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Thursday, January 09, 2014

A warning to fake reviewers

Someone should send news of this legal decision to the attention of Virginia Conterato of Minneapolis, the fake reviewer of A Throne of Bones. As well as the various fake reviewers on GoodReads.
In a decision that could reshape the rules for online consumer reviews, a Virginia court has ruled that the popular website Yelp must turn over the names of seven reviewers who anonymously criticized a prominent local carpet cleaning business.

The case revolves around negative feedback against Virginia-based Hadeed Carpet Cleaning. The owner, Joe Hadeed, said the users leaving bad reviews were not real customers of the cleaning service — something that would violate Yelp’s terms of service. His attorneys issued a subpoena demanding the names of seven anonymous reviewers, and a judge in Alexandria ruled that Yelp had to comply.

The Virginia Court of Appeals agreed this week, ruling that the comments were not protected First Amendment opinions if the Yelp users were not customers and thus were making false claims.
It will be interesting to learn what position GoodReads and Amazon take on this, since in most cases the reviewers are customers, but are provably making false claims with the complicity of the site host given its ability to check if they have purchased the book or not.

Given where this appears to be going, I think Amazon would be well-advised to take a strong position against fake reviews and only permit those who have a) bought the books and b) are willing to click a checkbox affirming that they have read the book in its entirety are permitted to post reviews there.

I have always felt that it was fraudulent to post a fake review and it is good to see that this is indeed the case.

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62 Comments:

Anonymous Leatherwing January 09, 2014 3:44 PM  

Amazon does have an Amazon Verified Purchase label that they tag reviews with, if the reviewer has purchased the item from Amazon. But I have put reviews on Amazon for items I bought at Target, books I've borrowed from the library and movies I've seen in theaters (but not purchased the DVD). My reasoning is that the more (legitimate) reviews on Amazon, the easier it is for me to make informed buying decisions.

I do want the obviously spammed reviews to go away, but I also don't want to be restricted to reviewing only items purchased on Amazon. Better to have all the reviews centralized in one place than spread out over the hundreds of sites where I make purchases.

Anonymous Stephen J. January 09, 2014 3:51 PM  

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see how this decision has any legal standing: it's the most obvious kind of Catch-22 -- it's justifying its right to demand information by assuming as proven what it claims it needs the information to prove in the first place. If this reasoning were advanced to demand the donor list to a pro-gun politician it would be vociferously and rightly denounced.

Anonymous 43rd Virginia Cavalry January 09, 2014 3:52 PM  

I disagree on this one, there are some books that I just can't get all the way through and those are the ones in most need of a bad review.

Anonymous SA January 09, 2014 3:55 PM  

I'd like to see fake reviews shunted to some sort of online museum of mendaciousness where they may be properly distinguished from legitimate input.
DidntReads, AdHomazon, something like that...

Anonymous Leatherwing January 09, 2014 4:08 PM  

VD, I know you've been the victim of bad reviews from people who have never read your books, but I think the bigger problem may be all the 5 star reviews of severely mediocre books. People can't distinguish between "I liked that, quite a bit" and "This is immensely good and everyone should read it! Now!". It reminds me of how every live performance at every level of quality must get a standing ovation. People who have never been to the symphony or opera (me, I go about once every 10 years) feel the need to give a standing O because it's the best that they've heard, but thy aren't qualified to critique the performance.

As an example, has anyone actually read Ready Player One, the #2 best selling Sci-Fi book from 2012? I listened to the audio version over Christmas. It was tedious, poorly written, and the author can't write dialogue for squat, but it has a 4.6 rating with 1800+ 5 star reviews. It barely rises to the level of teen romance in writing style, but because it is about something interesting, it is given the accolades that belong to what it is about, not the book itself.

Anonymous Alexander January 09, 2014 4:08 PM  

Yes, but then... one should stipulate that.

"I read the first 150 pages of this book and found it boring and the dialogue wooden and predictable..." With perhaps specific examples showing that one did, in fact, read something like the first 150 pages or what have you.

I understand why Vox is so specific on this, but I'm betting if the "WHAT SHIT!!! JUST A REHASH OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCHES TRADITIONAL VIEWS ON ELVES BY A RACIST HOMOPHOBE!!!" disappeared, he might be a touch more inclined to tolerate such cases.

