It did not shock me when Zillow announced they would NOT be accepting large numbers of Trulia reviews into the newly combined Zillow/Trulia review platform. It also did not shock me that more than a few agents were up in arms about it. Many, obviously, had spent a great deal of time amassing a treasure trove of recommendations and reviews using the Trulia platform. I’m certain of that.
What I’m equally sure of is that a small percentage of agents were using the extremely loose nature of their “Add” Recommendations process to populate the site with completely bogus reviews. And that very small minority, quite frankly, should not be surprised either.
I won’t pull punches, it’s Trulia’s fault.
Trulia (pre-Zillow) created a process that was simply too easy to game. We wrote about the potential for abuse of Trulia’s process in April of 2014, in commenting on syndication – “They have provided a very simple way of adding testimonials you have received from your clients. And while we see Trulia’s “Add” Recommendations options as being wide open for abuse, we want our clients to know it exists, and to use it knowing that the integrity of what they are providing is not compromised by the process.”
We encouraged our clients to take advantage of it, not to game the system, but because RealSatisfied had already taken the appropriate measures to insure that an actual client was leaving the review. And our clients who took advantage of this can at least take comfort that their data has not been lost in this process. There is an obvious benefit to owning your data.
Zillow has always been serious about creating trust around their review data. Zillow has always had strict review requirements. So have we. In contrast, Trulia never attempted to verify the authenticity of the reviews they collected. It’s that simple.
Instead of being lambasted for taking down reviews that are now impossible to verify, they should be applauded for protecting the integrity of the reviews that have been verified. Zillow was left with no other option. And while I’m certain a number of authentic reviews have been lost in the process, it was the right thing to do.
(Photo: Creative Commons with changes via Les Chatfield)