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Amazon Upgrades Its Review Software, Keeps Banana Slicer Reviews Intact

Some things shouldn't change.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Amazon is giving its reviews system an overhaul, using new software it says will surface more helpful commentary from buyers.

The company says it is using machine learning to provide more frequent, more useful updates to reviews on its U.S. site. Among other things, that means that more recent reviews will show up near the top of a product listing, and a product’s five-star review score may change more often.

Via CNET: “The new system will give more weight to newer reviews, reviews from verified Amazon purchasers and those that more customers vote up as being helpful. A product’s 5-star rating, which previously was a pure average of all reviews, will also become weighted using those same criteria.”

While Amazon doesn’t mention this, it’s also reasonable to assume that the company hopes the overhaul will help push down bogus reviews, a problem that has long plagued the site but which it usually doesn’t want to talk about.

All of which sounds good to me, as long as Amazon doesn’t crack down on one of its most excellent, and un-Amazonian features: Spectacular reviews for mundane/moronic products, like the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer, the Mountain Three Wolf Moon shirt</a, and the discontinued AudioQuest K2 Terminated Speaker Cable, which cost $13,000 and may have generated some of the Internet’s finest work.

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