SoftwareAdvice Community Guidelines - FAQs
Review Verification & Publication
Who determines which reviews should be published?
All reviews are manually examined by our team of experts in an effort to ensure published reviews are from verified sources and provide helpful content. All reviews are treated equally during the verification process, regardless of rating or vendor. During this process, the team verifies the reviewer’s identity, checks for conflicts of interest, and evaluates the review against our site guidelines. For a more in-depth overview, please see our Quality Assurance guidelines.
Does your site publish negative reviews?
Simply put, yes. We treat one-star reviews no differently from five-star reviews. Like other online reviews platforms, our sites are intended to provide a forum for discussion between vendors and software users. By remaining neutral, they can host a wide array of opinions that help software shoppers make informed decisions. For this reason, and also to ensure compliance with applicable laws, we do not modify content or remove an opinion or statement from a verified review. For a detailed overview of our Quality Assurance process, click here.
Why was a previously published review disabled after being published?
The reviews program is continuously evolving. As we improve our methods, we periodically audit previously published reviews as they are flagged by our system. If a past review does not meet our current standards or our current guidelines, it may be removed by our team.
What happens if a fraudulent review is found?
If a review is found to be fraudulent by our team, it will be removed from our site. In addition, the reviewer may be subject to removal from any outreach campaigns, and/or banned from leaving future reviews from our site. If a software vendor is found to have participated in fraudulent activity, their account may be subject to future sanctions such as a publicly visible warning about suspicious activity.
What is considered fraud?
SoftwareAdvice endeavours to provide our users an unbiased reviews catalogue with content from other community members. Though every reviewer is entitled to–and encouraged to share–their own opinion, SoftwareAdvice is vigilant against attempts to deceive others through their review’s content. Any reviews found to be fraudulent or not in compliance with applicable law will be removed, and the submitter of the review will be subject to penalties.
Fraudulent activity may include, but is not limited to, the following:
Attempts by a vendor to influence the reputation of themselves, or another vendor, by:
Paying for the services of a third party, such as a marketing agency, to post reviews
Submitting reviews of their own product, or of any software (such as a competitor’s product) in which they have a financial interest
Submitting reviews on behalf of an actual user, with or without their consent
Encouraging reviews to be posted based on false pretences
Discouraging users from posting negative feedback
Harassing or bullying a reviewer over a review in an attempt to force its removal
Coaching users in their writing of the review
Vendors must not review a competitor’s product or pay for reviews to be submitted for a competitor’s product.
Fraudulent activity may also include attempts by a reviewer to damage the reputation of a vendor, or obtain incentives, through false pretences such as:
Writing a review of a software product without actual experience using the product
Writing a review of a software product after being solicited by a competitor
Copying content from another source, including our own site
Allowing a third party to post a review on your behalf
A reviewer should not review a product for which they have a conflict of interest or a financial stake in its success.
What is considered a “Bad” review?
We believe it is important not to focus on the star rating alone. Our research has shown that people actually find reviews of products more believable if they have a variety of star ratings. In addition, a detailed review, even if a “lower” score, provides a much clearer picture of an experience than a five-star review with few details.
We encourage our vendors to respond to all customer reviews, regardless of rating given. We believe (and research shows) that a vendor’s willingness to address critical reviews builds credibility, shows responsiveness, and generally creates a more favourable opinion of the vendor and product.
Can a review be submitted by a competitor?
No. When our Quality Assurance (“QA“) team verifies each reviewer’s identity, we take steps to ensure that they are a real person, not a scammer, and (among other items) do not have any conflict of interest (financial or competitive) with the vendor they are reviewing. Please see an overview of our Quality Assurance guidelines for more details.
Are old reviews removed if a product’s features have been updated?
If a review was submitted for a version of the product which was active and being supported at the time the review was submitted, the review will remain published. It is an accurate reflection of what the user’s experience was at that point in time.
As a product evolves, it is typical to see a shift in the nature of the reviews listed, and we believe this helps increase the value to software shoppers visiting our site. Older reviews can help a software shopper see how things have changed over the long term and help them gain confidence that issues are being addressed and updates being made over time.
How can I flag a suspicious review?
