Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another Total Wipeout by Amazon

I see someone named "Don Reed" has just suffered a traditional mass wipeout "by Amazon", an awful lot of posts all blown away at the same time. Did anyone catch these posts while they still were present? What were they about?

Friday, December 16, 2011

OT: Ave Atque Vale: Christopher Hitchens

What a month.
[...] Christopher Hitchens, the outspoken author, writer and Vanity Fair contributing editor, died on Thursday from complications related to esophageal cancer. He was 62. Below, some of his opinionated prose. [...]

Christopher Hitchens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, December 15, 2011

OT: Ave Atque Vale: George Whitman, founder of legendary Paris bookshop

(Title courtesy of Maestro Harp, an internal joke of sorts). Born in 1913 in East Orange, N.J, George Whitman, founder of legendary Paris bookshop Shakespeare & Co, dies at 98 in Paris.
[...] Though eventually an economic success, attracting book lovers from all over the world and writers such as Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the running joke was that the place rarely actually did what a bookstore is supposed to do: Sell books.

And that was exactly how Whitman wanted it. He used to call Shakespeare & Co. "a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookshop," and in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said: "I never had any money, and never needed it. I've been a bum all my life." [...]
Also see American's bookstore in Paris becomes family affair.

Harriet Congratulated on her 26,000 th "Review"

(Courtesy of the awesome poster buck 210):
buck210 says:

This is your 26,000th "review" Hattie, congratulations! 12+ years of averaging just under 6 fake reviews per day, just how do you do it Hattie? I mean, really, you put out 63 reviews just today alone, how is that possible to read that many books in just one day? Oh, and lets not forget about actually writing these "reviews", just to write 63 of them in 24 hours would be quite a task, and you claim to have also read them? But, then again, you've put out over 120 of them in a day before, so, 63 is just a drop in the bucket for you.

The year in review, stats collected from the GTG Institute of Tracking the Antics of Fraud HK:

185 fraudulent reviews in Jan 2011 5.97 per day 5.97 YTD 5.79 Overall 23678 Reviews to date

229 fraudulent reviews in Feb 2011 8.18 per day 7.07 YTD 5.81 Overall 23907 Reviews to date

204 fraudulent reviews in Mar 2011 6.58 per day 6.91 YTD 5.81 Overall 24111 Reviews to date

306 fraudulent reviews in Apr 2011 10.20 per day 7.73 YTD 5.84 Overall 24417 Reviews to date

171 fraudulent reviews in May 2011 5.52 per day 7.29 YTD 5.84 Overall 24588 Reviews to date

219 fraudulent reviews in Jun 2011 7.30 per day 7.29 YTD 5.85 Overall 24807 Reviews to date

218 fraudulent reviews in Jul 2011 7.03 per day 7.25 YTD 5.86 Overall 25025 Reviews to date

289 fraudulent reviews in Aug 2011 9.32 per day 7.51 YTD 5.89 Overall 25314 Reviews to date

230 fraudulent reviews in Sep 2011 7.67 per day 7.53 YTD 5.90 Overall 25544 Reviews to date

210 fraudulent reviews in Oct 2011 6.77 per day 7.45 YTD 5.90 Overall 25754 Reviews to date

215 fraudulent reviews in Nov 2011 7.17 per day 7.43 YTD 5.91 Overall 25969 Reviews to date

67 fraudulent reviews in Dec 2011 11.2 per day 7.51 YTD 5.92 Overall 26036 Reviews to date

Terrific contribution from buck210, as always. His services to society have been invaluable, hat's off.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

OT: CBS News No Speeka Englisha

President Obama: The economy, the Congress, the future
Steve Kroft:
We have a new CBS poll, which is out this weekend. And I'll give you the news that's good for you first. People like you. They respect you. They think that you're working hard. And they realize that you faced an enormous amount of trouble and problems, many of them inherited. And you're [sic!] approval rating is four times higher than the Congress.
Not bad. They're approval is quite good, I take it. There doing remarkably well.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mischugene Old Yenta Dethroned at last: Harriet Klausner no longer No.1

Unless it's a bug that will soon be fixed, Amazon removed the "classic" reviewer ratings: what used to be called "new reviewer ranks" is now the only rank displayed on the site. Aaaaand, our dear Harriet is no longer No.1 however you look at it. She's the proud owner of the rank 815 (as of this moment). This is still about a million times too high, but, well, wow, come on, let us celebrate what we can.

Not only did she lose her absurd topmost place, but her new-style ranking, uncharacteristically, went down a couple of hundred places in the last month or so (she had been bobbing between 650 and 700 for a few years prior to that, submerging a bit and then promptly being rescued (by the Klausner Protection Squad? who knows...)). To be honest, I did not believe Amazon would make such a step, ever (PD Harris did insinuate it as a given long ago, and dayum!, he was right... 'course that was accidental, so let's not make too much of this). Matter of fact, I thought they (Amazon) might introduce even more parallel hierarchies, so as to enable everyone and their sister to be No.1 in some dimension of this multidimensional universe of bullshit all-five-star reviewing.

Well, it's always a pleasure to be proven wrong like that. Today's a good day then: while "the witch" isn't really dead, she's no longer the No.1 witch. Good bye, Harriet, dear, don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. 'Cause that'd be very "action-packed" and, as followers of the "subgenre", we would "relish". Over the top of the Empire State building, if you know what I mean.

And now, boys and girls, let us hold hands and chant:
Harriet Klausner sat on a wall,
Harriet Klausner had a great fall.
All the publishing industry shills and all the useless scribblers with fake posting accounts
Couldn't put Harriet Klausner back on top of the wall.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Standard Disclaimer for Harriet Klausner Reviews:

Courtesy of poster "Guy the Gorilla":
Guy the Gorilla says:
Standard Disclaimer for Harriet Klausner Reviews:

If you are a bona-fide Amazon customer sufficiently interested in this specific book to be reading reviews about it, as well as appended comments, please be advised that you should disregard this particular "review," seemingly "written" by one Harriet Klausner, Amazon's "Classic Number 1 Reviewer." For my part, I cannot provide you with any helpful information regarding whether this specific book you are interested in is good, bad, or mediocre. That is because I have not read it.

And neither has Harriet Klausner.

If I have piqued your curiosity, please, go to this link (it's for a Harriet Klausner review from about a week or so ago), read the comments, and consider the evidence and the numbers yourself:

[BTW - This is the set of comments associated with a book called "The Insider" if you are having trouble getting the link to work.]

I also want to point out, and you can easily confirm this yourself, that over the last 9 days, Harriet Klausner has "read" and "reviewed" 105 books, including 49 on September 2nd and 49 on September 3rd. Assuming 300 pages a book, she has theoretically read 31,500 pages during this period. Given that there are only 12,960 minutes in a 9 day period, even if she did nothing but read every second of every one of those 9 days, never stopping to eat, sleep, or use the loo, she would still need to read at a rate of 2.5 pages per minute.

