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Steam hides recent War Thunder reviews amid economy scandal

Steam flagging legitimate reviews as “off topic” between May 20th – 24th, following outrageous War Thunder economy changes

Steam hides recent War Thunder reviews amid economy scandal: Steam is currently facing criticism from players who are understandably concerned about potential infringements on their right to free speech. While some users express sympathy towards the platform, others perceive it as a violation of their rights. The root cause of this controversy lies in the outrageous economic changes implemented in the game War Thunder.

To fully grasp the situation and comprehend the reasons that led us to this point, let’s delve into the details. Specifically, we need to understand why Steam is concealing recent reviews of War Thunder amidst the ongoing economic scandal.

War Thunder economy changes

The War Thunder economy was rocked by a succession of huge changes to the way the game is played. But what happened?

On May 16, Gaijin Entertainment made big changes to the economy and how money is used in the game War Thunder. They wanted to modify the time it takes to repair things for free and the costs of getting new vehicles. These changes made the game unfair for players who don’t want to spend real money, moving it more towards pay-to-win instead of free-to-play.

Players didn’t like the changes from the beginning, but Gaijin didn’t listen and went ahead with the updates. The community didn’t give up and started an online campaign against the studio. They formed the War Thunder Player Union with over 13,000 members and created a dedicated Discord channel.

As a last resort, thousands of players review and bombed War Thunder to show their frustration because the developers weren’t listening to their concerns on the official forums. This caused the game’s rating on Steam to drop to “Overwhelmingly Negative.” – or so it did.

Steam hides recent War Thunder reviews under the “off-topic” tab

Although the reviews still exist, Steam has concealed them under the off-topic tab as a measure to safeguard War Thunder against an occurrence known as “review-bombing.” Currently, the recent reviews for War Thunder are categorized as “Mostly Positive.” Out of a total of 386,000 reviews, 25% are negative. Moreover, among the recent 19,000 reviews, 26% reflect a positive sentiment.

That’s a big change from what Gameworldobserver reported on the 24th of May, in an article they stated:

“War Thunder currently has an “Overwhelmingly Negative” rating on Steam. Over the past 30 days, users left over 98k reviews, with only 7% of them being positive. The lifetime rating has dropped to “Mixed” (59% positive reviews).”

It’s clear that Steam has had it’s hand in protecting War Thunder from a negative set of reviews, or has it?

Steam’s automatic response to War Thunder reviews

To preserve the integrity of its recommendation algorithms and ensure that only genuine reviews are taken into account, Steam has implemented a protective measure against review bombing, which encompasses both unwarranted negative and positive reviews. The platform strives to provide its users with reliable game recommendations.

Naturally, Steam cannot fulfill this objective if certain games are subjected to an influx of exaggerated or unmerited reviews, which may skew the overall perception.

In 2023, Steam introduced the review bombing safeguard as a proactive measure to shield the community from unfair reviews that could potentially mislead others.

It’s important to note that the response to review bombing is an automated process and likely not a deliberate decision by Valve themselves. However, as a consequence, the Steam link has been removed from War Thunder’s website.

Steam link removed from War Thunder’s website amidst negative review bomb

Gaijin made the questionable decision to remove the Steam link from War Thunder’s website in an attempt to suppress the influx of negative attention the game was receiving.

This move can be seen as highly deceitful. Moreover, Gaijin eventually conceded to roll back the update, but it should not have required such a significant outcry from the community to prompt this action. The studio should have prioritized listening to the community’s concerns from the start.

Final Word

In conclusion, the controversy surrounding War Thunder stems from significant economic changes implemented in the game, which shifted its balance towards a more pay-to-win model. Players expressed their discontent from the beginning, leading to an online campaign and review bombing as a last resort to voice their concerns.

Steam, in an effort to counter review bombing, has concealed recent War Thunder reviews under the “off-topic” tab.

This safeguard aims to protect the integrity of review systems, ensuring that genuine reviews influence game recommendations. However, Gaijin’s decision to remove the Steam link from War Thunder’s website can be seen as dishonest, and it took a substantial community outcry for the studio to roll back the update. A more attentive approach to community feedback could have prevented this controversy. This is why Steam hides recent War Thunder reviews amid economy scandal.