We take several steps in an effort to safeguard against fraudulent reviews. We have technology in place, as well as a team dedicated to verifying the authenticity of the reviews. But no system is perfect, and an inappropriate review may slip through. In these rare instances, you may flag a review by emailing us at [email protected], providing as much information as possible about the review, and the reasons you believe it should be investigated.
Vendors may log in to their vendor portals for instructions as to how to flag a review. For more details about our process, please refer to our Reviews Investigation Guidelines. What evidence do you consider while evaluating a review flagged for fraud?
While our internal investigative processes are confidential and all decisions are subject to our discretion, we have outlined some key factors that we consider during our reviews investigation process. Click here for an overview of our investigation process.
Do you require proof of use when evaluating a review?
We will request proof of use from users when investigating reviews, but it‘s not required. Our experience has shown that “proof of use” is a valuable piece of the puzzle, but not a reliable source of proof on its own. It is just one aspect among an array of considerations we use when evaluating a review. Faking proof of use through doctored screenshots or images taken from web searches is a method favoured by those looking to scam our system. Moreover, with tens of thousands of products listed in our catalogue, it is simply not feasible for our QA team to become experts in verifying proof of use across all products. In our ongoing efforts to treat all vendors equally, we consider “proof of use” as one aspect among the many that make up our investigation.
How is it possible for fraudulent reviews to pass verification?
We have technology in place, as well as a team dedicated to verify reviews, to safeguard against fraudulent reviews. Every review is verified with care and consideration to ensure a high quality of content is published across our site. No system is perfect, however, and with a huge volume of reviews submitted monthly, an inappropriate review may slip through. In these cases we rely on our vendors and our reviewer community to alert us of potential fraud by “flagging” a review for further review.
Why are some reviews accompanied by a notation stating they were incentivized?
We have implemented an “i” icon on our site, which will indicate the reviewer was offered an incentive to leave their review. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Online Reviews guideline recommends, and applicable laws in other relevant jurisdictions may require, online review platforms to disclose any incentive which the User was offered in exchange for a review. The notification regarding the incentive must be placed prominently on the review page affected by the incentive (whether invited by the website or by the software vendor). See the guide Online reviews - a guide for business & review platforms. Our policies require that any such incentive must be made available to all reviewers who submit reviews, regardless of the rating they ultimately give the product they are reviewing.
Does SoftwareAdvice fact-check reviews for accuracy?
Our team has analysed hundreds of thousands of reviews across the tens of thousands of products listed in our catalogue. It would not be feasible for our QA team to become experts equally across all products or to spend an equal amount of time verifying the details of each review. In our effort to treat all vendors equally, we must not fact check the opinions submitted by our reviewers. Instead, our Quality Assurance team focuses on verifying the identity of the reviewers and ensuring that reviews posted meet our site guidelines. Please find more details about our QA process, and our Reviews Guidelines.
May a foreign language review be published on your site?
We accept reviews submitted in the local language of the User’s country. In addition, all foreign language reviews will have a translate button where users can translate them to the appropriate language.
FAQs for Vendors
How can a vendor respond to a review?
We allow, and encourage, all vendors to respond in a constructive and respectful manner to reviews left on their profile pages. For guidance in this process, vendors may access their vendor portal to find more details on leaving a response via our platform.
What should we do if we receive a negative review?
We understand a negative review can be upsetting. As a reviews platform, we provide an opportunity for vendors to address misunderstandings or issues. A vendor’s response to a negative user review has the potential to result in a positive experience for both vendor and reviewer, as well as demonstrate to other software shoppers a great customer service experience. Please see our guide to addressing negative reviews as well as this blog post about the positive outcomes of negative reviews.
Will my responses to reviews be sent to the reviewer?
When submitting a response to a review through your vendor portal, there will be an option to select “Send response to reviewer.” This option will be available regardless of whether the reviewer decided to publicly display their information.
Will we be notified of a new review submission for my product?
No, vendors are sent a notice only after a review has been published by our team. To avoid confusion from spam or reviews that do not pass our QA process, no notifications are sent upon a review submission.
We didn’t ask for this review to be published to our profile - why was it published on your site?
Visitors to our sites are free to submit reviews to our QA process on whichever software they choose. As an unbiased, user-driven reviews platform, we do not ask for consent from the vendor before a review is published. All vendors are treated equally in this respect and cannot opt out of receiving reviews. In this way, our reviewers generate valuable content that help our other community of software shoppers make informed decisions.
