that 5-star based ranking that you and anyone can give to products without spending days reading all the reviews and how to grade them in order to understand what they mean.

In the era where you think “online shopping” and one of the first words that comes to your head is go and check for prices, similar products and specially reading the user reviews to see how that particular product works and if is worth the price.

Please understand that there is not such a thing as the perfect product and there will be always users that had a bad experience with any particular item. But the good and the bad in the feedback is always valuable so you can have all the information about problems that may arise with time. But there is also users that are mostly the “hater” that always bash on products based on pure personal ideas and nothing to do with first hand experiences or maybe as with everything they had a faulty product and even if in most cases it would get a replacement from the seller (even happened to me once) and they just want to criticize based in the first experience and not the actual functional replacement they got and for them doesn’t even matter if at the end the item does what was advertised.

So here some explanation of what everything means:


Before we start talking about the user reviews lest talk about something called “most helpful review” and this is calculated based in the feedback readers give at the end of each review so even if the review is old but people keep find it very detailed and useful because was well written and gives a lot of detail then is going to be featured first in the product’s main page because it has a lot of things that you have to know about that particular item so Amazon wants you to read it before you decide to make your purchase.


Star Rating: this is the average in all the ratings and honestly even though a high rating here means the product is good sometimes is not enough because it has way too mixed rating even though the average is high.

amazon-rating-perfectcurveThere this is kind of curve in the reviews that means the overall rating means that shows what I call the perfect curve because even though there is few low star reviews the good ones are far more and shows most of the buyers were seriously happy with the purchase and even if they had problems where not that big to give a low star.
cThe mixed rating with high average rating with over 4 or 4.5 star you can see it has more 1 star ratings than 4 star. Shows the product had serious problems and maybe bad quality controls and one should be careful when selecting this kind item. Not that is seriously bad but sometimes when they release a product have some kind of manufacture problem that can easily be corrected and the goods replaced to the early adopters.
There is also other things that have to be taken in to account when reading individual reviews because not everybody should be weighted the same even if they gave the same rating or even if they are the longest review written for that particular item.

First we have the high rating verified purchase


This means the user bough the item from Amazon and they are highly satisfied with the purchase. One of the best kind of review because it proves that the person was exposed to first hand experience and the website guarantees that this after they actually bough it from them. But a thing that should be weighted is how many reviews that particular user have and what kind of reviews he usually writes. For example if you visit my own reviews you will note that most of them are about photography related items because is what I do for living and besides few reviews from items that I got somewhere else or where gifts like a lens that I bough from somewhere else and wrote a review, all of my reviews have a verified purchase tag. Even though a lot of what I buy is left without review because most of them already have a ton of great ones such as Nikkor lenses so no point to write about it.

You should always check if the user has only that particular review and gives an outstanding feedback and praise the built quality and how happy is with that purchase then you should not give that much of a credit because there will be always companies trying to push their products. Not saying all the users with a single review are shady but sometimes is better go to more experienced reviewers that have more facts to share and more involved in a particular area. Just like a chef would give a most useful review about a knife set or cooking utensils.

The low rating not verified


Some people (like myself) want to write about items that were bough somewhere else and want to give others advise before they fork out some money if there is something bad they had to know beforehand.

I tend to take this kind with a grain of salt because even if they give a detailed description of what’s wrong about it sometimes, specially in the internet tend to base their judgement in reviews and experiences the read somewhere else. For that reason those extreme negative ratings are not that important when you are trying to average all the good reviews about any specific product.

High rating not verified and without the “Real Name” tag


Something I have noted about this kind of review with high score without verified purchase tag and from a user that does not show its real name tend to be very short and praise the product as the solution the mankind was expecting and most of the time never mention a single flaw whatsoever. Even if they do have the product and got it from somewhere else then go to Amazon to write about it still have to read a bit more reviews in the product page to see if more people are saying the exact same thing.

Multimedia content

Well this category is a bit more complicated because imagine you buy the latest summer blockbuster but when you put the disk in your player you discover they didn’t include any extras or behind the scenes in it. Then you go back to Amazon and give a extremely low rating just based in the fact that it was just the movie and no interesting original content included. Even if you loved the movie and would watch it again and again (Like me with Wedding Crashers) you write 3 paragraph just saying how much you did wasted your money and your time purchasing such a great movie that you are still going to enjoy but based in something that has nothing to do with the movie itself but because no add-ons were included.

So if you happen to read one of those reviews you know that it is impossible to please everybody and no matter how good is the final movie/tv show because people have different taste. I’d rather go to a specialized movie site such as IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes and read what critics say and what people in those sites are saying because both of them will have average of both ratings giving you a better idea of what to expect. Even though most of the time I think “professional critics” just hate most of the movies I love, so don’t take them too seriously.

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