Numerous fake glowing reviews for otherwise-panned film

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While researching a new film, I discovered that approximately 50 of the 56 written user reviews on IMDb are nearly identical. They are absolutely glowing without a single negative criticism, use the same writing style, and contain the same details and themes. All but 3 are 9 and 10-star ratings.

This made me curious enough to dig further, and I noticed that all of these reviews are written by users who claim to be from the United States, joined IMDB in the past year, and haven't written any other reviews. The "number-only" reviews from IMDb users provide a stark contrast, in which 334 users have given the movie an average rating of 4.9 to date.

I have no connection to the film industry, but this disturbs me because I frequently rely on IMDb for recommendations on new movies to watch. Film producers (and others who stand to gain) shouldn't be able to game the user reviews so readily. I couldn't find any specific prohibition on this conduct in IMDb's policies, but I may have missed something. It bothered me enough that I had to report.

The film in question is Hello Herman (2012) at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1876330/?....

Thank you for your time.
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Jennifer O'Neill

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Posted 6 years ago

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Emperor, Champion

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People buying reviews is going to be an increasing problem for many sites - it was a bit of an issue when it was someone's friends and families, but at least then you knew that they numbers were finite, they'd presumably seen the film and there is nothing wrong with your mother or auntie being biased in your favour. I have been suckered into buying a DVD based on friends adding biased reviews, and it is annoying.

That example does look suspicious, it certainly seems like some of them are working from the same outline of the film (bought fake reviews often never even see the films), but there is currently no way to report this. All I can suggest is that you vote the suspicious ones down.
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bluesmanSF, Champion

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Very true. Add to that, the subject matter in that film might hit some viewers hard, emotionally, and they might react the way some of those sound. It'd be difficult to separate real from faked ones there (though we have a good idea...at a glance).

Agreed if an insincere sounding, subjective review really doesn't help.
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Jennifer O'Neill

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Thanks for taking the time to check out this example and for your thoughtful remarks. It seems to me that an algorithm could be developed to identify likely fake reviews by matching (i) a newly registered user who posts a single review; (ii) a significant number of other reviewers for the same film skew the same way (very positive or very negative); (iii) and those other reviewers meet the same "newbie" criteria.

I hate seeing the credibility of any site deteriorate from the misuse of crowdsourcing.
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vhavnal

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"one review accounts" for that title

http://www.imdb.com/user/ur11765938/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur26628743/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur35102873/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur35278819/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur35323398/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur35343389/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur35470324/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur39932916/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40150796/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40167604/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40179746/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40180983/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40655639/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40656431/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40703280/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40763599/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur40982427/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur41081579/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur41136823/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur41545909/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur41605691/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur41951876/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur42010237/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur42107631/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur42160225/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur42519195/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur42565814/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur42991832/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur43505114/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur43505130/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur43528153/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur43825027/
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur44453910/

All those that gave it a 10/10 and have not made any other edits to IMDb, forums or other titles.....wow...when reading them you can tell that all are not written by one person but by probably a group of people, some similarities as Jennifer mentioned...looks like this is another thing IMDb would have to get strict on...definitely written by the cast and crew members of the film..wish there was an easy way to find more, i bet there are many titles with "fake" reviews like this.....
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Jennifer O'Neill

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Outstanding work, @vhavnal, thanks! Before this thread, it hadn't even occurred to me that someone could be distributing an outline of "key points" to paid writers and/or the cast and crew. More illusions about the Internet shattered. :-)
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bluesmanSF, Champion

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vhavnal had a nice list of all those on IMDb that were participating. I don't know if the list is still around. One of them even started posting threats, had people contacting some of us threatening to beat us up. Contacted who she thought was an IMDb user, but was mistaken, on Facebook and started threatening an innocent family...One had an "investment" company that supposedly funded filmmaking and someone found a mugshot of her when she'd been arrested for fraud. We found youtube clips of them in which they looked like trailer trash idiots...which when we posted links to them, the clips immediately disappeared...sad bunch, really. The one seeking investors had herself in the credits of some big films (those credits are gone now), like Identity Theft, of all things. Crazy. Karmalicity is a paid site/service that teaches "actors" how to boost their rankings. It teaches them to get together and rate each other's films raving about these complete pieces of trash, and posting praise on each others' pages.
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Jennifer O'Neill

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That's incredible....sort of an MLM for building bogus reputations. I'm certainly learning a lot tonight. I wish it weren't in connection with this particular film, as I adore Norman Reedus and am a huge Walking Dead fan (that's why I looked it up to start with). And for all I know, maybe it IS a good movie. But these tactics are appalling.
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bluesmanSF, Champion

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Yeah...in a strange way makes me want to see it, hoping it is that good. But, what are the odds when they have to resort to this to promote it?
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Jennifer O'Neill

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The odds seem somewhat remote!
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vhavnal

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yeah IMDb mods deleted my list because it was bringing them "bad" publicity..got over 60,000 views within a week..i chose not to make it again because IMDb didn't care so why should i bother...Hell I got over 10 death threats, I got "outed" and even attacked via social media..........good times :P
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Jennifer O'Neill

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OK, now I'm on a mission from God. @kevinpark9, who joined IMDb in July 2013, claims here to have made the movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1876330/b... He/she urges everyone to watch the movie on demand, Amazon, or iTunes to help "put the spotlight on bullying." This comment includes a link to a "Bully Awareness Video" by Michelle Danner and others involved in the film.

