October 20, 2004

33 million American internet users have reviewed or rated someone or something as part of an online rating system

Twenty-six percent of adult internet users in the U.S. have rated a product, service, or person using an online rating system. These systems, also referred to as “reputation systems,” are interactive word-of-mouth networks that assist people in making decisions about which users to trust, or to compare their opinions with the opinions expressed by others. Many Web sites utilize some form of this application, including eBay, Amazon, Moviefone and Amihot. A nationwide phone survey of 1,399 internet users from May 14-June 17 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that 29% of male internet users and 22% of female internet users have rated something online. “Internet users see these systems as a way to help them figure out what information and people they can trust online,” said Paul Hitlin, a Research Associate at the Pew Internet Project. “People also see the internet as a place where they can voice their own opinions. Online they can recommend a CD, warn about a dishonest salesperson, or even defend their high school history teacher.” Other findings include: • 30% of Generation Y internet users (ages 18-27) have posted a rating, compared to 23% of Baby Boomers. • 33% of users who live in a household with an income of more that $75,000 have added a rating compared to only 22% of those who live in a household with an income of less than $30,000. These findings suggest a continued trend of the growth of the internet as a two-way communication network where users create and share content online, rather than acting as mere content consumers. A Pew Internet Project survey conducted in 2003 showed that 44% of adult internet users have contributed their thoughts and files to the online world. The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit initiative, fully-funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts to explore the impact of the Internet on children, families, communities, health care, schools, the work place, and civic/political life. The Project is non-partisan and does not advocate for any policy outcomes. For more information, please visit: http://www.pewinternet.org.