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Building A Civil War: Norbsoftdev On Designing Scourge Of War Gettysburg

JW: It’s never quite that obvious or smooth, and it’s also more than just me in the role of the lead designer. There’s a tremendous amount of contribution from everybody on the team. Norb isn’t historically minded, so this is essentially a way to give him some real challenges in coding. And it’s a really cool thing to do, to take something like this and turn it into real American history.

But the whole team’s involved throughout. One person might throw an idea out and it’ll ping-pong back and forth in email for a bit, and if it looks good we’ll put it in as an official feature request in the tracking system. At that point Norb will look at it and determine how implementable it is. Sometimes he’ll rotate it 30 degrees and tilt it a little bit to make it work, then put it out there for the team to test, leading to more back and forth until its refined and ready to go. So there’s a lot of dialogue between various members of the team, you know, the map people want this, the scenario people want that. I get to make the final call if we’re stuck on something and have to make a decision to keep the ball rolling, because you can easily get bogged down in the details here. This is a long process, and we’re all doing it because it’s a fun thing to do, not because we’re expecting to get rich off it.

GO: Speaking of profits, the wargames market’s never been where you stick your retirement portfolio. Why develop a game for such a niche audience?

Of course something as complex as Scourge of War…we find that as we go from six people playing it to hundreds of people playing, a lot of things that we never thought of doing, somebody else tries it and says hey, you’ve got a problem here. So there’s always that process to be mindful of, but we’ve already rolled a few patches out and we’re down to pretty minor stuff in terms of fixing apparent bugs.

GO: Did you spend much time at the battlefield gathering intel with the game in mind?

JW: We actually started an annual tradition of having a get-together on the battlefield for everybody on the team that could make it. Not everybody can, of course. The guy who did most of the uniforms is in England. The guy who’s our wizard of CSV [comma separated value] files is in Germany. We opened it up this year to anybody who wants to show up who’s a player.

But a lot of going to the battlefield was just kind of to…you know, we’ve looked at it onscreen and looked at the maps and looked at 10 different kinds of maps. So going to the battlefield’s really just to get a feel for seeing it in three dimensions, in spite of all the tourists and monuments cluttering up the battlefield. That stuff’s appropriate to a certain extent, but we’re used to looking at it in 1863 and not 2010. So yeah, it’s kind of cool to go up and see it in person and gauge how good a job we did.

GO: Speaking of battlefields, I like that Norb started with Manassas. After touring it myself, it’s probably the easiest to take in and wrap your brain around and game without getting lost in the details. Gettysburg on the other hand…I mean, Antietam was crazy enough. I’m still getting my head around that.

JW: Oh Antietam…that’s some of the most deceptive terrain I’ve ever seen. It’s so sneaky. You look at it and think oh, little rolling fields, big deal. Then you go out and walk it and realize how easy it’d be to hide an entire division behind some of them, which of course is exactly what happened.

JW: Yeah, it’s extremely deceptive. It must have driven the commanders nuts to fight a battle on something as sneaky as that.

In part three: Gettysburg unplugged…

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Gps Fleet Management Service Reviews

Editor’s Score: 90/100





Refresh time




Customer service


Why Azuga Is Best for Improving Driving Standards

In the age of live video streaming and ubiquitous social media activity, examples of poor driver behavior can tarnish the reputation of any business. Even a brief live video of a vehicle bearing your firm’s branding being driven aggressively, erratically or inappropriately could create a public relations problem. Effective recruitment and regular refresher training go a long way toward optimizing driving standards, but Azuga offers features and services that help to reduce this burden using a series of rewards and incentives. 

Chief among these features is a competitive table that scores drivers based on how safely they perform their duties. A scoreboard ranks drivers in a standards-based table and lets them see how their results compare with their colleagues’. The best performers are offered quarterly rewards from 15 retailers and brands — such as Domino’s, TGI Fridays and Amazon — adding a fiscal incentive to going easy on the brake pedal or meeting fuel efficiency goals, which can be set individually for each driver. These rewards-as-a-service gift cards can be sent directly to a high-performing driver’s smartphone. Meanwhile, the company offers courses and training, including knowledge checks and guidance on avoiding aggressive driving, for repeat offenders.

