The Weight of Google Reviews
I don’t consider myself paranoid, but after reading a lot of Google patents, I’ve been thinking of my phone as my Android tracking device. It’s looking like Google thinks of phones similarly; paying a lot of attention to things such as a person’s location history. After reading a recent patent, I’m fine with Google continuing to look at my location history, and reviews that I might write, even though there may not be any financial benefit to me. When I write a review of a business at Google, it’s normally because I’ve either really liked that place or disliked it, and wanted to share my thoughts about it with others.
A Google patent application filed and published by the search engine, but not yet granted is about reviews of businesses.
It tells us about how Google reviews can benefit businesses:
Furthermore, once a review platform has accumulated a significant number of reviews it can be a useful resource for users to identify new entities or locales to visit or experience. For example, a user can visit the review platform to search for a restaurant at which to eat, a store at which to shop, or a place to have drinks with friends. The review platform can provide search results based on location, quality according to the reviews, pricing, and/or keywords included in textual reviews.
But, there are problems with Google reviews that this patent sets out to address and assist with:
However, one problem associated with review platforms is collecting a significant number of reviews. For example, a large majority of people do not take the time to visit the review platform and contribute a review for each point of interest they visit throughout a day.
Furthermore, even after a review is contributed by a user, the user’s opinion of the point of interest may change, rendering the contributed review outdated and inaccurate. For example, a restaurant for which the user previously provided a positive review may come under new ownership or experience a change in kitchen staff that causes the quality of the restaurant to decrease. As such, the user may cease visiting the restaurant or otherwise decrease a frequency of visits. However, the user may not take the time to return to the review platform and update their review.
The patent does have a solution to Google reviews that don’t get made or updated – if a person stops going to a place that they have reviewed in the past, the review that they submitted may be treated as a diminished review:
The pending patent application is at:
User Location History Implies Diminished Review
Inventors: Daniel Victor Klein and Dean Kenneth Jackson
US Patent Application 20170358015
Published: December 14, 2017
Filed: April 7, 2014
Systems and methods for providing reviews are provided. One example system includes one or more computing devices. The system includes one or more non-transitory computer-readable media storing instructions that, when executed by the one or more computing devices, cause the one or more computing devices to perform operations. The operations include identifying, based on a location history associated with a user, a first signal. The first signal comprises a frequency of visits by the user to a first point of interest over a first time period. The operations include identifying, based on the location history associated with the user, a change in the first signal after the first time period. The operations include providing a diminished review for the user with respect to the first point of interest when the identified change comprises a decrease in the frequency of visits by the user to the first point of interest.
Some highlights about Google Reviews from the patent description:
1. Location updates can be received from more than one mobile device associated with a user, to create a location history over time.
2. Points of interest can be tracked and cover a really wide range of place types; or a point of interest such as a shopping mall may be treated as a single point of interest.
3. A person may control what information is collected about their location, and may be given a chance to modify or update that information.
4. Not visiting a particular place may lead to an assumption that a “user’s opinion of the point of interest has diminished or otherwise changed.”
5. A Diminished review might be a negative review or a lowering of a review score.
6. A reviewer may also be asked to “confirm or edit/elaborate on the previously contributed review,” if they don’t return to a place they have reviewed in a while.
7. User Contributed Reviews could be said to have a decay period, in which, their influence on search or rating systems wanes.”
8. Other factors besides a change of opinion about a place may be considered, such as a change of residence or workplace to a new location, or an overall change in visitation patterns for all points of interest. These types of changes may not lead to a diminished review.
9. Aggregated frequencies of visits from many people may be considered, and if many still continue to visit a place, then a change by one people may not be used to reduce an overall score for a place. If visits by many people show a decrease than an assumption that something has changed with the point of interest could affect the overall score.