Tensions within bodybuilding.com reviews

Abstract

Finding truthful and honest reviews online for a product can be hard to do. There is no certainty that what you are reading is factual. One major site, bodybuilding.com, has a page specifically for buying supplements. Before people actually buy the product, most of them will often read through the reviews to see what others thought about the same product. These reviews are a lot of the time crucial to wether a buyer will make a purchase of the selected product or opt to try a different one instead.These reviews are an example of digital writing, where individuals share their thoughts online and is easily accessible. Using participant observation and textual analysis, I examine the different types of reviews that are posted. I was able to analyze the types of reviews written, and the purpose of these reviews. Several themes emerged: companies will pose as a normal person writing an amazing review of how well the product worked for them, people who have actually taken the product will write a review on how good the product worked for them, people will discuss how the product didn't work for them.

Key Terms

Fake Reviewers

The reviews of bodybuilding.com are not always what they appear to be. From personal experience I have witnessed reviews that were written by companies just to sell their product. One review I instantly knew was fake was for the product "Assault".

"ASSAULT provides bodybuilders, powerlifters, fighters and strength athletes with a potent pre- and intra- workout powerhouse that fuels limit- shattering levels of performance that are sure to bust through any plateau. Consume ASSAULT prior to training, or sip on it during the first part of your workout. From your first dose onward, I felt a performance-boosting power surge that powered my entire workout, from stretching through to my final set."

After reading this review, it was a dead giveaway that it was fake. The reviewer used the exact same saying that was on the ACTUAL label of "Assault",

"ASSAULT provides bodybuilders, powerlifters, fighters and strength athletes with a potent pre- and intra- workout powerhouse that fuels limit-shattering levels of performance that are sure to bust through any plateau. Consume ASSAULT prior to training, or sip on it during the first part of your workout. From your first dose onward, feel a performance-boosting power surge that will power your entire workout, from stretching through to your final set"

The only difference is the reviewer just switched the words, 'you' to 'I', so that it seemed like they were a person who took the product. These fake reviews are not personal, and they don't use realistic words and phrasings. People tend to get annoyed by these types of reviews because they aren't being 100% honest. They say whatever they have to in order to get people to buy their product. When researching about what people thought about these fake profiles I came across an interesting post by Chimmy: "I think the bodyspace profile should have a requirement of at least 5 post on the forums in order to state their input and review the supplements. This is mainly because of the amount of fake profiles out there that companies are making to lower the ratings of their competitors and increase their own rating. These profiles are always a dead give away because most of them have no profile picture with 0 stats and the only thing done on their profile is reviewing of supplements. Most of the time its obvious as to which company they are even working for because their reviews are so bias." Chimmy was not the only person that felt this way about the fake profiles. People want to know the truth about a product they are looking in to, not just someone hyping up the product to be better than what it actually is. They would rather read reviews from actual people who HAVE taken the product, and their recommendations on it.

"Justification"

Companies creating fake profiles seemed to clash with the theme of people who have actually taken a product will write a review on how good the product worked for them. I decided to term this theme “justification”. Although this is not one of the main "moves" writers make, it is used rhetorically. They will give their opinion on what they think of the product. The writers will state what the good things are about the product, and tell the reader how it related to them. In this example, the writer describes what results they got for the product and why it worked for them. “I love this supplement!! A friend of mine brought me some of his when he was down visiting. It enhances my mental functioning, gives me energy and increases my endurance on long runs and strenuous workouts. I highly recommend Kreation!” This is the type of theme that readers are looking for because it seems personable and the audience can relate because they use phrases and words that normal people would use, such as 'love'. People are on the website to find a product that other people have placed a good review on. This theme causes tension with companies creating fake profiles because it could give the audience a false review. The audience would believe that the product was great and worked well if they read the review from the company, and then they buy the product and it ends up not giving them any results. Whereas, an actual good review from someone will make the audience want the product, and once they get start taking it they start to get results. This creates trust between the audience and the reviewer.

"Downgrading"

Another theme that caused tension with fake profiles( by companies was the idea that actual people writing the review will discuss how bad a product was. I termed this move “downgrading”. This is another "move" that writers tend to make. This is when the writer talks about how bad the product was for them, and why they do not recommend it for anyone. In this example the writer talks about how he didn’t like it, trying to get people not to buy it. “I am sure glad I only got a single serving bottle of this to try cause my god was it bad.” A review, on the exact same product, written by a company that created a fake profile said

"N.O.-XPLODE is BSN's #1 selling extreme pre-training energy and performance igniter. From the very first serving you will experience elevated physical and mental energy, muscle-expanding pumps, unparalleled strength and stamina; not to mention tunnel-vision like mental focus, allowing you to zone in and have the best training session possible.* By combining all of these benefits in one knock-out formula, you will experience a level of training intensity that you never thought was imaginable, getting you physically and mentally dialed in for the training session that lies before you;* leaving those days of lackluster workouts behind. Once you train with N.O.-XPLODE, you will never train without it!"

These reviews show how the tension between fake profiles and real people clashes. The company continues to advertise their product while the real user expresses his disdain for the product. They are complete opposites of each other, causing confusion among the audience. If the company is making the product seem amazing, people will believe it. But if people are writing about how bad a product is and how it didn't work for them at all, they are also likely to believe that. This makes it hard for the audience to decide which review is accurate and will help them to decide on the product.

Conclusion

The reviews on bodybuilding.com exemplify rhetoric through the use of words and emotion to move people to action or a different way of thinking. The fake review tries to appeal to the audience by stating all of the 'potential benefits' of the product. They use words such as 'unparalleled strength', that the audience will find most appealing. If someone reads that they are going to gain 'unparalleled strength' from a product, they are going to instantly be attracted to it and want to read more. This could eventually lead the audience to be persuaded to buy the product. Reading a real-life story, from an actual person, about how they had positive gains from a product also appeals to the audience. Coming from an actual person, it appeals to the audience on an emotional level. They feel like they could relate to the writer and eventually get the gains he did. All in all, fake profiles and real people's reviews create tension within bodybuilding.com as they struggle to convince readers of a product's benefits or disadvantages. This tension creates confusion for readers, but generally readers look to real people for more accurate reviews out of emotional connection and credibility of the person posting.

Links

Geno's Page
This page over tensions among reviews, is similar to Geno's Page because there he discusses how there are tensions within blogs. In general, both of these pages discuss how there are tensions within a community. One of the major commonality Geno's page has with mine is that the reviews are not always accurate. He discusses how a review can be biased towards an individual or team they like. This is similar to when I discuss how a company writes a review to better sell their product, essentially being "biased" towards their product.

References
1. "Bodybuilding.com Reviews - BSN N.O.-Xplode." Bodybuilding.com Product Ratings and Reviews - Largest Source of Supplement Reviews Online! Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://reviews.bodybuilding.com/BSN/NOXplode>.
2. "Bodybuilding.com Reviews - SciFit Kreation Powder." Bodybuilding.com Product Ratings and Reviews - Largest Source of Supplement Reviews Online! Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://reviews.bodybuilding.com/SciFit/Kreation_Powder>.
3. "BSN N.O.-Xplode at Bodybuilding.com: Lowest Prices for N.O.-Xplode." Bodybuilding.com - Huge Online Supplement Store & Fitness Community! Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bsn/no-xplode.html>.
4. "Supplement Rating System - Bodybuilding.com Forums." Bodybuilding.com Forums - Bodybuilding And Fitness Board. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=138828693>.