Wrap Up

Key Takeaways

  • The shift from qualitative to quantitative review systems in e-commerce platforms has had a profound impact on small business owners, often amplifying the power imbalance between sellers and consumers.

  • Algorithms and automated systems, while designed to improve marketplace efficiency, can inadvertently penalize sellers through non-transparent metrics and sudden policy changes.

  • The demographic makeup of a platform’s user base can influence the nature and tone of reviews, with evidence suggesting that women and younger business owners might be disproportionately affected.

  • The concept of “enshittification” encapsulates the risk that platforms, in their quest for growth, can alienate their original user base, undermining the very communities that contributed to their initial success.


  1. Consider the ethical implications of relying solely on algorithms to manage reviews and seller standings in an e-commerce platform. How can these systems be improved to account for the human element in commerce?

  2. Explore the concept of “enshittification” in the context of other online platforms or services you have used. Can you identify any instances where a platform’s changes have alienated its original user base? Discuss the long-term sustainability of such strategies.

  3. Given the gender and age demographics outlined in the text, analyze how these might interact with the review and rating systems to create a potentially biased marketplace. What steps could platforms take to mitigate these biases?