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Review Bomb Dilemma: Navigating the Fallout in Online Ratings

Understanding Review Bombing
Review Bomb Dilemma

A review bomb is a barrage of negative online feedback, intentionally deployed to damage a product’s reputation. This article guides you through recognizing, responding to, and recovering from review bombing, while exploring the deeper implications for businesses and creators.

Key Takeaways

  • It is a coordinated attempt to lower a product’s ratings through a flood of negative reviews, often unrelated to actual product experience and aimed at harming the product’s popularity or sales.
  • The consequences of this can include both short-term visibility problems and long-term damage to the creator’s reputation and psychological well-being, often necessitating strategic management of online reputations.
  • Platforms like Yelp, Google, and Rotten Tomatoes are actively combatting review bombing with detection systems, verification processes, and the ability to limit review submissions during unusual activity.
Understanding Review Bombing

Understanding Review Bombing

Review bombing is a digital blitzkrieg, characterized by the collective lowering of a product’s ratings through negative reviews. It’s often a coordinated effort, with numerous people or individuals with multiple accounts raining down negative feedback within a condensed time frame. Interestingly, products might get review bombed even if the perpetrators have no firsthand experience with the product or service they’re critiquing. In order to combat review bombing, it’s essential to monitor and address these issues promptly.

This tactic, first recognized in an Ars Technica article in 2008, aims to significantly impact a product’s popularity or sales, sometimes driven by a collective desire to highlight political or cultural issues.

The Anatomy of a Review Bomb

The Anatomy of a Review Bomb

Unlike authentic reviews spread out over time, review bombing manifests as a sudden influx of reviews in a short period. The content of these review bombs is often:

  • generic
  • inflammatory
  • irrelevant to the actual product
  • with a propensity for abusive language or repetitive content

A key characteristic of review bombers is that they often haven’t used or engaged with the product. Their objective is not to provide constructive feedback but to inflict damage. To understand more about reputation management, hire a white label marketing company.

The Ripple Effects of Review Bombs on Creators

The Ripple Effects of Review Bombs on Creators

The impact of review bombing on creators can be mixed. While it sometimes creates publicity that increases sales, it can also lead to decreased customer goodwill, negatively impacting long-term reputation and sales prospects. More than just a financial blow, review bombing can erode a creator’s confidence and stifle their creativity, leading to adverse psychological effects. Hiring a white label reputation management service provider can help in many ways.

On platforms like Steam, where user reviews significantly influence visibility, review bombing can particularly hurt game developers, affecting their project’s discoverability and success. The motivation behind review bombing often stems not from actual product experience but from external factors such as political issues or personal grudges, which can overshadow legitimate critiques and mislead potential consumers.

Strategies to Counteract Review Bombing

Strategies to Counteract Review Bombing

In the face of review bombing, businesses need a crisis management plan that includes proactive online reputation management. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Monitor for fake reviews and work with platforms to remove them.
  2. Limit your online review presence to essential platforms like Google and Facebook.
  3. Respond promptly and professionally to negative reviews, addressing any legitimate concerns.
  4. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews to counterbalance the negative ones.
  5. Consider implementing a review moderation system to filter out suspicious or inappropriate reviews. By taking these steps, you can reduce the risk and impact of review bombing and maintain a positive online reputation.

Despite the chaos of a review bomb incident, it’s crucial for businesses to continue focusing on garnering positive, genuine customer reviews to balance the overall online reputation. In the event of a review bomb, identifying the cause can aid in addressing the issue, and looking for clues within the reviews themselves can be helpful.

Public statements on the business’s profile can provide context and control over the narrative for concerned customers regarding the influx of negative reviews.

In Need of Assistance Discover the Agency Trusted by Top Agencies

In Need of Assistance? Discover the Agency Trusted by Top Agencies

For businesses struggling against review bombing, a white knight emerges – That! Company. Offering scalable local SEO services, That! Company has proven effective in managing online reputations and combatting review bombing.

With a suite of tailored strategies, That! Company is a white label digital marketing agency that leverages advanced analytics and search engine optimization to ensure that a business’s positive reviews gain prominence. By meticulously monitoring online conversations and reviews, they can quickly identify and address negative trends before they escalate into full-fledged review bombs. This proactive approach not only mitigates the damage done by review bombing but also fortifies the business’s digital presence against future attacks.

Outsourcing to That! Company allows businesses to focus on their core functions while leaving the specialized task of digital marketing to the experts. Their team of seasoned professionals employs the latest techniques in reputation management, turning potential crises into opportunities for brand strengthening and customer engagement.

Review Bomb Backlash Platforms Take Action

Review Bomb Backlash: Platforms Take Action

In response to the onslaught of review bombing, platforms like Yelp and Google are fighting back. They’ve deployed systems to detect an unusual volume of reviews, suspected as review bombing, allowing moderators to intervene by notifying them and, if necessary, temporarily disabling the ability to post reviews. Similarly, Rotten Tomatoes has adopted a strategy of only including ratings from users confirmed to have purchased movie tickets into their audience score and tagging written reviews from verified ticket purchases.

