These Community Guidelines govern the Reviews Program of the Software Advice site and our affiliate sites and describe the rules of play for users, reviewers and vendors. This document includes three main sections:
- Understanding Reviews: A guide for all users which covers our Reviews Program, the quality assurance (QA) and vetting of reviews published on our site, and how to interpret software reviews.
- Writing Reviews: An outline of the guidelines reviews should meet in order to be published and reasonable expectations those writing reviews, the process for flagging reviews, and a few other details about our program.
- Issues Affecting Vendors: An overview of the issues affecting vendors, including guidelines vendors must follow, vendor expectations, best practices, and a link to our site with more information.
We have also created a detailed Reviews FAQ, which will help provide answers to some of the most common questions asked about our reviews program.
We reserve the right to update or otherwise modify these Community Guidelines from time to time. You are responsible for checking these Community Guidelines periodically for changes and updates. Your use of our Sites and/or Services after such notice has posted constitutes your acceptance of the updated Community Guidelines.
Reviews Program Overview
Reviews play an important part in educating potential software buyers by sharing the opinions of peers and others who have relevant experiences. Reviews not only help buyers make better informed decisions, but provide vendors with feedback and valuable insight about their software or service. We take each review seriously and focus on creating a site that is helpful and maintains high-quality, relevant content written by verified users and is free of conflicts of interest.
As a website operator, we display content generated by our community of software users in the form of software reviews. The opinions expressed in reviews are those of the reviewers and not of Software Advice. We do not endorse any of the opinions expressed by reviewers or by vendor management in response to reviews. And we identify in these Community Guidelines the rules governing our reviews program for (i) the users of the site, (ii) those users who write reviews, and (iii) the vendors who are listed and/or reviewed on the site.
Quality Assurance (QA) and Verification Process
We’re committed to being a platform for high-quality reviews and have built a robust reviews Quality Assurance (QA) process in order to achieve that goal. 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.
As a user-driven reviews platform, Software Advice provides a neutral platform intended to facilitate discussion between software providers/vendors and software shoppers. As such, it is our aim to safeguard against fraud by taking steps to verify each reviewer’s identity. We also seek to confirm that the reviewer has no conflicts of interest (such as being an employee or competitor of the product’s company), and that the review content meets our guidelines for publishing (listed below).
Here are the three key steps of reviews verification:
Identity Check. Each reviewer is researched by our team of experts to find key identifiers such as name, job title, or email address to ensure that the review was left by a real person. If they’re unable to identify the reviewer, the review will not be published.
Conflict of Interest Check. Each reviewer’s name and company is checked against the product they are reviewing. If they’re in any way affiliated with the vendor, or are identified as a direct competitor, the review will not be published.
Content Check. Each review undergoes an evaluation to ensure it is original, authentic, and meets our quality standards. If the content does not meet our standards (which includes, but is not limited to, those listed below), the review will not be published.
What Else Does the QA Team Screen For?
Inappropriate Language, Violent or Hateful Speech. If the review content contains profane or obscene language, or is bullying or discriminatory.
Spam Content. If the review is SPAM, nonsensical, or self-promoting.
Invalid Reviewer. If the reviewer is identified as fraudulent, such as a vendor writing reviews on behalf of a customer, or a reviewer paid to write fake reviews.
Duplicate Reviews. If the review content has been previously published online, or the reviewer has already reviewed the product.
The List Goes On… We use a variety of expert tools beyond a basic web search. A review that does not pass our checklist is given a deeper dive by management or disabled.
Reviewers that violate our guidelines repeatedly, attempt to abuse our program, or are found to be spammers may have all of their reviews disabled, and may be subject to penalties, up to and including legal penalties. However, as a neutral reviews platform, we do not evaluate the merit of the opinions expressed on our site, and we do not fact-check content, when assessing which reviews should be published. We do offer the ability for third parties to flag reviews for investigation (see Flagging a Review).