As for the other... eh, tough. Amazon is a business and so I see nothing at all wrong requiring that their reviewers have bought the product through their service - especially if they are potentially legally liable for what is said through it. I don't go to Target and expect to hear how great things were for Walmart buyers. If you want a general review by anyone, then no doubt there's a market for such a forum... but Amazon may not necessarily be it.

For a black-knighting opportunity, let us remind our liberally-inclined friends that we must take a 'zero-tolerance attitude to bullying in cyberspace' and 'anonymity is not a right', etc. etc.

Anonymous DrTorch January 09, 2014 4:08 PM  

Here's a perspective on the matter prior to the decision

http://pubcit.typepad.com/clpblog/2013/05/hadeed-carpet-cleaning-seeks-to-suppress-a-dirty-secret.html

In an appellate brief that we have filed today on behalf of Yelp, we make two basic points. First, Virginia should agree with other states that demand both a legal and a factual showing that the lawsuit has merit. In that regard, read carefully, Hadeed’s defamation claim asserts only that the individual reviewers were not really customers, and Hadeed is not defamed by false statements about whether a given defendant was a customer. Nor, indeed, has Hadeed offered any reason to credit its supposition that the seven reviewers were not customers; what evidence there is in the record points in the other direction.


One of their offices is just down the road from me, but more importantly, the local classic rock station broadcasts from the "Hadeed Carpet Cleaning Studios" \m/

Anonymous GreyS January 09, 2014 4:10 PM  

As someone who has gotten burned by fake reviews on yelp, it's good to see some responsibility being put on the site owner.

I'd guess that Amazon will soon eliminate all non-verified-purchase reviews, or at the very least quickly remove the non-verified ones which authors and companies officially complain about.

Amazon won't want to go to court against this sort of thing-- they'd be settling lawsuit after small lawsuit, creating tons of bad publicity.

Blogger Glen Filthie January 09, 2014 4:15 PM  

I have only looked at product reviews a couple times - but they have no impact at all about my purchase decision.

If I see a stack of positive reviews I would assume the seller cherry picked them. If I saw a negative one often they strike me as hatchet jobs by customers with personal axes to grind.

Anonymous Too-Soon-ami January 09, 2014 4:19 PM  

So what if the review is "fraudulent"? If the author is some "anon on the internet", then his thoughts should really have no value to the reader.

Anonymity has been under assault for years now, due to alleged "damages". If Anon posts a rumor about a company, that causes its stock to plummet (or skyrocket), then the blame falls not on Anon, but the thousands of morons made a financial decision based on his unqualified remarks. This is no different than a fool betting on Horse #6 in the third race, because he overheard some guy at a bar. Same goes for buying (or shorting) gold or silver on the advice of some guys with "established" posting handles.

The court's opinion, in my opinion, is invalid. It is only concerned with the negative reviews, and the possible damages caused to Habib's Karpet Kleening; while other customers can also be harmed by phony positive reviews. Not to mention, there could be possible reprisals (vandalism, honor killings) against the reviewers, once Habib learns where they live.

Blogger Duke of Earl January 09, 2014 4:45 PM  

In my view freedom of speech was only meant to protect people who were speaking the truth (or at the very least what they believed to be true). It shouldn't protect the telling of deliberately deceptive falsehoods.

Posting falsehoods about a company, either for or against it, can harm the customers in the former case, or the company in the latter, so if a review of a product or service exists then it should have a name attached to it so if the review turns out to be lying they can be held to account.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 January 09, 2014 4:47 PM  

The people who complained on Yelp about Hadeed were Lefties, by the way. Hadeed is a locally endorsed service by WMAL's Chris Plant, among others.

The funny thing is, Plant is a Republican party hack.

Blogger Booch Paradise January 09, 2014 4:47 PM  

But if amazon did that, then we'd lose these kinds of reviews

Anonymous VD January 09, 2014 4:48 PM  

I understand why Vox is so specific on this, but I'm betting if the "WHAT SHIT!!! JUST A REHASH OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCHES TRADITIONAL VIEWS ON ELVES BY A RACIST HOMOPHOBE!!!" disappeared, he might be a touch more inclined to tolerate such cases.

That's not the reason. I'm a former nationally syndicated professional reviewer and I don't even put a book on my book list unless I have completed it in its entirety. And I was getting fake reviewers long before ATOB.

