Friday, December 26, 2008

Accused of Being Delusional and Out of Touch with Reality

There has been a lot of buzz over at Amazon.com in the different discussion boards about the changes Amazon.com made recently regarding reviewing, ranking the reviewers and a new thing called 'fans'.

I don't post in the general discussion boards and barely even lurk there either due to time constraints.

However I've been peeking in and reading official announcements and such from Amazon because many are upset with Amazon for the recent changes. I am trying to understand the new system. I know the old system had its flaws including alleged cheating by some reviewers.

Amazon changed their secret formula for arriving at a ranking for the customer reviewers. The old system is now called the 'classic' and we all can still see that number. Then there is the 'new' rank and we can see that. Some people have jumped up or down hundreds or thousands of positions. Today my old rank is 435 and my new rank is 269. Some reviewers think the old system is more accurate and is the number to believe.

My ranking puts me in the 'top 500' in both ranking systems. As of right now if a reviewer is in the top 500 in one category they get the label of being in the 'top 500'. Some people really want to be in the 'top 500'. I have been there for years. I don't want to sound unappreciative but I don't monitor my rank, I've gone over a year without even checking what it is, and I don't write my reviews in a way to seek positive votes to try to boost my rank.

Two speculations held by other people: some think that the 'helpful' votes carry more weight than the 'not helpful' votes. So going around and voting 'not helpful' doesn't bring a rank way down but the more 'helpful' votes that are made do help the reviewer. Another speculation is that if a reviewer gets comments, the increased activity helps their ranking go up.

One really bad thing I'll share is that some people who seek revenge on other reviewers do 'negative campaigns' by going to the person's account and voting 'not helpful' on many or all of their reviews, even going back years. Some call those people trolls or 'negginators'. It has been said that Amazon staff is trying to address that and perhaps once one reviewer gives another a certain number of 'not helpful' votes (ten is the number thrown around) then the votes over the tenth one are made null and void.

One thing that has happened in the past regarding some reviewers trying to boost themselves UP in rank rather than focusing on bringing other reviewers DOWN is that I guess some reviewers use multiple accounts or friends and family and have them vote 'helpful' so their rank can go up. There are accusations of this as being fraud. The new system has something called 'fans' which is when one person has voted 'helpful' three times for one reviewer's reviews. I think that is a little crazy. For example in my sidebar I have a link to my reviews. This is there so you can see what I am reviewing if you so desire. If you like my views you can go read what I've reviewed on Amazon by clicking it. But if you are, say, a homeschooling mom and you learned of a bunch of good homeschooling books that I reviewed and you were 'helped' by them and voted 'helpful' then now you are a fan voter and all your votes are stripped away! In the last week my fans have grown by at least 2 new fans a day. Now mind you I don't even have a way of knowing who those people are. This is not like some kind of 'friends' area at MySpace or something.

So anyhow today I peeked at what was up about the rank and the policies (there is chatter that the formula may change soon). I then saw there is a way to read all the most recent comments that people left me on my reviews.

So I peeked at a few comments (which is a bit scary let me tell you). Well today one Amazon reviewer named Professor Brizz, an Amazon customer said he thinks I'm delusional and out of touch with reality and compared me to actions of a paranoid schizophrenic. Nice, really nice.

So here is my review which I published in 2000 when my older son was three. This is a movie adaptation that I hated, of a WONDERFUL children's picture book which was marketed to children aged 4-8, actually, the book is fine for children from babyhood through age eight if you ask me. The movie was released directly to DVD, not shown in theatres, it was on TV too. It has a "not rated" rating.

Today that review is one of my most hated reviews, with just 20 people saying the review is helpful, while 37 others said that review is "not helpful".

So take a peek at my review and feel free to decide if you are a parent of a three year old if you think that information is 'helpful' or 'not helpful'. And also you can tell me if you think I'm delusional. And also, you can leave your own customer comment on the review if you wish to share with all the customers who view my review as well as with Professor Brizz what you think.

ChristineMM's review of Olive the Other Reindeer movie on Amazon.com

Oh and as of right now here are the rankings of this movie by others.

Olive the Other Reindeer movie, released in 2000

5 star reviews: 43 (means "I love it")
4 star reviews: 5 (means "I like it")
3 star reviews: 3 (means "it's okay")
2 star reviews: 3 (means "I don't like it")
1 star reviews: 5 (means "I hate it")



For the record I absolutely love the picture book "Olive the Other Reindeer" which is for children aged 4-8.

3 comments:

Naimah Umm Khadijah said...

Hi there, just found your blog through the 'whimsy way house of play' blog. I just left you a comment for your review on Amazon, I can't get over the rudeness of some of these people, what is it with them?

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I sometimes read reviews for Amazon if I am trying to decide whether or not to buy a book. I NEVER read the comments about a review. When I read a review, I determine how useful it is to me by the detail and the tone the reviewer creates. I don't understand why there are comments to reviews. And an example of why I think that system is strange is your experience with that so-called professor. How does calling a person delusional and out-of-touch with reality address any disagreements about the review?

I also never rate reviews. I read them, determine if the person has an axe to grind by what they write, and considering the source, so to speak, I either ignore them of use them to determine whether I ought to buy the book.

Frankly, I find many of these open forums on the internet a tedious, contentious waste of my time.

And finally, as a loyal reader of your blog, Christine, I would say that the so-called professor is likely more out-of-touch with reality than you are. That is my never to be humble opinion! ;)

Crimson Wife said...

I find that most of the "unhelpful" ratings on my Amazon reviews come when I dissent from the general trend of glowing reviews. This is particularly the case for books touching upon "hot button" issues such as politics and/or religion.

My most negatively rated review was a 2-star review of Susan Jacoby's "Age of American Unreason" in which I took issue with her anti-religion (and in particular anti-Christian) bias.

As in your "Olive" review, I detail at length the reasons for why I rated the particular item 1, 2, or 3 stars. The basis for an "unhelpful" rating should be more than simple disagreement with the reviewer's conclusions. If the reviewer provides a detailed explanation for his/her critique, then it's not an "unhelpful" review regardless of whether or not I personally agree with him/her.