How to Read a Review
A review expresses the opinion of a single person with experience using a certain software product. When evaluating a software product’s reviews set, it is important to consider the following:
- Do not rely on a single review. Each reviewer’s experience is unique to their own situation. Wherever possible, take into consideration multiple reviews to develop a broad understanding of the software’s capabilities and support.
- Consider the response of the vendor. There is always more than one side to every story. Take both a review and any response from the vendor into consideration. Vendor responses can be used to gauge how the vendor handles customer support issues.
- Evaluate reviews over time. It’s important to consider how reviews about a vendor have progressed over time to see if past issues are being resolved, and whether new issues are being addressed. More recent reviews are more likely to reflect a product’s most current set of capabilities and most relevant experiences.
While the posted reviews are not intended to provide readers a specific course of action, they provide software shoppers with an important tool to help them make informed decision. Use your judgment when evaluating a review’s content and make your decisions based on all information available to you.
Understanding Video Reviews
Video reviews are user-submitted video testimonials about software solicited by our site from our existing database of reviewers who are selected through an unbiased process and meet an objective set of criteria. Reviewers submitting a video review will have i) been previously validated through our Quality Assurance process, with a history of submitting high-quality reviews content meeting our site Community Guidelines, and ii) have previously submitted a published text review for the same product.
Video Reviews Guidelines
Video Reviews vs. Text Reviews
As previously noted, a video review is submitted by a reviewer who has a published text review already published for the same product. Video reviewers are not required to read their previous review verbatim, and are not obligated to maintain the same opinions. With this in mind, video reviews:
- Are not included in any ratings calculations. Video reviews are not considered “second reviews”, and are not used to calculate average review scores, and will not influence the ranking of a vendor in search results or any category rankings.
- Cannot be solicited by or for a vendor. Our site requests video reviews from our existing database of reviewers who have previously passed our Quality Assurance process and have reviewed a product.
Flagging a Video Review
If you believe a Video Review violates our Community Guidelines, please report it by emailing us at email@example.com. Along with the indication that you would like to flag a Video Review for replacement, please provide identifying details about the review in question, your rationale for removing it and any facts that would help our team in their investigation. As with all text reviews, our reviews team will evaluate the Video Review to determine if it meets our criteria for display. Video Reviews found to be in violation of our Community Guidelines will be flagged for replacement by our system.
About Video Montages
A “Video Montage” is a moderated compilation of key commentaries clipped from previously submitted video reviews meeting our Community Guidelines to create an assortment of opinions sourced from multiple reviewers. A product profile may contain more than one Video Montage at a time, with montages showcasing opinions on why users selected a software balanced by montages of opinions on what users would like to see changed.
Because the clips Video Montages contain are sourced from submitted and approved Video Reviews content, they are subject to the same set of Community Guidelines as our Video Reviews. Any individual clip of a Video Montage found in violation of our Community Guidelines will qualify for replacement within the Video Montage, or disablement of the entire Video Montage, at our discretion as moderators. See Flagging a Video Review for more information.
Tips for Writing a Great Review
The software reviews posted on our site help guide millions of software shoppers to select the software that best meets their business needs. You should consider these tips when writing your review:
- Be specific. What features do you love? Instead of just saying that you like the product, explain why. Use clear examples of specific experiences – the more details, the better.
- Be readable. Reviews need to be readable for others. Use proper grammar, without excessive capitalization or punctuation, and be sure to check your spelling.
- Be objective. Try to highlight both positives and negatives in your review, even if your experience skews heavily in one direction.
- Be recent. The best reviews are those written about current software versions, and within a year of use.
- Be relevant. We provide an open forum, but please keep your review useful to other software buyers. Avoid off-topic discussions or personal opinions not relevant to your direct experience using the software.
NOTE: The above tips do not constitute formal guidelines, but rather are intended as best practices for generating a useful, well-written software review.
