The phenomenon of the bombardment of negative reviews is now well known, but what is the most used form in Italian: review bombing o review bomb? Here is a linguistic study on the subject!

This article stems from a question that the undersigned asked herself a few weeks ago. Speaking of the boom of negative reviews a Life Is Strange True Colors, I realized not knowing if, in the Italian usage, this phenomenon is called review bomb, as is often the case in English, or review bombing.
At the time I decided to use review bomb, but these days I thought I'd investigate the matter. Thus, a small linguistic investigation was born on how, in the Italian context, we tend to refer to this phenomenon.

As in all the other articles in this vein, I want to emphasize that the purpose here is not to decide whether "do you say review bomb or review bombing?". In fact, in theory both terms would be correct. The point, on the other hand, is to understand which of these two terms is used in the Italian context.

If you want to take a look at our other linguistic insights, here they are:
Homebrew, how do you use it in Italian?
Hack it or hack it? Apostrophe yes or no?
The quickstart or the quickstart?
The retcon or the retcon?
The master, the master or the mistress?

Review bombing: what does it mean?

Il review bombingthe review bomb, is a phenomenon that has developed on the web and consists of the publication of a large number of negative reviews against a work, so as to undermine its reputation and damage its sales. It is therefore a new type of boycott, which is generally set up either by a large number of users, or by a few users with multiple accounts.
Generally, this wave of negative reviews tends to be more or less organized and promoted on social media. Negative reviews are left on product criticism platforms, such as Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, or on product sales platforms, such as Amazon and Steam.

Negative reviews produced through review bombing they do not always arise from a genuine negative opinion about a product, as they are often left without having seen or played that product. Therefore, the review bombing it usually arises from a negative opinion about the product due to some of its own political or cultural content.
It was this the case, for example, of The Last of Us 2, who underwent a review bomb for the presence, among other things, of a masculine lesbian woman as the protagonist. But that was also the case with films like Captain Marvel, whose review bombing it started before the movie was released.

The Last of Us 2 was a video game that underwent a particularly heavy review bombing
The Last of Us 2 it was a video game that underwent a review bombing particularly heavy

Where does the term come from?

The term review bomb/ing born in 2008, from an article by Ben Kuchera in the magazine Ars Technica. In this article, Kuchera writes:

Review-bombing Amazon is a particularly nasty way of getting the point across as well; casual gamers who aren't aware of this campaign may not bother to read the content of the reviews and only assume the game isn't very good. 

Bombarding Amazon reviews is a particularly infamous way to get a message across. In fact, casual players unfamiliar with the campaign may not be reading the content of the reviews, thus assuming the game is bad.

Since then, this term has been used occasionally in some online articles, until it has become globally known thanks to several articles that analyze the phenomenon. In particular, it made school an article on Polygon, also written by Kuchera, entitled The anatomy of a review bombing campaign.
On the relative Wikipedia page in English, we talk about review bomb, while on the Italian page we talk about review bombing. However, historically review bombing has been used before. The fact that the English Wikipedia page uses as the name of the phenomenon review bomb it probably means that, conceptually, we tend to derive review bombing da review bomb.

What kind of words are they review bomb e review bombing?

Review bombing e review bomb are two terms polyrematic.
A polyremic it is a word made up of several words with a particularly strong internal syntactic or semantic cohesion, and which together acquire a specific meaning. To understand better, we will see some examples.

The phrase red jacket it is not a polirematic, because it does not indicate a specific entity and because we can replace the adjective red with blu, green o black.
The phrase anorak, on the other hand, it is a polyremic, because it indicates a specific type of jacket and creates a group of words that must always be together. We will then have a black anorak, as well as a yellow anorak, with the segment to wind that will always be together with jacket, and never separated from the adjective: we will never have yellow windbreaker.

Furthermore, to wind it will not be interchangeable with other segments of the same type: we will not have rain jacket o sun jacket, Unlike red jacket/green/yellow. Furthermore, polirematics do not allow for exchanges of synonyms. So, if instead of red jacket we can have red coat, instead of anorak we cannot have wind coat.
Obviously, bear in mind that these restrictions are never absolute: they are just trends and there may be exceptions.

An evocative representation of review bombing, made by Everyeye in this article
An evocative representation of the review bombing, made by Everyeye in this article

How could it be translated into Italian?

Review bombing e review bomb they are two polyremics, as we have already said. The main difference between them is the second element: in the first we have a gerund, that is an infinitive verbal form (i.e. without time, manner and person) derived from the verb to bomb, while in the second we have a name.
Review bombing it therefore focuses on the action, rather than the phenomenon as a whole, as it does review bomb.
In that sense, we could translate review bombing like bombardment of reviews, review bomb like review bomb.

How and how much they are used review bomb e review bombing in Italian?

As we all know, English loans are very common in Italian. Therefore, we will not be surprised if the English terms for this particular boycott are much more common, on our own news sites, than their direct translations.
But to understand how much, actually, review bomb e review bombing are used, we need a series of texts to analyze.
For this article, I used 45 articles of information sites and Italian newspapers, in which the term review bomb o review bombing has appeared at least once. These articles range from 2017 to 2021, but it is noted that the articles of 2020-21 are far more numerous than those of previous years. We will thus see which of these two English terms is the most common, and whether the respective Italian translations are also used.

