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Human Error

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Sam has been working as a human review appraiser and not because that was their intention. The job found them instead of the other way around, and they stayed at the job in part out of inertia and in part out of apathy. In the good old days, Sam had been just one of the thousands of humans devoted to spotting, analyzing and identifying fake reviews and counterfeits.

Now the department carried just five; the algorithm took care of the rest. That algorithm had been getting smarter and more precise with time. Sam was not impervious to the irony: the more fake reviews they caught, the more their job became irrelevant. But Sam was pastcaring by this point. One of every thousand reviews was sent to them and most of them were just boring, but they were properly appraised, recorded into the log and brought to the weekly meeting. It was boring, predictable and doomed work, but it had its unexpected perks. Small things that caught their numb mind, like reviews.

The newest ad campaign had been extremely successful; Amazon Prime had been taking heaps of profit, particularly in the furniture department. The big wigs that managed advertisements were pretty pleased, but they never cared for the small things. Sam could be perfectly happy knowing the company was doing well, except for the reviews. Furniture reviews had been strange lately. Not Reddit worthy, and not cringe-inducing. Just plain weird.

The reviews were definitely human—no machine could ever carry that syntax without stopping in its confused tracks—and they were kind of endearing, despite their unusual content. People were happy with their purchases. Sam opened their carpet of suspicious reviews because the issue had been bugging them. Their eyes surveyed the lines looking for something really abnormal.

This chair is amazing! Best purchase ever!

Originally, I ordered this chair to spend more time with my newborn baby but once it got here I knew I could only share it with myself. Spending time with myself had been a total lifesaver with a daughter whose age you still count in weeks. The more I sit in my new chair with myself, the more I fall in love with the powerful, modern and adventurous woman I am. I know all the places where I enjoy best and, of course, I take advantage of it: I still can’t believe how well made this chair is, given the rough treatment I and myself dealt within the first week. I have learned to let go and push forward at the same time and it all came to me thanks to his chair.

Thank you for providing good quality furniture.

Customers were happy. Perhaps too happy... 

The thought that the company was to blame for such reactions crossed their mind. It wouldn’t be the first attempt at neuromarketing yielding strange results, but the variation was within the expected curve. Some members of the population were more susceptible than others, and the sample Sam had analyzed so far might represent only the extreme cases.

The set arrived promptly, but one of the chairs had a shallow scratch. Nothing me and myself couldn’t repair with a bit of way and a little elbow grease. It was a good project to keep us amused one rainy Sunday.

Since then, we had had such a great time. I am such an interesting person and can keep me interested in the most different topics. I'm such a charming fellow; honestly, I didn’t have a hint of how delightful I was until I got this set. I don’t even miss the company of my friends as long as I have the jaunty presence of myself.

I also can cook a succulent meal and well-balanced too! Thought I would recommend going lightly with the wine: when I have a nice romantic dinner with myself the cover of the extension slides and it could lead to painful nips in the most sensible areas! 

All of them were long and happy reviews, which was strange for furniture. Most furniture reviews went along the lines of ‘as advertised’, ‘arrived on the agreed date’ or another kind filled with more colorful expletives. These were something else… Sam opened another and ran the natural language processing software. Sometimes, counterfeits were not readily apparent.

I have recently moved to a new city and this new bed frame fits perfectly in my new apartment and it’s sturdy enough to stand the weight of two grown men (plus a lazy pup) jumping up and down on my new mattress and comfortable enough to cuddle myself afterward. On cold mornings, when work is not an issue, I’m glad of tarrying between the sheets hugging myself and playing with my hair; though I never suspected I could achieve this new intimacy until I found myself with the aid of your products. This bed made me realize that with a bit of care, devotion, and imagination, I can be a better lover and a more caring partner to myself. I’m no longer at the mercy of loneliness since I have myself to keep me company. I’m very thankful for Amazon Prime’s service.

The software determined the review was human-made and spat out a list of all the sites the human had visited as proof. Sam read the last message again and steepled their fingers at the glow of the screen. Half of the benefits these reviews commented on were not related to the product, and Sam couldn’t wrap their head around the relationship between the furniture and the perceived increase in happiness or the improper use of first-person pronouns.

Out of curiosity, because the tools were there and ready to be used, Sam checked the analytics, cross-referencing the users’ shopping habits and site hits. The software ran smoothly but came out empty-handed: there was no overlap whatsoever. The only thing in common was that they commented on their purchases. Lavishly...

A successful campaign, blooming sales, raving reviews and happy customers; none of them were reasons to raise a red flag. Maybe they should forget about those peculiar messages. The publicity was not harming anyone.

Another flagged review pinged Sam’s screen and with a weary sigh, they returned to their job.