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Management article
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Reference no. R1906H
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2019
Revision date: 30-Oct-2019

Abstract

Online reviews are transforming the way consumers choose products and services of all sorts. We turn to TripAdvisor to plan a vacation, Zocdoc to find a doctor, and Yelp to choose a new restaurant. Reviews can create value for buyers and sellers alike, but only if they attain a critical level of quantity and quality. The authors describe principles for setting the incentives, design choices, and rules that help review platforms thrive. To address a shortage of reviews, companies can seed them by hiring reviewers or drawing reviews from other platforms; offer incentives; or pool products. To address selection bias, they can require reviews, allow private comments, and design prompts carefully. To combat fraudulent and strategic reviews, they can set rules for reviewers and call in moderators - whether employees, the community, or algorithms.

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Abstract

Online reviews are transforming the way consumers choose products and services of all sorts. We turn to TripAdvisor to plan a vacation, Zocdoc to find a doctor, and Yelp to choose a new restaurant. Reviews can create value for buyers and sellers alike, but only if they attain a critical level of quantity and quality. The authors describe principles for setting the incentives, design choices, and rules that help review platforms thrive. To address a shortage of reviews, companies can seed them by hiring reviewers or drawing reviews from other platforms; offer incentives; or pool products. To address selection bias, they can require reviews, allow private comments, and design prompts carefully. To combat fraudulent and strategic reviews, they can set rules for reviewers and call in moderators - whether employees, the community, or algorithms.

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