Blogger JartStar January 09, 2014 4:57 PM  

Even anonymously one should never put something on the internet you don't want the world to read as anonymous is no longer so.

Blogger Eric January 09, 2014 5:21 PM  

Amazon does have an Amazon Verified Purchase label that they tag reviews with, if the reviewer has purchased the item from Amazon.

I realize sometimes people review items they obtained some other way, but for the most part I ignore reviews unless they have the verified purchase tag. That leaves enough information to make an informed purchasing decision, and the crap-to-content ratio is much lower.

OpenID luagha January 09, 2014 5:29 PM  

I read 'Ready Player One.' It was fun, and it was nostalgic. Some transitions are terribly clumsy when he switches scenes and goes into a 'I'm telling, not showing' aspect. I felt that the dialogue reflected the youth of the protagonists and was all right except for a few moments when it was forced to serve the purpose of exposition.

He also specifically doesn't explain every detail. Some things are left unwritten for the reader to figure out - or to consider themselves as having figured out for themselves. I consider that a strength, actually, as it brings the user's own fantasy and imagination into the work.

Since it is a book based on a certain kind of puzzles, he also accurately describes the way even a large number of people can be stuck on a puzzle that appears to have no clues until until someone shows up with just the right leap of inspiration to start the ball rolling again.

Anonymous rho January 09, 2014 5:30 PM  

I'm against it, only because I don't want to get put in the pokey for making joke reviews on Amazon.

Anonymous GreyS January 09, 2014 5:30 PM  

"So what if the review is "fraudulent"? If the author is some "anon on the internet", then his thoughts should really have no value to the reader."

By "should really have no value" you mean "I put no value on reviews and believe no one else should either". Yet many people obviously put value on reviews in making decisions on purchasing goods or books. And of course a business owner or author puts direct value on any review which hurts his sales.

And fake, malicious reviews are specifically meant by the writers to cause harm to that business or author-- that's their sole purpose. Harm done to another's reputation, business, career, income--- do so falsely and you should be held accountable.

Blogger RobertT January 09, 2014 5:31 PM  

Pretty fishy stuff at Amazon. There are no mistakes on Amazon that haven't been corrected,

Blogger Eric January 09, 2014 5:36 PM  

In my view freedom of speech was only meant to protect people who were speaking the truth (or at the very least what they believed to be true). It shouldn't protect the telling of deliberately deceptive falsehoods.

I agree... sort of. The problem is once you set up an authority to decide what's deceptive that authority will be captured (or at least abused) by powerful people intent on suppressing anything that makes them look bad. Look at what happened in Canada with their Human Rights Commission.

Anonymous kfg January 09, 2014 5:46 PM  

Amazon has no idea whether or not I have purchased a book I review directly from the author or borrowed it from the library.

Anonymous Will Best January 09, 2014 5:50 PM  

People can't distinguish between "I liked that, quite a bit" and "This is immensely good and everyone should read it! Now!". It reminds me of how every live performance at every level of quality must get a standing ovation. People who have never been to the symphony or opera (me, I go about once every 10 years) feel the need to give a standing O

I go to a live performance a couple times a year and standing O has morphed into custom at this point, The new thing that I have been noticing is the expansion of the encore. I went to John Williams conducting the CSO a few years back and we had to applaud his butt back on stage 3 times before he did Indiana Jones.

The other type of review I hate is the 1 star review that is really a processing error, damaged in shipping issue. Tells me nothing about the product. There should be a way to hide those.

--
Nor, indeed, has Hadeed offered any reason to credit its supposition that the seven reviewers were not customers; what evidence there is in the record points in the other direction.

This is why I think this is the bright spot that will die out shortly. You have to demonstrate likelihood of success on the merits in order to go bother 3rd parties. And defamation suits are exceptionally weak to begin with.

Ultimately though its in the interest of Yelp to police themselves. It degrades the quality of the product they offer

Anonymous GreyS January 09, 2014 5:54 PM  

"The problem is once you set up an authority to decide what's deceptive..."

No one is setting up an authority to do so. In reaction to a lawsuit, a court ordered a website to hand over information about those who maliciously hurt a company.

If Amazon starts deleting fake reviews they will do so on their own in order to protect themselves. Failing to see that small bit far enough into the future, they will eventually delete them in response to the inevitable lawsuits.

