Friday, September 22, 2006

New Feature On Amazon: Comments to Customer Reviews

Today while on I noticed that underneath each customer review there was a new option to leave a comment on that review. It was not a comment on the book, it was to comment on a customer's review for that book (or item).

So it seems that Amazon is now treating each customer review as a blog entry, with members of the public able to make comments on it.

I wonder if Amazon is going to notify the review writers when people make comments to their reviews?

I bet I will get some negative comments to my old reviews, especially for books which are highly opinionated on one stance and against other issues. For example, pro-attachment parenting book reviews may get slammed by those who disagree with those parenting methods. Instead of attacking the books contents by posting a negative customer review of the book the public can now attack each reviewer. Already with some books, customers were using the book review option to attack other customers' reviews. I remember some rude things posted in the "On Becoming Babywise" by Gary Ezzo book reviews, for example. Today there are 910 reviews for this book, mine is mixed in there somewhere. I think that was the first book that I ever reviewed on Amazon, and it may even be there under the generic/anonymous name or else possibly under my first Amazon account name, I can’t recall.

In the past we customers had the option of reporting a customer review as inappropriate; I wonder what they will have to monitor the comments? I can imagine an entire department dealing with reports of inappropriate (rude) comments being left on the site. I, for one, never expected to possibly be a personal target of rude comments just because I have written customer reviews for Amazon (since 1999). I have no way to modify or delete my customer reviews. I see this as problematic, as I would prefer to not have negative things posted about me or my opinions on another site such as Amazon which is out of my control to monitor for slander.

In the past some customers misused the function that is "Was this review helpful for you". What some people were doing is if they don't like the opinion of the reviewer they'd say 'no'. Other times if they didn't like the book itself, they'd vote no on each review. Perhaps the comment section is a way to voice the person's comment instead of relying on the voting of yes or no as to the helpfulness of it. The only thing that the voting of the helpfulness of the comment does is alter the rank of the reviewer. The more 'no' votes a reviewer gets, the lower their rank goes. Amazon does not share their mathematical equation for deriving the rating system for reviewers but it is some combination of the 'yes' votes and the 'no' votes and also the quantify of votes that have been cast, I believe.

Today I am ranked #362 and have written 296 reviews. (The highest rank I ever had was #199). Wow, 296 reviews is so close to 300 that perhaps this weekend I can find the time to write more book reviews to put it over 300. I don't check my rank often. I have not been writing many reviews for Amazon lately, I prefer to post them on my blog. I have issues with the fact that when I write an Amazon review (I get no money from it), I hand over the copyright to that review to Amazon. I also don't like that some bloggers and website owners are taking other people's reviews from Amazon's site and publishing them on their own sites with links that would give that site or blog owner the commission for the sale. I know some people who never read the book or use the product and who don't do any writing of reviews just lift these reviews and earn commissions off of the sales of those items by enticing the readers with the other customer's reviews. I hate that!

I am curious as to why Amazon would add this comment function, it is as if they are making their customer reviews more like a discussion board, arranged by topic of the book. I see no monetary gain that Amazon can make from this endeavor. I only see costs on their end, administrative costs adding to their budget.

I have not seen any announcements from Amazon about this feature, and when I have more time I may go poke around on the site to see if I can find a formal announcement of this new feature.

The reason I was on Amazon is that I saw this book listed on PaperBackSwap and was curious what the book was about. It is “Government Nannies” by Cathy Duffy (a homeschooling mother who often writes about homeschooling and education topics). If you want to see what this new comments feature looks like, click through the below link to check it out.

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Henry Cate said...

"I see no monetary gain that Amazon can make from this endeavor."

I think what Amazon is hoping for is that more people will become involved and engaged, and turn to Amazon when they buy books. If they passively read a few reviews they still might buy from Barnes and Noble or some other business. But if they start commenting on reviews they have actively joined the Amazon community and will more likely support Amazon by buying books from them.

TulipGirl said...

Thanks for drawing attention to this. . . Hmmmm. . .