Key Takeaway

Azuga incentivizes drivers to optimize their behavior, using techniques that other GPS platforms don’t currently offer.

The Azuga dashboard can be accessed on computers and mobile devices. Source: Azuga


Drivers are incentivized to improve their behavior behind the wheel.

You can self-install Azuga’s plug-and-play devices within minutes.

Azuga offers a plethora of online resources and training.

The customer support team is helpful and easily accessible.


Azuga contracts run for a minimum of two years.

The company is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau.


There are several factors to consider when you’re looking for an easy-to-use GPS fleet tracking system. The hardware should be easy to install and learn, and it should be supported by flexible and scalable plans alongside a customer service team that is easily accessible and ready to help. Azuga checks all of those boxes, in addition to offering a robust set of fleet management features. 

Location details refresh every two minutes by default, though this can be brought down to 30 seconds; Azuga can even reduce the refresh rate to 15 seconds for a small additional fee. The constantly updated fleet data visibility contrasts with some rival platforms that project where a vehicle will be at a given moment based on past movements, giving an unrealistic real-time picture of their precise locations.

Did You Know?

Drivers and fleet managers can message one another directly within the platform, thereby streamlining communications.

Azuga’s plug-and-play hardware can be installed within minutes. The dashboard is easy to navigate, doesn’t require lengthy training sessions, and can be accessed via a computer or mobile device. Following an update at the end of 2023, the latest v2.0 dashboard is cleaner and more responsive than its 10-year-old predecessor. It offers welcome new features, like the ability to overlay geofence boundaries, and Azuga also introduced the location-sharing feature that’s already offered by competitors such as Force by Mojio. A time-limited link can be sent to clients, allowing them to track a delivery or vehicle in real time, which is ideal for sensitive appointments or perishable goods.

It’s easy to grasp that vehicles shown in red on the Google Maps interface are committing harsh driving, orange vehicles are idling and green ones are proceeding normally. The ability to overlay live weather and traffic data is another new feature for 2023, and one that may explain delays or a lack of movement by specific vehicles. If there’s anything you’re not clear about, you can reach Azuga’s knowledgeable customer support representatives by phone, email, web chat or a ticketing system.

Azuga’s plans are customizable, allowing you to select the fleet management features you need. Alongside this welcome flexibility, we found the dashboard simple to navigate. You can access the dashboard via a computer or mobile app, allowing you to manage your fleet from anywhere.

Did You Know?

Azuga allows you to conduct vehicle inspection reports by using smartphone photos to report defects.

Azuga offers simple hardware, like plug-and-play vehicle trackers and dual-facing dashcams. Source: Azuga

Azuga Features

Tracking hardware

Azuga plug-and-play tracking devices can be installed and activated within minutes.

Driver safety

Users can add personalized safety coaching and a feature that blocks mobile usage while someone is driving.

Maintenance and optimization

Users can access fuel card integration and Azuga FuelSaver, plus discounts on tires and maintenance.

Alerts and reporting

Users can view live, scheduled and customized reports.

Mobile app

Azuga has a feature-rich mobile app for drivers and admins.

Tracking Hardware

Azuga offers plug-and-play fleet tracking devices that are easy to install via the vehicle’s OBD II ports, though you can also hardwire devices into place if you prefer. You can choose from a long-life asset tracker or a rechargeable tracker. We were impressed with the asset tracker’s five-year battery life; standard devices last six months on one charge.

Azuga’s trackers are easy to install, keeping you updated on where your vehicles and other assets are at all times. Even the OBD II devices are accurate to within 5 feet, which is useful in built-up areas where multiple deliveries might be scheduled for the same street. The front- and rear-facing dashcams record in high definition, with integrated microphones (which administrators can disable) and the ability to record 15-second clips. The AI technology recognizes eating and smoking, while a dedicated parking mode records break-ins. Footage is available for up to 12 months, but older clips may be accessible upon request. Dashcams are now chosen by 75 percent of Azuga customers.