Besides, Amazon owned Goodreads has implemented curation of book reviews by temporarily limiting the submission of ratings and reviews on goodreads accounts during unusual activity that violates their guidelines. This collective response from the community and platforms has involved significant efforts to address review bombing, leading to interventions such as Valve having to step in 44 times in 2019 to stop such activities. In this context, Goodreads asks users to report any suspicious behavior they encounter on the platform while they review books.

The Psychology Behind the Bomb

The Psychology Behind the Bomb

Underneath the surface, review bombing is driven by a variety of motivations. Unpopular changes to established franchises, political or cultural controversies, or actions of developers or owners can all spark a review bomb. Ulterior motives such as political agendas, personal grudges, and greed for extortion are common drivers behind review bomb campaigns.

Those who participate in review bombing often exhibit a pattern of only posting negative comments, suggesting a lack of intent to provide balanced or constructive feedback and a focus on poor quality aspects.

Positive Spin Phenomenon

Positive Spin: The Reverse Review Bomb Phenomenon

In contrast to the destructive nature of review bombing, there is a phenomenon known as the reverse review bomb. This occurs when products receive a surge of positive reviews to commend developers or oppose negative sentiments. Often initiated by fans, positive review bombs are used to show appreciation for:

  • underappreciated work
  • free updates
  • expansions
  • good customer service
  • to honor a developer’s contributions.

While positive review bombs are less commonly reported than their negative review counterparts, they leave a substantial effect on the game or product’s visibility and can emerge in solidarity during controversies.

Case Studies High Profile

Case Studies: High-Profile Review Bomb Incidents

The impact of review bombing has been felt across various industries, with high-profile incidents shining a spotlight on this practice. The video game industry has often been a primary target, with notable games like:

  • ‘Spore’ in 2008 marking the beginning of this phenomenon’s recognition
  • ‘God of War Ragnarök’ facing review bombing due to perceptions of subpar gameplay
  • ‘Diablo 4’ facing review bombing due to issues related to microtransactions

Even critically acclaimed games have not been immune to one star reviews, bad reviews, and review bombing.

Beyond video games, films and YouTube videos have been subjected to review bombs, affecting various industries. The film ‘Captain Marvel’, for example, encountered a barrage of negative reviews on IMDb after Brie Larson’s comments on male-dominated movie coverage, showcasing how external factors can instigate this controversy.

Navigating the Aftermath Post Bomb Recovery

Navigating the Aftermath: Post-Bomb Recovery

In the aftermath of a review bomb, businesses need to rebuild trust with their audience. This involves:

  • Addressing the root cause of the negative feedback
  • Communicating transparently about rectification steps and future changes
  • Engaging with customers on social media and other platforms to show commitment to customer satisfaction and aid in restoring the business’s image.

Businesses should take the following steps to address this issue and maintain a strong online reputation management:

  1. Report unfounded negative reviews to platforms like Google for removal to restore the integrity of their online ratings.
  2. Build a strong online reputation even before incidents occur by actively encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews.
  3. Continuously engage with real customers to encourage authentic positive reviews, which can help counteract the negative impact of a review bomb and restore overall ratings.
The Future of Online Reviews

The Future of Online Reviews

Looking ahead, the future of online reviews may see significant changes. Google, for instance, has updated its review policies to better protect businesses from incidents like unwarranted criticism of their COVID-19 protocols. Improved algorithms that are in development are anticipated to more effectively detect patterns indicative of review bombing.

The implementation of these technological and policy advancements has the potential to make online reviews on a review site more trustworthy by ensuring they reflect genuine customer feedback.



In summary, review bombing is a digital phenomenon that can significantly impact businesses and creators. It’s a practice characterized by coordinated negative reviews, often driven by ulterior motives. While it poses a considerable challenge, businesses can adopt strategies to counteract it and platforms are taking action to combat it. Despite its destructive nature, there’s also a flip side to it – the reverse review bomb. As we move forward, improved algorithms and policies will potentially make online reviews more trustworthy, ensuring they reflect genuine customer feedback.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is review bombing illegal?

Yes, review bombing can lead to legal action, particularly if it constitutes libel. Be cautious when expressing negative reviews.

What is the review bombing controversy?

This controversy involves the practice of flooding books or other products with negative reviews from fake accounts in order to bring down their ratings, often for reasons unrelated to the actual content. Goodreads, in particular, has been embroiled in a controversy involving fake profiles and negative reviews.

Is review bombing ethical?

Review bombing is considered unethical as it imposes a “moral litmus test” on authors and can lead to self-censorship. Consider the impact of such actions on free expression and diverse perspectives.

How does review bombing impact creators?

It can significantly harm creators by affecting their sales, reputation, and mental well-being, while also overshadowing genuine criticisms and misleading potential customers.

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