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Customer Discussions > Kindle Book forum

sign up: ask amazon to warn customers and educate them on shill reviews

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Showing 1-25 of 484 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 31, 2012 8:43:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 2, 2012 11:40:54 AM PDT
Kelli says:
Authors are harmed by shill reviews, not just purchased but friends and family taking the helm. Ask amazon to provide a warning and brief explanation to educate customers of what this is, and how it affects authors...and we will see an end to this as far as false reviews. YES THIS IS A PETITION NOT A DISCUSSION FORUM.

I will be sending this to amazon, if and when it reaches 1000 names, so please limit comments and only vote once.

Add your name and say yes.
Kelli Yes

Posted on Mar 31, 2012 8:52:56 PM PDT
Lordfrieza says:
Lordfrieza and not just yes, but hell yes. I disagree with the idea of purchased reviews. It's not only immoral, but it gives all of us authors bad reputations. After all a story should stand on its own merit and not on false reviews.

Posted on Mar 31, 2012 9:15:38 PM PDT
Jacqueline says:
Thanks, Kelli, for starting a thread. Hope it catches on. Here's a great link that really describes the problem and has some good top reviewer comments after as well!

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 7:38:50 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 1, 2012 7:51:38 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 7:42:17 AM PDT
Yeah, I'll get in on that. Most definitely.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 7:57:10 AM PDT
I vote yes for some controls on the reviews.

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 8:47:21 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2012 8:47:39 AM PDT
Dix says:
I'll add my YES, but do you have any suggestions for improving the system? I don't.

It's hardly foolproof but I at least look for "Amazon Verified Purchase." If the review doesn't have that, and if I'm still interested, I'll look for some sort of explanation within the post of how the person came to review the book.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 9:02:59 AM PDT
but the verified purchase doesn't mean all that much - I could have gotten the book direct from the publisher, from smashwords, from someplace like fictionwise (since they have awesome sales - normally anywhere from 30-60% off) basically you are saying because I don't have that AVP you would discredit my reviews...and that AVP isn't automatic, you have to indicate that you want it shown or not

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 9:15:46 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2012 9:16:22 AM PDT
Dix says:
No Deanna, that's not what I said. There's no question that you could've gotten the book from another source. Or, you could've gotten it from the author. I have no way of knowing. See what I mean? It's completely up to you if you want to state within your review that you read the book previously, got it from the library, or wherever.

My statement was quite uncomplicated and merely states one -- only one -- of MY criteria when valuing reviews.

What you do is not an issue for me beyond the topic of this thread.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 9:37:56 AM PDT
Amanda Burke says:
Count me in.
As one of the early customers/sellers on amazon, I have watched it evolve over the years. I'll never forget my first sale in 1997. It was from someone outside the US, and after 5 days she decided to give me a 3-star rating because she still hadn't received it, but "thought it was fair" since she had no idea whether she liked it or not. That's when I decided to set up my own web store (not an easy thing to do then).

All that is to say that this indie-book rating system still needs refining. And if amazon didn't pay attention to its own customer feedback, it wouldn't be the giant it is today.

I don't see anything wrong with a disclaimer, just above the reviews, in red, advising potential purchasers to use some discretion and warn them that ratings might not always be what they seem.

This current system cheats honest, earnest writers, and cheapens all ratings throughout the entire site. It discourages both sellers and buyers.

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 9:39:21 AM PDT
Rick G says:
While I'm not sure what Amazon might do, or what education would do either (other than instill a sense of paranoia), I do very much agree with the basic principles of this. Anything done to mislead customers and/or unfairly game the system is just wrong and paints all non-mainstream writers in a bad light.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 10:10:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2012 10:11:57 AM PDT
but unless I get it as an ARC which I am required to disclose by law, i'm not going to say I got this from the library, I got this from fictionwise makes no sense and has no bearing on my review

yet you are saying that you are going to value my reviews differently because they don't have an AVP tag on them - I purposely don't use the AVP tag because I don't think that it is value added to a review - who cares where I got a book from as long as my review is well-thought out and reasoned

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 10:14:42 AM PDT
I agree with you, Deanna. Where you got the book doesn't really matter in the review (except if you are required to disclose the fact).

