Tuesday, May 29, 2007

About the best

Is "Best-of" any good?
I have a group of friends who are concerned about how a local business was voted "best-of" by a major newspaper when, in these consumers opinion, this business was not very good in that market segment.

This particular "best-of" publication was based on reader input. If you are hip to how these reader input based "best of" publications work, it is easy to game them. For example, I was once approached by a shop that would give me a free something if I sent an email to a major area newspaper that was doing an on-line survey to determine the "best of" the market area that shop was in.

Businesses themselves even can game the system. Between yahoo, g-mail, etc it is possible for a small group of people to get a LOT of email addresses and submit a lot of "votes."

If the particular poll counts web clicks, there are illegal businesses that engage in what is called "click fraud."

Even the computer literacy of one shop's clientèle verses another shop can sway the results. If you have one shop that caters to a young/urban crowd and another shop who has a clientele that is not so computer savvy, that can sway the result. A shop who's clientèle spends more time on computers is going to do better than one who's clientèle spends more time doing other things.

As consumers of "best of" publications and ratings on-line we all should be aware that the polling system used could be measuring a lot more than the quality of one business/product over another. The Internet is not fair and those who know how to leverage it have a bigger voice on it. There is a lot at stake for some businesses in these things. There is a lot of free advertising and potential revenues at stake and businesses know it. Not all of them are reputable and gaming the system is not against the law anyway. Again, unless anybody missed it I am talking about these kinds of reader input based "best of" publications in general, not this particular shop or this instance.

Knowing the flaws of the system I usually just recycle these "best-of" things unopened. Unless I know the survey method is scientific and fair, I generally take them with a grain of salt.

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