May a vendor request its profile or product listing be removed from your site?
Like all online reviews platforms, we endeavour to provide our users with software product directories that are as comprehensive as possible. As such, our policy is not to remove product listings from our sites unless: (i) the product listing does not fit within one of the existing software categories (or “directories”); (ii) the vendor can provide evidence that product is no longer actively being marketed and/or sold to the public; or (iii) the listing or profile fails to comply with our guidelines.
Why is a review submitted in the past just now being published?
In our ongoing efforts to improve our service, we periodically audit our reviews database. And, as our ability to vet these reviews improves, we may find past reviews that still contain entirely valid content that we can now publish. These reviews will display in the order of their submission date. Because there is no time stamp on verified reviews, we treat these past reviews the same as all other verified reviews submissions. We publish them as they were originally submitted, unless we have edited them in accordance with our Community Guidelines
We flagged a review for investigation, but it was not removed. Can you tell us why?
If a review was not removed following your investigation request, this means that during the course of our investigation our team found the flagged review to be in compliance with our site guidelines. While we cannot provide further details about the investigatory process, we can confirm that the reviews team devotes significant time and effort to investigating every escalated review and evaluating the review against our site guidelines.
The reviews on our profile mention features we no longer offer – can we remove those reviews?
A review cannot be removed simply because it is referencing features that are no longer actively supported. If the review was valid at the time of submission, it is reflective of the user’s experience with that software at that point in time. While recent reviews are more likely to reflect a product’s most current set of capabilities and most relevant experiences, it is important for our shoppers to consider how reviews about a vendor have progressed over time as the software as developed.
Does your site share the contact information of a reviewer with a vendor?
As a vendor, would any evidence we provide along with a review be considered in its evaluation?
Yes, we consider all information when investigating a flagged review. However, we are unable to act as an intermediary between vendors and reviewers. As a reviews platform, we cannot make decisions based on interactions that took place between a vendor and a reviewer outside of our site. Because we are not able to validate private communications, such as email exchanges or phone conversations that happen outside of our site, these can be unreliable. Therefore, we consider outside communications as one aspect among the many that make up our investigation. More details about our investigation process can be found here.
We do not know this reviewer. We do not believe they are a user of our software. How could they leave a review?
While we understand that many vendors pride themselves on knowing their user base, there are many valid cases where a vendor might not know a legitimate reviewer, based on the information provided along with a review. These cases include but are not limited to the following:
Software buyers who evaluate multiple tools before purchasing software. We believe these evaluative experiences (in a proof of concept or with trial versions) are valid experiences in their own right and thus worthy of sharing with our user community.
Software accounts that are shared by multiple users or business units at a single company. The reviewer may not be the account owner and thus may be unknown to the vendor.
Vendor contracts that are signed under a company name, not by an individual.
Reviewers who change jobs and have used the software at their previous company.
Users who submit under a name other than the name used on their contract with the vendor. For example, “Bob” rather than “Robert”, or the use of a maiden name.
Users who enter an alternative name for their current company, such as initials or a shortened name, or a parent or sister company, rather than the name used on their vendor contract.
Users who opt to use an abbreviated or screen name to maintain their anonymity.
Reviewers who log in with LinkedIn but choose to remain anonymous. These users have been validated by our Reviews team, but their reviews will not display any identifying information. Learn more about anonymous reviews.
As a neutral platform, we rely on our reviewers to provide accurate and honest descriptions of their software experiences. In keeping with our efforts to provide the broadest possible picture of the software industry, we try not to limit the types of software experiences that are shared on our site. Because any software user has a valid experience to share, a reviewer is not required to be the account owner or to have been in direct contact with the vendor. However, vendors should contact us if they consider a review is not authentic (see Review Investigation Process)
We received multiple reviews for our product from reviewers working at the same company. Is this allowed?
Yes, there are no restrictions as to how many reviewers from the same company may review a given product. As co-workers often use the same product in different ways, we feel that providing these multiple viewpoints is a valuable service to our community. However, any one reviewer is prohibited from writing more than one review of a product within a short time period (that is, from writing duplicate reviews or a second review of the same product within 6 months of their first review).
