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Amazon is updating its ratings system to make it more useful

Amazon says it’s rolling out an update to its ratings and reviews system that means more useful reviews are given greater weight in the overall score. According to a report by CNET, the e-commerce site is going to prioritize newer reviews, reviews left by verified purchasers, and reviews that have been upvoted by other users.

“The system will learn what reviews are most helpful to customers … and it improves over time,” Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law told CNET in an interview. “It’s all meant to make customer reviews more useful… [so] people see things and know it reflects the current product experience.” In other words, your opinions on a particular gizmo can’t be influenced too much by out-of-date reviews from five years ago.

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For now the new system is limited to the U.S. arm of Amazon and the company hasn’t said whether the rest of the world will be getting the revamped ratings and reviews technology — it sounds like Amazon is going to wait and see what the reaction is in the States first before going any further. User reviews are a hugely important part of the site and the firm won’t want to make any changes without a lot of testing and feedback.

As a result of the changes you might start to see star ratings shifting on a more frequent basis as new reviews come in and other reviews are given more votes. In theory it sounds like the changes are going to make the user reviews section more useful to prospective purchasers, but we’ll need to see how it works in reality before making a final judgment.

Amazon says the new approach will also make more sense when products are given a small upgrade but the listing page stays the same — it means the reviews and star ratings are more likely to reflect the new version of whatever’s being listed rather than the old one.

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