And is it true that you can just tag your review with AVP? Then a person could tag the book AVP even if they hadn't purchased it from Amazon?

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 10:32:13 AM PDT
Amanda Burke says:
It shouldn't matter where you bought it (or borrowed it, for that matter). But the current system permits ANYone to post a review, even if they never even saw the cover.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 10:48:58 AM PDT
i don't know, i haven't tried...i guess when i meant AVP, I don't check the box that says I got it from here...I don't know if that is automatic now or not

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 10:49:36 AM PDT
but you can typically tell who those people are...the oh the kindle version is too expensive - 1 star, the OMG I love all this authors books 5 star reviews

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 11:07:55 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 20, 2012 3:43:01 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 11:15:38 AM PDT
Amanda Burke says:
@M. Wilson
It's true. That's why amazon should post a warning. Of course, superficially, it's against their best interest to discourage sales, but in the long-run is the few dollars they earn because of spurious reviews worth sacrificing overall integrity?
I've also noticed some genre writers seem to group together to give each other mutual 5-star praise. Kind-of-like a "flash coven".

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 11:19:47 AM PDT
Bnaturalgrl says:
I had no idea that people could actually buy reviews. I figured Authors probably had friends and family to give good reviews of their stuff but I never imagined that people would sell reviews.

I vote yes. No to buying reviews.

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 11:26:39 AM PDT
As a new author (not posting under my pen name, and in no way mentioning or endorsing my book, so no flames please!), I want to offer a different take on this issue. Yes, I can understand readers' frustrations with "stacked" ratings. BUT . . . here's what typically happens. New author writes a book and posts it. Parents, siblings, friends and offspring are often the first to read it. They're all very proud of him, and eager to post a favorable review. So, you get seven or eight right off the bat, many by "freind-family" readers who otherwise haven't reviewed much of anything else on Amazon.

Is that really nefarious? In my own experinece, in the 10-12 weeks my new book has been up, I've gotten 12 reviews between Amazon and Goodreads. Admittedly, two were from family memebrs, and three were from close friends. That's five 5-star reviews -- they wrote them because they were rpoud, and wanted to help me out. Should I really insult them by demanding they take them down? No. But, I also have five 5-star reviews, and two (pretty glowing) 4-star reviews, from people I don't know and have never heard of. Does that invalidate the reviews from family and friends? I dunno, but I bet a lot of the people you're lambasting here are earnest, novice writers who really aren't trying to do anything dishonest.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 11:41:11 AM PDT
Rick G says:

I'm also self-pubbed. I try to discourage family from posting reviews, although in my case most of my family aren't readers to begin with so it's fairly easy to police them. Friends will do what they will, but I try to encourage them instead to give me honest private feedback.

That being said, if they all then want to promote me via word of mouth to their circles, then I'm entirely cool with that.

Also I don't think anyone is lambasting the idea of a few over-enthusiastic friends posting a review. The real problem arises enmasse. One or two isn't usually a problem. However, when you have dozens of these, then results are getting skewed. When the majority of those then are overly gushing "This is the best book ever!" reviews, it winds up reflecting poorly on the writers whether or not they purposely led the effort.

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 11:59:06 AM PDT
Amanda Burke says:
A few family and friends are great. But I think they should give "full disclosure" and admit their relationship. This would add refreshing candor and credence. The real issue here (as I see it) is writers who have scores of fake 5-star ratings, thereby bumping honest, hard-working writers way down on the charts.

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 12:07:36 PM PDT
B. Reviews says:
As a publisher in a highly competitive market (romance and romance erotica) I see terrible books all the time with reviews I am 100% certain are all (or at least most) fake. And as a publisher, we must make a difficult choice. Do we take the high-road and not participate or do we watch our good authors getting their butts kicked by mediocre books with (in some cases) ten times our number of reviews.