Anonymous GreyS January 09, 2014 6:01 PM  

"Amazon has no idea whether or not I have purchased a book I review directly from the author or borrowed it from the library."

Not their problem. They know that those two sources are probably around .0003% and .05% respectively of book acquisitions anyway. What they want is for people to buy books from them. One can easily see a case being made that publishing only verified-Amazon-purchased-reviews will increase Amazon sales.

Anonymous Azimus January 09, 2014 6:03 PM  

VD:
I have always felt that it was fraudulent to post a fake review and it is good to see that this is indeed the case.


I'm glad to see that you are finally opening up about your feelings, Vox.

Anonymous Red Comet January 09, 2014 6:15 PM  

I think I've mentioned this in another topic, but Ready Player One indeed has some of the worst dialogue I've ever read in a professionally published work. I suspect the author either doesn't interact with (legitimately) different types of people very often or just straight up doesn't interact with other human beings very often.

And neither was the subject matter all that interesting. It's just a derivative version of Snow Crash at heart.

And don't anyone hold their breath waiting for Amazon to implement decent seller protection. I've sold things on there for years for side money and most of the time they won't remove negative feedback/reviews even if you could prove it was left maliciously.

Amazon doesn't care about anyone but Amazon. Keeping buying customers coming back, which means catering to their big baby entitled ways, is Priority #1.

It's fairly risk free to sell there as I haven't had too many problems, but be under no illusions. They'll screw you over if a buyer scams you or leaves malicious feedback.

Blogger Quadko January 09, 2014 6:18 PM  

that they have read the book in its entirety
there are some books that I just can't get all the way through and those are the ones in most need of a bad review.

Hear, hear. I want to read the (amateur) reviews that loved the book and the ones that couldn't get through it. And in both cases, why. But I certainly expect professional reviewers to slog through to the end before they get paid to impart their wisdom.

Anonymous bob k. mando January 09, 2014 6:25 PM  

gotta watch out fer them there homicidal 13 year olds with toy guns.
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?id=9302840

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus January 09, 2014 6:54 PM  

43rd Virginia Cavalry: "I disagree on this one, there are some books that I just can't get all the way through and those are the ones in most need of a bad review."

A bad review that would have to be supplied by someone else. If you did not read a book diligently from cover to cover at least once, you cannot honestly review it. If you did not watch and listen to a movie from first to last at least once, you cannot honestly review it. And so on. This is absolutely fundamental.

Anonymous Bah January 09, 2014 7:26 PM  

If you did not read a book diligently from cover to cover at least once, you cannot honestly review it.

Bullshit. "I read X number of pages and it was too crappy to finish" is a PERFECTLY honest - and in fact, useful - review.

Anonymous VD January 09, 2014 7:34 PM  

Bullshit. "I read X number of pages and it was too crappy to finish" is a PERFECTLY honest - and in fact, useful - review.

No, it's not. Because that's exactly what a lot of fake reviews are. In fact, most of them claim the reason they didn't finish the book was because it was so terrible, and it's only apparent that they haven't read the book at all because they get basic facts wrong.

You'll even see "reviews" openly admitting that all they did was read the sample provided by Amazon. They might as reasonably say the book is awful because they don't like the cover.

Anonymous Salt January 09, 2014 7:36 PM  

It's not about reviewing in and of itself, but reviewing with a motive other than any actual review. To say you made it half way and put it down is fine, when you made it half way. But to negatively review because you dislike the author and your purpose is to harm for reason other than your actual dislike of the book, for stated reason(s), that's what it's all about.

Blogger rcocean January 09, 2014 8:07 PM  

"but I think the bigger problem may be all the 5 star reviews of severely mediocre books."

Which is why I skip all 5 star reviews.

Blogger rcocean January 09, 2014 8:08 PM  

Amazon also needs to crack down on dummies who post 1-star reviews because the book was delivered late, or a DVD was scratched.

Blogger Cinco January 09, 2014 8:14 PM  

Personally I find that with books, I read only the first half of the plot synopsis to determine if I want to read it. While I recognize that some people need to first see if the rest of the herd enjoyed the novel, I could care less what they think. I like to rationalize this by remembering that if I applied this to television, I would be watching NCIS, and probably be ready to kill myself.