And assuming that is somehow possible, when did she find the time to write 105 reviews during that period?

I invite you to assess these "reviews" yourself. Do they not look like they were simply plagiarized from the dust jacket or inside pages of the book (depending on whether the book is a hardcover or MMP)? Or perhaps lifted from information already prepared by the publishing company? Something fishy is going on here. And note that every book she reviews gets either a 4 or 5 star rating - in this period - 73 5-star ratings and the remaining 32 books receiving a 4-star rating. She likes EVERYTHING she reads? Seriously?

Also - please read the comments that accompany many of the reviews. You will see that there are large numbers of people who are aware of this situation, who make it a habit to constantly check in and write comments to warn unsuspecting persons like yourself that all is not kosher here.


Great job, Guy! This should be automatically prepended to every Klausner "review". Here's a snapshot, just in case (as usual, click on image for full size):

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Harriet Klausner reviews blatantly plagiarised Assassin of Secrets by Q. R. Markham (five stars, natch)

We got mail:
11/16/11 3:23:41 PM, [our correspondent; name withheld] wrote:
Interesting discussion about plagairism among writers after a debut novel was debunked as a massive fraud. The book was reviewed and raved about by, you guessed it, Harriett Klausner.

Check out the discussion:
And thanks for this info, dear Correspondent (we never use names unless asked to do so specifically). We appreciate any information about our dear beloved object of veneration here -- although in this particular case, I'd say, the sin isn't too great, after all how would one, even an honest reader, know that a book is a plagiarisation? And of course, since Harriet only reads jacket copy, catching plagiarism is even less likely. Hell, a while ago she even ignored the fact that a book she reviewed had a protagoniste named Harriet Klausner (it wasn't mentioned in the back-cover blurb). These are all insignificant details that won't stop the Klausner juggernaut. Rock on, Harriet!
For those not in the know already, the book in question is Assassin of Secrets by one Q. R. Markham. Here's a link to Harriet's review of it ("superb espionage thriller" is her evaluation. I wonder if the "fans of subgenre" will "relish" and if it's "fast paced"... but it probably is: all Harriet books are that way). Just in case the review gets pulled, I took a snapshot of it as it is now (click on image for real size).


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

OT: Log off Amazon (link)

I found the old link (that used to be on the Help page; it is no longer there, but it still works). Here it is (click on it to log off Amazon):

There also is (yes, there is still) an official log-off link, only it's on a different page now: it used to be on the Help page, whereas now it's on the "Your Account" page. Go there and look at the right/top field saying "you're logged in as [your name]. You should be logged in, of course; when you are, right under your name there will be a "Sign Off" link.

So the bottom line is, it is still possible to log off. Don't forget to do so after using a public computer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

OT: Logging off Amazon - Impossibility?

A query from a friend I was unable to answer: how to log off Amazon? Amazon likes to get you to log in (log-in link on every page), but they appear exceedingly reluctant to let you ever log off (no log-off link, ever). Does anyone know where the log-off link can be found on Amazon? All sites I know has a "log off" link on every page you visit; not Amazon. My friend's problem was that she logged in on a public computer and was unable to log off. I looked around and couldn't find anything. There used to be a well-hidden log-off link on the Help page, but it's no longer there.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Klausner: insightless charlatan dunce

Very nice characterization (courtesy of Thomas E. Davis):
Thomas E. Davis says:
insightless charlatan dunce

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2 of 2 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2011 5:03:23 AM PDT
Tommy D says:
I always wondered what her middle names might be - thanks Thomas!

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1 of 1 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?

I think this is the kind of post that very much adds to discussion. Thank you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Harriet Klausner read 9.32 books every day in August 2011. And reviewed (natch).

Thanks to the awesome poster "buck210", we now have Harriet's updated statistical profile going over this past half a year:
buck210 says:
Stats so far this year, with a max of 306 in April and a low of 171 in May and an average of over 7.5 books per day for the year that Fraud Hattie fraudulently claims to have read and "reviewed".

185 fraudulent reviews in Jan 2011 5.97 per day
229 fraudulent reviews in Feb 2011 8.18 per day
204 fraudulent reviews in Mar 2011 6.58 per day
306 fraudulent reviews in Apr 2011 10.20 per day
171 fraudulent reviews in May 2011 5.52 per day
219 fraudulent reviews in Jun 2011 7.30 per day
218 fraudulent reviews in Jul 2011 7.03 per day
289 fraudulent reviews in Aug 2011 9.32 per day

So what can we expect for this month?? I'm predicting a slightly lower than average month, say around 200, as she just put out 79 a couple of days ago, she usually waits until the first of the month to puke them out so it's likely that this will not be a stellar 300+ month. But, knowing Fraud Hattie, it's still definitely possible...
Thumbs up, buck210! Last time I calculated her long-term average it was close to six (6) books a day over about a decade (starting late November 1999 -- the first review posted under her current account was dated something like 22 Nov 1999 or thereabouts). But now Harriet obviously went over that old parameter, hitting as much as 10.20 books a day (April 2011). Awesome! Harriet recognises no limits! If this keeps up she'll be reviewing 100 books every day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ferreting Out Fake Reviews (NY Times)

This article is from The New York Times online August 19, 2011. The author is David Streitfeld. It includes quotes from a freelance writer, Sandra Parker, who was hired this spring at a review factory for Amazon to pump out fake reviews at $10 a pop. The reviews were supposed to be five star and gushing...that sounds so familiar.

Which leads me to wonder what Harriet Klausner's net worth is. Think of her thousands upon thousands of fraudulent reviews. I guess the wages of sin were quite rewarding for old Harriet.

But she's still a liar, a fraud and a cheat. But a very wealthy liar, fraud and cheat, so in Klausner's world that makes it A-OK.

Editorial Note: here's the link to the NYT article In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5 .

The I only thing I feel I can add is, how touching! It has only been going on for twelve-to-fifteen years (with Amazon, that is), and now they're waking up to the phenomenon.

Another irony (I'll quote from the article):
Determining the number of fake reviews on the Web is difficult. But it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers [...] They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews. [...]
Amazon is interested! :-) The only reason they are intersted, I suspect, is to learn how this algorithm works so as to work around it — so as not to let this rogue research disrupt their shills, aw, sorry, I meant to say "Top Reviewers". (I think it's safe to say that the only thing they've proved they're interested in as related to fake reviews is to blow off their site everyone who raises the issue. Manny has been the latest).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

OT: What happened to Amazon Shopping Lists?

