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:
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.