Anonymous zen0 January 09, 2014 8:38 PM  

I went to Rotten Tomatoes to see the reviews of Inside Llewyn Davis, and because it had a 96% rating, I read the most scathing review.

Just from the little I know about the subject matter of the movie, I realized the guy was an idiot.

Went to the movie. It was overrated, but it was worth the effort.
Thank you , Trash Monkey. I will check all your reviews from now on and do the opposite, like a George Castanza should.

Anonymous Dr. Doom January 09, 2014 9:15 PM  

You know Theodore, your naiveté at the significance of this ruling is astounding. Do you even realize the psychological pathology of your opposition? Your enemies at the Science Fantasy fags and lesbians for Rainbow-Farting Unicorns couldn't care less about the Truth if they TRIED!
This decision is going to be used to SUPPRESS ANY AND ALL TRUTH. The Leftists that have marched through the Institutions have FIRM CONTROL over Academia, Big Science, Media and all Mainstream Authority.
Leftists are straight out of Central Casting for Orwell's 1984. There are armies of apparatchniks guarding the Wikipedia pages of LUNATICS like Saul Alinsky, Karl Marx, and every Leftist Icon you could name.
Reviews of books and media on Amazon and other websites are MOSTLY A MATTER OF OPINION, and do you REALLY TRUST THE US COURTS TO SIDE WITH THE TRUTH?
Where have you been, man? Have you even been paying attention lately? The US Governments, Courts of Law, and Mainstream Media ARE THE ENEMY! Who do you imagine is going to decide these cases?
Honestly! Get a grip and SMELL THE TOTALITARIANISM OF LEFTISM!

Anonymous Will Best January 09, 2014 9:15 PM  

Which is why I skip all 5 star reviews.

I am going to take credit for Amazon upgrading their review features to allow sorting by star rating. I submitted a request for it through one of their feedback channels because I occasionally read current political books and in 2004 I was getting annoyed with having to page through all the 1/5 star reviews from people that in all likelihood didn't read the book. 2 months later my request became a reality.

Anonymous Obvious January 09, 2014 9:43 PM  

You know, I gotta applaud Dr. Doom. It takes effort to stand out as the craziest of the ilk.

Anonymous Grinder January 09, 2014 9:47 PM  

I completely disagree with you on this. Dr. Doom is on the right track. If one is stupid enough to take anonymous reviews as gospel truth and then get burned by the price of a crappy book or movie it's their own fault. And if it can be shown that a comfortable living can be had by churning out crap literature and merely seeding a few gushingly positive reviews then everyone will get into that racket and people will eventually disregard anon reviews completely and go for known reviewers with a track record or word of mouth from friends with similar tastes.

Anonymous Noah B. January 09, 2014 9:49 PM  

"You know, I gotta applaud Dr. Doom. It takes effort to stand out as the craziest of the ilk."

He sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Vox, I completely understand where you're coming from. Fake reviews and fake reviewers suck. But Doom is right on the money here. The cure is worse than the disease.

Blogger OGRE January 09, 2014 10:26 PM  

Ya'll need to relax over this decision. It is of minor significance and doesn't really change any law anywhere, and in fact has no force on any jurisdiction outside of Virginia. It is more an affirmation of the factual findings of the lower court than it is a decision uphold a change in the law.

(And it should be noted that overturning a lower courts findings of facts requires a much higher standard than overturning its errors of law; hence such cases are usually affirmed as a matter of course and the odds of a reversal on such grounds are slim. The standard is usually along the lines of "no reasonable finder of fact could have reached this conclusion," which is pretty difficult to meet.)

In effect, the court said that a) Virginia law will allow a court to order the disclosure of the identity of anonymous reviewers in a defamation suit if there is sufficient evidence that the review is based on a false statement, and b)that the lower court did not err in finding a sufficient factual basis that the reviews were based on a false statement. In other words, the lower court judge determined that there exists enough evidence to warrant identifying the reviewers, and the reviewing court did not consider that an unreasonable decision for the lower court to make.

Had the lower court found otherwise, that there was not sufficient factual basis to force disclosure of the reviewers' identities, the reviewing court would probably have upheld that as well. And if the plaintiff had presented no facts suggesting that the reviewers were giving false statements then the judge would have been in error and the reviewing court would likely have overturned his decision.