Reviews that do not meet the guidelines below may, at our discretion, be removed or not published:
- Reviews must be submitted with an identity we can verify. Even if you choose to display your review anonymously, we must be able to verify your identity. We encourage you to log in via LinkedIn to help facilitate this verification.
- Reviewers must not have a conflict of interest with the product being reviewed. Vendors, their employees, or anyone with a financial interest in the success of a product are not allowed to review their own product or a competitor’s product.
- Reviews must be posted by the actual reviewer. In keeping with our verification process, we do not allow reviews to be posted on another’s behalf or under a false or forged identity. (read more here)
- Reviews must contain original content. We do not allow reviews to be copied from another source, including our own website.
- Reviews must not contain abusive, hateful, threatening, or harassing content. We do not allow reviews to contain personal threats, obscenities, or hate speech.
- Reviews must provide honest feedback about the product being reviewed and must not be used to solely promote or disparage another product. Reference to other product(s) or vendor(s) other than the product being reviewed is permitted only when the reference is intended to add value to the review. (read more here)
- Reviews must not violate any legal agreements. A review must not violate any third party confidentiality, non-disclosure, or contractual obligations. This excludes non-disparagement clauses prohibiting a software user from submitting an honest review. (read more here)
- Reviews must not include others’ personal information. We do not allow reviews to contain information that can be used to identify an individual or otherwise compromise their privacy. Personal information includes names, addresses, phone numbers, or any other type of personally identifying information. (read more here)
- Reviews must not accuse or make reports of unproven criminal activity. Unless the activity has been proven by a court of law, we do not allow references to criminal activity in our reviews. An example of what we would not allow would be a direct accusation of theft (i.e. “This company stole my customer list”, or “We have a lawsuit filed against this company.”), but would not include spurious statements (i.e. “This company ripped me off”, “Beware of their scam-like practices”, or “They are fraudsters and not to be trusted”). Our team is not qualified to make a decision as to the truthfulness of a legal accusation.
- We will not publish reviews that will cause us to be in violation of the law. We reserve the right to not publish reviews that will place our site in violation of any laws or regulations.
As a neutral content platform, we rely on our reviewers to provide accurate and honest details about their software experiences. While we do not attempt to determine a review’s truthfulness, or endorse the opinions expressed, we may review a review’s content at any time and for any reason; and at our discretion, we may remove a review that we reasonably believe violates our guidelines and policies.
We strive to provide a place where Reviewers, who respect our Community Guidelines, can have the following experience:
- Free from harassment from vendors or other reviewers. A reviewer should never be subjected to harassment in any form from a vendor or another reviewer on our site.
- Equal treatment of reviews regardless of review rating or client status. All reviews will undergo the same verification and quality control processes, regardless of the rating or the product being reviewed. Reviews for client products are treated the same as non-client products.
- Reviews published as submitted. We will not edit or modify the content of a review in a way that changes its intent (e.g., we may correct typos). We may also hide sensitive data such as personally identifying information or private contract terms that are not intended for public disclosure (see further details here). If a review does not otherwise comply with our guidelines, then we will not publish the entire review or will remove it. Reviewers may resubmit a review that meets our guidelines.
- Private information remains private. We do not disclose to third parties any personal contact information or communications shared with us (except as required by law to help facilitate legal investigations). However, reviewers may choose to display their name and company information next to their review to provide additional context for their review.
- Anonymous on request. Reviewers may opt for their review to remain anonymous to vendors and site users by logging in using LinkedIn and selecting the option to remain anonymous. In these cases, reviewer’s name and company details will be made available to our back office for verification purposes, but will be hidden from vendors and users of the site. This feature will soon be available on Software Advice, but can be used on its sister sites (Capterra and GetApp) today.
- Ability to update review content upon request. Any reviewer who wishes to change or update their review should contact our team. For verification purposes, the reviewer must reach out using the same email address submitted with the original review.
Please report violations of the above guidelines or conduct that otherwise interferes with another’s ability to have the experience described above to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can initiate an investigation. Violators may be subject to penalties at our discretion, including a comment on a vendor’s profile or denial of access to the site.
