Sunday, August 24, 2008

Don't like comments? Delete and repost!

Some reviewers resort to delete and repost completely shamelessly, without even attempting to hide it:
Amy E. Barker says:
I don't care for the comments feature that Amazon has provided with the reviews. I've seen too many people abusing it. I had to delete several reviews recently and repost them because of the number of nasty comments attached to the reviews. You can report them as abuse but Amazon doesn't seem to be doing their job lately.
And sure enough, a lot of commentary has been censored by this reviewer. Well, I'm glad Amazon "doesn't seem to be doing their job lately" -- if the "job" means censoring commentary, Amazon is to be commended for not "doing their job". It'd be even better if they removed this delete-and-repost functionality altogether! It's not needed for anything legitimate, and effectively its only use is blowing away comments.

PS. And look at the reviews!


Mark said...

I would agree with you, except that delete and repost is the only way Amazon lets you change the star rating on your review. You can change everything else via edit. So if your opinion of something changes significantly and you want to reflect that, you have to delete and repost.

And, honestly, I can see the desire to get rid of some kind of comments, too. I actually got death wishes for a negative review of Dark Knight on another review site. Personally, I found those amusing since it showed a lot about the commentors. But I can see why someone would want to get rid of harassing comments.

Malleus said...

Oh yeah, of course, but you're not supposed to! After all, a lot of people might want to get rid of some reviews as well... I think once you venture online, you gotta be prepared for public scrutiny kind of thing, and of course, some of it may not be reasonable, but so what? Just ignore it. If something is truly egregious, Amazon can -- and will (we know that) -- remove truly offending comments selectively. A reviewer, otoh, should not be able to censor commentary himself. A good case in point: the example above -- the offending comment was something like "lame review #80, please stop": what's abusive about it? The review indeed is lame, as well as the rest of them by the same reviewer. The reviewer says that she did "report-this" to Amazon and Amazon didn't do anything, which is reasonable since the "offending" comment was entirely OK.

Mark said...

Whatever happened to, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?"

Why did the commentor need to leave a comment calling the reviewer lame and asking them to stop? That was completely uncalled for.

Stanley H Nemeth said...

It seems to me we're dealing here with the question of whether politeness is always preferable to truth. Your suggestion, if followed, would eliminate up to half the comments at Amazon and a majority of the wit.
"Niceness," after all has its limits. In the unforgettable bon mot of Jonathan Swift, "Nice men are full of nasty ideas."

Mark said...

But what good can possibly be done by telling someone to stop reviewing at Amazon? Who has that truth served?

And, more importantly, what makes the commentor the gatekeeper at Amazon?

There are lots of reviewers at Amazon I don't appreciate. Yes, the two or three sentence reviews are only slightly better than the "This roxs!!!!!!!" reviews. But you can just turn a blind eye to stuff like that.

It's not like they are trying to cheat the system or anything. There has to be some kind of different standard about what gets us worked up.

Malleus said...

mark wrote:
> Whatever happened to, "If you don't have anything nice to say,
> don't say anything at all?"
Mark, when people say something like that, it truly looks like they're playing stupid or something. What happened to it? Isn't it obvious? It isn't applicable in a lot of cirumstances, that's what happened to it. I mean, suppose you hire a plumber and he does a lousy job, so you don't have anything nice to say -- are you now supposed to say nothing at all? What kind of crazy take on it is that... Yes, in a general sorta social situation we do avoid confrontation -- and we do it only because under the cirsumstances it doesn't matter; for the sakes of general peace, as it were.

But when it does matter, oh, I think you should very much say what you think: even -- or even especially -- when you don't have anything nice to say. According to Amazon propaganda, our dear reviewers strive to be "helpful", meaning "helping" us part with our cash based on their writings. If some of them are doing a crappy job, why shouldn't a reader say as much in the comments section? And in this particular case, the reviews are truly lame, so the poster didn't do anything other than stating the obvious.

