1. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    People reviewing their own products?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by michaelj, Jun 21, 2013.

    Hey, I don't know if this is the correct area to post this so sorry in advance if it isn't.

    I recently bought a product off Amazon for my kindle. The book itself apparently was quite the catch. A dozen breaming reviews that vouched how good the book was. How the story was magnificent and the characters were great etc.

    This was far from the truth. The book had tons of grammatical and spelling errors. Most of it was telling, not showing. The story was cliché, boring and dull.

    So then I thought: What is the chance of the author making several amazon accounts just to review his own product?

    Any insight on this? Are there ways that Amazon and other websites use to prevent things like this from happening?

    Regards
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Sadly, stuff like this happens. As far as I know, there's nothing to prevent someone from creating multiple accounts. I'm not 100% sure about this, but I think for a lot of e-books you can preview the first few pages. So that's one way to check for SPaG errors. Other than that, I'm afraid there isn't much you can do.
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Amazon prohibits reviews for products that the reviewer has a financial interest in. That doesn't really prevent it from happening, of course, but it isn't supposed to.

    Frankly, any product that has reviews that good - well, like they say, if it sounds too good to be true...
     
  4. Allan Paas
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    Allan Paas Contributing Member

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    The reason I always first go to reviews telling how bad it is. Whatever product. Those tend to be the most genuine ones, usually.
    I've read some reviews praising a work worth only loss of your own lifetime. It's actually easy to notice the false reviews, they have a certain vibe to them. Unless the author is someone very good with words, but then why waste such a talent on something so inferior and derogatory?
    Can't prevent. Too many ways to go around preventive measures. Although there is one that could always work - every person has a unique DNA. But that's in the future. Unless too far in the future, science could eventually probably crack even that one.
    Whoever does something like this... is worse than garbage with no good use.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a huge brouhaha right now because amazon has been trying very hard to prevent this sort of thing, but in the process they have been deleting legitimate reviews, going so far as to say that anyone who is an author by definition, sells a competing product, and is therefore ineligible to review any other book. This is patently ridiculous, but it has been happening, to many authors' consternation. Often the very best people to provide a review are other authors, so to exclude them really doesn't make sense.

    It's very hard to get people to give reviews, which are so important to new authors, especially those who do not have a huge publicity machine backing them. Often they turn to fellow authors, and that's been creating a problem. I heard about an author who asked others to review his book during a writing conference, where everyone was using the same connection (from the hotel). Amazon then disqualified all those reviews because they showed up as being from the same IP address.

    So, in some ways, the problem is both over-and under-inclusive, as far as discerning legitimate reviews from non-legitimate ones.

    There have also been some websites that pay for reviews -- that is, an author will pay $X for some number of reviews, say 100. Then the website offers people money for each review they write, which is how they provide the reviews. I understand that one such site was shut down, but I'm sure others exist.

    I think this is a really tough problem, and you have to beware of books that have a small number of reviews, all of them positive. (Especially if all of them are 5 star and don't really say that much about why they loved the book.) You really just have to beware.
     
  6. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    I just read something from some website, I think Forbes, I don't have the exact quote or a link, however:

    They said something amongst the lines of that Amazon will turn a blind eye because it's making them money more or less. Once the author gets exposed and it's likely to put Amazon into disgrace, Amazon will deny everything and delete the reviews. (but not the product).
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, all I can tell you is that I've heard from a fair number of authors who have had it happen to them -- that amazon is deleting reviews they have received and also some they have posted, and cited this reason. How does the author of whatever you read reconcile these factors?
     
  8. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    The article I read was a couple years old, so I guess I'm wrong on this regard. I suppose if what you say is true, then Amazon are acting foolish on first glance but at least they are making measures to prevent it.

    Firstly, I don't even know if the author of the novel I tried to read even faked any reviews. It could have just been a book that didn't sit well with me. But then I'd wonder what's up with readers nowadays, but oh well, each to their own I guess. I suppose if he did "fake" his reviews, he could use alternative IP addresses, such as internet cafes or other places which has access to internet such as a friends house or his workplace etc.
     
  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't pay attention to reviews anyway - I look at favorite authors, recommendations from people I know, and by glancing through the book itself (so yeah, I don't buy much online). There are so many ways to "fix" reviews nowadays - everything from the above mentioned buying of reviews to "you give me a good review, I'll give you one". I see no reason to trust some stranger's judgment, particularly when they may not even have read the darn thing.
     
  10. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Yeah it's a problem. Sock puppet reviews come in both flavours. Some are the author's friends some the author's competition etc slamming his work. If you think a reviews a sock puppet you can do some basic checking. Go to the reviewer's profile. Almost always a sock puppet will have no biographic details, usually a pseudonym, and this will be the only review they've ever done. Also you now have an option under each review when Aunty Amy asks you if a review was helpful to not only say yeah or nay but to say why. One of the options for nay now comes up as "doesn't ring true" or something similar.

    Also fake reviews are not new and were never exclusive to digital books. In the old days a publisher working with one author wouldget his work "reviewed" by another intheir stable,and when you looked at their comments it was fairly obvious that they were generic. They'd never read the book.