Flagging a Review for Investigation
We have a robust QA and Verification process designed to help ensure site guidelines are met, plus technology in place to further safeguard against fraudulent reviews. However, no system is perfect, and occasionally an inappropriate or fraudulent review may slip through the cracks. In these rare instances, reviews may be flagged by users for review and investigation by our team.
If you believe a review is fraudulent or otherwise inappropriate, please report it by emailing us at email@example.com. Along with the indication that you would like to flag a review, please provide a link to the product page, details about the review in question, and all facts that would help our team in their investigation. Our reviews team will evaluate the review to determine if it meets our site guidelines. If the team determines the review does not meet our guidelines, it will be removed from the site. If the review meets our guidelines, it will remain published.
Because reviews are not fact-checked for content, we cannot remove a review due to a disagreement about the opinions or facts stated. Moreover, because we are a neutral content platform, we will not change a review at the request of a vendor or simply because a review is negative.
While we may investigate the legitimacy of a review if a concern has been raised, any decision about the review is made by the reviews investigation team alone, independent of the source of the request. A “flag” request will only ensure an investigation from our reviews team and is not a guarantee for removal. All requests will be evaluated in the order they come in, and no further action is required on the part of the requestor.
After confirming receipt of your request, we will send a communication regarding the results of our investigation, once complete. Please be aware that abuse of our flagging system may result in penalties.
Reviews Investigation Process
When a review is flagged for investigation, our support team will review it to ensure (i) it meets our Quality Assurance and Verification process, and (ii) the content of the review does not violate our Reviews Guidelines. The team may contact the reviewer to obtain additional information and will use a number of tools to determine if the review violates our Reviews Guidelines.
Note the following:
- Because we are not able to validate private communications, including email exchanges and phone conversations taking place between a vendor and a reviewer outside of our site, these can be unreliable. Any evidence provided along these lines will be one factor among many considered in our investigation.
- As a neutral content platform, we will not make subjective decisions as to the intent and opinions expressed in the content of any review.
- We do not facilitate arbitration. We are not mediators and will not intervene in disputes between our reviewers and vendors.
Most investigations are concluded within a week but may be extended to allow for the research and outreach necessary to make an informed decision. During the investigation, the review at issue will remain published and visible on the vendor’s profile. In order to prevent false accusations from manipulating the overall reviews scores received, we do not remove reviews during investigation.
We do not disclose our investigation protocols, as doing so would help those looking to game our system. Be assured that we take requests for investigation seriously, and that each case is manually evaluated and discussed by our team in the order that the requests are received. At the conclusion of our investigation, an email will be sent to the requestor to communicate the decision form the investigation.
About Incentivized Reviews
Offering “nominal incentives” as a means of encouraging the submission of reviews is widely considered common practice these days. Simply put, incentives help motivate software users to leave reviews. We believe that the value our online community gains by having a greater number of reviews to consider far outweighs any potential downside, a belief supported by several of our studies.
Were we to only publish those reviews that did not receive an incentive: (i) our online community would have less practical guidance to help inform their purchasing decisions; and (ii) there would be a risk that the incentive practice would simply move “underground” and not be disclosed. This underground activity would be nearly impossible to police.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Endorsement Guidelines require online companies to provide clear notice when a review has been submitted in exchange for a nominal incentive (whether invited by the website or by the software vendor). See https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking. Our policies require that any such incentive must be made available to all reviewers who submit honest reviews, regardless of the rating they ultimately give the product they are reviewing.
The “Reviewer Source” icon will indicate if a review was written in exchange for an incentive, even a nominal one such as a gift card. This is true whether the review comes from an invitation by Software Advice or its affiliate sites, Capterra and GetApp, or from the vendor.
