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Old 01-13-10, 02:58 PM  
pumptmuscle
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by roz View Post
...Collage does not just post positive reviews. There are plenty of negative ones there.
Roz is right, there are plenty of negative reviews on Collage.

The problem with reviews on any site is establishing how credible they really are. One thing I can say about Amazon is that I believe their reviews are legit (for the most part). I've been using their reviews lately to determine whether I'd like some dvds, fitness and otherwise, and I see a lot of negative reviews for some. If amazon was doctoring them, I don't believe the negative reviews would be seen as frequently as I've seen them.

There is one thing I'm wondering though. Is there anything fundamentally wrong (aside from ethically) with posting someone else's review? I've never done it before...but I have had it happen to me a few times years ago. I wasn't happy about it but it wasn't very important to me that it happened. Even if a disclaimer is posted on a website warning against copied reviews, what can (and should?) be done about it? You can write a review on Collage anonymously (e.g. without having to be a member) so how enforceable are any proposed punishments for copied reviews?

At least on VF, if a review is copied, that member could be banned (but could still join later under another name). I hope it goes without saying that I'm not justifying this at all and I think, for the most part, it's unethical but I think it's something that at best, only could be regulated. Looked at this another way, imitation does tend to be the sincerest form of flattery so maybe they just copied the review because they agreed with it. Maybe it was written well grammatically so it was copied because of how it was stated. Maybe the copier wasn't intellectually capable of writing such a well written review so that was why they copied it.

Again, I don't condone copying reviews and I've never done it (I've never even written a formal review here) but I always like to look at things from both sides of an issue. Sometimes playing devil's advocate can show an alternate way of perceiving something. While copying another person's review, at least without acknowledging you got it from them in it, could be deemed ethically wrong, it could be seen in a positive way and may have even been done as a compliment. As long as you agree with what they stated, which you'd obviously do if it was copied verbatim, is it that big of a deal?

The only way I'd see posting reviews to be a major issue is if someone posted a negative or fallacious review and attached your name to it, potentially damaging your credibility. Other than that, the only things stolen are time, thoughts and possibly diction. Unless you're getting money for the review; in which case, it would be potential plagiarism; it's probably best to just let it go. Bottom line is that it's never going to stop so try not to let it get to you if/when it happens.
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Old 01-13-10, 06:08 PM  
KathAL79
 
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Bob, I appreciate your effort to look for the silver lining in all of this, but I'd like to point out some of what has me steaming mad about this situation, because personally I consider this to be more serious than other folks might, and I'd like to explain why.

One important point to consider is that posts from the forum are being selectively edited and presented as official reviews. [ETA: I'm not saying VF posts are somehow not legit reviews but rather that people aren't intended for them to be used as official reviews.] They are not being copied and pasted as originally written. So this isn't about people looking for articulate reviews; it's about people digging for things they can use to promote their products. Think of those movie posters with "very...amazing" credited to a famous critic, who original wrote, "This movie is so very bad it's amazing anyone would pay to watch it."
In addition, proper credit is, for the most part, not being given. At least one person has found her words under a name not her own. Some of the Amazon editorial reviews are credited to "videofitness.com," not, for example, "KathAL79, a regular ol' videofitness.com member whose opinion shouldn't matter any more than any other poster at the site." I'm with Wendy in finding it uncomfortable seeing the opinion of one of our many, many members presented as representative of the entire community, even if it is well written or nicely put.

Many of us who have our backs up about the lack of permission are academics, and the issue of plagiarism is always on our minds. My time is worth something to me, and if someone copies my work without my permission or giving me proper credit, I firmly believe they're stealing my work. I spend days on papers or hours on reviews or even minutes on posts, and I'd be upset to see anyone using my words from any of those without my permission.
By the way, plagiarism does not only apply to situations in which someone receives financial compensation. I consider copying and pasting passages from Wikipedia into a class paper that's only seen by a teacher as much an example of plagiarism as copying and pasting passages from a multi-million dollar study's report into a proposal that wins millions of dollars.