Are vendors allowed to ask for a review in exchange for an incentive?
Vendors are permitted to ask their customers for reviews and offer nominal incentives for doing so. SoftwareAdvice also sends out periodic email campaigns asking for a software review in exchange for an incentive amount.
These incentives must be offered to all reviewers, regardless of whether they leave a positive or negative review.
Vendors found using incentives to influence the content of a review will result in the review’s removal.
Vendors are required to notify SoftwareAdvice if they source reviews in exchange for an incentive.
Please refer to our guidelines section About Incentivised Reviews.
Why were some of our users emailed by your site about reviews?
Most of our reviews come from users posting reviews directly on our site or in response to our in-house reviews campaigns (which are targeted to our own database of site members). Users are added to our database voluntarily as they leave reviews on our site, sign up for our mailing lists, or phone our in-house sales teams. While visiting our site or when responding to our reviews campaigns, users are free to review any software they wish. We may then email these users about reviews from time to time based on their past interaction with one of our sites.
May a vendor contact a reviewer to request that they remove their review from the vendor’s profile?
We encourage interchanges between vendors and reviewers via our review response mechanism. Vendors should not contact a reviewer, either directly or indirectly, with the goal of getting a review removed or edited. SoftwareAdvice does NOT condone, and has a zero-tolerance policy for, any threats or bullying of our reviewers. If we receive a report that a vendor has reached out to a reviewer to request a review to be removed/edited, or harasses that reviewer in any manner, we encourage the reviewer to contact our site immediately by emailing [email protected]areadvice.com. Based on the results of our investigation, vendors that violate our guidelines repeatedly or otherwise attempt to abuse our Program will be issued notice of our concerns. If the vendor continues to violate our Guidelines following receipt of such notice, we reserve the right to impose penalties at our discretion, including without limitation the right to modify or discontinue (temporarily or permanently) vendors access to our Site and Services.
Why are vendors prohibited from submitting reviews on behalf of their customers?
Though no fraud may be intended, when a third party submits a review on someone else’s behalf, we cannot determine whether the content was submitted with the reviewer’s consent or if the original content has been modified in any manner. When we identify a customer review submitted by a vendor, we will disable the review. The original reviewer is encouraged, following such disablement, to submit a review in their own right directly to our site.
Do you treat reviews for products by paying vendors differently than reviews for products by non-paying vendors?
All reviews for all vendors across all directories are subject to the same Quality Assurance process, regardless of whether or not they are a paying client. We make every effort to ensure that our reviews team is completely unbiased and unmotivated by revenue. This is one of the primary reasons the reviews team is separate from the sales and marketing teams.
Why are vendors found to have participated in fraudulent reviews activity not banned from your site?
We believe that providing a full catalogue of software across a variety of categories is more important to our users than removing a listing altogether. Instead, we look to sanction vendors for activity which does not comply with our Guidelines in other ways, such as flagging their profile for fraud as a warning to software buyers. In this way, we provide valuable information to software shoppers that would not be evident were we to simply remove the profile from our catalogue.
Our software has been penalized, what can we do?
In the event that your software page displays a warning or flag and you’re unsure why, contact the reviews team through your vendor portal for a brief synopsis of the activity that led to the warning, along with additional details about the warning.
What should we do if someone is blackmailing us by threatening a negative review?
We are not mediators or arbitrators and do not intervene in disputes between our reviewers and vendors. If you feel you are being harassed or threatened, we suggest you contact applicable law enforcement.
If a negative review does not meet our guidelines, please flag the review for investigation through the vendor portal. Our team will investigate accordingly as per our standard investigation procedures
What is the “Reviews as a Service” program?
FAQs for Reviewers
Why am I receiving emails from SoftwareAdvice after submitting a review?
I left a review but didn’t receive a gift card! Why not?
For those reviewers who submitted a review as part of an incentive program, please keep a few key points in mind:
Only published reviews are eligible for an incentive. If a review did not meet our Community Guidelines and was not published, the reviewer will not be eligible for an incentive for that review. We do, however, encourage that reviewer to submit reviews in future incentivised review campaigns they remain eligible for.
Gift cards are automatically fulfilled by our system at set times. In order to minimize error, our system automatically fulfils gift cards for eligible reviews at periodic intervals.