I can't find my Shopping List anymore -- the link I had now gets redirected to my Wish List. What the hell is going on? Did Amazon just quietly blow the shopping lists away? (That'd be rather low... at least they should have warned us ahead of time so that we could have saved the contents for future use.)

Anyone sees what I see? Any way to recover our shopping lists?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What’s up with Harriet Klausner??

Our old friend Vic Mikunas revisits the topic, asking what's up with our Goddess.
On March, 29, 2007 I wrote a blog post here titled THE MYSTERIOUS HARRIET KLAUSNER. That was over 4 years ago. Over the past week there have been a couple of hundred page views of that particular post. Weird? I wonder what’s up with Harriet? ...
C'mon, Vick! What could be up with Our Lady of Fauxreview? You know what's up — nothing's up! She's fat and happy and undaunted and churnin' out her perky burbling blurbs every bit as unstoppably as before, five stars guaranteed!

OT: Dear Reader, you won't believe the requests we're getting at times! But for the love of Christ we won't ridicule such people by making their imbecilities public, but we will give this charitable piece of advice to them: please read the blog before forwarding your pleas to help you with a review from our Goddess. Please give us the courtesy of learning what we're about before telling us what you think we could help you with. (And then, of course, why would we presume to believe that the Queen of Fraud needs or will heed our inferior suggestions about what she should review? She takes no guidance from the lowly. Like Berthold said, "That's why he's a baron, and I'm a prole".)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Klausner posts same review twice, under different names

First time I see that. Here Harriet posted two absolutely identical reviews, first time as Harriet Klausner and then as "A Romance Reader". Both times five stars (no surprises here). It's a great way to increase a book's average rating, of course... How many more sock-puppet accounts does she have, I wonder?

Anyway, here's a shapshot (just in case the original page gets changed; click to see normal size; I did shrink it a bit to fit on screen, but it's readable though):

Harriet busts through 300 reviews a month limit

Thanks to poster Guy the Gorilla we now have another update of Klausner stats for the last half a year.
Guy the Gorilla says:
Congratulations Harriet - I never thought I'd live to see it, but you came through with a last day mini-surge and upped your already prolific tally for the month to an amazing 301 "reviews" of books you could not possibly have read for the month of April. It has been a banner month - you must have truly had a case of Spring Fever - I can think of no other explanation for this vintage performance - other than the kickback payola checks from the publishers of the mass market paperbacks you favor.

To put this month's efforts in perspective, let's review Harriet's more recent output:

228 "reviews" of books she could not possibly have read in September 2010
296 "reviews" of books she could not possibly have read in October 2010
187 "reviews" of books she could not possibly have read in November 2010
192 "reviews" of books she could not possibly have read in December 2010
185 "reviews" of books she could not possibly have read in January 2011
229 "reviews" of books she could not possibly have read in February 2011
204 "reviews" of books she could not possibly have read in March 2011
301 "reviews" of books she could not possibly have read in April 2011

I'm glad you finally broke through the 300 barrier at this time. Because Harriet, I must congratulate you for something else. I officially surrender. I cannot keep up with you. I cannot think of any new jokes or comments to amuse myself or my sister Gwynneth the Gorilla, who still lurks on these pages as well, that hasn't been repeated in one variation or another at least a hundred times by now. I am bored with you. You're just not funny to me anymore. I am tired of you and your garbled English and your sub-genres and your silly Defense Squad. Someone else will have to pick up the standard and carry on the good fight in the trenches for a while - I am spent. Perhaps I will check in from time to time - especially to monitor your progress towards the fabled 25,000 career "reviews" of books you have not read (you are up to 24, 420 and closing fast) - but for now, Harriet, I bid you a fond adieu...
So, our dear Harriet would want us to believe that this April she was reading (AND reviewing) slighly over ten (10) books a day on average. That's double (nearly) her Amazon life-time average of about six (6) a day (under her current account, beginning in the late November 1999).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Urbi et Orbi (of sorts: how to send us an email)

This message is for the readers of this blog who are not memebers who write to us (we welcome such correspondence, of course). We get a good amount of email, and finally I want to address some recurring issues: basically, a few suggestions for our potential correspondents. Sorry for the fake-friendly, corporate style, but: in order to make our interaction more rewarding, please:

1. State clearly what you want and, provided your note is more than a comment on some of our entries, introduce yourself.

2. If you want to add a comment (which is entirely good and welcome), state what part of your email constitutes this comment, as well as whether you'd like your name to be mentioned. By default we will redact all personal specifics (for the sake of privacy). Of course, we may or may not post your comment (depending on how good it is), and we may edit any such correspondence before posting. In general such editing is for grammar/coherence (assuming it's worth bothering to begin with).

3. If you want to join, give at least a brief explanation as to the reasons you wish to do so.

But mostly, just write a clear and understandable note. A lot of people don't bother. Here's an example: "Hey your so right and Joe Blow does even worse I still want a reffund from them!!!!!". Well, great, except we've got no clue who Joe Blow is and what the thrilling story of your refund is. This sort of thing. Finally, if you sent us an email, give us a few days to get it. Sometimes we're busy with other things in our lives and it may take us a few days to get to your note. So don't send us a dozen "are you alive?" messages every day. Give it a few days or a week before following up. We are alive and we are quite likely to react to reasonable inquiries from reasonable people, be it a comment to add or a request to join.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day: Harriet Klausner read sixty-eight (68) books today...

That is, she posted sixty-eight (68) "reviews" today, but surely Harriet wouldn't post a review of a book she didn't read, would she? As far as I could see, all of them five and four stars. When you work intensively like that, errors are inavoidable: Harriet confused a couple of books posting wrong blurbs under wrong books. And the funniest thing of all, someone found one such review "helpful"! "Team Harrier" clicks "yes" on Klausner reviews without reading them just like Harriet "reviews" books without reading. Here's her review of The Goodbye Quilt:

And here are a couple of puzzled commenters voicing their concerns:

Slow down, Harriet! After all, you read only two books a day, remember? Not sixty-eight.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This is what I'd like to see happen re: Amazon review system...

What would be nice is to see someone decide to file a lawsuit against Amazon with the FTC regarding their review system. If we as reviewers technically have to reveal any association with the product that might influence our review, then a case could be made that either 1) HK might be in violation of that rule, and/or 2) Amazon is fraudulently manipulating sales via their review system, referring back to the same FTC regulations.

In a perfect world, it would open up some of the inner workings of Amazon's system and why some reviewers are protected like HK, when her reviewing exploits are obviously on par with Santa Claus being able to visit every house in the world over a 24 hour period... :)

And for those of you reading... this is my first post to the board (thanks for the invite, Malleus). I don't know that I'll be all that active, as I tend to avoid "pissing matches" over how much someone can review. Yes, I'm an Amazon reviewer, and just recently dropped out of the top 100. And yes, I *do* read a lot and review all that I read, as I enjoy writing. But my numbers have dropped of late, as I finished writing a book last year with a co-author, and I'm working on another one right now...

