Reviews are very important to how the site works. They have a huge influence, possibly the greatest single factor, on where a buyer spends their money and how successful a seller is here.
With that in mind, it is imperative that all changes to the system, how it works and the affects these have are reported on so people can keep up to date on it and know what is going on. Unfortunately, this does not happen and often the forum is the only place where we really get info on these things.
Frankly, that is not good enough - from the perspective of both a buyer and a seller.
The original thumbs up/thumbs down system involved a single click for a buyer to give their opinion. It was quick and something that very few would not do. I understand that this was very basic and did not give enough detail about the experience. While it was sufficient for a platform where most sales were $5, a more robust system was needed for larger orders and the star system was rolled out. For me, this system is not bad, aside from the fact that the three sections can lead to a misleading rating. eg. someone asked whether they will buy again or recommend a service may give one star for that simply because it was a one off purchase. That gives the seller a 3ish rating overall. Fair?
From a buyer’s perspective, the system as it stands now is cumbersome and involves 4 clicks and a comment (public review) then a further click and two comments as well as the possibility to click on endorsements for the seller’s skills (private feedback). This is a long way from the single click reviews and the questions arise:
Is it better?
In some ways, yes but like my example above, it can lead to misleading reviews.
Suggestion: Remove the 3 part approach and allow the buyers to choose from 1-5 stars and then explain their reason in the comment. Get rid of the automatic comments so that when a buyer chooses a star rating, they need to explain it as it is no longer based on 3 potentially subjective questions. This will result in more honest reviews as well as encouraging buyers to point out specific positives and negatives about their experience which are much more useful to other buyers.
Does it do what was intended?
To a new buyer, leaving a review does not really register as being important and is more of a courtesy or a way to vent some frustration. To knowledgeable buyers, the importance of reviews is probably known as they rely on them themselves and will probably have had sellers asking them to leave reviews. The issue is that the whole review system is now cumbersome and has too many parts.
Suggestion: Only require private feedback for cancellations. Why should a buyer be allowed to leave positive public feedback and say something different in private? This will lead to more honest reviews that the seller can learn from and other buyers can use for guidance. Private feedback is only necessary when the buyer cannot review publicly - ie. when an order is cancelled.
Edit: Forgot to mention that I think the endorsements part could be really useful but it should be moved to the public review section and the effect of endorsements should be explained to sellers.
My review experience/viewpoint as a buyer:
With over 160 purchases, I think I have probably left reviews on them all. This is because I know the value of a nicely written review. As I often work with the same people and with people I “know” from the forum, I make sure to leave reviews. This is due to the fact that as a seller I know their value and how the seller will appreciate it. I would not do this otherwise. Today I was completing an order and I decided to check out something I had read on the Fiverr Blog (a throwaway line in a bigger article). Namely, that orders could not be completed without a review.
It is not possible to complete orders without leaving feedback!
I accepted delivery and then skipped the public review and the private review yet the order was still showing as active. I tried doing the private review only and the same thing, it sat in my Orders list. Only by also leaving the public review did it disappear.
So what do I take from this as a buyer?
Why is Fiverr forcing me to review? Being pushed/forced to do anything is not the way to get honest opinions from anyone for anything. It can leave a bad taste to have to review so an order can complete - maybe they won’t bother out of spite or irritation. The order then autocompletes after 3 days and the buyer has not left a review. Forcing a review is not conducive to actually getting honest reviews that we all want to see - it’s counterproductive.
The honest and informative reviews would come if Fiverr were to simplify the process, give an incentive such as pointing out the value of reviews for sellers and buyers and finally, removing the automation that actually hinders honest opinions being shared.
UPDATE: I have a second theory as to why I now have to wait 3 extra days for 70-80% of my earnings due to less buyers accepting orders. Another new update which was introduced recently was the warning to buyers that they cannot request further changes after accepting delivery. Now, for graphic gigs with watermarks, this makes sense as the buyer can see the final work but cannot get a usable version until they accept. For other gigs, this is nonsensical as what buyer would give up the right to make changes when they don’t have to? When I send my delivery to a buyer, there is no incentive to complete the order - instead there is a disincentive. This needs to be looked at as it is simply unfair and was not well thought through before being implemented. Perhaps it should only apply to watermarked gigs.