Yes, the internet is a different animal, but it doesn't have to be a free for all. Basic laws of human decency should still apply. Just because you can doesn't mean you should...

I agree that it's frustrating that there's little that we can do to punish folks caught for stealing our words online. In academia quoting someone without proper credit or doctoring data or bullying people into giving good reviews is grounds for dismissal and/or discrediting. And yet there are PR people or instructors or whoever running around doing pretty much the same thing who might at most get an email asking them to stop (and, yes, all of this is not lost on some of our plagiarizing students, who don't see what the big deal is).

As you mentioned, a falsified review need not be negative to hurt a person's reputation. A seemingly positive review of a terrible product or even a highly edited review that misrepresents someone's true feelings and/or knowledge could be just as damning. Let's say that someone is a certified fitness instructor and finds that her post has been turned into a glowing review. If in doing so the review doesn't accurately reflect her position on or knowledge about the product (say, by leaving out any negatives or misinterpreting a criticism as a positive), it could make her look foolish or even ignorant.

And you're right that it's sadly hard - and increasingly so - to determine the credibility of reviews. There have been accusations of falsified, manipulated, or otherwise fraudulent review practices at Amazon as well as at other sites with consumer reviews. Some major categories include
- reviews from biased sources: Yes, we've had that here, too, where friends, family, associates, and class members have been asked or have taken it upon themselves to help someone. Clicking on reviewer profiles at Amazon often reveals that some of the overwhelming positive reviews of a new (especially unreleased) or otherwise unknown product come from folks who have only reviewed that product or products by that person / group / whatever. (With the new review system here at VF you can click on a reviewer's name to see all of their reviews.) We had some drive by reviews by Turbo Kick/Jam fans who were asked to tell the world about Chalene's original releases, and I can think of an example at Amazon where suddenly a bunch of reviews appeared for a yoga mat I'd been considering, which I found out came from students at a workshop who had been asked to help spread the word.
- reviews from paid sources: People do receive financial compensation for the specific purpose of writing positive reviews. This is more of an issue on sites like Yelp, however. (Yes, Amazon encourages the distribution of review copies, and most honest people are upfront about this; I know several reviewers who don't let that stop them saying what they truly feel about a product, though.)
- deletion of reviews: Companies are allowed to ask for the removal of consumer reviews they deem inappropriate (for example, someone who has obviously never seen the product ranting about how evil it is). There have been accusations that this has been abused at Amazon by someone associated with Ravi Singh & Ana Brett and with Body Wisdom Media, after the disappearance of all reviews with less than 4-5 stars (although some of the people who gripe about having reviews removed have reviews that fall into gray areas on this). Companies may also bribe or even bully consumers into deleting their own reviews. Some, however, settle for asking people to change negatives or leave them out: I know at least one person who's received a request from an instructor to change a review at Amazon (and the person refused, fortunately!).
- and last but not least are the viral campaigns, where people choose to outdo each other in reviews of specific products, as in the gallon of milk or that Three Wolves / Moon T-shirt. Yes, there's an element of fun to this, but someone looking for legitimate reviews would be at a loss.

Here are some interesting threads from The Consumerist about fraudulent review practices for other things (travel sites, other products at Amazon) that my husband brought to my attention. [ETA: Here is the Wall Street Journal on a person who was caught posting 5-star Amazon reviews of products her company made; at the time of the article she was still employed at the company. ]
Interestingly, that site also has a post on how seemingly bad reviews may not hurt as much as companies fear. As we know at VF, a well written "negative" review by a real consumer can be just as helpful as a "positive" review and may make someone realize they have to have something after all.
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Old 01-13-10, 06:30 PM  
shaka02
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Signature line?

VFers could add to their signature line something like:

"Please do not copy any portion of this post onto other websites. Any opinions stated here are mine, and do no represent the views of Videofitness.com."

