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Here is How Alphachooser Ranks The Items

Wonder how we rank the best items? Why are some items with a higher review score ranked lower than models with less stars? How do we determine exactly which are the best items?

Here is how our special best-of ranking system works:

1. So, how do you rank?

AlphaChooser does not physically review any product and we do not really believe in such a thing as an “expert reviewer,” as unconscious personal bias can influence them. We use an artificial-intelligence-like system that relies exclusively on a set of web crawlers that regularly check the reviews of the consumer goods we cover on various websites.

Our system then calculates the average score, but by giving more or less weight to certain reviews depending on their origin (some reviews are posted on manufacturer websites in exchange for a prize, for example, which may artificially boost the result – and they end up among store reviews, more details on this later in this FAQ) or their credibility. Results are updated once a week and an employee is affected to making sure products end up in their true category.

2. Your scores are lower than other website's scores for the same items, why?

Short answer: That's because our scores are REAL!

And it is in sharp contrast with a slew of recent new websites in our field of consumer advice, whose top 1 item's score is always magically scoring around 9.9 or 9.8 (which would be a whopping 4.9 stars our of 5), but when you look at the actual item in online stores or other genuine review websites, the star rating is way lower than that. Beware! It seems like some sites are more interested in pushing you to buy (so they can make a quick buck with their commission on Amazon) than to help you make a sound choice.

At AlphaChooser, our scores may be lower, but that's because they are based on REALITY!

3. What do you do to prevent fake reviews from affecting your scores?

We take various measures to avoid that. When choosing which products to include in our lists, our product profilers use a proprietary tool that analyzes the review profile and identifies telltales of fakery. Though we would like to keep the gist of our algorithm secret, such telltales include the proportion of 1-star ratings to 2-star and 5-star ones, the consistence between the ranking shown on one website and another, for the same product, etc.

However, no ranking system is fault-proof and, though we're confident that AlphaChooser does a great job of weeding out fake reviews, our lists, like any list, should be taken as a starting point and we encourage you to read the reviews of the product of your choice before making a final decision. A good way to recognize fake reviews is to look for absurdly trivial qualities in the review copy. For example, fake reviewers will be enthusiastic about a robot vacuum being equipped to avoid falling off the stairs (a standard feature on all models since the very beginning), they will often tell the story of their life (“My daughter is allergic and we have two big dogs, so I was looking for a good pet-hair vacuum and had tried many models until blah blah blah.”), often as a way to use specific keywords to try and attract more search-engine traffic to the product's page.

You should also focus more on the 1- and 2-star reviews, as it is less likely that fake reviewers would write low-star reviews. However, it is not impossible. Competitors may also write negative reviews on their opponents' products, so remain alert even when reading 1-star reviews. If it is too exaggerated, it may also be fake.

If you find items that made it to one of our top 10 lists despite clearly harboring fake reviews, please use the contact us link at the bottom of any page to let us know.

4. Why do items with a higher review score rank lower than items with less stars?

Our rankings also take into account the relevance of each item towards a specific list. So, let's say Tablet A scored an average rating of 4.9 stars while Tablet B scored 4.7 stars. If both items are part of a Best Camera Tablets list, Tablet B may end up above Tablet A despite its slightly lower rating if it sports a 8-megapixel main camera, while Tablet B only features 5 megapixels.

We also use product age as a criteria. We do so because, of course, a smartwatch launched three years ago may have attracted rave reviews of 4.7 stars in average back then, but how relevant are these reviews today? Technology has evolved and what made users enthusiastic back then may now keep them a tad colder. Consequently, we adjust our own ranking metric according to the age of the item, and the influence it has varies by category. Why? Because snow blowers do not evolve at the same crazy pace as tablet computers or smart watches, right? That approach explains why items with more stars may sometimes end up under lower-star, but younger items.

5. Do you look at reviews on manufacturers' sites?

Short answer... no we don't. Though we are confident that most manufacturers are fair and balanced and do not filter the reviews they like from the reviews they don't, we are simply not willing to run the risk. We prefer to look at rankings provided by independent, third-party review websites and stores. However, some manufacturer-origined reviews sometimes make it into the list of store reviews, in which case, we give less weight to these store's reviews in our final calculation.

6. What role do ads play on AlphaChooser?

AlphaChooser occasionally publishes ads from other companies (through Google's Adsense platform) as part of our business model. Third-party ads do not influence our rankings, in fact, we do not really have control over who advertises on our site and we do not maintain relationships with advertisers, it is all handled by the ad platform.

We also run our own paid search ads through Google Ads and Microsoft ads (formerly Bing ads), but we make sure our ads are properly targeted to the right category using UltraGranular's search term explorer tool to add negative keywords to our ad campaigns so that, when you land on one of our pages after clicking on an ad, you can expect a list that is as close as possible to what you were looking for.

7. What other criteria does AlphaChooser rely on?

Our ranking formula also uses some of the following criteria:
1. The number of reviews we found.
2. The actual number of different sources where we found those reviews.
3. In some cases, our profilers/writers' appreciation of each item.
4. The actual specs of the product being included in the list. A good example is our popular Best fast toaster list, which includes a metric we call watts per slice to rank the (potentially) fastest toasters. But it also relies on review scores to spot the best items within the category.

8. You use scores out of ten. Why not stars?

To distinguish our rankings from actual review star ratings, we put scores out of 10, based on the 5-based star rankings we gather from various sources. However, our rankings are reality-based, so that if we calculate an average review score of 4.6 stars from various sources, our score will be 9.2 out of 10.

9. Speaking of which, who runs AlphaChooser?

AlphaChooser is published from Montreal, Quebec, Canada by Eric Bernatchez, former freelance consumer-advocacy journalist and Bachelors es Arts in Communication and journalism.

We also employ item researchers that we call "profilers." Profilers carefully research the specs of the items we cover and sort them in the right categories, which is one of our greatest strengths. At AlphaChooser, when you are looking for self-empty robot vacuums, you can make sure the list will show just that -- not accessories or unrelated products. Jonathan, our quality-control specialist, also makes sure that the items we show are currently available.

10. Alphachooser includes affiliate links to online stores. Does it influence your rankings?

No, we still show the best items first even if they are not available in stores affiliated with us, and we do list plenty of items that are good, yet not offered in stores with which we have an affiliate agreement. AlphaChooser is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, .ca, .co.uk, etc. Since Amazon carries a wide range of products, and in many cases, most of the most-prevalent products in a given category, there would be no point for us in boosting products which do not get a high score.

We used to be purists and run only ads with no purchase links. The decision to include product prices on AlphaChooser happened after various users complained that, though we guided them into choosing the best items, we kind of left them to themselves when came the time to decide and make a purchase. Together with display advertising, affiliates fees we collect when you visit a merchant site and make a purchase contribute to our mission.


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