Looking for the worst of the worst.
April 13, 2014 7:08 PM   Subscribe

I was surprised to discover that there is no way to sort an Amazon search or browse within a category by user review--more specifically from lowest to highest. Is there a workaround for this? Or perhaps an app or script I could use? Or even a third party site that sorts it for you? I'm mostly interested in being able to browse a category and see the lowest ranked items, but I'd settle for ranked search results also.
posted by sourwookie to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can look at the reviews by star rating, isn't that functionally the same thing?
posted by fshgrl at 7:16 PM on April 13, 2014

Just order from highest to lowest and read from the last page forward.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:18 PM on April 13, 2014

Response by poster: I tried both of those. Let's say I pick a category like "Arts and Crafts" in "toys". I select sort by "Avg Customer Review". I see at the bottom there are 400 pages of results. It seems the only way I could get to page 400 without *click* *click* *click* *click* *click* *clicking* my way through was to change the URL. I did change the URL to get me to what I thought was the 400th page, but they are still averaging over 4 stars. Was I really on the 400th page? Are there lower ranked products they're not showing me?
posted by sourwookie at 7:29 PM on April 13, 2014

Amazon search results often include a wide range of items that are only incidentally related to each other. For example, searching for "clay" returns results that include modeling clay, air-drying clay, cosmetic cleanser, sculpting tools, and something for cleaning cars. What would it mean to sort these items by their star rating? Amazon is first and foremost trying to guess what you're searching for.
posted by alms at 7:29 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: True. Which is why I would prefer to see the lowest ranked products within a category rather than search results, though I'll settle for the latter.
posted by sourwookie at 7:31 PM on April 13, 2014

Part of the problem is that when you sort items by highest to lowest, Amazon doesn't order them strictly by star rating. If they did that, then a product with a single rating of 5.0 stars would be ranked higher than a product with 1000 ratings averaging 4.99 stars.

Obviously, that's not a desired outcome. So what they do is use some stats-related math to factor in not only the raw score, but the confidence (not the right word, but I'm not a stats person) in that score, which takes into account the number of ratings the product has received. Scores with high confidence tend to be ranked higher than scores with lower confidence.

What that means is that results at the very bottom may not be very useful, because they're mostly going to be cluttered with items with only 1 or 2 ratings.

Sorry, that doesn't really answer your question. Just an idea of why this isn't a readily available option, and what you might expect to see if you do find a way of doing it.
posted by mekily at 7:52 PM on April 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Category results top-out at 400 pages, so your best bet would be to find something with less than 400 pages of results, and go to the end. If you have a specific category you want to see with more than 9600 results (400 pages * 24 items per page), the data just isn't accessible. So I'd be surprised if there's a third-party tool to get past that.

Using your example, there would be ~3900 pages in Toys->Arts & Crafts. So page 400 is still around the top ~10% of items, so it's not surprising that you're still in 4-star items.
posted by CrystalDave at 8:32 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: CrystalDave: What you say lines up with my experience. Though I was hoping it wasn't the case, I believe you may be right.
posted by sourwookie at 8:50 PM on April 13, 2014

« Older Life check-in worksheets?   |   How did you decide between Catholicism and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.