PLEASE NOTE: In our ongoing efforts to ensure a just and legally compliant Reviews Program, Gartner will not provide an incentive to:
- Reviewers who are employees of -or affiliated with- the company being reviewed, or a direct competitor;
- Reviewers who are employees, officers, directors, agents of Gartner, Inc., its subsidiaries and affiliated companies and their immediate families;
- Reviewers who are government and public sector employees;
- Reviewers whose company policies prohibit the acceptance of gifts in the context of business transactions;
- Reviewers who are (or who are acting on behalf of) individuals subject to, residing in countries or employed by organizations identified in the US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions list.
** If you fall under one of the categories listed above, you are welcome to submit a non-incentivized review directly on the site by clicking here.
INCENTIVE GUIDELINES: In order to assist vendors with their sourcing efforts, Capterra and Affiliates, Software Advice and GetApp, have created guidelines to which vendors must adhere when offering incentives to their customers in exchange for submitting a publishable review. Vendors are encouraged to leverage our approved incentive programs and programs if they choose to offer incentives to their customers.
If a vendor opts to offer its customers incentives outside of our approved incentive program, the vendor must adhere to the following guidelines:Ensure your incentive is of nominal value (as required by the FTC) and aligns with your company’s and your customers’ policies on accepting gifts. We have determined that the nominal value for an individual software review must not exceed $25 USD.
Vendors may not offer more than one incentive to a reviewer for publication of an individual review nor may they offer an incentive in combination with an incentive offered by our site(s).
Any non-monetary incentive offered by a vendor must not exceed $25 USD in value.
Vendors may not host a raffle that offers the chance to receive an incentive that exceeds $25 USD in value.
Offer incentives equally for all reviews, not just the positive ones, and must not selectively screen potential reviewers based on a desired attribute or previous opinion shared (more details here).
Vendors should not offer incentives to Gov/Public sector employees in exchange for reviews, or those meeting the criteria outlined in our list of reviewers to which we cannot offer incentives. When in doubt, check with your in-house counsel.
Vendors found in violation of these guidelines are subject to penalties.
About “Anonymous” Reviews
Some reviews posted on Software Advice appear without an accompanying reviewer name or company, instead simply noting they have been posted by a “verified user.” To be clear, while it may seem that these reviews have been submitted anonymously, these reviews have been submitted by people (logging in via their personal LinkedIn account) who have submitted their information, but have opted not to display their identity publicly for privacy reasons.
While a reviewer may choose not to share personal information with the public, their identity is always verified by our Quality Assurance team before we permit their review to be published.
Once a reviewer has selected the anonymity option, it is against our policy to reveal to the public or other vendors any details about the reviewer, including their personal contact information. Our QA team manually verifies each reviewer in accordance with our Guidelines in an effort to confirm published reviews have been submitted only by legitimate reviewers. For further guidance on our QA process, click here.
Where Our Reviews Come From
Like all online reviews sites, Software Advice sources its reviews from a variety of channels. Many reviews are submitted by software shoppers who visit our site in the course of their research and choose to leave a review. Other reviews are posted by members of our reviews community to whom we may offer an incentive in exchange for a review. Still other reviews may be solicited by a vendor that encourages its customer to leave a product review on our site. In all cases, regardless of the channel by which the review is submitted to our site, we apply the same rigorous Quality Assurance process to all reviews.
NOTE: Software Advice also displays reviews across its affiliate sites, Capterra and GetApp. While the reviews will be accessible on all three sites, the site on which the review was submitted will be indicated by “Source”.
About our Reviews Team
Our reviews team seeks to evaluate each review submitted through our sites. We train each team member on our investigative procedures and task them with verifying the identity of each reviewer, identifying potential conflicts of interest, and making sure that submitted reviews meet our Guidelines. With tens of thousands of reviews submitted each month, we continue to develop and hone our team’s expertise in this area.
Our team is trained to be neutral and unbiased when verifying a review. We treat a five-star review sharing a positive experience in exactly the same way we treat a one-star review sharing a negative experience. As a neutral online content platform, we cannot remove an opinion or statement from a verified reviewer unless we deem, in our discretion, that it violates our site standards.