Why do so many people feel obligated/entitled to post reviews? How about the "if you dont have anything to say about a book, just don't review it" approach? Why do some people consider it necessary to post three lines of crap with the five stars attached and feel immense and accomplished? Nothing wrong with pointing to the flaws of their writing, as long as they feel empowered to review (which no one forces them to).

If you offer your work publicly, be prepared for public criticism, that's the rule of thumb I'd offer to all Amazon reviewers. The whole world visits there, so some of it may not be reasonable: be OK with it too: just ignore what you find unworthy. And finally: as long as the public can't censor reviews, reviewers shouldn't censor the public's comments about their reviews. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen, iow.

PS. And we know from experience that what mostly gets wiped out isn't some sort of unwarranted abuse, but valid criticism, like funny vote, or superhuman reviewing volumes. The fucks don't like to be discovered! How unexpected. Well, to keep the system credible the fucks should not be able to muzzle their critics.

Mark said...

But we reviewers at Amazon aren't plumbers hired to do a job. We're volunteers doing something for fun. And we aren't necessarily doing it to get feedback either. I started just to plut books I enjoyed in hopes that it would help my favorite authors increase their sales.

Do remember that comments on reviews are a relatively new invention. Within the last couple of years. Before that, the only way to provide feedback was through yes or no votes. Or e-mail if the reviewer provided one. So for years, you, the commentor, really didn't have a right to give us feedback on our reviewing skills.

And Amazon didn't give us comments because of some clammering to have them by the masses. In fact, I know of no reviewers who actually like them. Heck, Lawrence, #2 reviewer, started deleting reviews when the comments came out. Instead of deleting them all, he has kept his review level at 6,666 ever since.

But if you really do feel the need to leave a comment for someone like this, why is "This review is crap. Please stop." a helpful comment? Why not try leaving some questions that would have helped you get a feeling for the product?

Most people could become better reviewers. It's just a matter of practice. Telling people to stop is frankly just plain mean. If you feel the need to be a gatekeeper, take it upon yourself to encourage someone who is trying instead of discourage them.

And you'll notice where I am making my stand. I am not saying a thing about the comments you guys leave calling out the frauds. I am talking about mean spirited comments that serve absolutely no purpose. And that's what this post was about when you started it. Say what you will, those have no place on Amazon.

Malleus said...

Well, yeah, I think it's a legitimate comment -- and btw, if I were the reviewer who got this kind of comment, I'd probably look into what my faults are that produced this comment (instead of wiping it out with a great show of indignation). All in all, again, reviewers are allowed to post anything they want and so should be commenters (at the very least, any sort of moderation should be performed by a third party, not the receiver of the commentary himself).

Stanley H Nemeth said...

Mark wrote:
"Most people could become better reviewers. It's just a matter of practice....I am not saying a thing about the comments you guys leave calling out the frauds."
With due respect, there's considerable crossover here. I see Grady Harp and Harriet Klausner, among others, as frauds who write conspicuously bad reviews. I doubt they have either the will or ability to improve. Frankly, they lack talent, and no amount of "trying" will cover over that limitation. Amazon should be ashamed that such dreck is what rises to the top, given the regulatory absurdities of its current system. To both Klausner and Harp, I'd say fraud, but also, in requisite "meanness," recommend an eraser or a new hobby. Your "compassion," which I'm sure proceeds from your decency, falls into that sentimentality the Elizabethans rightly stigmatized as "cruel pity." I, on the other hand, do not assume everyone who posts reviews does so in suitably modest good faith. Among such reviewers as I've singled out, I see a triumphalist egomania ignorant of its own shortcomings.

Malleus said...

> Say what you will, those have no place on Amazon

About this I'll have to say the following: its up to Amazon to determine what has or doesn't have place on Amazon. Iow, it's not up to Mark on THKAS, nor to Malleus, nor to Amy the reviewer. She said that she did report this comment, yet "Amazon weren't doing their job", so I think the answer is clear -- this comment was not of concern to Amazon (and let's recall: they're not too timid to delete stuff they don't like). What you personally think of it is OK to discuss, but only as your personal opinion, not a pronouncement on what has place on Amazon. Amazon is a private business and will determine how to run their site themselves.