Simon suffers a wipeout (Klausner Protection Squad™ strikes again)

Another day, another news. Well, a new victim rather, but nothing really new: Amazon wipes out yet another commenter who dared to talk about the fraud that Harriet Klausner is. Everyone knows Simon Davis (he's been around for quite some time). He's been intermittently active in the Klausner "trenches", and we all know that this means asking for trouble. Today is the day: he just got wiped out by Amazon. I learned about this shameful news from a comment by another poster (I'm adding both a link and a snapshot — just in case the original gets deleted and the link becomes useless):

And indeed, it appears that Amazon wiped out every single comment Simon has ever posted: here are just a few examples — here;

and here:

and more:

Amazon is exceptionally unsubtle about muzzling everyone who dares to bring up the dangerous topic of their love of shills on their site: can't touch this! Shameful and revolting, especially since it's done so in-your-face for those who know what goes on, yet to a casual visitor it looks like perhaps the comment was offensive and was removed legitimately. After all, there's no button "let's look at what this was before Amazon deleted it" one could click on and see whether the deletion was justifiable. Many times, in process of wising up to what Klausner and her likes actually do on Amazon, people say something like, "I wonder why this or that guy got deleted-by-Amazon. First I thought perhaps his posts were inappropriate, but now I wonder..." Indeed.

Now, I'm sure Amazon doesn't give a crap about comments: I've seen really bad, rude comments (and reported them too), and nothing ever happened to them: so it's not like Amazon watches what goes on on their site all the time — nor do they pay any attention to isolated "report-this" reports. So these wipeouts (especially of the total kind) have got to be engineered by the Klausner Protection Squad™ (and similar gangs of shills manipulating the social environment on Amazon's site). I wonder how they do it... do they call Amazon on the phone and bitch about poor little Harriet being abused, or do they have some special Amazon-supplied button that only shills know about, or do they "report-this" five million times on every comment of the poster they want to get rid of? Do they assemble forces, or do they use their sock-puppet accounts? Do both "purchase" and "no-purchase" accounts work, or it has to be only one kind? ... Do we have any disgruntled Amazon employees who could shed light on internal workings of Amazon's Klausner Defense Machine? How does it work in practice?

Well, anyway. Let's welcome Simon into the manly ranks of disappeared-by-Amazon. Not that we ever had any doubts about Simon's virtue, but today his human decency has been confirmed by the enemy itself — no higher compliment can be hoped for.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Johnny Boy on Klausner

Hurried Klausner "reviews" something called One Night Is Never Enough, which produces a number of comments, one of which, by "Johnny Boy", is especially right on the money. Johnny says (click to enlarge):

The only things I'd add are:
(1) most likely, Klausner did not read even in 1999 when her current account starts, and that I suspect because she'd worked in a similar area earlier — she had probably been producing these accursed blurbs since forever, it's just that before 1999 she didn't post them on Amazon (under this account, at least; I can't remember when Amazon reviews started, but Amazon itself started in 1995, initially without reviews; people do report seeing "a customer" reviews signed "Harriet Klausner" from earlier that 1999; myself I haven't seen them).

I suspect this "career" of hers began when she was, as she claims, an acquisitions librarian — which is not a librarian, really, but more like a buyer for a store (bookstore/library in this case). She was probably put in a position to determine or recommend what gets purchased, and there being no shortage of commercial entities eager to have their stuff purchased, you can bet your you know what, the Klausner postion could be profitably exploited — and that would have to be well before the advent of the internet and Amazon.¹

As far as how much she "read" back then, too bad we can't now go back to the beginning of her record and see: about a year ago Amazon made it impossible (earlier you could scroll through the whole thing; now it'll let you about a year back and then give you an error message that is made to look like something intermittent, "temporarily-unavailable-please-try-later" sort ot thing, which is a lie: in reality you can try later till you're blue in the face, but it'll never let you past the last year's worth of reviews in anyone's record. I do remember (from before that change) that the first review on the current Klausner account was from the second half of November 1999. But with Amazon's newly introduced hiding of traces we can't check a reveiwer's reviewing pattern anymore. Very smart of them, 'cause I was just about to start on a piece of software that would produce a reviewer's statistics from his reviewing history; now I can't get to this history, of course; they nipped the very idea in the bud before they even knew there was a bud. Pretty smart, eh?²

(2) About your

Did she read anywhere near as much as she posted? Of course not. That's impossible. Nobody, and I don't care how good of a reader you are or how much time on your hands you have, can read 90 books in one day or even two days. It's mathematically and scientifically impossible, unless you were literally to go nonstop (no bathroom breaks, no eating, nothing), which I am about 99.99999% sure Harriet cannot do.
Are you saying that you could read 90 books in a day if you never took a leak? This is crazy, my man. I'm sure it's just a rhetorical slip on your part, but let's be clear about one thing: Harriet Klausner is a preposterous insolent fraud — no ifs and buts and taking or not taking a leak. That's what makes her the well-deserved No.1: while with many reviewers it's possible that they're dishonest, with Harriet it is absolutely impossible that she's honest. Nothing a simple mortal could possibly resort to could enable one to achieve what she claims to have achieved: she's been posting, on average, six reviews a day since November 1999! Taking (or not taking) a leak, posting subhuman gibberish, idiot proliferation of non-existing subgenres, endless errors of fact — things like that do matter, but they add very little to the fundamental fact that no human can read six books a day every day of every month for eleven years. And this six-a-day is the overall average: her shorter-term averages are far higer sometimes.
1. Actually, Krapusner writes on her own site:
I was born in the Bronx where I obtained a Masters in Library Science. My thesis topic was the Impact of Science Fiction Reading by High School Seniors on Standardized Reading Scores. I met my spouse Stan when he read my palm in a Bronx outdoor cafe. [let's skip a bit of this nauseating marivaudage and get to the chase] [...] where [Harrisburg, PA] I worked in the local bookstore and provided some limited book reviewing services. [...]
That was, as you can imagine, quite some time ago, well before Amazon's shill enablement and Harriet's taking advantage of it in the late 1999.

