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Steam Versus Review Bombing

The Steam Blog announces that Valve is taking aim at review bombing by finding a new way to deal with off-topic reviews (disturbing semi-related note: Valve Removes Over 100 Steam Tributes To Suspected New Zealand Shooter, thanks RedEye9). Here's part of the post explaining the plan:

Obviously, there's a grey area here, because there's a wide range of things that players care about. So how will we identify these off-topic review bombs? The first step is a tool we've built that identifies any anomalous review activity on all games on Steam in as close to real-time as possible. It doesn't know why a given game is receiving anomalous review activity, and it doesn't even try to figure that out. Instead, it notifies a team of people at Valve, who'll then go and investigate. We've already run our tool across the entire history of reviews on Steam, identifying many reasons why games have seen periods of anomalous review activity, and off-topic review bombs appear to only be a small number of them.

Once our team has identified that the anomalous activity is an off-topic review bomb, we'll mark the time period it encompasses and notify the developer. The reviews within that time period will then be removed from the Review Score calculation. As before, the reviews themselves are left untouched - if you want to dig into them to see if they're relevant to you, you'll still be able to do so. To help you do that, we've made it clear when you're looking at a store page where we've removed some reviews by default, and we've further improved the UI around anomalous review periods.

Finally, we've also enabled you to opt out of this entirely, if that's your preference - there's now a checkbox in your Steam Store options where you can choose to have off-topic review bombs still included in all the Review Scores you see.

While we're working on some other features around User Reviews, we thought this one was worth shipping by itself. As always, if you have thoughts or concerns, feel free to voice them in the comments below.

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