Online reviews have become proposed as useful information for consumers to make decision. Meanwhile, review manipulation will weaken the credibility of online reviews. Except manipulating the review text and rating, we propose that review helpfulness, an important signal for consumer to filter the reviews, could also be manipulated. This study thus explores the existence of review helpfulness manipulation and the relationship between firm quality and review manipulation. Based on a dataset from a review forum in www.wdzj.com which is the leading and largest portal of peer to peer lending industry in China, we get the following interesting results. First, due to the manipulation of review helpfulness, a manipulated positive review is more likely to receive higher helpfulness, while a manipulated negative is more likely to get lower helpfulness. Second, a manipulated review tends to be lower quality in terms of readability and word count, which are found as positive predictors for review helpfulness. Third, high quality firms tend to manipulate more positive reviews, and at the same time high quality firms will receive more negative manipulated reviews. This study extends current understanding about online review manipulation, thereby providing theoretical and practice implications.
Li, Liting; Zheng, Haichao; Chen, Dongyu; and Zhu, Bin, "Not only Online Review but also its Helpfulness is Manipulated: Evidence from Peer to Peer Lending Forum" (2019). PACIS 2019 Proceedings. 186.