If you like online shopping…and you love a good scam…then we’ve found the contest for you. Scientists at the University of Rhode Island are offering $1000 to the person or persons who can most wildly manipulate a set of online product ratings.
Many websites encourage consumers to rate the items they’ve purchased. Shoppers then use this information to help them decide what to buy. Unfortunately, such systems are easy prey for shills looking to make certain products seem more attractive. For example, an unscrupulous author could get all his family and friends to give his book five stars.
The Rhode Island researchers have whipped up an algorithm for identifying such fraudulent ratings. Now they’re putting their program to the test. Which is where the contest comes in. To participate, go to “www.etanlab.com/rating” and download their data set. Then start manipulating. The individuals who introduce the largest bias will take home the prize...and will show the scientists how they can make their fraudbusting program even better. It’s fun for the whole family. I give it four thumbs up. Ah, what the heck, eight thumbs up!