A New Mexico company called CrowdReviews.com has announced its online platform for reviews and rankings of software solutions has started ranking digital signage software companies.
“The platform,” says a news release, “has been launched in a limited beta stage and is currently inviting digital signage software developers to have their customers leave reviews and feedback on their experiences in using the software.”
Feedback is visible to visitors looking to make a purchase and is used by an algorithm in order to determine the placement of the digital signage software vendors within the rankings. The rankings of these software vendors is primarily determined by user reviews, however, there are other elements which can impact a software’s placement within the rankings.
This, of course, made me curious. The beta list is full of names of companies and platforms largely unfamiliar to me, and some others I thought were dead, dying or dormant. To be fair, I don’t know how anyone could stay on top of all the CMS options out there. I got word of another one last night, from a contact.
So can signage platforms be credibly reviewed online? I suppose time will tell, but it’s not a reference tool I’d use. The consumer review business can be a swamp consisting heavily of faked reviews and reviews based on being angry or frustrated, as opposed to constructive and insightful write-ups.
This company enables reviews on just about any software you can think of. Yesterday, it was telephony, construction project and pest control software (There’s software for flies and wasps? Can I toss out my Raid supply?!!!) So it would be hard, even if these reviews were fully policed, to figure out what was real and what was cooked up.
I did a little test to see what would happen if I did a cooked-up review, and selected Ronincast, the CMS from Wireless Ronin that I am not even sure you can get anymore, since the company has been through so many mergers and other gyrations the last two or three years.
I put in what looked like a positive review about the company’s finances (in reality Ronin has been a trainwreck for years) and added some invented technical nonsense to add some sense of authenticity. Hit submit, and up it went, with no checks and balances.
I don’t think I saw anything asking me to confirm what I wrote was all legit. If it was there, it was either subtle or I just flat missed it.
So if I can do that, you absolutely know there are people in this industry – scrapping away for business any way they can – who will park their scruples and submit a sunny review for their product and service.
Reviews can be great for things like hotels and restaurants. TripAdvisor has put me into some great hotels I’d have totally ignored or dodged based on first impressions. But I’m not sure that 1) enough reviews will ever come in to make rankings and impressions valid and 2) the reviews will provide much in the way of valid insight.
You want to know what software to use? Ask for demos, or get trial licenses. And ask around. Find out what other people used and what they think of their choice.
Note: Once I posted that goofy little review, I then tried to take it down. Though I have a CrowdReview account, it’s not evident I can do anything with it beyond change a password. If you are reading this, CrowdReview guys, you can yank my Rock Solid Company review.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.