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Google Giving Less Weight to Reviews of Places You Stop Visiting?

Google Giving Less Weight to Reviews of Places You Stop Visiting?
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I don’t consider myself paranoid, but after reading a lot of Google patents, I’ve been thinking of my phone as my Android tracking device. It’s looking like Google thinks of phones similarly; paying a lot of attention to things such as a person’s location history. After reading a recent patent, I’m fine with Google continuing to look at my location history, and reviews that I might write, even though there may not be any financial benefit to me. When I write a review of a business at Google, it’s normally because I’ve either really liked that place or disliked it, and wanted to share my thoughts about it with others.

A Google patent application filed and published by the search engine, but not yet granted is about reviews of businesses.

It tells us about how reviews can benefit businesses:

Furthermore, once a review platform has accumulated a significant number of reviews it can be a useful resource for users to identify new entities or locales to visit or experience. For example, a user can visit the review platform to search for a restaurant at which to eat, a store at which to shop, or a place to have drinks with friends. The review platform can provide search results based on location, quality according to the reviews, pricing, and/or keywords included in textual reviews.

But, there are problems with reviews that this patent sets out to address and assist with:

However, one problem associated with review platforms is collecting a significant number of reviews. For example, a large majority of people do not take the time to visit the review platform and contribute a review for each point of interest they visit throughout a day.

Furthermore, even after a review is contributed by a user, the user’s opinion of the point of interest may change, rendering the contributed review outdated and inaccurate. For example, a restaurant for which the user previously provided a positive review may come under new ownership or experience a change in kitchen staff that causes the quality of the restaurant to decrease. As such, the user may cease visiting the restaurant or otherwise decrease a frequency of visits. However, the user may not take the time to return to the review platform and update their review.

The patent does have a solution to reviews that don’t get made or updated – if a person stops going to a place that they have reviewed in the past, the review that they submitted may be treated as a diminished review:

Thus, a location history associated with a user can provide one or more signals that indicate an implied review of points of interest. Therefore, systems and methods for using user location information to provide reviews are needed. In particular, systems and methods for providing a diminished review for a point of interest when a frequency of visits by one or more users to the point of interest decreases are desirable.

The pending patent application is at:

User Location History Implies Diminished Review
Inventors: Daniel Victor Klein and Dean Kenneth Jackson
US Patent Application 20170358015
Published: December 14, 2017
Filed: April 7, 2014

Abstract

Systems and methods for providing reviews are provided. One example system includes one or more computing devices. The system includes one or more non-transitory computer-readable media storing instructions that, when executed by the one or more computing devices, cause the one or more computing devices to perform operations. The operations include identifying, based on a location history associated with a user, a first signal. The first signal comprises a frequency of visits by the user to a first point of interest over a first time period. The operations include identifying, based on the location history associated with the user, a change in the first signal after the first time period. The operations include providing a diminished review for the user with respect to the first point of interest when the identified change comprises a decrease in the frequency of visits by the user to the first point of interest.

Some highlights from the patent description:

1. Location updates can be received from more than one mobile devices associated with a user, to create a location history over time.

2. Points of interest can be tracked and cover a really wide range of place types; or a point of interest such as a shopping mall may be treated as a single point of interest.

3. A person may control what information is collected about their location, and may be given a chance to modify or update that information.

4. Not visiting a particular place may lead to an assumption that a “user’s opinion of the point of interest has diminished or otherwise changed.”

5. A Diminished review might be a negative review or a lowering of a review score.

6. A reviewer may also be asked to “confirm or edit/elaborate on the previously contributed review,” if they don’t return to a place they have reviewed in a while.

7. User Contributed Reviews could be said to have a decay period, in which, their influence on search or rating systems wanes.”

8. Other factors besides a change of opinion about a place may be considered, such as a change of residence or workplace to a new location, or an overall change in visitation patterns for all points of interest. These types of changes may not lead to a diminished review.

9. Aggregated frequencies of visits from many people may be considered, and if many still continue to visit a place, then a change by one people may not be used to reduce an overall score for a place. If visits by many people show a decrease than an assumption that something has changed with the point of interest could affect the overall score.

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