Anonymity, Social Image, and the Competition for Volunteers: A Case Study of the Online Market for Reviews
This paper takes a first step toward understanding the working of the online market for reviews. Most online review firms rely on unpaid volunteers to write reviews. Can a for-profit online review firm attract productive volunteer reviewers, limit the number of ranting or raving reviewers, and marginalize fake reviewers? This paper sheds light on this issue by studying reviewer productivity and restaurant ratings at Yelp, where reviewers are encouraged to establish a social image, and two competing websites, where reviewers are completely anonymous. Using a dataset of nearly half a million reviewer accounts, we find that the number (proportion) of prolific reviewers on Yelp is an order of magnitude larger than that on either competing site, more productive reviewers on all three websites are less likely to give an extreme rating, and restaurant ratings on Yelp tend to be much less extreme than those on either competing site.
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Volume (Year): 10 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
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References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2007.
"Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects,"
07-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
- James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2009. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1607-1636, 09.
- James Andreoni, 2007. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001459, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Lafky, Jonathan, 2014. "Why do people rate? Theory and evidence on online ratings," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 554-570.
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