In what can only be called a PR disaster of epic proportions, well-known networking and peripherals maker Belkin has come clean and admitted to actively soliciting for positive reviews of its products. The entire charade was exposed by The Daily Background, which chanced upon online postings by a person named Mike Bayard looking for freelancers to perform the above-mentioned work. As you can see from the screenshot here, positive reviews are to be planted pertaining to specific products, as well as giving the highest possible rating regardless of whether the "reviewers" have ever touched the said products.
Indeed, this case epitomizes the route many of us take when it comes to making our IT-related purchasing decisions -- by browsing around the Internet for feedback. And while Belkin is one of the first to be exposed in such a manner, it would be naive to imagine that none of the other IT makers are guilty of doing the same thing.
However, does this incident mean that all feedback and information that we can find posted on the Internet is automatically null and void? If true, this will obviously pose a major problem to small and medium-sized businesses, which may be unlikely to have some of the access to well-informed consultants that the bigger enterprises have.
Fortunately, the risks associated with accessing biased feedback can be drastically reduced if you check only with trusted sources for advice. And to be clear, comments or feedback posted under a product listing on eBay or Amazon do not constitute trusted sources.
Rather, seek out sites that specialize in reviewing or discussing the latest technological products and trends. Other than checking out my SMB blog, you will find that sites such as Tom's Hardware and CNET Reviews offer independent reviews on various IT-related products.