So what we can gather from this case is: in the state of Virginia, a court can issue an order demanding disclosure of anonymous reviewers if the plaintiff offers enough evidence to suggest that there is a question of fact as to whether the reviews were based on a false statement. Likewise, if the plaintiff offers insufficient or no evidence on this, the court should not order the disclosure of the reviewers identity.

So its not very ground breaking, nor is it far reaching.

Its just a slow news day.

Anonymous Unicorn Dick January 09, 2014 10:50 PM  

I finished ATOB last weekend. I'll be doing my Amazon review in the near future... (Amazon Verified Purchase FTW!!!). The one thing I'd add about Amazon's star ratings is that they give you a little guide for each star as you hover your mouse cursor over them. 1= I hate it; 2= I don't like it; 3= It's OK; 4= I like it; 5= I love it. It's a long book, there were parts of it that I liked and then there were parts that I loved (I actually reread the battle at the end with the changing perspectives because I thought it was so fabulous). Overall, I'd have to categorize my review of the book as an "I Love It".

I'd also add I think it would be very hard for me to finish a book that I hated - why torture yourself? Even books that I didn't hate I haven't finished... they just weren't doing it for me. I started reading American Gods last year - didn't finish it. Did I hate it? No. I just had better things to do. Because I put the book down and didn't finish it would that equal a 1-star on Amazon? No... probably a 2 if were inclined to leave a review for it.

Not real sure what I was getting when I started... got distracted by my dog, so I'll end.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 09, 2014 11:29 PM  

In my view freedom of speech was only meant to protect people who were speaking the truth (or at the very least what they believed to be true). It shouldn't protect the telling of deliberately deceptive falsehoods.

You're completely wrong about that. Freedom of Speech is supposed to exist so people can't be persecuted for saying something the big and powerful don't like. The local Lord of the Manor doesn't get to toss me in jail for saying he's incompetent. He also doesn't get to toss me in jail or haul me in front of a magistrate for writing a negative review of a book that just so happened to be written by his mistress, or maybe the son-in-law of his biggest campaign contributor.

Anonymous automatthew January 09, 2014 11:58 PM  

Vox: No, it's not. Because that's exactly what a lot of fake reviews are. In fact, most of them claim the reason they didn't finish the book was because it was so terrible, and it's only apparent that they haven't read the book at all because they get basic facts wrong

This poses a problem for the set of honest reviewers who might provide useful content without having read a book in full. Hypothetical examples:

* OMG guys … I am a huge Niven fan. My favorites are A Gift from Earth, Neutron Star, World of Ptaavs, and The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton. I purchased Ringworld with the highest of expectations, and I was so stoked starting to read it, especially the parts about the Puppeteer Nessus, but once they reached the Ringworld it started completely sucking so hard that I couldn't finish it.
* My pre-teen sons really liked Tunnel in the Sky and Double Star, so I looked up Heinlein and found that he'd written some novels with Biblical names: Job and I Will Fear No Evil. Thank God I tried to read them before I gave them to my boys for Christmas. They were filled with pornography and blasphemy (the books, not my sons). I threw the books in the garbage. Not my garbage, but the container in the alley. And I watched to make sure nobody got them out before it was taken away. Filth.
* Eifelheim, by Michael Flynn. Have you ever read La Peste, by Camus? Like that. Flynn's writing is non pareil. The story is harrowing. The farther I got, the more it hurt. He's a great writer, but why must he inflict this on his audience? I couldn't finish it. Where's my Gruyere?

Anonymous Myrddin January 10, 2014 12:02 AM  

Deuling was legal when the furst amendment was passed.

Free speech != lack of accountability. Just lack of federal control.

Anonymous automatthew January 10, 2014 12:06 AM  

Myrddin, you should read John C. Wright's Count to a Trillion. SF novel where in the near future, lawyers must be experts at programming their smart-weapons for the inevitable high-tech duels that take place on the behalf of their feckless clients.

Anonymous Anonymous January 10, 2014 12:45 AM  

Cant comment (bogus "no URL host" response) and can't email to notify you without reading 16 paragraphs and agreeing to a Microsoft Mail Contract. WTF?