If you want drivers to be able to drink water on the move or ring clients with ETA updates, you can deactivate these actions from triggering alerts. That’s especially beneficial for long-distance drivers, and it’s another example of how adjustable Azuga’s settings are, even if it might take a while to get the software configured to your optimal preferences.

Azuga lets you track drivers’ performance with driver scorecards. Source: Azuga

Driver Safety

Azuga provides excellent driver safety features, including driver scorecards, which are common in the fleet tracking industry. This is one of the few GPS fleet tracking services to share scorecard information, so both the administrator and the driver can see the driver’s performance. Additionally, users can view real-time alerts on hard-driving behaviors, like acceleration, harsh braking (which is usually a direct result of inattention), speeding and excessive idle time. It’s even possible to have reversing noted, which is ideal for businesses whose trucks aren’t allowed to reverse for safety reasons. Azuga also offers a unique add-on that lets you block drivers’ smartphone use when they are driving.


If driver safety is your top concern, you can add on Azuga Coach, a personalized video-based safety coaching feature. This can be sent to specific individuals, such as speeding drivers, through the platform’s admin portal.


Azuga will immediately flag any unplugged OBD II devices, in case drivers are trying to manipulate or cover up their telemetry data.

Key Takeaway

Azuga’s pricing is customizable. There is a one-time device fee, plus a recurring monthly service fee that depends on the features you want.

Azuga Setup

Azuga offers plug-and-play devices that you can easily install yourself. You simply insert the device into the OBD II port of your vehicle, wait two minutes, turn on your vehicle and leave it to idle for a couple of minutes. When the LED starts flashing and changes color, the device is ready to track your vehicle and driver data.

Once the hardware is installed, it connects with the vehicle’s computer and GPS satellites to gather data on the vehicle and its location. That information can be accessed instantly via Azuga’s easy-to-use software. A software update late last year introduced unlimited usernames and passwords, thereby improving the platform’s flexibility.

Azuga Customer Service

We found Azuga’s online resources quite helpful. The company’s website is filled with blogs, webinars, videos, documentation, success stories, open API documentation and an ROI calculator. If you still have questions about Azuga’s services, you can access product training resources.

If you’re looking for more personalized support, you can reach out to an Azuga customer support representative via phone, email, web chat or a ticketing system. When we posed as a small business owner and contacted Azuga to test its customer support, we were pleased with the promptness of the representatives and the assistance they provided. The visual pricing form on the website is highly intuitive, guiding people with limited industry knowledge through three screens to assemble a customized fleet pricing quote, though you must provide your contact details to receive the findings.

Azuga Drawbacks

One potential downside of Azuga is that it requires a 36-month contract if you’re signing a dashcam contract, as most clients do nowadays. This length is relatively standard in the fleet tracking industry, but it does involve a substantial commitment. If you are looking for a fleet tracking solution with month-to-month terms, consider our review of Force by Mojio. Alternatively, you could shorten the commitment by signing up for a GPS-only contract, which has a minimum term of 24 months.

Another drawback of Azuga is that it isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau. While this isn’t a dealbreaker for us, we do like to see our best picks accredited. However, Azuga does have a positive reputation on other review sites.

Depending on your industry, you might be disappointed that Azuga only offers vehicle tracking devices. You can’t add them to containers as you can with FleetUp’s array of solar- and battery-powered tracking devices, which even include temperature sensors.


Finding the right GPS fleet tracking system can be tough, which is why we did some of the hard work for you. We spent hours researching and analyzing GPS fleet tracking systems to identify the top solutions on the market. We looked at hardware, features, pricing and contracts, usability, refresh times and customer support. We even got hands-on experience with demos and product videos when possible. When searching for the best GPS fleet tracking system for ease of use, we focused on features such as hardware installation, flexibility, scalability, software usability and customer support. For Azuga, we also paid attention to its driver incentivization schemes, which are unique in the industry.

Azuga FAQs How do I use Azuga?

Azuga is simple to install and use. First, you plug the Azuga GPS tracking device into the OBD II port of your vehicle. The tracker instantly begins tracking and recording vehicle and driver data and integrates it with the Azuga platform. You can then use a computer or mobile device to view the recorded data.

