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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Amazon goes after fake reviewers

Amanda at Mad Genius Club alerts us to a major change in policy at Amazon:
Since Amazon first opened its virtual doors, there have been concerns about reviews. Not just for books but for all the products sold through its site. It is no secret that authors have paid for reviews — and some still do. Or that there have been fake accounts set up to give sock puppet reviews. There have been stories about sellers and manufacturers planting fake reviews as well, all in the hopes of bolstering their product rankings and ratings. From time to time, Amazon has taken steps to combat this trend. One of the last times they did it, they brought in a weighted review system. This one differentiates between “verified purchasers” and those who did not buy the product viz Amazon. Now there is a new policy in place, once that should help — at least until a new way around it is found.

Simply put, Amazon now requires you to purchase a minimum of $50 worth of books or other products before you can leave a review or answer questions about a product. These purchases, and it looks like it is a cumulative amount, must be purchased via credit card or debit card — gift cards won’t count. This means someone can’t set up a fake account, buy themselves a gift card and use it to get around the policy.

Eligibility
To contribute to Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, Spark, or to follow other contributors, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum. In addition, to contribute to Spark you must also have a paid Prime subscription (free trials do no qualify). You do not need to meet this requirement to read content posted by other contributors or post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries

Whether this change will work in the long run, I don’t know. But, for now, I welcome it.
As a frequent target of fake reviewers, I think this is fantastic. It should work brilliantly, because fake reviewers almost invariably try to hide their identities. Now that reviews will be tied to actual Amazon accounts, it's very easy for Amazon to see whether the reviewer has a pattern of reviewing books that he has actually bought or not as well as giving Amazon the ability to deny the fake reviewer future access to Amazon's retail channel if he makes a habit of regularly posting fake reviews or is the recipient of a large number of complaints about abusive reviews.

It was pretty clear that Amazon was already beginning to target fake reviews earlier this year. One SJW who left a fake review of SJWAL back in June even complained about his previous fake review being removed by Amazon.
Interesting that VD presents himself as an enemy of the "thought police"--he has already had my review taken down once, simply because it was negative. SAD!
First, I did not take the review down, Amazon did. And they did so, not because it was negative, but because it was obviously fake. Demonstrating, once more, that SJWs always lie. And given that SJWADD, published in October, has no fake reviews while the most recent fake reviews for SJWAL and ATOB are both from October 2017, I conclude that it was Amazon's more aggressive policing of fake reviews this fall that led to this new policy. I also think Amanda's wish for Kindle Unlimited subscribers to be permitted to post reviews is unwise because in my experience, I have already seen how some KU subscribers will download a book they have no intention of reading in order to be able to post a fake review that is marked as a Verified Purchase.

Since Amazon can see exactly how many pages a KU subscriber has read of the book he nominally reviewed, I have no doubt that they saw enough reviews being posted by KU non-readers to decide that KU subscribers cannot be trusted to post honest reviews. Amazon also appears to understand how permitting KU subscribers to post reviews creates a disincentive for authors to put their books in Kindle Select.

Amazon's decision is an excellent application of Taleb's "skin in the game" and I expect it will significantly improve the quality of Amazon's reviews.

Speaking of Amazon, now that I'm able to return to finishing a certain extended edition, I've decided to celebrate by making A THRONE OF BONES free on Amazon tomorrow and the rest of this weekend. And if you've already read it, then perhaps you should consider getting the hardcover for your bookshelves.

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43 Comments:

Anonymous basementhomebrewer December 14, 2017 6:07 AM  

Great solution. There will still be some sock puppet accounts for the determined fake reviewers. Prepaid visa cards could be used to get around this system, but it is still enough of a barrier to stop 95% of the fake reviews. One can't help but notice that it took counter attacks against SJW icons like Hillary to spur Amazon to action.

Blogger James Dixon December 14, 2017 6:20 AM  

Hmm. You know, I'm not sure my Amazon account has ever actually bought $50 worth of stuff, as we usually buy things on my wife's account. I'll have to check and see. I'm also not sure how far back this policy will check.

Blogger VD December 14, 2017 6:23 AM  

One can't help but notice that it took counter attacks against SJW icons like Hillary to spur Amazon to action.

More evidence of the morality and the necessity of reprisals. If you want to stop your opponent's use of a tactic, use it against them.

Blogger James Dixon December 14, 2017 6:25 AM  

If they count back to 2014, I have ordered over $50 from Amazon. Otherwise not. I've ordered a bunch of books from Amazon this year, but they've all been free ones.

Blogger VD December 14, 2017 6:40 AM  

I'm also not sure how far back this policy will check.

There is an easier way to find out. Try to post a review.

Anonymous Looking Glass December 14, 2017 6:49 AM  

An elegant solution, actually, when combined with their other efforts. Reviews are useful of products on Amazon, or anywhere else, which is why fake ones are an issue.

It also points to where a lot of things are going in the future. Age of the "free" Web is rapidly coming to a close.

Anonymous Asatru Heathen December 14, 2017 6:52 AM  

I have been looking forward to this extended edition all year. Excellent news.

