How Many Reviews Are Too Many?

| Does the 3,250th review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have any influence on an Amazon customer? An Economist article says it does. In fact, says the article, the more online reviews a product has, the more likely people are to buy it. If reviewers know the reviews they write have influence, it may help answer Levitt’s earlier question: Why do so many people post reviews on Amazon? So what motivates blog readers, whose comments often number in the 100’s on this blog? One Freakonomics reader, Conor Lennon, recently emailed to say that he rarely bothers posting a comment unless he knows it will show up on the first page of comments (there are only 25 comments per page). He wonders if other commenters on this blog feel the same. [%comments]

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  1. Carrie says:

    I comment whenever I am really interested in the topic- even if I’m the 80th. Although, I’m also the type who skims the comments until they hit 250 or so.

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  2. Peter T says:

    If I ever feel like giving up on reading the comments and just skipping to the end, I don’t bother because I know most other people will do the same. That is unless the author is asking for a direct response in the comments.

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  3. Jackie says:

    I only post if I have something relevant to say about the OP. If there are more than 3 pages on this blog however, I won’t post. Chances are someone else said something similar enough to my point.

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  4. BSK says:

    I do. Often after the first few posts, the conversation is at a point where it’s too hard or too late to add anything meaningful. Most people read the first few and then respond, unless engaged in a specific back and forth

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  5. mus says:

    i’ll have to agree with the premise, we all know reviewers are vastly different so the only thing i look at when buying online is the average number of stars and the number of reviews. has a slightly better system when they show how many 5 stars, 4 stars, 3 stars etc.

    More reviews means the stronger the consensus and i generally like what most people like.

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  6. Dean Rodrigues says:

    I press page down 3 times. Any comments that fall within the remit are read, anything else gets missed. On that basis, I does not look like I will be reading this particular comment.

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  7. David says:

    Isn’t this testable? Can you fiddle with the number of comments shown on the first page and see if the average number of comments goes up or down?

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  8. Jesse says:

    Prefer to be in top 25? Yes. My ideas are likely to be read if they’re on the first page. Very few people read the comments on page #8 of 15.

    This is particularly notable on other NYT pages where readers can “Recommend” posts they believe have merit. A mediocre post on the first few pages may have hundreds who like it, while a superior post in the last few pages has at best a handful.

    Note: At time of writing 20 comments are visible. I assume this will end up on page 2-3.

    Conditions under which I’ll post anyway include:
    – Sharing my perspective where it seems valuable
    – Presenting new ideas or a calm summary statement
    – Hoping to shape future comment discussion
    – Having a strong personal reaction to the issue
    – Just wanting to reply to an interesting topic

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