Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

‘Amazon’s Choice’ Recommends Some Obviously Crappy Products

Nicole Nguyen, Buzzfeed News:

When you’re looking at a search result with hundreds of options on Amazon, the “Amazon’s Choice” label may give you a sense of relief. The label’s name and prominent placement seem to imply that listings with the “Amazon’s Choice” designation — even more authoritative than a simple “Best-Selling” badge — are a curated selection of products reviewed and tested by the company, and highlighted for shoppers looking for similar products. But “Amazon’s Choice” isn’t that at all, and here’s the disappointing news: It’s a label automatically awarded to listings by an algorithm based on customer reviews, price, and whether the product is in stock. And those choices Amazon’s software makes aren’t always reliable — in fact, sometimes they’re Amazon-recommended crap.

I saved this to Pinboard on Friday and forgot to read it over the weekend, so I had completely forgotten about it by the time I got around to it today. I assumed that there would be a handful of examples of products that kind of suck — maybe a shirt that frequently ripped or something along the lines of that one West Elm couch. But it’s so much more than that, and far worse.

If we set aside the galling ethical faults with labelling trash as a “choice” product, this recommendations system cannot be good for Amazon’s reputation. They’re giving the impression that the company stands behind terrible products.