To reinforce this position, our reviews team remains separate and independent from our sales and relationship teams and initiatives. The reviews team treats all vendors–clients or non-clients–equally by ensuring that all posted reviews undergo the same Quality Assurance process. We take our legal and regulatory obligations seriously when it comes to our reviews program and continue to ensure that all of our policies and practices comply with the most current applicable laws and regulations.
Issues Affecting Vendors
Vendors recruiting reviews are acting on behalf of Gartner Digital Markets. In an effort to protect our buyer’s rights and remain a neutral, trusted platform, we ask vendors to adhere to the following guidelines regarding reviews of their products and services. Vendors who violate the guidelines below may be subject to penalties imposed both by Software Advice and under the law. Penalties may include a comment on vendor’s profile, or suspension of services, to be determined at our discretion.
- Vendors may not post reviews of their own product, or of a competitor’s product. Vendors may not post reviews on a user’s behalf, nor may they submit a review for their own product, or for any product from which they could receive a strategic or financial benefit. Vendors may not coach their customers in their reviews or indirectly collect or host collection of reviews for our site. Reviews must be submitted directly by the user via our site’s review form. In addition, we do not allow vendors to post a review about a competitor’s product, even if the review is based off of their actual experience with using the product.
- Vendors must not harass reviewers about their review content or rating. Vendors are encouraged to respond constructively to reviewers on our site, but may not contact reviewers directly about the content of a review, especially if done so in a manner that the reviewer might consider to be harassment. Software Advice encourages a constructive dialogue between user and vendor by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, which allows a vendor to post a response to a review. Vendor responses to a review must be respectful and may not contain abusive, hateful, threatening, or harassing content.
- Abuse of our review investigation service is prohibited. At Software Advice, we are happy to investigate reviews that our flagged as potentially violating our Guidelines. However, if we have reason to suspect a vendor is abusing our system by flagging reviews under false pretenses as a means of artificially inflating their reviews ratings, we may at our discretion impose penalties to the vendor’s account.
- Vendors must disclose any reviews submitted for their product in Vendors must disclose any reviews submitted for their product in exchange for an incentive offer. In order to comply with the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, we provide clear notice to designate those views that were submitted in exchange for an offered incentive. Reviews sourced by our site or through our Reviews Email Campaign will bear this notice, which signifies that the reviewer was offered an incentive for submitting their honest review. Vendors that offer incentives must use the incentive link provided in their vendor portal when hosting an incentivized reviews program that is independent from our reviews acquisition services. If the incentive link is not available, Vendors must still disclose to our Compliance team at email@example.com any reviews they received in response to an incentive offer. Failure to properly disclose an incentive offer will, at our discretion, result in either (i) application by us of the correct incentivization notice on our site; or (ii) disablement of any review that lacks the requisite incentivization notice. ADDITIONAL NOTES: (i) Any incentive offered in exchange for a published review must be provided across all participating respondents regardless of rating provided, and (ii) any incentives offered must not exceed a “nominal” value, as defined here. Vendors are encouraged to contact their account representative for guidance on how to report reviews that were submitted in exchange for an incentive, or for any other related questions. Please consult our Vendor FAQs for additional guidance.
- Vendors must not attempt to influence reviews ratings through the enforcement of non-disparagement contract clauses. Federal law prohibits the use of non-disparagement clauses in customer contracts, and Capterra views the creation of any such clause as an attempt to artificially inflate reviews ratings. We will not take down reviews on the basis that the reviewer has been compelled to agree to a contract that includes a non-disparagement clause, and the existence of such a clause may result in penalties applied to the vendor’s account.
- Vendors must not attempt to manipulate their reviews ratings by screening reviewers prior to directing them to the review submission form on our site. Vendors must solicit honest feedback (whether positive and negative) across their entire user base (defined as all active users of their software), and must not selectively screen potential reviewers based on a desired attribute or previous opinion shared.
