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).

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