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They tell us what to buy, but who are Amazon’s elite product reviewers and why do they do it?

They are the familiar faces of the world’s largest online retailer, the voices of reason we rely upon to make sense of everything from Shakespeare to sleeping bags.  

But who are Amazon’s top reviewers, why do they invest the massive effort required to review tens of thousands of products, and how are changes at Amazon changing the way these reviewers help us decide what to buy?

In the first academic study of its kind, we examine the elite class of top-thousand Amazon reviewers by conducting a detailed survey with a subset of 166 of these top reviewers. The study, examines everything from age, gender and education (typically middle-aged, male and master’s degree), to the motives and concerns of this volunteer corps who’ve helped drive Amazon’s growth from quaint virtual bookstore to the planet’s most valuable retail brand. 

The study was carried out just as Amazon introduced a new way of ranking its reviewers causing much consternation as some fell dramatically in the rankings. We ask why it is that Amazon has changed its ranking system at this time and we elicit the top reviewers responses to this change. 

Our study holds an assumption and asks a question: the assumption is that there are no free lunches. So how come Amazon has managed to persuade so many people to give them the morsels from which they have built one of the biggest free lunches ever? That is the question.  

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Amazon Gets Free Lunch  891k v. 1 Jun 12, 2011, 10:35 PM Aunt Ammy