Publishers/self-published authors get back 70% of any sales. (I'm talking Kindle here - print books are different.) Therefore it is their best interest to set up numerous fake accounts and give as many fake reviews as possible... because they will get the vast majority of their money back! Their out of pocket "cost" to review a $5.00 book is $1.50.

Amazon could do a great deal to cut back on this significantly. They will never be able to stop it but they could improve the situation.

1. Amazon sells books. It's their business. It's what the website is for. If you review a book ON AMAZON, you need to buy it on Amazon. Period. Amazon could choose to allow access to a special review feature, so that publishers could repost good reviews from credible sources (just like we can now post a description of our books.) Mark it clearly: "Publisher posted review." But if a customer reviews the book, he needs to be exactly that: a customer. Since, as I pointed out above, publishers / authors get back up to 70% of the purchase price it wouldn't stop fake reviews, but it would mean that someone bought a copy of the book for every review you see. It's a start.

2. Limit reviews to a percentage of purchases. Amazon knows how many have sold. If a book has sold ten copies and has eight reviews, I can bet you that the majority are bogus. Exactly what that percentage would be would be something they would have to determine, but I guarantee this would cut back on the practice.

3. Limit the number of accounts that can be linked to a single credit card. There are very legitimate reasons that a card might be affiliated with more than one account - someone may want one account to purchase (and potentially review) children's books which would be a different account than they are using to review erotica. This is fine. But any credit card affiliated with more than say, three or four accounts, is almost certainly being used for shill reviews.

4. Require a waiting period of 5- or 7- days before a review can be posted. Again, this won't stop it completely but it will cut down on the completely bogus reviews. If someone has to buy the book and then come back in a week, it will be someone for whom the review (and the book) meant something. I am aware of one case where a book from a competitor (we had reasons for watching for this book) had just been posted when we checked one morning and by noon had four five star reviews. Umm, yeah....

5. If you buy, review, and then "return," Amazon can note the review "Customer returned after reviewing." This is all done with computers - a couple lines of code would allow the system to flag any review where the customer has returned the book after reviewing. Again - this could be legitimate - someone might buy a book that is so horrible they both want to give it a one-star and then return it. But this needs to be noted in the review.

6. Anyone who returns more than half of the books they buy should be banned from reviewing.

7. Don't allow anyone to review who has not been on Amazon at least a month. Again, this would cause a significant reduction in my opinion.

You'll never stop this, but it's all too easy now. With a few sensible restrictions (which would not touch the real customers who have something legitimate to say about a book they really liked or disliked) it could be reduced significantly. And Amazon does need to do something, because it's NOT fair to publishers and authors who don't condone it or do it.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 12:34:52 PM PDT
Amanda Burke says:
Excellent points. I am a charter member of audible (now part of the amazon empire) and have watched their reviewing process become much better and more refined over the years.
As I stated previously, I believe amazon WILL/MUST
listen to our "constructive criticism."

I was a magazine editor for a decade back in the 90s when the whole business was going down the tubes of the profit-mongers. It was heartbreaking to be a speaker at writers' conferences and be asked to read some really good stuff and know it had little chance of getting published.

Now, at last, there is good chance, but the fleas who think they can make a quick bite&buck are infesting the venue. Some fumigation is in order.
(apologies for all the metaphors)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 12:37:18 PM PDT
I disagree with your point 1...not sure about you, but when it comes to books, I shop around for the best deal - be it print, or ebook...but if I feel strongly about a book - good, bad or otherwise, I want to have my thoughts out there for others. Additionally, the requirement to purchase from Amazon, would negate reviews where people receive ARC's from authors etc,
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Discussion in:  Kindle Book forum
Participants:  92
Total posts:  484
Initial post:  Mar 31, 2012
Latest post:  Jul 12, 2013

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