2: Now, think of it, for people that smart, how hard would it be to disallow mass-posting of crap a la Klausner? (Allow everyone ten book reviews a month: this will let every real reader review 120 books a year — more than adequate for a simple mortal, methinks.) Or what about shutting down people who use multiple "verified" accounts to review the same item multiple times or to mass-vote for the same review? Or authors reviewing (five-stars) their own books, openly, posting under their own name? Or using stacks of bullshit, no-purchase accounts to vote on comments and "report this" buttons — a complete free-for-all a casual visitor isn't even aware of? Technically, none of this is difficult to put an end to, yet Amazon doesn't do it, so one must assume their lack of action is political, not technical, meaning that Amazon's reviewing system is defective as it is not by omission but by design: to all appearances, Amazon loves shills; enabling their massive attack on the consumer has probably been part of their "understanding" with vendors who sell through Amazon.
Unrelated: btw, yesterday I decided to conduct my semiannual test of the Klausner Voting Shield: I negged a review of hers. I was pleased to see the vote show up upon the next refresh, but yet another refresh showed the vote removed: which is a sign of active vote filtering. Once more, to those who don't know: I never vote on Klausner reviews (other than a test like this; previous took place near a year ago) and so I cannot possibly qualify as her "fan", negative or positive (we talked about this before). So why is Amazon protecting Harriet? No wonder she's clawing back up in rank lately. (More on that in our Does Harriet Klausner have a special dispensation from Amazon?.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thank you, Ms. Klausner for a wonderful, intriguing preview

Someone "Joel, Holden" writes (comments) under a Klausner review of Other Kingdoms:

Now, two things. First, "Joel, Holden", perhaps unwittingly, breaks the code here: this Klausner excretion is (as all of them are) a preview, not a review. Second, when I see someone praising Harriet ("Thank you, Ms. Klausner for a wonderful, intriguing preview. My copy is on the way."), I kinda feel funny. Is it possible to be such an imbecile as to be honestly pleased by a Klausner blurb? And so (perhaps it's paranoia, I don't know) I just have to suspect a "scratch-my-back" action by a pleased author/flunkey/publisher employee. Iow, someone shilling for the shill (many of you will recall similarly unctuous posts by Mark Blackburn and JP Pix in the Harp realm). Iow, it's Quality Comments™ (remember Quality Comments™¹ ?).

So, driven by my paranoia, I begin to trace out who the hell this "Joel, Holden" might be. First I click on his name and go to his profile page, where I discover that he is (surprise, surprise!) an author (whose nom de plume is apparently "Barry Eysman"; among other things on this page there's an Amazon UK page holding something like a catalog of "Barry Eysman"'s oeuvre). Going back to Joel/Barry's US page: he's got some reviews; let's visit there. Well, nothing eye-catching, the prose a bit purple, otherwise all right... not all five-star, there are some negatives too... looks fine to me. Except notice that like every second review of his contain a strange link — a link that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the book reviewed or the review itself. And (bet you know where it's going) if we visit those links, we'll find out that all of them lead to the books by? yes, by Barry Eysner.

So this is one of those guys who don't do things just for the heck of it: they've got a product to puff, and everything they do has to serve that purpose. It's like the reviewers who always include in all their reviews that they are "the author of" this and that, and so on, which has nothing to do with the book/review — which invalidates their reviews, 'cause you immediately think, all right, this guy posts reviews not to review anything but to promote his own stuff; this is not a real review: he's a member of the scribbling crowd who review (always five stars) one another's crap as a matter of course, adding nothing — other than a faint smell of shit — to the universe; to be ignored. And so getting back to this Harriet review: do you think Joel/Barry's is a bona fide remark, or is it Quality Comments™?

Note 1: Remember Quality Comments™? The site that sold their shilling services, where for a payment their employees would visit a designated website and post "realistic-looking" comments — "Our Blog Comments are of high quality! [...] Our promise to you is that the comments will look very real[...] The blogger won't recognize that its [sic] a paid post" — kinda like Astroturf? I don't know if that vendor is still in business, but we've blogged a lot about them — or rather about the phenomenon itself — like for example here

PS. No, the place is no longer online, unfortunately. But there's plenty of it in caches, like this page, for example (here's a google search on their name; if the pages are absent, use the cache).

Thomas-Sundstrom Book: the saga ends (?)

Following up on the previous post: Harriet has now posted another review there; now it's probably what it should have been, and it's now rated five stars rather than four. Both reviews got a positive vote (probably from the author: why are the authors even allowed on the site?). Here's a snapshot (just in case the saga hasn't eneded here) — compare and contrast!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Come on, Linda, you got four stars, what else do you want?

Our Lady of Fauxreview has reviewed Golden Vampire by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom, but, um, it seems there's a problem! Author does not recognise the book she wrote in this valuable Klausner review! Ouch. But then, Linda, please be reasonable: Harriet doesn't read no stinking books (and you knew that, 'cause everyone knows that, 'cause how can anyone read (and review) six books a day, every day for over a decade? Yet this is Harriet's average over the life of her account)! She only posts blurbs, without reading the books: how would she know which blurb goes where? And then, who cares what the text is if the rating is good, after all. It's a positive review, four stars (although, for Harriet, it's a rarity: usually it's five stars... maybe Harriet found the reviewing fee insufficient? We'll never know). Anyway, Dear Reader, check it out (while it lasts; I took a snapshot though, see below, click for normal size):

Taken down?!?! How dare you. How dare you. Nothing gets taken down that Harriet graciously indited. Re-write your book to match the review! OK, so: here we have an author and/or her publisher hoisted on their own petard — I doubt Harriet bought this book: the author, Linda Thomas-Sundstrom (or her publisher) has probably requested a review and supplied a freebie for Harriet to "review" (and maybe a fee, who knows... it's hard to believe someone would throw up multiple reviews, no matter how bad, every day if it were not for a pay). Any takeaway lessons here? Yes: do not hire shills to puff your stuff.

PS. If the review does get blown away, remember that it will persist a long while in the reviews list sorted by most-recent comment. In addition to the snapshot above, I mean.

PPS. 1 a.m. next morning: Kluckusner blurb is gone. Damn! Not only gone, but in a speedily conducted (non-"Amazon-Verified") damage-control operation replaced by a fully five-starred piece of perky, smooth-flowing professional copy, quite Klausnerian in content, but impeccable grammatically and completely coherent. I say, Harriet is far more fun; bring back Harriet's blurb. 'course our MaĆ®tresse will not disappoint and will (and already did!) post more of her delightfully discombobulatory burbling little affairs — but not for this book! And that is a loss.

Oh btw, the new reviewer, "J. M. Dickson" (real name), has only three reviews (including this one) in his record, all of them for books by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom. The other two reviews (dated 2010 and 2009) have been "Amazon-Verified" (there was probably no hurry then — although they're also distinctly less well-written: just a couple of lines, fairly vacuous, definitely not like this latest one).

Actually, a bit of digging uncovered the fact that J.M. Dickson also is a writer of similar kind of books, so this begins to look more and more like a professional favour by one writer to another (iow, essentially the same as a Klausner review would be: not an honest review by an unaffiliated reader, but something concocted by the industry in order to move the wares).
Klausner blurb also survives (for now) as a google-cached page from her "go round" blog (snapshot below, for when the cache goes dead, which it will, with time; the post itself has been deleted).

