Are the Article and Reviews True?

Many people rely on review sites, such as Yelp, when looking for products or services. But, do those reviews reflect a  true experience with the business or does the reviewer have some other motive? Alternative motives could lead a reviewer to post either positive or negative comments that are pure fiction. Besides being a concern to viewers, the credibility of the reviews is a headache for credible review sites.

Even the best of companies isn’t perfect and probably have a legitimate bad review or two. In fact, a few negative reviews provide more credibility to the whole. And, there is the fact that some negative reviews will be from from troublesome clients that are going to treat staff badly. Sometimes, adding the possibility of fake reviews into the mix makes you wonder whether the time it takes to read them is worth it. I know that when I have gone to review sites specifically for website hosting companies, I have left wondering whether the hosting company gave the reviewer a discount for writing the review.

The ability to spot a questionable or fake review can save you the expense of a bad dinner or a bad night in a hotel. It’s even more important for website owners, as it can help them spot a web development or software company they should stay away from. There are credible sources and credible reports that offer some help in spotting fake reviews, including this article from Inc Magazine.

To use a detection process based on documented patterns, the article lists three suspicious patterns of fake reviews:

  1. Lacks detail
  2. Includes more first person pronouns
  3. Has more verbs than nouns

One of the issues the article brings out is that people are generally not very good at spotting fake reviews. Part of the problem in searching in a technical service is that people often don’t know what makes a good company. For example, sometimes people call me a web designer. I am a lousy graphic artist. So, I should never come up under the web design topic. But, let’s pursue the idea of using review sites to find a web development company, which may include designers and developers.

avoid jumping from the Frying pan into the fire

How do you keep from switching from a web development company you are dissatisfied with to one that is worse? Keep in mind that switching technologies and switching developers are two different things. If you want to keep your technology, you have to find a developer knowledgeable in your system, whether they only work in that technology or several.

If you change both your website technology and the development company, you will need to check on both. All technologies have problems, but you could find a good person who works in a less than great technology. And you could find a poor developer who works in a great technology. So, check out the company and the software separately, unless the technology is one specifically owned by the company (proprietary system).

Case Study: Hibu Website company

Recently a web development company called Hibu came to my attention. Let’s use them as a case study in evaluating reviews. I will pursue two sources: 1) articles by people in the industry, and 2) general review sites.  Let’s with articles by web professionals. While there are an alarming number of people discussing Hibu, I have chosen articles by two developers I know nothing about. I will use the quality of their articles to determine whether they may be credible sources of information about Hibu.


The first two articles appear to be from about 2014. The author lists some very common bad practices:

  1. The company holds your domain name hostage. Never let your web development company have your domain name registration.
  2. The company holds your Google accounts hostage. Never let your web development company create any account for you.
  3. The company does the kind of SEO that can be done by a program, not the site-specific SEO that will get you great rankings.
  4. The sites have internal CSS. I checked the Hibu site that was reviewed, and even 5 years later this is true.

Because I have no personal, first-hand experience with Hibu, I cannot verify that the first three items are accurate about Hibu.

Review Sites

Taking that bit of research, we would expect to see quite a few negative reviews of the Hibu Web Development company. The reviews in Yelp are very telling. They have 93 reviews: 3 are 5 star, a couple are 2 star and the rest are 1 star.

Now, let’s look at the first 5 star review. Most of the 1 star reviews are very specific … and lengthy … about their problems. As the first clue above states, this review lacks detail. In fact, all 3 of their 5 star reviews have about this much detail.

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