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Customer Discussions > Going Rogue: An American Life forum

Why does Amazon allow fake one-star reviews?

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Showing 1-25 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 24, 2009 5:19:26 AM PST
Dan says:
This seems to happen with every book written by a conservative: liberal morons come out of the woodwork and post fake one-star reviews without even pretending to have read the book. I expect more from Amazon, but I guess they're just not up to the task of policing their own site. I may have to start taking my business elsewhere.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 5:24:38 AM PST
David Dixon says:
It happens with every book written by a liberal too. And likewise, many of each get tons of fake 5 star reviews.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 5:33:28 AM PST
Dan says:
I don't see it happening to liberal books anywhere near as much. Regardless, Amazon needs to do a better job.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 5:51:45 AM PST
David Dixon says:
Maybe not quite as much, but still a ton.

But yes, Amazon could do a better job. The "Amazon Verified Purchase" feature is a good step but I'm not sure what else they could do. Requiring a purchase from Amazon to write a review is never going to happen.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 6:08:44 AM PST
Dan says:
Let's face it, it's all about page hits.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 6:09:50 AM PST
"Requiring a purchase from Amazon to write a review is never going to happen. "
I agree... there's really nothing they can effectively do other than this, but it would limit legitimate reviews from people that have actually read a book. I suppose the system works for non-political books...?

When it comes down to it, I wonder how many people think "Maybe I'll buy Palin's / Obama's / any political book" then cancel because of the bunch of 1-star reviews?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 7:31:21 AM PST
Why would you take your business elsewhere because of bad customer reviews?
I deal with Amazon because they are a good company. Every thing I order arrives on time, and I have found some 'hard to find' items through their web site.
While it is annoying that people would review a book that they haven't written, I don't see how Amazon could police that.
(and I agree with Mr. Dixon, it's not just liberals or conservatives)

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 8:03:12 AM PST
Read the reviews. I read the first 20 or so and nearly every 1 star was a one line review that had nothing to do with the book.

Now, read the 2 or more star reviews (i.e. 5 star) and they are thought out reflections on the book itself. Even and especially those who didn't even agree with her positions.

Please, mark reviews (whether they be 1 or 5) as unhelpful if they don't actually review the book. We aren't casting our vote in an election ... we are rating a bit of literature, whether you like it or not.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 8:25:45 AM PST
Pen Name says:
Why would anyone make a decision solely on reviews to buy any book, especially
anything politically oriented. If you can't read a review and determine the
reviewer's bias's, you're not likely to understand the book.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 8:35:21 AM PST
Dan says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 8:47:35 AM PST
Roger Long says:
Thousands of reviews are posted, and Amazon just doesn't have the time or the personnel to read them all and try to judge whether the reviewer is being honest. This fact should have been obvious to the person who asked the question.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 8:50:12 AM PST
John Fisher says:
Suggestion: instead of those cryptic "captchas" (to catch electronic bots from spamming sites), perhaps Amazon should insert intellectual "captchas" about the text. Even something as simple as "What is the first word on page ---?" would weed out the muckymucks who just want to pan the author instead of the book.

I am neither a purchaser of "My Life" nor "Going Rogue" and never will be 'cause they just don't interest me: people who become stars through politics aren't in politics to do the country right.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 8:50:46 AM PST
Roger Long says:
Baloney, Dr. Dan. "Policing" Amazon reviews would amount to censorship, and that would destroy the whole concept of publishing reviews by individuals. So "expect more" all you like. But approving of censorship is not the mark of a liberal mind.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 9:06:26 AM PST
Muzzlehatch says:
Well, "liberal" minds - take that however you want to - aren't likely to be the ones most interested in reading this book, are they? And of course the former governor isn't exactly the most liberal-minded herself when it comes to censorship, or at least wasn't when she was mayor of Wasilla.

At any rate, as others have said here and I've mentioned in at least a couple of other threads in this forum, Amazon themselves don't police reviews apart from flagging particular words. They simply can't have a staff devoted to looking at all the reviews that come down the pike, even if they restricted it largely to "controversial" items - of which there are still thousands or tens of thousands (such as EVERY political or religious book or film).

Those who want spurious reviews removed would do best to
- report the reviews using the "report this" link after the individual review.
- email Amazon directly to complain, with details and with a link to the review.

Complaining about them in this thread won't have any effect whatsoever.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 9:08:50 AM PST
Roger -
"Baloney, Dr. Dan. "Policing" Amazon reviews would amount to censorship, "
If the gov't did it, that's censorship. Amazon is entitled to police or not to police their own boards.
(possibly the "Fairness" Doctrine could be used to censor non-Obama friendly opinion?)
... in the end, why would Amazon spend the effort? They're making news, which is publicity...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 9:45:25 AM PST
R. J. Wells says:
Probably the same reason it allows fake five-star reviews for glorified doorstops from people who can't even read without moving their lips and fingers.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 10:55:33 AM PST
Ralph Jinks says:
Amazon has done something about it. If you buy the book you can hit a box that amazon tracks to make sure that is so. Then when you comment, the reader can quickly see if you made the purchase which lends credibility to your critique. I don't read the ones that don't make the purchase. Keeps them honest.
Ralph J.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 10:59:25 AM PST
Dan says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 11:11:55 AM PST
Doctor Dan, your argument against Amazon makes no sense.
I was just on the walmart web site, and they also alow customers to write reviews, and there were also some 1 star reviews. Should walmart also police their reviews?
Would you say that these people that gave the book 1 star also did not read the book? I'm sure other vendors that also allow reviews will have some people that review with bias, never having read the book. Again, how can a vendor tell for certain that a review is genuine?