Then, this same user posts a 10-star review raving about the movie but acts as an uninvolved party and says things like: "I can see Danner being persuaded by many others to not make this movie since the subject matter is so controversial."

The coup de gras is @kevinpark9's postings on this thread, in which he/she again tells people to buy the movie, then COMPLETELY OBLITERATES film critic reviews to make it appear as if they endorsed the movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1876330/b... Example: Actual New York Times Review: "Movies forced to do double duty as thoughtful entertainment and public-service campaign (like last year’s sex trafficking fiasco, “Trade of Innocents”) are almost invariably irritating." @kevinpark9's version: New York Times: "...thoughtful entertainment"

AARGH!
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bluesmanSF, Champion

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Aww Geezz!
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Steve Moore

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Thanks for pointing this out, we need a lot more people to start 'policing" this site (as with wikipedia) or it will become useless very quickly.
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Before this thread, it hadn't even occurred to me that someone could be distributing an outline of "key points" to paid writers and/or the cast and crew.


Yep, you can buy batches of fake reviews, votes, social media followers and likes. I saw a documentary on it recently (there are "farms" in the developing world, especially Dhaka, where people with dozens of accounts spend all day logging in and out of them doing whatever they get paid for) - it is a big deal in books, because of the rise in self-publishing, where a few dozen positive Amazon reviews can make you your money back many times over:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/bus...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/tec...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharma...

I found this offer for IMDB votes:

http://www.prfastmarketing.com/imdb-m...

In fact, not just votes, weighted votes - now that makes me think.... We had a big problem with small films being hammered by 1 star votes from Top Voters, I never thought about the fact that people might be doing this to get weighted votes that they can then sell - this is the final piece in the puzzle. Time to bump this thread:

https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topi...

Anyway, as you say, it should be possible to create an algorithm that roots out false reviews - IP checks, linguistic analysis and odd patterns (low number of highly starred reviews, voting on the same movies as other suspicious accounts, etc.). I think it is overdue. Luckily, now IMDB is a member of the Amazon family, they should be able to get help from the coders at Amazon, who must be working on this kind of thing already.
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Jennifer O'Neill

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Fascinating, albeit upsetting. Thanks very much for the research, I am in the process of reading it all.
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Emperor, Champion

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I had read quite a bit of this already (being disgruntled after being stung by fake reviews in the past it is an issue I keep an eye on), so it was fairly easy to draw everything together. Happy reading.
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Cj Thomas

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I saw the same problem with fake reviews for the movie YOURE NEXT. I went into theaters with hopes of a good horror movie, I came out thinking it was the worst and most overrated movie I ever saw. Sure enough I studied all the 5 star reviews, and they were all created by accounts that looked very similar. The fake reviews themselves were so horrible, I could spot how fake they were right away. I mean, YOURE NEXT had probably the worst soundtrack of any movie possible Ive seen. Sure enough, I saw like 50 reviews saying everyone should see YOURE NEXT since the soundtrack was so amazing. Some of the fake reviews even went to say that the movie should win an Oscar. Its pretty pathetic, I mean they cant even make fake reviews that have any relativity to the film at all. Everytime I see a review about the soundtrack, I keep yelling, what soundtrack are you talking about. Im not some newbie when it comes to movie soundtracks, I love Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard and I welcome the new composers that make great music. When I watched YOURE NEXT, the supposedly scary scenes had no music at all. It was complete silence. Its like the director never understood how to make a movie.
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Steve Moore

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Fake entries and fake reviews for barely real products, IMDB is slipping badly it is popular because people trust the info contained because of the vetting process (like wiki). It's annoying for the consumer that wants to know they are not wasting their time and terrible for the filmmakers at the bottom who are fighting hard to get "in" when they are drowned out by fakers and vanity publlishing. I would like to use IMDB as a serious tool in my work as the ultimate record of my achievements, but if others are faking successfully here I'll not do so.
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Daryl Talbot

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Always make sure to read some negative reviews, if they sound well informed and sensible that's a warning about the movie.
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Jennifer O'Neill

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When I received an automated notification about Daryl's reply, that prompted me to revisit this thread.  I noticed that this issue was marked as "SOLVED" by the support desk.  I then checked the reviews currently posted for "Hello Herman" on IMDB to see whether that was the case.  NOPE!

I discovered that not only were the original 50 fake reviews still online, but there are 9 additional reviews that clearly fit the same mold.  All 9 were one-time reviewers; all were either from the U.S. or did not provide their country; all raved about the film without a note of criticism; and the same themes (obviously derived from an outline) appeared throughout their comments.  Even worse, IMDB let stand a 10/10 review from @kevinpark9, who (as described in detail above) made this film then attempted to post "anonymous" rave reviews all over the site: http://www.imdb.com/user/ur45096031/   

If anyone knows how to ask the support team to flag the original complaint as "unsolved," I'd gladly welcome the advice.
(Edited)

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