    My advice would be to always read the "Look Inside" part first before buying the book. And if you don't like it you can always get a refund on the book.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If there is a way to lie and cheat, someone will exploit it.

    There are many such ways, and many, many talentless writer wannabees with no scruples.
     
  12. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I understand Amazon's dilemma, and yes, it is a problem in both directions -- that is, books that get unwarranted good reviews, as well as those that get undeserved bad reviews. I don't know what the solution is.

    As a reader, and I'd say a fairly typical reader, I have not been affected much by this. I know that I'm missing out on some good stuff, but I read very little that is not traditionally published, and therefore has had a good dose of publicity afforded to it, complete with Kirkus reviews, PW info., reviews by various professional reviewers, or citations by knowledgable authorities. Simply as a practical matter, I come across SO many books to read just through these traditional channels, that even if I never bought another book, I'd probably have enough books in my TBR pile to last me for many, many years. Decades, maybe. I therefore don't have any additional reading time to devote to a book that I don't know anything about -- that is, I don't have to go searching for books to read. They find me. Those books I pick up that I haven't found in the traditional manner, and are by authors who don't have the big traditional publishing machine behind them or some sort of academic imprimatur, I have bought due to some type of direct, personal interaction with the author.

    So I've never had occasion to rely solely on reader reviews on amazon or any other site. Authors of books that don't have a big publicity machine behind them are in a difficult place. They have to constantly try to sell their book. There are all kinds of ways to play with the numbers and the ways that amazon ranks the sales and has your book show up in various lists or in suggested reads, etc. Authors in this situation understandably beg for reviews, and those folks who are inclined to help aren't going to want to post a negative review. And on the other side, there are sometimes some very petty authors, who instead of believing that a rising tide lifts all boats as far as authors in the same genre, deliberately give bad reviews to try to boost their sales at the expense of others. There was also recently a story about a bio of Michael Jackson that received many negative reviews as the result of a campaign by fans of MJ against the book because they felt he was portrayed in negative light. Their mission was to destroy the commercial success of the book by posting bad reviews. This was a high profile story, but I've got no doubt that smaller, similarly petty or personal vendettas occur.
     
  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    On a related note, how often do you guys look at reviews when buying books? I buy most of my books at local bookstores, so I never look at reviews for a particular book. The main reason for this is because I know what sorts of books/authors I'm looking for when I go in, so I rarely make blind buys. I wonder if any other readers are the same way.
     
  14. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Yes there have been campaigns against particular books. The most recent one I read about was the final Sookie Stackhouse novel where the author apparently (I've not read the series) gave a twist in the romantic end of the book that fans hated. Take a look at the number of one star reviews and you'll get a feel for just how nasty angry fans can get.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    [MENTION=5272]thirdwind[/MENTION]: I often look at the reader reviews, but they rarely sway me. I've usually determined whether I want to read a book before I look at the reviews, based on other information. I mostly look at reader reviews when I'm about to begin a book selected by my book club, to get a sense of what I might be in for. But at that point, I'm committed to reading the book, so it doesn't change whether I read it. Most helpful are the 1 and 2 star reviews, so I can get a sense of exactly why people who didn't like the book didn't like it. If they're well-reasoned and specific, then I have a bit of a feeling of dread.
    [MENTION=483]Psycho[/MENTION]: I don't have as much of a problem with the campaign you described, insofar as it is directly related to the book itself. The readers did not like the story and had an issue with what happened to this character they've come to know very well, if I understand what you wrote correctly. What I find more harmful are campaigns simply because someone doesn't like the author, or doesn't like the factual information contained within a book. Or that they claim that the content is somehow "harmful" to people to read.
     
  16. Vault
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    A preview is really the only way to check something like this, and even that doesn't always work. It's unfortunate that some authors would stoop so low, anything to make a buck these days.
     
  17. George C K Wardini
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    George C K Wardini Member

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    That's kindof a bummer. I really think someone should contact amazon with the issue
     
  18. Scot McPhie
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    Scot McPhie Member

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    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The Scottish author Euan Morrison has had at least one 1-star review of each of his books. When I realised these were all coming from the same person, I looked up the 'reviewer's' personal profile, and sure enough. He doesn't review any other books, although he's given reasonable reviews of other products. I suspect he has a personal grudge against the author. He is certainly trying to undermine him.

    If you hate an author as much as this fellow claims to hate Morrison (terrible writing, bad plot, boring, etc) why on earth would you read 5 or 6 of his books?

    Interestingly, this person also accuses anyone who writes a good review of Morrison's books of being a sock puppet! He directed this particular accusation at a personal friend of mine, who wrote a 5-star review because she likes Mr Morrison's books, as do I. So I know this accuser was wrong in at least one instance!

    Sock-puppeting works in both directions.

    I guess the best thing to do is read a couple of pages of the book you want to buy, using Amazon's "Look Inside" facility. See if the style is something you might enjoy, then take your chances.
     

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