- Vendors who participate in our Reviews Program are expressly prohibited from driving reviews through 3rd-party sites or services that facilitate the completion of tasks in return for a reward (financial or otherwise), or any method used to drive a high volume of unverified leads to a specific software.
- Vendors must not recruit reviews in a manner that could cause our site to be in violation of the law. Vendors may not solicit reviews from users where federal laws or regulations prohibit their publication.
- Vendors must encourage compliance with our Guidelines when recruiting reviews. When soliciting reviews, vendor outreach must clearly communicate that users must comply with our Community Guidelines to be eligible to participate in the Reviews Program.
- Vendors must acknowledge and agree to the eligibility guidelines for incentives. Certain restrictions are placed on providing incentives, and vendors must refrain from recruiting reviews in exchange for an incentive from users who fall into one of the restrictive categories.
- Vendors must append appropriate disclaimers when recruiting reviews. These notices are required by law and includes, but is not limited to, the specific number of reviewers who will get the incentive, the currency amount of the incentive offer, the timing in terms of when to expect the incentive, when the gift card offer expires, etc. For example, you must append the following footers to all outreach containing an incentive offer, in addition to the details and parameters governing the review incentives in your user emails.
We apply these vendor review guidelines equally to all vendors, regardless of account status (clients or non-clients).
All vendors who access our site and adhere to our community and vendor guidelines should be able to expect the following:
- A rigorous evaluation of submitted reviews. All reviews, regardless of their rating or the status of the vendor (client or non-client), undergo the same rigorous quality assurance process.
- A fair investigation of flagged reviews independent of client status. Because our reviews team operates independently from our sales and marketing teams, all flagged reviews will be investigated on their own merits and independent from any client relationship between our site and a vendor.
- An opportunity to respectfully respond to any review of their product. We encourage all vendors to respond to reviews about their products as a means of engaging in constructive dialog with the reviewer. This interchange can result in a positive experience for both vendor and reviewer and demonstrate to other software shoppers a vendor’s responsive customer service.
Vendor Best Practices for Reviews
Our research shows that a trusted online reviews program complements vendor marketing efforts and encourages an active user community.
Here are some things for a vendor to keep in mind when building out their reviews program:
- When soliciting reviews, vendors should be aware that only reviews that pass our Quality Assurance and Verification process and meet our reviews guidelines are eligible to be published.
- Vendors must comply with our vendor guidelines at all times.
- Vendors are encouraged to request reviews during ongoing communication with new and existing customers, in their email newsletters or campaigns, at industry events, and on their website. For more tips, read our Reviews eBook.
- Vendors are encouraged to participate in our reviews acquisition programs, such as Reviews as a Service (RaaS), to help collect reviews from users and complete a strong profile. For more information about review collection options, vendors can contact their account representative for more details.
- Vendors are encouraged to respond to all reviews, regardless of the overall rating, as a means of demonstrating to their customers and all software shoppers that they are interested and receptive to customer feedback. An effective vendor response may also help put a review into context, providing another side to a reviewer’s opinion. Regardless of the nature of the review, all responses should be professional, constructive, and helpful in tone.
- If a vendor is hosting an event where they are collecting reviews, the vendor is required to a) provide proof of the event being held, and/or b) agree to an affidavit that their claims of an event are accurate. Failure to provide such evidence may result in reviews not being published.
A Buyer Alert is a written notice posted proximately to a Vendor’s listing on our Product Profile Page, warning users of the Site that the vendor has violated our legal terms and guidelines, as further described below. The intent of the Buyer Alert is to ensure that our users are given the best and most current information necessary to make informed purchasing decisions.
Because we believe a trustworthy and helpful reviews catalog is critical to helping buyers make informed decisions about software, we may issue a Buyer Alert, in accordance with the terms outlined below, if a vendor is discovered to have manipulated their own, or a competitor’s, reviews, or to have violated any other terms on our site, or performed any action that could call into question the integrity of our programs.