It probably won't change anyone's behaviors, but at least you can feel like you made your feelings known.

/Deb
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Old 01-13-10, 07:59 PM  
suegy3
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by shaka02 View Post
VFers could add to their signature line something like:

"Please do not copy any portion of this post onto other websites. Any opinions stated here are mine, and do no represent the views of Videofitness.com."

It probably won't change anyone's behaviors, but at least you can feel like you made your feelings known.

/Deb
That's a good idea.

I still think that it's one of Lalo's people. They would directly benefit from it. Edited to add, I know that they won't be using my comments about his workout because I hated it. lol
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Old 01-13-10, 08:08 PM  
keilan00
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suegy3 View Post
I still think that it's one of Lalo's people. They would directly benefit from it. Edited to add, I know that they won't be using my comments about his workout because I hated it. lol
Maybe you should post your honest review on Collage.
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Old 01-13-10, 08:52 PM  
Janga
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
There is really very little that can be done to keep people from lifting anything posted on the internet.

In the case of posted reviews of products on sites where the products are sold, I'd never believe a word they said.

I do, however, by and large, trust Collage and do think they often get bashed more than is warranted.
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Old 01-13-10, 09:06 PM  
suegy3
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by keilan00 View Post
Maybe you should post your honest review on Collage.
LOL! I should!
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Old 01-14-10, 06:20 AM  
antbuko
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Join Date: Jun 2004
If Natural was able to request that Collage remove her plagiarized review, what's to stop Lalo from asking Collage to remove negative reviews? I wonder if Collage would accommodate such a request.

ETA: I do see some negatives on the original LaloFit DVD. I gotta mind to add my own negative review, but I can't really remember why I hated it so much. I just know I did and got rid of it in record time.
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Old 01-14-10, 09:23 AM  
WWWendy
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Northern VA, USA
Quote:
Originally Posted by KathAL79 View Post
One important point to consider is that posts from the forum are being selectively edited and presented as official reviews. [ETA: I'm not saying VF posts are somehow not legit reviews but rather that people aren't intended for them to be used as official reviews.] They are not being copied and pasted as originally written. So this isn't about people looking for articulate reviews; it's about people digging for things they can use to promote their products. Think of those movie posters with "very...amazing" credited to a famous critic, who original wrote, "This movie is so very bad it's amazing anyone would pay to watch it." In addition, proper credit is, for the most part, not being given. At least one person has found her words under a name not her own. Some of the Amazon editorial reviews are credited to "videofitness.com," not, for example, "KathAL79, a regular ol' videofitness.com member whose opinion shouldn't matter any more than any other poster at the site." I'm with Wendy in finding it uncomfortable seeing the opinion of one of our many, many members presented as representative of the entire community, even if it is well written or nicely put.
Yes, exactly! VF has a reputation for valuable reviews, based on the fact that when you aggregate dozens (or hundreds) of members' opinions and descriptions from reviews and forum postings, what emerges is usually a realistic and detailed picture of what a workout is like. That picture allows people to make a purchase decision based on their own goals and preferences. There is NO SUCH THING as an editorial review at VF (sorry for shouting) and that is not what our site is about. Selective quoting of a single member's opinion and presenting it as an "Editorial Review" from Videofitness.com has the potential over the long term to damage the community's reputation for thorough, useful reviews.
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Old 01-17-10, 07:10 PM  
Mos Nef
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I just found another copied review! I was looking at Power 90 Master Plyo Legs on Amazon, and the "Killer 'No Equipment Needed' Intense Workout" from "Shay" in Brooklyn, NY is nearly identical (although abbreviated) to the review here on VF by Dawn P. What made me notice it was the breakdown.

Amazon review: http://www.amazon.com/Power-90-Maste...owViewpoints=1

VF review: http://www.videofitness.com/reviews/horton-p90m-pl.php

The apparently copied review on Amazon is from 2008 (Dawn P's is from 2005), so this practice of copying VF reviews seems to have been going on for some time.
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