We Got Mail

We've received a note from someone claiming to be one of the Amazon (top?) reviewers, who wishes to let us (and the world? :-) know that not everyone on Amazon is a phony PoS like our dear Harriet, or — very distant, of course! — W.Boudville, Maestro Harp, John Matlock "Gunny", Midwest Book Reviews, Mark-O, Dr.Maraio, "Respected Leatherman" Roubel, etc., etc. Well, we can believe that! (Not that we'd be terribly surprised to find out otherwise, btw., but yeah, it is possible that not everyone in the "Top" category is a fake.) Anyway, here's the letter (name withheld because the correspondent did not explicitly ask to post it, and in cases like that we always err on the side of privacy):

I occasionally read the stuff that gets posted on your site & only recently did I really feel like I needed to post anything. It was in response to Malleus' post about top amazon reviewers. I couldn't post it on the site but here's generally what I had to say:

I can't speak for anyone but myself but I did want to let you know that myself & more than a few other "top reviewers" do actually read the books & use the items that we review. I just read somewhat quickly & thanks to my night job having some extended periods of downtime I get to indulge my habits of reading & reviewing. It's just something I like to do in my spare time & I've been lucky enough to get up around the top 300-ish. I don't think I'll get any higher than that unless I suddenly win the lottery & get oodles of time to read & review or unless some computer error levitates me to the top.

Just wanted to let you know that not all top reviewers are machines intent on rising to the top in the hopes of getting recognition or free stuff. I've seen more than a few that seem to just crank stuff out but a lot of us are just people who really like to review in our free time. The expensive goodies might be nice but in the end that's not what we really go in for.

I have to admit, getting accused of possibly being a hack or a shill sort of miffs me a little. I'll admit that I'm pretty easy to entertain (the stuff I like that I don't post reviews for is pretty embarrassing) but I don't pimp myself out in the hopes of reward. That's the opposite of what I want to be recognized for.


[name withheld]
Well... yeah, OK, no problem, we believe you.

Bill Cunningham... or Robert J. Rubel? More gems from Amazon

One Robert J. Rubel wrote a book that's been published by Nazca Plains Corp., and is sold on Amazon under the title of Squirms, Screams and Squirts: Going from Great Sex to Extraordinary Sex (looks like one of those books Harriet denominates as "heated"). The book has received a good number of reviews, most of them five-star (naturally; though it's got some one-starrers too). One of the positive reviews has been written by a certain Bill Cunningham (click on the image to see the full-size version):

What makes this review interesting is the comment under it, by C. B. Gurney who says that, in another review of his, Bill Cunningham claimed to be the author of the "Squirms" book (click on the image to see the full-size version):

And indeed, among other things, Bill Cunningham reviewed Cleopatra's Secret, Cool Mint, where he stated just that (the review can be found through Bill Cunningham's reviews collection; it's on the very first page there).

But if that's not enough, we can visit his profile page and discover that, yes indeed, it appears that "Bill Cunningham" is a non-real name assigned to an account set up by, um... yeah, Robert J. Rubel (click on the image to see the full-size version):

So here we have a smartass author setting up sock-puppet accounts (how many? we've just found one: is there more?) so as to post five-star reviews for his own books right under the watchful eye of Amazon — who does what? Nothing. Yet, clearly, they know the real name of the account owner — so why not compare it with the name of the author of the book under review and disallow posting (and maybe freeze the account altogether) if it's the same name? For a technological powerhouse that Amazon is this should not be too difficult, no? Yet this is not done. Why? (That was rhetorically.)

Btw, "Bill Cunningham" reviewed many books by Robert J. Rubel, not just this one (five stars, of course), just peruse his reviews. For example: Protocols: A Variety of Views: Power Exchange Books' Resource Series by Robert Rubel PhD (click to enlarge):

or Protocol Handbook for the Leather Slave: Theory and Practice by Robert J. Rubel

or more (and more, and then some):

So, once again, why does Amazon do nothing to prevent this sort of thing? It is not a difficult thing to do.

"Educational Sociologist, Author, Respected Leatherman
Robert J. (Bob) Rubel, PhD"
(whose respectability does not, apparently, prevent him from posting bullshit five-star reviews for his own books under an assumed name).
Unrelatedly: have you noticed that Harriet is 738 now? She was ~760 a couple of days ago, and 749 yesterday. Looks like "Team Harriet" found a way to push her back up somehow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dr Gina Maraio: A New Gem from the Amazon Reviews Machine

A new reviewer has just made her entrance into the holy space of Amazon reviewing by posting twenty-five (25) absolutely identical, five-star (natch), reviews for twenty-five different books, all on the same day, March 20, 2011. Goes like this:
Oceanside, CA Doc says:This is a great book to even introduce my regular HMO pts to natural healthy treatments., March 20, 2011
As a female medical doctor I have battled against many colleagues to get this info to my patients and have it help them for over 15 years. Now, even my HMO patients are finally agreeing to try to manage their health with 'alternative and natural' approaches... with the help of reading books like this. The rewards are plenty from practicing medicine this way and have my patients giving me the "high five" on a daily basis. I love practicing medicine this way for all of my patients. This medicine is no longer only for 'the rich and famous' that I've treated for over 15 years! Kudos to all who continue to expand my patients minds and let them now come to me asking for these types of treatments instead of me having to convince them this stuff really works! DRMARAIO.COM
And so it goes, one after another, for three pages, twenty-five times in a row (a representative snapshot follows; click on the image for the full-size picture).

I say this is a very strong beginning! I see very good Amazon Top-Reviewer material here: effort-saving laziness (why write twenty-five crappy blurbs when you can take one crappy blurb and post it twenty-five times?) combined with self-promotional chutzpah combined with an utter lack of ethics. Yeah! Thumbs up — that is the kind of doctor I want my enemies to go to! Friends, there can be no mistake: please join me in welcoming Dr Gina Maraio, Family Practice Physician Oceanside, CA into the ranks of our Friends Top Reviewers here. I'm sure she'll be very comfortable next to such luminaries as Harriet Klausner (a.k.a. Our Lady of Fauxreview, the Bernie Madoff of Amazon, and The Queen of Reviewing Fraud), as well as the venerable W.Boudville, John Matlock "Gunny", and of course, last-not-least, often imitated never equalled, never-forgotten unsurpassed master of scholarly imposture and self-vote totals — drum roll, please — our dear Maestro, Grady Harp himself.