What is Azuga fleet management best for?

Azuga is an intuitive telematics solution designed for businesses that want a customizable and easy-to-use platform. It can serve businesses of all sizes and sectors, though marketing literature profiles it as being optimal for industries such as plumbing, telecom and trucking. Azuga reps describe the platform as being equally suitable for single-vehicle businesses and fleets of 10,000 vehicles.

How easy is Azuga to set up?

Azuga offers plug-and-play tracking devices, so setting up your platform is simple. However, if you do need help with Azuga’s hardware or software, you can access the company’s comprehensive online resources and customer support.

Is Azuga a big company?

Following its 2023 takeover by Bridgestone, Azuga has expanded to become the fifth-largest GPS company worldwide, with 10,000 customers and 340,000 registered vehicles covering around 3 billion miles per year. Azuga is still smaller than competitors such as Samsara and Verizon, but its scale is reassuring in terms of its long-term commitment to the market. 

Overall Value

We recommend Azuga for …

Firms that want to use every possible mechanism to improve driving standards.

Companies that are looking for a fleet tracking solution that is easy to learn and use.

Businesses that want access to 24/7 customer support.

We don’t recommend Azuga for …

Businesses that need hardwired vehicle trackers.

Startups that are looking for short-term or month-to-month contracts.

Companies that require up-to-the-second tracking.

What Is A Circular Economy? Why Is It Relevant Today?

blog / Sustainability What is a Circular Economy? Is it as Important as Reports Suggest?

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What is a Circular Economy?

According to the World Economic Forum, a circular economy is “an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.” Therefore, it may be an oversimplification to relegate the economy to the age-old reduce-reuse-recycle approach. Instead, it is a larger concept that, in restructuring the system, demands an overhaul of the established production and consumption patterns.

In his paper titled The Product-Life Factor, Walter Stahel, Founder and Director of the Product-Life Institute, Geneva, put forth the concept of a closed-loop economy. This, in turn, laid the foundations of what is a circular economy. Here, he argued for a gradual transition towards sustainable living by increasing the utility of products and reducing the pressure on natural resources. A circular economy transforms goods nearing the end of their useful life into resources for reuse. Furthermore, closing the loops in the industrial mechanism substitutes production for sufficiency and workforce for energy. Therefore, a circular economy significantly diminishes greenhouse emissions, empowers the workforce, and results in a low-carbon economy.

Linear Economy vs Circular Economy

Circular initiatives differ from the linear system in how value is created and preserved. In the latter, the movement of raw materials to the finished product and ultimately to the landfill is unidirectional. Such an economic system is fuelled by profit margins and quantity, rather than effectiveness and quality. On the other hand, the circulatory system is optimized for maximum value preservation through reuse, be it of products or their components. Therefore, it entails a movement from excessive manufacturing to resource efficiency.

Moreover, a circular economy shifts the onus of natural restoration and preservation from developing and fringe communities to developed countries. The effects of ecological degeneration are disproportionate: 74 of the poorest countries are the hardest hit by the climate crisis but contribute to less than one-tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions. A circular economy is a potential solution to this deeply unfair predicament, one that is only furthered by a linear system.

What are the Different Models of Circular Economy?

There are two circular economy models: one encourages reuse through remanufacturing and repair, and the other employs recycling to create resources. In a human-centric model, owners become custodians, and users have the agency to become creators. This, in turn, creates jobs at the local level, thus positively impacting employment.

For instance, have you noticed that a well-known clothing brand H&M offers discounts to customers who return old clothes from the brand that they are going to discard? H&M recycles these discards to make new clothes and sells them at a higher price point as ‘sustainable fashion’. This is a win-win for the planet and the company. Firstly, the brand has reduced wastage and gained a good reputation for it. Secondly, they have incentivized the customers to gain their loyalty. Thirdly, they have targeted the market segment that buys sustainable clothing. All this at once! This is an example of the agency-centric model. 

Why is a Circular Economy Important?

A circular economy gains immense significance in the face of unprecedented climate change. As the United Nations’ International Resource Panel noted, a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the extraction and processing of natural resources. By prioritizing material recovery over material production, circularity reduces the impact of such emissions.