Anonymous NateM January 10, 2014 12:49 AM  

OT But Since Vox likes to be the Punxsutawney Phil of things crashing down.. SNL Officially marks the moment they go into the terminal tailspin. and Not a moment too soon in my mind. They made the right move back in 1994 when they wouldn't let Janeane Garafolo bully the writers by declaring them awful and sexiss, but now they are making the same mistake, harder. I personally haven't watched it in years, and thought it became abysmal around the time they fired Norm Macdonald. They've have also hired 2 black female writers. If i've learned anything from various 'scandals' covered here, they will be simply shocked that don't see a marked improvement in the quality of the show but a steep decline. Possibly even worse than the Low point of the Infamous RDJ/Joan Cusack Season they barely acknowledge but they won't be able to escape it without the PC dogs being sic'd on them. The new writers will no doubt treat it as their duty to police the other writers and steer them from being Sexiss and Raciss rather than actually being funny. And as for the Left leaning critics, notice how they STILL chasten SNL for doing precisely what they wanted them to do in the first place. A further example of why you should never give in, even in the slightest.

Anonymous rho January 10, 2014 1:48 AM  

The original story is about Yelp, which is better compared to a false complaint to the BBB or some other similar agency, or a falsified letter to the editor--i.e., libel. I'm not sure it's a 1-to-1 comparison to book reviews.

How much effect do reviews have on fiction anyway? I'm genuinely curious. I do read the reviews for non-fiction programming books, but those are a) not the focus of your general troll, and b) easily separable into wheat and chaff. Reviews for consumer products are similarly easily separable.

Anonymous Toby Temple January 10, 2014 3:23 AM  

OT - Check this out.

A nice thread-starter for the following categories: atheism, women, guns

Blogger Steve January 10, 2014 9:18 AM  

I think this is a bad thing. People should be able to complain about a product or service anonymously without fear of being discovered and confronted. It could be a personal vendetta that causes someone to trash a product or service or it could be truly bad. it seems to me that when the negatives are really caused my a personal vendetta against person providing the product or service then the count of negative reviews is low compared to mid to high reviews.
I look at reviews and they do weigh on my decision, but I look at the overall trend, not the handful of negatives, or even the handful of positives (when the rest are mid to low).

Anonymous Greatheart January 10, 2014 9:18 AM  

Alexander January 09, 2014 4:08 PM: "If you want a general review by anyone, then no doubt there's a market for such a forum... but Amazon may not necessarily be it."

I believe that place would be here

Anonymous Greatheart January 10, 2014 9:20 AM  

OK. Let's try here

Anonymous Greatheart January 10, 2014 9:21 AM  

I don't know why it's coming out like this. I typed in without cutting/pasting.

Anonymous Ridip January 10, 2014 10:04 AM  

Vox is quite right. Saying I only read some small X% and couldn't get any further is not a legitimate review.

Twice I tried reading Watchman Nee's "A Normal Christian Life" stopping after two chapters because I found it unbearable. It was only after being required to read it for a class and making it to the fifth chapter that I started thinking "this is really good".

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus January 10, 2014 10:22 AM  

Imagine a review of The Lord of the Rings based on not reading past Tom Bombadil and Goldberry.

Anonymous RedJack January 10, 2014 11:04 AM  

Cinco

My bride and used to like NCIS. I got hooked the season there was a rouge Isreali sniper running around, and they took the time to get the technical details right! But they have fallen a lot since the change of writers. Not bad to fill an hour with, but not as good.

As for reviews, I often look for the three and four start reviews first. These often took the time to read it, had some issues, and were honest.

Anonymous kfg January 10, 2014 12:10 PM  

"They know that those two sources are probably around .0003% and .05% respectively of book acquisitions anyway. "

Not so on small printings where author's direct sales may well be the majority.

Anonymous map January 10, 2014 2:00 PM  

Yelp should count itself lucky that it did not get sued for libel. That is the next step for this "review" sites.

Let's say I run a business that gets a really bad review. I inform Yelp that I found these bad reviews on their site and that I would like them removed because there is no material basis to the claims being made. If Yelp refuses then cites some "business integrity" nonsense or some libertarian bs about free-speech, how is it not an active endorser of that opinion? After all, no one is asking Yelp to monitor and verify the bad reviews. The person being maligned has done that work for them and is simply requesting that the reviews be removed.

Anonymous RedJack January 10, 2014 2:27 PM  

I do find it funny that libertarians are all for it, till it is their turn.

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