The online world is overrun with reviews that were bought and paid for. As a former marketing executive for a large East Coast firm, I know more about this dirty business than most people, so I decided to do something about it and The Fiverr Report is the result.

I started out working with others as dissatisfied with the state of the publishing industry as I am and together we started investigating fake reviews. To us, a fake review is

  • Any review written by an author's friends, relatives or acquaintances, especially reviews requested by the authors themselves to push up their ratings.
  • Any review written by the author using fake names or puppet accounts, especially when the author has many such accounts.
  • Any review bought and paid for, especially those from less-than-reputable or questionable companies.
  • Any review swapped or traded between authors.
  • Any review bought by promising readers free kindles or paying readers any other kickbacks.

The result of our research is being made public at Zon Alert. As the marketing expert on the team, I researched companies that were being paid to write reviews. I knew some companies were doing this and had seen their handiwork. I started my research with companies I knew were doing this, expecting to find a few more. I did not expect to find an entire cottage industry, involving dozens of companies.

See also The Fiverr Report blog -- a blog named for the company investigated first and a company I worked undercover at for two years: Fiverr.com where services, including review writing services, are bought and sold for $5.