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 11:40:37 AM PST
NY Reader says:
I've been reading one-star reviews, sorted by "most helpful" first. All of the reviews that I've read so far seem legitimate. I'm sure there are a lot of fake ones as well, and I'm also sure there are a lot of fake five-star reviews.
For comparison, look up Darwin's Origin of Species. You will find a lot of one-star reviews there from people who have obviously never read the book.
The bottom line is that you shouldn't judge a book by its average rating. You should also read some of the bad reviews and see if you care about the things the reviewers objected to. Without the phony one-star reviews, Darwin's book would rate 5 start, as it should. Palin's book has enough legitimate one-star reviews that you might want to avoid it, unless you are looking for validation of things you already believe.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 11:43:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2009 11:44:37 AM PST
NY Reader says:
Dr Dan,
Simple. Skip the reviews. When you go to a WalMart store, do you get reviews?
By the way, look up Darwin's Origin of Species to see some 1-star reviews written by people who obviously haven't read the book. I think that your concept of having to check only a few books is seriously flawed.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 11:51:56 AM PST
Shmelse says:
Not to derail the argument from whether or not Amazon is able to edit/control reviews in this manner, but I find it pretty outrageous that DrDan is claiming that only "lefties" are guilty of these kinds of reviews of "books written by popular conservatives". It only took me a few minutes to look up reviews of books by popular liberals, but I found plenty of the same type of reviews that he complains about: fake 1 star reviews by people that have pretty clearly never read the book. Some examples are below. I don't have a strong opinion either way on whether Amazon should target these reviews, but DrDan's argument is severely undermined by his political bias.

Authors I searched for: Al Franken, Bill Maher, Keith Olberman, James Carville, Steven Colbert, John Stewart, as well as a book on Obama's recent election

Example quotes:
"This radical nut sees the world through ultra-left wing glasses and is hateful towards anyone not in his camp - plus he's a crappy writer to boot! ZERO STARS for total garbage"

"I don't have to read a thin, insipid Carville "book" to see Old Serpent Head doesn't get it."

"The least qualified of all US presidents."

"I can't figure out why people like this guy so much. He really irritates the hell out of me. He's just another pundit who spews out opinions faster than he can actually think."

"I don't see how any clear thinking American could have enjoyed this book! "

"Jon ought to stick to his "schtick" of trying to make a living being a comic. Typical liberal garbage, only not funny."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 12:58:14 PM PST
Shmelse (and others)
Of course, libs and conservative alike post fake 1-star and fake 5-star reviews. Much like the media "attention" paid to Palin, the numbers of and intensity of fake reviews has never been seen before: Palin = about 300 reviews (about a week in print), almost 500 discussion boards: some ligit, some completely bogus and some just hateful. Obama: 764 reviews (over a year in print) and 37 discussions. Glenn Beck: Christmas Sweater - the first 1-star reviewer raved about the Obama book. Legit? Could be... but I have my doubts. If I'm the Amazon cops, do I delete that review?

Shmelse, cut and paste all the fake reviews you want. Track down every fake negative review of Obama & Clinton. However, there seems to be a concerted effort to attack Palin, of all people - stuff here about how she "doesn't care for her retarded baby" (sorry, but it's a quote). I'm sure, there's an astute reader who, well, I'll just say I bet they didn't read the book (and wouldn't read the book, and if they had to, they would find nothing good at all inside).

Can Amazon police the boards? They could, but with most non-political books getting a few hundred reviews, and news stories recently about the number of discussions on Amazon, why would they? There are probably enough to review with automatic flagging (which must happen - I don't see any real swearing here).

It would be nice to ask the fake reviewers to stick to the discussion forums to vent their anger, but... that's just not going to happen. I won't go post a 1-star for Al Franken or Keith Olbermann, since I didn't read their book ... but someone out there will still go post the fake 5-star assuming I'm there posting a 1-star. Too bad!

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 2:12:06 PM PST
"nobody is writing fake one (and five) -star reviews for toaster ovens"

Actually it happens all the time, its called viral marketing.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2009 2:34:52 PM PST
Roger Long says:
Apparently you didn't notice the words "amount to." I really don't need a legal definition of censorship from you. If Amazon took out certain reviews it would AMOUNT TO censorship. In legal terms, it is a distinction without a difference. Are you offended only by comments negative to Ms Palin--or are you also offended by positive comments from those who have not read her book?

I read Palin's book--rather I stumbled through it. She goes to some length to complain about her treatment in the press, especially Katie Couric. I would say only that if Palin cannot stand in for the softball lobs of Couric, then Palin has no business in national politics. One need not go beyond that point. Now, would you ask Amazon to delete my opinion?
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Participants:  17
Total posts:  30
Initial post:  Nov 24, 2009
Latest post:  Mar 27, 2014

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Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin (Hardcover - November 17, 2009)
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