Why you can’t find washing machine reviews online

In a MetaFilter discussion about dodgy reviews – basically press release blurb being passed off as an independent review – MeFi user JonnySeveral made an interesting point:

this presents a neat little example of the sort of poisoning of the internet information well that seems to becoming SOP now…

There are two predominant ways in which corporations appear to be subverting the greater availability of information on the internet. The first is by model spamming, whereby huge ranges of products with marginally different model numbers are released making obtaining information about any particular one much more difficult. As an example, go into a camera shop and you will find that many of the models (particularly budget ones) have absolutely no information available about them online.

The second strategy pursued is the one of which this incident would appear to be an example: get a tame website to pass off PR as a review. This one looks to be a particularly lazy attempt – the repeated mentions of the manufacturer and model seem designed for SEO, but there was almost no attempt to disguise this piece’s origin, or even make it read like anything other than PR fluff.

This is particularly dangerous in the age of the User Review, when so many of these tend to skew positive as people seek to justify their purchases and have so little with which to compare

The model number thing rings true: whenever I’ve tried to research white goods, which suffer particularly badly from this, I’ve given up in disgust. Between that and content-free AdSense pages stuffed with model numbers, it’s almost impossible to research some products online.