A Buyer Alert will remain displayed across a vendor’s product profile pages for 90 (ninety) days after the action has been verified as a violation. The following is a non-comprehensive list of actions that could trigger these Buyer Alerts:
- Writing fraudulent reviews, or submitting reviews on another’s behalf. Vendors are prohibited from submitting reviews for their own profile or a competitor’s profile or purchasing fake reviews. We actively monitor all incoming reviews to ensure they are authentic, submitted by a reviewer with no conflicts of interest, and are not submitted on another’s behalf.
- Threats of any kind. Vendors are prohibited from pressuring reviewers to edit or remove their review, threatening legal action against reviewers who leave an honest review, or publishing misinformation about our programs. In addition, we do not allow vendors to threaten our associates, our reputation, or any third party.
- Attempting to manipulate reviews scores. Vendors are not allowed to solicit from their customers only positive reviews. In addition, in light of recent US federal law, we do not allow vendors to enforce non-disparagement clauses contained in their customer agreements that prevent a reviewer from submitting an honest review.
- Not disclosing incentivized reviews, or other FTC violations. Vendors are required by the FTC (i) to disclose that they are offering incentives to their customers in return for submission of honest reviews, and (ii) to limit the incentives they offer to nominal value only (e.g., $25 or less). In addition, vendors must disclose if a review received has come from a reviewer with a material connection to the vendor (see FTC definition here).
- Abuse of our review investigation service. Vendors are prohibited from abusing our system by excessively flagging reviews under false pretenses as a means of artificially inflating their reviews ratings.
While “Buyer Alerts” are primarily issued in relation to reviews, we also seek to warn buyers of other violations intended to manipulate our vendor listings, or other such as:
- Violation of any of our terms or protocols. Vendors will be subject to a Buyer Alert if they violate any of the legal terms on our Sites, including, without limitation, the terms for Vendor Reviews Guidelines, Product Listing Guidelines and General Vendor Terms.
The nature of the violation will be indicated on the “Buyer Alert” graphic. Further questions about Buyer Alerts may be directed to our Reviews Compliance team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Understanding Reviews Snippets
Review snippets are system-selected direct quotes compiled from user-submitted reviews that have been published to a product’s profile (see How are Review Snippets Selected). Snippets provide software shoppers with an easily digestible snapshot of “Pros” and “Cons” extracted from the user-submitted reviews for quick reference, and may be displayed where a summarized view of reviews highlights is required, such as a product’s reviews profile page, or product comparison pages.
As a neutral reviews platform, our site does not edit, or create, any content selected for snippet display. The opinions expressed in selected review snippets are those of the reviewers and not of Software Advice, and we do not endorse any of the opinions expressed by a snippet quote.
Similar to the rules governing the reviews they are sourced from, snippets cannot be removed or taken down based on subjective challenges regarding their content. Only snippets that fail to meet the guidelines below may, at our discretion, be replaced by a new system-selected snippet:
- Snippets must quote product features accurately. Snippets mentioning an unsupported product feature, or a lack of a product feature that currently exists, will qualify for replacement
- Snippets must be correctly categorized. Snippets featuring content that is clearly miscatergorized as a “Pro” or a “Con” will qualify for replacement
- Snippets must not violate our Reviews Guidelines. Because snippets are sourced from reviews content, they are subject to the same set of Community Guidelines. Any snippet found in violation of our Community Guidelines will qualify for replacement.
Flagging A Snippet
If you believe a review snippet violates our Snippet Guidelines, please report it by emailing us at email@example.com. Along with the indication that you would like to flag a snippet for replacement, please provide identifying details about the snippet in question, your rationale for removing it and any facts that would help our team in their investigation. Our reviews team will evaluate the snippet to determine if it meets our criteria for display. Snippets found to be in violation of our Snippet Guidelines and/or Community Guidelines will be flagged for replacement by our system.