When implemented correctly and inclusively, a circular economy has the potential to protect an endangered environment, foster social equity, and boost sustainable economic progress. Furthermore, it offers respite for vulnerable communities who face disproportionate threats of displacement and extreme poverty under the present system.

A circular economy also imbues businesses with a greater sense of corporate social responsibility, which is actionable and trackable. Such benefits result from the three foundational principles of a circular economy: 

Elimination of waste

Circulation of products and materials

Regeneration of the natural environment

How Does a Circular Economy Work?

Once viewed as a utopian concept, a circular economy is fast gaining traction as one of the most promising solutions to sustainability issues. Despite diverging opinions, sociopolitical barriers, and amorphous definitions of the term, it has recently spurred businesses, governments, and individuals to action. But how does a circular economy function?

As opposed to the current linear economy, the circular model emphasizes retaining the value of goods, transference, and continuous utility. Within the model, there is little place for wasteful economic activities that harm human life and endanger the planet. Doing so, greatly mitigates pollution and congestion.  

A circular economy has a hawk-eyed focus on designing goods that are inherently reusable, recyclable, and fit for remanufacturing. The idea is to keep materials in circulation for as long as possible, thus using a variety of them in different ways instead of simply disposing of the elements.  

By taking the spotlight away from fossil fuels and non-renewable sources of energy, a circular economy aims to regenerate the ecosystem and foster preservation. In practice, it actively replenishes the soil by returning valuable nutrients often lost in the present economic model. Therefore, the environmental benefits of a circular economy are undeniable and quite easily achieved if executed mindfully. 

What are the Barriers to a Circular Economy?

Despite the increasing spotlight on circular economies, implementation has been slow. In addition to the lack of awareness, competence, and the right mindset, economic factors greatly hinder the growth of circular solutions. 

Some of these challenges are:

Inadequate investment

Lock-in barriers

However, the most significant barrier to circular economies is that it needs an extensive and well-functioning supply chain, which becomes difficult due to the unavailability of raw materials. Material is insufficient, in terms of quality as well as quantity, for recycling and reuse. Further, even in the case of availability, it is inefficiently handled by fragmented parties which sabotage the process. These factors lead to uncertainty and feasibility issues coupled with high transaction costs and a lack of universal market standards.

What is the Environmental Impact of a Circular Economy?

Although there’s a long way to go in implementation, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has already noted several case studies that reflect the environmental benefits of a circular economy. Spanning a range of industries and sectors, the circular economy has made good on its promises of sustainable business, inclusivity, social justice, and human welfare. Let’s take a look at some of the examples.

In the field of biodiversity, the Orongo Cattle Station in New Zealand has restored degraded land using sustainable design, leading to more profits simultaneously. Many players in the food industry, like De Clique, are now striving for zero-waste production processes while São Paulo is investing in circular practices by supporting local agriculturists. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, two-thirds of the global population will live in cities by 2050, consuming 75% of the world’s natural resources. However, cities like Cape Town and Austin offer a silver lining in their attempts to transition to circular economies.

The ecological impact of a circular economy is clear by now. Reducing waste and shifting to recycling make way for a greener future and sustainable business growth. So we may as well place our bets on it as the only viable solution to the looming threat of irreversible climate change. 

Want to learn more about circular economy and business sustainability? Head over to Emeritus’ sustainability courses to delve deeper into the subject!

By Deyasini Chatterjee

Write to us at [email protected]

A Recent Study Reinforces The Idea That Music Is Universal

When you think of the songs of a faraway land or culture, what comes to mind? Is it something familiar, or something so unique from what you’re used to that you can barely guess what the music is about?

Turns out, your guess might be more educated than you think. Across cultures, we write different songs for different purposes, say, to start a religious procession, get your groove on, or hush a crying baby to sleep. But in the end, there’s more diversity within cultures than outside of them.

A new study published in Science breaks down how the purpose of music is universal across the world, despite the incredible variety within each cultural bubble.

“Cultures all over the world have different kinds of music in each society, but what this means is when you zoom out, society’s musical behaviors are pretty similar,” says lead author Sam Mehr, a psychologist at Harvard.

