Yesterday afternoon I posted a five star review of "The Art of Fielding". There are over 100 reviews so far and mine shows up more than halfway down the list on page 7 of 12. When I looked this morning it had gathered 3 "unhelpful" comments. Checking the ""Most Recent" review list I found another five star review, also posted yesterday, that had gathered four unhelpful comments. Neither of us had collected any helpful comments. My reviews often go for weeks or more before they collect feedback one way or the other. Am I being paranoid? Or am I right ot think some one is trying to discredit my work for reasons not related to its merits? What do you think?
David, spend some time watching the reviews of heavily-hyped new releases and you'll see this effect occur often. Those who either loved or hated the book will systematically mark reviews helpful or not helpful according to what matches their opinion. Sometimes readers feel deceived by hype and will viciously attack the book and positive reviews. Sometimes you get an author with a sizable online fanbase whose zealous fans artificially inflate ratings and disparage critics.
There's an art to reading between the lines and throwing out reviews and votes that clearly come from biased sources.
i've got no dog in this fight. you'll have to take me at my word for that. i was excited to read a book about literature and baseball, and i was struck by the recommendations of authors like franzen, so i bought the book. problem is it's a truly awful book. hideous even. read the 1-star reviews here...they're accurate. their vehemence is due to the absolutely unjustified hype this book received. we feel had, and that feeling is absolutely justified. i cant help but think chad harbach must be the most well-connected author out there. how else could such a shoddy, amateurish book receive such improbable accolades?
Dear K. Thanks ever so much for being in touch with me about the reactions to the Harbach book. I sense your distress. I, too, read the book (library copy) based on its enthusiastic reviews. Unlike you, I found a great deal to like about it as I said in my review. I don't have any dispute with those who didn't think the book lived up to its reviews. And good for them for saying so. What troubles me is that there seem to be a small group of the book's detractors who wait for each new favorable review and pounce on it as soon it is published. I'm quite willing to honor the good faith of those who dislike the book. I expect the same indulgence for my views, at least if they are thoughtfully expressed and reveal that I read the book with care before I expressed my opinion. FYI, as a general rule I refuse to express a negative opinion about another reviewer's work, although I have, now and then, expressed a favorable opinion about another review rather than repeat what someone else as said as well or better than I could.Thanks, again, for being in touch. And wasn't that a game 6 for the ages? DRA
Leah, many thanks for being in touch. You confirm my fears. There are people who are quite willing to disparage a review solely because it differs from their take on the book. The downside, of course, is that such a practice undermines the purpose of the review function. That has happened to me more than once and has cost me a good deal of traction in my "New Reviewer" ratings. In an unjuried forum like Amazon's feedback reviews, that is bound to happen. If that's the price we pay for freedom of speech, I accept the result, but I don't like it.
I agree, David. It can be very discouraging to post a review representing a minority opinion and have vindictive fans or detractors destroy your rating because they disagree with your opinion. Cheers for continuing to review anyway.