Amazon Deletes Reviews That Mention Pay-For-Play Review Schemes

Interesting nuance (oldie but goodie): on the same Consumerist, Alex Chasick writes:
After buying an anti-snoring mouthpiece from a third-party seller on Amazon, reader Bob received an email from the company offering him a free mouthpiece in exchange for a five-star review. He noted this attempted bribe in his Amazon review, and Amazon deleted it. Twice. [...]
This is totally new to me. Check it out, quite curious.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hyper-negging by the Klausner Protection Squad

Poster "Helen" added a very insightful comment. Notice that the comment is closed due to a large number of negative votes on it. Here's how it looks when you first arrive to this page (click on the image for a full-size picture):

Now, let's open it (click on the image for a full-size picture):

An eminently reasonable comment, well articulated — read it: what is there so offensive that ten people negged it (the lone positive vote is mine)? Moreover, dusting off our old vote-observation skills obtained in Maestro Harp's trenches a while ago, I'll notice that the total was 0 of 5 when I arrived there. And what you see on the picture (1 of 11) appeared upon the next browser refresh, just a few minutes on — does it look like in this short time period five more people just happened to visit there and vote on this comment (and none in the hours afterwards) OR is it more likely that one obsessed idiot with ten sock-puppet accounts voted ten times in a row, hurriedly so as be finished before he is taken back to his padded room? The thread is "tracked by one customer", notice that too. So, once again: why does Amazon still allow no-purchase accounts to be used for comment voting? How is voting on comments different from voting on reviews? One more computer glitch that is amazingly shill friendly?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kindle Author Challenges Amazon To Fix Rankings System

From MediaBistro: Dianna Dilworth writes:
[...]Author Thomas Hertog authored a book on how he worked the Amazon rankings system to get an inflated ranking. [...] called The Day the Kindle Died [and sold as eBook, it] was allegedly removed from the Kindle store earlier this month [...]

The removal got the book a lot of attention on Twitter [,] and Amazon took the opportunity to e-mail their disapproval to the author. Hertog showed us the e-mail and this is what it said: “”…customer reviews and sales rank are an important source of information for customers…” and “we will not tolerate efforts to manipulate it.”[...]”
Yeah, mostly, it seems, by way of deleting any commentary bringing this sort of shenanigans to the public's attention — see Why is Amazon Deleting Comments? below... Or this: the same day as poster Manny R Brooklyn suffered this Amazonian wipeout, another familiar poster, Ghost(Ghost(M)), also a target of a past "deleted-by-Amazon" wipeout, suffered a precipitous fall in reviewing rank: from about 200,000 to below 8,000,000 — although there has been no change in his vote totals! Apparently, this has been another revenge action by the Klausner Protection Squad(TM), but the interesting thing is that they unwittingly demonstrated that such manipulation of reviewing ranks is possible. Either this can be done from the outside, or they have "their man" on the inside, but in the absense of an appreciable change in amassed public vote, such a strange move would seem to require direct tweaking.

And, developing this disquieting thought even further: is this perhaps the reason for Harriet's surprising ranking resilience over the last year or so? After all, right after Amazon changed the rating algorithm (in Oct 2008?) she fell from No.1 by a good four hundred places in a matter of days, yet lately her reviewing rank has been bobbing about 760: it goes a bit under and then immediately floats back up. Why such a sudden change from what to all appearances was a free fall to a persistent buoying at a stable level? Perhaps her rank gets daily adjusted "by hand" by the "Team Harriet"? After all, if it's possible to bring someone's rank down by over seven million places w/o any observable change in his voting totals, it should be possible to effect the opposite change too, no? Harriet, are you really ranked 759, or has this amazingly stable level been achieved "with the little help" from your silent but hyperactive friends? What's the real rank now, the Top Fifty Millionth Reviewer or something? Just how (if at all) "intolerant" of such manipulations is Amazon in reality? A lot seems possible that you'd think wouldn't be (and we can start simply from Harriet's habit of posting 250-300 reviews every month — is this not manipulation? No one can read that much, and then of course, there's the issue of all-positiveness of her reviewing record). Anyway... something to think about. Dear Reader, if curious, read more on the Hertog Affair (it's a google search).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Disregard any Amazon Review with a "Top 10 Reviewer" Label on It

On something called Consumerist, an obviously intelligent fellow by the name Chris Walters writes in an article called The Fakery Behind Amazon's "Top 10 Reviewers":
Amazon reviews, especially the effusive ones, have always been suspect—you never know when a five-star review came from an employee, publicist, or marketing type. Slate describes the dishonest world of Amazon's "Top 10 Reviewers," where a small group of writers churn out purple-prosed blurbs and jacket-ready compliments at an astounding rate, sometimes for a fee. In turn, these reviewers are inundated with a sort of fame as well as free merchandise—mostly books in the past, but now electronics and other goods. Because good reviews sell more books, Amazon has no incentive to weed out the reviewers who have turned the system into a cottage industry. We suggest you disregard any review with a "Top 10 Reviewer" label on it. [Emphasis mine] [...]
My thoughts precisely — except I don't think "the group" is small, and I would extend the final suggestion to all reviewers with a "Top" denomination, be it "Top 10" or "Top 50" or even "Top 1000" (I just don't believe a normal independent bookreader (rather than a hired review-writer) will be willing to write a gigantic number of reviews that is necessary in order to break into the "Top" reviewer ranks).

Personally, I do read reviews when buying stuff there, but I start from going directly to one- and two-star reviews. If they make good sense, that's the end of this item — I don't even bother with positives, since I trust the authors/publishers to manufacture any number of gushingly extatic five-starrers for every piece of crap on earth. Otoh, if the negatives are not terribly convincing, I will peruse positive reviews too — but I always read them, analytically, not just let the bare fact that there are such reviews motivate me to reach for my wallet.

Iow, there are two approaches to dealing with Amazon reviews these days:

(1) If you're a moron, do NOT pay any attention to them (lest you get owned).

(2) If you do want to use them, don't be a moron — read them carefully; begin with the negatives. Never pay much attention to any particular review's starrage and especially "helpfulness" (voted, purportedly, by the public, but I bet, mostly by the shills, who vote "for" their and friends' reviews so as bump them up, and "against" the low-starrage-dealing enemies, so as to push them down, out of sight, off the first page; for more on that see our Publishing giant Elsevier in hot water over hiring shills, The Belkin Saga (hiring shills on Amazon), and Why John T. Reed does not sell his books on Amazon any more (a.k.a. Amazon “fixes” review problem)).

Why is Amazon Deleting Comments?