Mehr started working on the project after he kept reading a trite line at the top of research papers that said, “music is universal.” But every time he came across the statement, there wasn’t a citation to back it up.

To see if there was any substance to this claim, he and his fellow researchers created two databases: one with descriptions from anthropologists of what happened when music from 60 was playing, and another of 118 audio recordings from 86 different societies.

He found that there were three characteristics of behavior that consistently characterized music: formality, arousal (or how calming or exciting a song was), and religiosity. Most societies had music that fell into more than one category.

Given those categories, both machines and foreign listeners were able to pick out a song’s purpose in further tests. The researchers investigated responses from community scientists across the globe, looking at how well they could identify the type of tune based on samples from an online quiz.

People did a decent job guessing the themes, especially for dance songs and lullabies, says author Manvir Singh, a Harvard Ph.D. student in the department of human evolutionary biology. “Music appears in this huge diversity of behavioral, social, emotional context in human societies,” Singh says, “but it does so similarly across societies.”

Daniel Levitin, a cognitive scientist who’s done similar research on music and evolution, believes this kind of systematic approach to understanding music is long overdue. He also says that the study points to an evolutionary history between music and humans.

“The musical brain may have led to things that we take for granted in human nature, like compassion and empathy, because music uniquely can help us achieve those states,” Levitin explains. “Not to mention awe, appreciation, and gratitude.”

For Mehr and his team, the hunt for data is just the beginning. The lab is running more detailed quizzes to dig into how people respond to what they hear. They also hope to do studies on different populations like infants to see how they react to tunes like lullabies from faraway societies.

Singh says he also hopes to analyze lyrics and the way they shape people’s feelings and actions, even if it’s in a language they don’t understand. “Exploring the lyrics allows us to better understand how music can induce these emotional or behavioral responses,” says Singh, “but also, in a broader way, the world view of the people who are singing.”

Google Recommends Original Photos For Product Reviews

Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller recommends using original photos when publishing product reviews in order to benefit from the algorithm update that rewards in-depth research.

This is stated during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on February 4.

A website owner joins the livestream to ask Mueller about best practices for using images in product reviews.

He asks if editing existing photos found elsewhere on the web would be enough for Google to consider them unique content.

Or would it be better for the site owner to use original photos he’s taken himself?

Here’s Mueller’s response.

Google’s Recommendations For Images In Product Reviews

Google rolled out an algorithm update last year that’s designed to reward product reviews with in-depth, first-hand research.

To benefit from the algorithm update, Google recommends providing unique content beyond what is available from the manufacturer.

So the question is whether editing existing photos are enough to make them unique, or if Google wants to see original photos.

Mueller says “unique” refers to photos you’ve taken yourself, not artificially enhanced photos.

While Google’s algorithm can’t automatically distinguish between original and edited photos, this is something Google’s Quality Rater team will look for when doing a manual review.

“I think the guidelines that we have for reviews, or the recommendations that we have, should really be focused on unique photos that you create of these products, so not artificial review photos.

I don’t think our systems would automatically recognize that, but but it’s probably something that we would look at, at least on a manual basis, from time to time.

So looking at the recommendations that we have, with regards to reviews, it feels like it’s not really in line with what we’re trying to do there, where we’re trying to really bubble up reviews, where we can tell that someone is actually testing this product in real life.”

For clarification, the website owner follows up by asking if the best option is to go with original studio photos.

Mueller says:

“I think that would be ideal.”

The overarching goal of Google’s product review algorithm update is to boost content written by people who have personally tested what they’re reviewing.

One way an author can prove they’ve personally tested a product is to take their own photos of it.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to rank with stock photos.

In fact, since Google’s algorithm can’t tell the difference between original and edited photos, you may come across sites ranking quite well with images from the product manufacturer.

However, that doesn’t mean you should follow their lead.

When Google’s Quality Rater team, which consists of real people, goes in and evaluates product review search results they’ll notice which websites use their own photos.

Before long youmay not see the sites with stock photos ranking in the same positions they used to, while the websites with original photos get a boost.

Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:

Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

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