Review bombing is the most widely used term, with 139 occurrences. In reverse, review bomb it appears only three times, without taking into account the two articles on our site.
In short, it is clear that the Italian news tends to favor the image of the bombing over that of the bomb.
Now let's see if these terms are used in the masculine or feminine. But first, let's go back to what has been written in our other articles on the Italian genre of English loans.

Linguistic norm, linguistic use and the genre of English loans

As we have said in other articles, theassignment of the Italian grammatical genre to English words does not follow precise rules. Find a more accurate explanation here , while here  you can read an in-depth analysis on the theme of the Accademia della Crusca.

Here, I will limit myself to repeating that the Italian language does not have a strict rule on the gender to be given to English loans, which in their grammar have no gender. So there is no rule that commands us to give to car the genre of its Italian translation, cars. Dictionaries, when they finally put an English loan in their ranks, attribute it to the genre with which it is most commonly used. It is the use, therefore, not a rule (which does not exist!) That determines the final grammatical gender of an English loan. It is the use that causes most British loans to receive the masculine default. But it is always the use that causes some loans to receive the kind of word they would be translated by.

Then no, there is no rule that tells us if review bomb should be used for men or women. Everyone can theoretically use the gender they prefer for this loan. If this term is ever included in the dictionaries, the grammarians will assign it the genre with which it is most used, and from that moment it will be the genre considered grammatical. But until then, we are in the Far West.

Some of the reviews from the review bombing of Life is Strange: True Colors
Some of the reviews from the bombing review of Life is Strange: True Colors
The kind of review bomb

Review bomb it is almost always used al female, certainly due to the semantic proximity to its Italian translation, bomb. Furthermore, review bomb it is almost always used in quotation marks, thus clearly signaling that it is a foreign loan.

From now on, when the team determines that the anomalous activity is an irrelevant “review bomb”, it will notify the developer and the reviews posted during that time will be removed from the overall rating calculation.

Everyeye 2019
The kind of review bombing

Review bombinginstead, it is mostly used (98 cases, i.e. the 71%) To male. Probably, also in this case the type of the loan is based on the type of the Italian translation, that is bombing.

So if we think that The Last of Us 2, in addition to being a decidedly resonant title, it touches all the strings we have described, it is no longer so difficult to conceive the massive Review Bombing that was unleashed on the Naughty Dog title.

Game Experience, 2020

I'm 38 (27%) the cases in which gender is not explicit of the term, since the word is preceded by an unarticulated preposition like di. In this sense, constructions such as RB phenomenon, victim of RB, wave of RB e attempts at RB.

[...] two games, which in recent months had already divided the fanbase due to some choices of the development team, are already victims of review bombing on some portals that collect the votes of users and international critics, including the well-known Metacritic site.

SkyTG24, 2019

Finally, review bombing is used al female only in 3 cases (2%). In these cases, perhaps the authors of the articles were influenced by the genre of the translation of review, Namely review, or from the image of the bomb, linked to the idea of bombing.

To be clear, this is not done to protect the app from negative reviews, but to help protect developers from situations such as coordinated review-bombing and to safeguard our system from artificial manipulation.

LegaNerd, 2021

And are translations used?

Where, in the case of other loans such as hack, only the English loan was used, in the case of review bomb / ing vediamo also use the Italian translation, although in a very minority compared to the English loan, with nine total cases.
Bombardment of reviews is used eight times in total, and the term bombing alone it appears three more times. Oddly, usually bombardment of reviews it is not used, inside the articles, in alternation with review bombing. In fact, we usually see only the English loan appearing, or only its Italian translation. The only case in which both appear sees the Italian translation placed directly next to the English term, just to explain it.

The term bombinstead, it appears only once, in the strange formula revision bomb. This suggests that the article in which it appears, de The Boson, may be an automatic translation of an English article.
Instead, the past participle is much more used bombed / a, in forms such as "Title Video game bombarded with negative reviews ”. This term is also used in conjunction with the English loan.

Review bombing is a phenomenon that also affects other products, in addition to video games. Captain Marvel, for example, was a particularly impressed film
Il review bombing it is a phenomenon that also affects other products, in addition to video games. Captain Marvel, for example, it was a particularly impressed film

Some final thoughts

It is evident that in the Italian news sites review bombing is by far the preferred term to talk about the related phenomenon. It is used mainly in the masculine, due to the influence of direct translation, that is bombing.
Translation bombardment of reviews and, in general, terms such as bombing e bombed / a they are quite common in articles on the subject.
In short, we are faced with a case in which the English loan tends to coexist quite well with its Italian equivalent. This is probably due to the transparency of the translation bombing/bombing.

In general, it appears that the metaphorical image of the bombardment of reviews like it. After all, it is a term that evokes negative feelings and images of large-scale destruction by pilots whose faces we cannot know.
It is one of those representations effective and even a little sensationalistic that the press is very fond of and that we have already seen in the way we talk about migration, represented as waves and therefore combined with an unstoppable natural phenomenon.
In short, review bombing it is a widely used loan, of some success and with a remarkable morphosyntactic stability. Probably, in a few years (or in a few months) we will see it analyzed by the Accademia della Crusca and inserted among the neologisms of Treccani.