On March 8 Amazon poster Manny R. Brooklyn added a comment with a link to an article on this blog (right below: Klausner Protection Squad negs comments but doesn't vote for review itself). This comment was immediately deleted by Amazon (Manny got blown off the site too). Why? Needless to say, Amazon never offers an explanation. But based on past experience, it's never been a problem to add a link to a comment under a review: it's done a lot. So it's not that there's an Amazon guideline not to post links. Then, one must conclude, the reason for this Amazonian deletion had something to do with the article the link lead to. Is Amazon hiding something here? What and why?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stats Update: In the last half a year Harriet Klausner reviewed

Thanks to an inquisitive poster we now have exact numbers for Harriet Klausner's contribution to Amazon reviews system during the last half a year.
[...]on Mar. 10, 2011 4:59 AM PST Guy the Gorilla says: [...] For those keeping track, here's a quick summary of her latest activity:

- 228 "reviews" in September 2010
- 296 "reviews" in October 2010
- 187 "reviews" in November 2010
- 192 "reviews" in December 2010
- 185 "reviews" in January 2011
- 229 "reviews" in February 2011

And so far in March, and it is only the 10th of the month, 90 "reviews," so the possibility of a banner, 300 "review" month remains a distinct possibility. [...]
Good! Now let's get some averages. We can easily see that Harriet has left her old ten-year average of just-about six (6) books a day behind (her fist reviews under the current account had been posted in late November 1999). Also, to refresh our memory: these daily averages are calculated from the number of reviews actually posted — remember how Harriet (reportedly) explained the all-positiveness of her reviews record? Here's how: she reviews only the books she liked; the ones she read but didn't like she does not review. So she reads even more books than she reviews. And so, here are her recent averages (only the good books):
- September 2010 daily average, books/day: 7.6
- October 2010 daily average, books/day: 9.55
- November 2010 daily average, books/day: 6.23
- December 2010 daily average, books/day: 6.2
- January 2011 daily average, books/day: 5.97
- February 2011 daily average, books/day: 8.18

- March 2011 (first 10-days) daily average, books/day: 10
Note: Remember, in her profile, Our Lady of Faux Review says she was born with a gift of speed-reading, and that she reads two books a day. We don't have to believe this either, but even if we did, we can see that she actually reviews three to five times more books than she herself claims to read. The former number includes only the books she liked, the latter all books she tried to read, including the ones she didn't like and, consequently, didn't end up reviewing. Hmmm..... so she reads more books than she then reviews, yet she posts more reviews than the overall number of books she claims to be able to read! The Klausner Paradox.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Klausner Protection Squad negs comments but doesn't vote for review itself

Poster Guy the Gorilla raises an interesting issue:
Guy the Gorilla says:
It's either 22 mentally deranged people, or the same mentally deranged person circling back for the 22nd time.

I wonder if it may be Harriet herself, like I said earlier. If you'll notice, not one of these 22 "defenders" has thought to vote Harriet's original review itself as helpful. That is very odd. Makes me think it's her, and she can't bring herself to vote for her own review [...]
No, no, no. Come one, why would one suspect Harriet of such cowardice? The issue, I'm guessing, is far simpler. Let's go back some five-to-eight years.

Back then anyone could post reviews: you only needed to register with an email address and a password (the email address didn't need to be valid). So you could set up any number of accounts and start posting reviews (to your own books, for example, which is still done a lot — I'm gonna be posting an article about it soon). Then, in the mid-2000s some time Amazon started to require a purchase to be made from an account before it could be used to post reviews and comments. I'm not sure what this was supposed to ensure, since one could still set up any number of such accounts; the only difference was that it would cost you something because every time you'd need to buy something. But, since there's always been a lot of very cheap items there, this requirement would hardly deter an author/publisher flunkey intent on promoting own wares. Amazon could definitely see which such accounts belong to the same person (they shared credit-card personal info), but they have never done anything to prevent the operation (as far as I could see, at least). Anyway, now you need to buy something in order to start posting reviews and — and this answers your question, I believe — vote on reviews.

At the same time, and for the reasons I can't even begin to guess, voting on comments still does not require a purchase, so just like in the good old days of the Amazonian free-for-all, an easy-to-create no-purchase account is enough: when on the "create account" page, all you need is to type in something looking like an email address ( would do) and a password into the entry fields, et voila: you can vote on comments now. Why the difference? Hell knows. Since Amazon proved time and again that they're exceptionally friendly towards the shill — all their software glitches just happen to somehow enable reviewing shenangians and disable anyone trying to talk about it — maybe they wanted to leave one more non-obvious avenue for the shills to manipulate the site: we the veterans is one thing, but I'm sure that a casual visitor would be discouraged if his comment were hit by a large number of negs; this is entirely normal (shills used to do that with enemy reviews themselves: if you ever said something about their crap (in any context), next day you would find your own reviews massively negged).

So, getting back to your over-negged comments, it's quite likely that some member of the Klausner Protection Squad tasked with discouraging of the detractors set up a large number of no-purchase accounts that he then used to neg your and others' comments. The reason he doesn't vote for Harriet's reviews is that he can't: his no-purchase accounts do not allow him to vote on reviews — to overcome that he needs to buy something at least once from every account, and he's probably too cheap for that. Could it be Harriet herself? Why not? Of course it could.

Note: I haven't recently re-tried all these things I'm talking about above; so all this info is at least a year old. But it seems that things still work the way they did back then.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Five Stars! Roger von Oech reviews books by... Roger von Oech

Here's America's Creativity Guru Roger von Oech reviewing Expect the Unexpected (Or You Won't Find It): A Creativity Tool Based on the Ancient Wisdom of Heraclitus by... Roger von Oech. Five stars, incidentally. A very good book, he really liked it:
Roger's new book is a fun read. [Notice that just like Colonel Gaddafi, Mr von Oech speaks of himself in the third person — this demonstrates the great humility of the two men.] It clearly shows his passion for the ideas of Heraclitus. I think he's done a great job of translating them into practical techniques on how to be more creative. The stories and tips are a delight. I was actually surprised to discover how well a thinker from 2,500 years ago speaks to the current issues. [...]
That's not all. Here Roger reviews X-Ball (Magnetic Design Set), by, um, you guessed it — Roger von Oech. Also five stars.
[...]This X-Ball is a whole lot of fun! I heartily recommend it. It'll put "white caps" on your "gray matter.
Clearly, this is another winner! Neither is this everything! Roger is really keen on letting the public know about real good stuff: here Mr von Oech reviews Innovative Whack Pack, an interesting product with mixed reviews, made by , er... well, no two ways about it — it's made by Roger von Oech! Mr von Oech happens to like it too:
[...]My favorite way of using the deck is to pick one card at random in the morning, and have it be one of my innovation thoughts of the day. If you enjoyed the Creative Whack Pack, I think you'll get a kick (and some ideas) from the Innovative Whack Pack.[...]
Can you get any tackier? The answer is yes, of course, this is not "rape-rape", and at least he posts under his own name, so it's more like silly than criminal. But even as is, it's pretty tacky. Amazon doesn't mind, naturally.