Ensure that the email link to which you responded contained an incentive offer. Only reviews that are submitted after clicking on an incentive link in an email are eligible for an incentive. These links contain tracking information that allows us to match the incentive to the submitted review. If you did not click on a link in the campaign email, our system has no way to know that you left the review and so you will not receive the incentive.
We could not verify your identity. If we required additional information from you, we may have contacted you for additional information, during which time both your review publication and incentive were paused. Responding to our request may allow us to publish the review and provide you with your incentive.
The gift card confirmation link was not clicked on. To ensure our incentives are going only to valid emails, we send a confirmation email containing a link that must be clicked on before the actual incentive is sent.
The review was submitted after the incentive expired or after payout limits were reached. Some of our programs offer a limited number of gift cards only, or have an offer that expires after a set period of time. Reviews submitted after the thresholds have been met would not qualify for a incentive.
In all cases, please double check your Spam and Trash accounts for our gift card offers before reaching out to our support team.
A note on fraud. Gift card codes are unique and may only be used by those who have access to the email the cards were originally sent to. Please know that we are able to track gift card balance and identify whether a gift card has been redeemed and used. Illegitimate requests for an incentive, as well as any fraudulent activity related to leaving reviews in exchange for an incentive, may result in removal from our reviews incentive program.
Why wasn’t my review published?
To protect the integrity of our reviews program, reviews may be disabled or not published if we do not feel confident we have verified the identity of the reviewer, or if we feel the content submitted does not adhere to our guidelines. In some cases we will reach out to reviewers requesting additional information to help us determine whether we can publish the review. Following your review submission, please keep an eye out for an email from us requesting additional details that may be required to publish your review!
If it’s only been a short while since you submitted your review, please be aware that it may take up to a week before a submitted review has time to be properly vetted. On average, a review takes up to 72 hours to be verified and published.
There were some edits to my review. Can you tell me why?
As per our reviewer policies, so long as a review meets our guidelines, we will not edit it in any way that would change the original meaning. However, we may make edits to correct typos or remove non-standard characters or clarify (for example if there was a missing word). The reviewer will not be notified about these edits, which are made at the discretion of SoftwareAdvice.
How can I edit or remove my own review?
Only the original reviewer is entitled to direct us to edit their content or request that we remove their review.
To request an edit to an existing review: Any reviewer may send us an email (using the email address via which they submitted their original review) to [email protected], explaining the exact edits, along with any additional rationale behind the edits (for our records). Assuming the edits or new content adheres to our Guidelines, we will be happy to make those changes.
To request a review to be removed: Any reviewer may send us an email (using the email address used to submit the original review) to [email protected], explaining which review they want to remove and the rationale for such removal (for our records). Once we disable an existing review, a reviewer always has the option to submit a new review for the product.
**I submitted a review but was told the review did not meet site guidelines and will not be published. What now?
If a review does not pass our QA process or is identified by our team as not meeting our Community Guidelines, the review will not be published. Reviews that are not published do not qualify for an incentive, even when submitted in response to an incentive offer. Users may submit another review that meets our guidelines.
Is a reviewer allowed to review the same product more than once?
Reviews cannot be simple duplicates or copies of earlier reviews. While a reviewer may update their own review at any time, only a single review per product is allowed within a six-month period. If a second review is submitted by the same reviewer within this timeframe, the older review will be disabled and the newer review will remain published as the most recent experience.
Are reviewers liable for leaving fraudulent reviews?
In short, possibly. As a condition of submitting a review, you tick a box stating that you acknowledge and agree to our site guidelines, which among other things state that all content submitted meets our guidelines. Our site has the right to seek legal action against any reviewer who submits a review containing fraudulent, or misleading, information. In addition, many jurisdictions in and outside of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore take reviews content very seriously and have prosecuted reviewers over posting fraudulent content. In 2011 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took action against a removalist business for misleading online reviews. The removalist business admitted making representations on its website that purported to be testimonials by genuine consumers when they were not. The business was required to pay an infringement notice as a result. Countries outside of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, such as the UK, France, Italy, and Germany, have especially strict laws posted about reviews fraud, as dictated by the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
Terms Last Updated: June 2020