HostSearch.com, the Internet’s largest source of information relating to web hosts and the web hosting industry, has reaffirmed its commitment towards ensuring only valid web host reviews appear in its database. “It’s a considerable effort ensuring that reviews are legitimate, but it’s something that has to be done,” explained HostSearch.com Web Editor, Mr. John Hughes.
“As far as HostSearch.com is concerned, I think the behavior of some hosts reflects pretty badly on the industry. If you want to be a web hosting star you have to provide an excellent service, it’s as simple as that. Rather than channeling energy in that direction, many companies go to extreme lengths to ensure that they receive only positive reviews on HostSearch and other sites, and likewise some invest inordinate amounts of time trying to sneak in reviews that will bring down their business competitors. It’s tragic.”
HostSearch.com offers web hosts a free listing of their company details and the details of their products and services. The website’s visitors are able to rate a host’s service and leave comments about their experience. The objective is to provide those looking for web hosting with a tool which will enable them to weigh up the pros and cons of a particular host. Unfortunately, as the system is ‘human bound’ it is open to abuse and ensuring that the ratings and reviews come from legitimate users is an ongoing struggle.
“Some of the hosts registered to HostSearch simply email us and ask us to remove negative reviews. They don’t seem to get it - it doesn’t work like that,” continued Mr. Hughes. “Of course we ensure email addresses are valid and check DNS information to ensure a review is valid, and rarely is a review allowed on the site that doesn’t provide a valid website. If a review is based on only a few weeks experience with a host, alarms bells start ringing. Of course, we get feedback from other users about potentially bogus reviews, but you also get a sense of when a review is genuine or not. The ‘sucks’ / ‘rocks’ terminology people use is often a give away – expletives and superlatives provide other signs, but often signals are more subtle and you have to dig much deeper.”
Mr. Hughes described one incident when a web host continually contacted him with a request to have negative reviews removed. Every time the reason given was the same – the poster had never been a customer. Checks suggested this to be the case; DNS information showed the servers where the site was hosted were not under the host’s business name and as a result the reviews were disabled. “The number of requests got more and more though, and I became a bit suspicious,” said Mr. Hughes. “I checked the DNS details again, and this time started digging deeper into related websites. To cut a long story short, the host in question had set up servers under another company name and as a result was able to tell me that such and such a person had never been a customer. Technically this was true, but when I wrote to the posters many came back with documentary evidence that showed whose customer they were. All of the reviews were immediately reactivated. Those sorts of investigations take time though and we are leaning more towards web hosts responding to reviews they question. They can do this using their member control panel and if they are sure of themselves they should have no problem responding to illegitimate claims.”
Mr. Hughes responded to suggestions on some Internet discussion boards that HostSearch favored certain hosts, being more inclined to ensure negative reviews about paying advertisers were removed. “It’s simply not the case,” said Mr. Hughes. “The host I was talking about before (above) was one of our customers and we don’t appreciate that sort of behavior from anyone – it makes a mockery of the industry.” Mr. Hughes did however concede that with a system where judgment calls played such a big part in establishing whether a review is valid or not, there are bound to be mistakes. “Almost certainly,” he suggested. “I cannot guarantee that all of the reviews on HostSearch.com are valid – that would be simply too much to state. But what I can guarantee is this: We put as much effort as possible into blocking bogus reviews and I think we do a pretty good job. I am sure the result of our effort is a site where you can read a review with the high level of assurance that it was posted by someone who genuinely wants to share their point of view with other members of the web hosting community.”
HostSearch.com was established in 1997 and provides unbiased information about web hosting providers and the web hosting industry. The site maintains the largest database of information about web hosts available on the Internet and the site continually upgrades its service to ensure the information it provides meets the requirements of its visitors.