Headline, January 05 2021/ ''' '' ONIONS -AMAZON- ONLINE '' ''' : REVIEWS



FOR DECADES - CUSTOMERS AND SELLERS - HAVE relied on star ratings. But how useful is that system when it comes to rating produce.

For a business that started as an online bookstore and grew into one of the largest companies in the world, the Amazon of 2020 would feel, to an Amazon customer in 1999, at least a little bit familiar.

''Amazon processes customer feedback on grocery from several sources, including reviews,'' said Craig Andrews, a spokesman for Amazon.

''Like all businesses at Amazon, we continuously innovate to create the best shopping experience for our customer, so this feedback represents their voice and is analyzed for opportunities to improve our products and services.''

FIVE STAR SCALE : Take Amazon's review system. Some of the site's most prolific reviewers have been rating products on the same five-star scale for more than 20 years and occasionally, their messages from the distant past surface on product pages.

A customer browsing books about about sailing might encounter a review written by Jeff Bezos himself in 2001, recommending title as ''intense and disciplined.''

In the 1990s, Amazon reviews were both functional and as a concept, anti-establishment : What if anyone could be a book reviewer? Then : What if anyone could do what Consumer Reports does? Then: What if anyone could could review pretty much anything, for any reason at all?

The rating system has adapted to encompass reviews of shoes, cosmetics, athletic gear, medical equipment, TV shows, software, musical instruments and furniture. A more recent undertaking, however, is proving difficult :

What can an Amazon review tell us about fresh food? ''Taste like an onion, did the job,'' reads one recent review of a piece of produce. Another went further : ''Tastes good.''

Amazon reviews are deceptively challenging texts. Successful products often fall between four and five stars.

Amazon is constantly intervening to maintain a review system that is, if not exactly healthy or even fair, at least usable. Separately, though, years of trying to extract useful information from Amazon product listings have made customers more skillful in the form, as readers and reviewers. Onion reviews, however, defy some of these expectations.

''These might be the last frontier of authentic reviews,'' said Saoud Khalifah, the chief executive of Fakespot., a company that analyzes e-commerce reviews. His tools suggest that produce reviews are of ''very high'' quality, meaning that they're most likely written by real onion customers about authentic onion experiences.

A reviewer named LoLinda, who declined to share her surname, did not recall writing a review for russet potatoes, [''Divine'' she wrote, leaving five stars. ''Believe it or not, not all potatoes are created equally. I'm a potato connoisseur and these are delicious!!!'']

''I seriously doubt anyone scrolls down to read potato reviews when buying,'' LoLinda, 15, said. She posted hers only to clear the potatoes from her ''Review Your Purchases'' section. [I'm a neat freak and love to see things through to completion,'' she said.]

An onion review responded too. ''I vaguely remember leaving the onion review,'' said Katt Winter, 38, ''I bet it was red onions and around 2017.'' [It was April of that year. ''Super tasty red onions. They make everything better. They are full of flavor and hold well in the fridge crisper. Definitely recommend to onion fans,'' she wrote.]

As Amazon has expanded into product category after product category, the Amazon review has been stretched to the limit of its form. The most basic products of all might be bringing it to its breaking point.

Just 60 people have taken the time to write full reviews for the Yellow Onion on Amazon, while more than 6,000 have left ratings, averaging out to 4.7 stars. Some are complaints about a local Whole Foods, a particular shopper, or Whole Foods in general -

While others seem to have been written by people who might not like onions very much in the first place. Others are jokes [ ''In fact, we consider funny reviews part of our customer-focused culture,'' Mr. Andrews said]

A few reviewers have arrived at a sort of critical despondency, seeming to realize, not unlike Amazon itself, that there really isn't much to say, here. A review titled ''Onions,' posted in January, asks and answers : ''What can you say a bout an onion.'''

Amazon spent decades recruiting millions of customers to help build and operate a vast, complicated evaluative apparatus to extract and represent human desire, preference and subjective, unknowable experience.

When it fed that machine an onion, the machine replied : Onion. Yes.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Technology, Products, Fresh Produce, Wonder and Reviews, continues. The World Students Society thanks author John Herrman.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

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