Blogger Aeoli December 14, 2017 6:53 AM  

More evidence of the morality and the necessity of reprisals. If you want to stop your opponent's use of a tactic, use it against them.

This works on white people even if it's done ironically. E.g.

"It would be fun if we all wear pink at work tomorrow for breast cancer."
"Racist. That's not who we are."
*Group laughs*
*Discussion over, topic changes*

Blogger Longtime Lurker December 14, 2017 7:32 AM  

I too noticed the lack of bogus reviews for SJWADD on Amazon. But that was weeks ago. The new Amazon policy is clearly working.

Blogger Purge187 December 14, 2017 7:32 AM  

Vox, I'm about to start reading "SJWAL." Out of curiosity, do you get paid decently for writing these books? Does the amount of royalties you earn depend on the publisher?

Anonymous E Deploribus Unum December 14, 2017 7:42 AM  

perhaps you should consider getting the hardcover for your bookshelves.

Indeed. It's a lovely looking volume. I have one staring back at me currently. It definitely needs an 800+ page companion beside it though. Will be cheering you on.

Blogger VD December 14, 2017 7:42 AM  

Vox, I'm about to start reading "SJWAL." Out of curiosity, do you get paid decently for writing these books? Does the amount of royalties you earn depend on the publisher?

Great. Yes. Yes.

Fortunately, I have a generous publisher.

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 14, 2017 7:56 AM  

My review of The Last Closet hasn't posed yet and should have by now. I'll have to check and see if my other reviews are still up.

Anonymous Looking Glass December 14, 2017 8:14 AM  

@12 VD

With such good reviews, I think you should contact your publisher and demand a better cut!

Blogger Matthew December 14, 2017 8:22 AM  

Looking Glass wrote:@12 VD

With such good reviews, I think you should contact your publisher and demand a better cut!


And gold foil on the covers.

Blogger James Dixon December 14, 2017 8:39 AM  

> There is an easier way to find out. Try to post a review.

I'll try that tonight and see if goes through.

Blogger tuberman December 14, 2017 8:43 AM  

These days I seldom I read any new books besides Castalia House, but have only reviewed four, so I need to catch up on reviews.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother December 14, 2017 9:08 AM  

Amazon seems to be some kind of rational/SJW hybrid.

Anonymous Alex December 14, 2017 9:14 AM  

Any idea when A throne of bones is going to be listed for free today? I read and enjoyed a year ago, so I posted about it being free today in a private group I'm in, and it still shows $7.99 in the US. The new policy must take into account past purchases, as I am able to post reviews.

Blogger VD December 14, 2017 9:23 AM  

Any idea when A throne of bones is going to be listed for free today?

It's tomorrow, apparently. I thought it was Friday today....

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother December 14, 2017 9:24 AM  

Vox you should get a real job instead of futzing around with your Alt-Hero thingamabobbers on the Facebooks.com and your hooyahs on the Tweeters dot com.

Then you'd know what day it is.

Blogger LonestarWhacko December 14, 2017 9:28 AM  

Well, I agree that fake reviews are a problem. I use KU so I reckon I won't be reviewing any more books. I write some product and tool reviews for Amazon and others. One of the red flags is when everything is just perfect.

Amazon has treated me well. I'm not an author, but I read a lot. The reality, as I see it is this.....fewer people have the reasoning ability to read.

Blogger Bobiojimbo December 14, 2017 9:58 AM  

Damnit Vox, quit tempting me! I've already decided to buy your book when the extended edition is done, but you're not making that easy when you offer it for free! Besides, I got other books I want to finish first, so waiting gives me time. Seriously though, I do look forward to a Sea of Skulls.

Blogger Revelation Means Hope December 14, 2017 10:00 AM  

I still give honest reviews on most websites that allow it, such as Amazon.

One sad thing, however, is that thanks to Obamacare, all hospitals and any physician accepting Medicare have to send out patient surveys. Which isn't bad. And 2% of hospital reimbursements are withheld from all compensation unless you achieve a certain score. Which is also somewhat okay. The bad thing is that the system is setup to ONLY count patient surveys that give the top 5 star rating on each category toward being compensated.

So if one nurse, janitor, doctor, physical therapist, etc has any kind of negative interaction, or the patient perceives the interaction as negative, blammo, bad review. And certain of our diversity hires are pretty lousy at good patient interaction.

Anyway, back on topic, this kind of all or nothing type of thinking seems to be prevalent amongst the SJWs and liberals.

Anonymous Gecko December 14, 2017 10:17 AM  

Hey Vox, does the current hardcover for Throne match the design for what will eventually be Sea's hardcover? Thanks!

Anonymous Russell Newquist December 14, 2017 10:46 AM  

They made the $50 minimum change at least a few months ago. We found out about it when my wife opened her own Amazon account. She had to buy $50 worth of stuff before we could review.

Anonymous Rfvujm December 14, 2017 11:14 AM  

It's refreshing to see a company as large as Amazon doing anything that is, in effect, anti-SJW. I have such low expectations for that size organization.

Blogger seeingsights December 14, 2017 11:17 AM  

Amazon is not perfect and their owner is a liberal but it does seem that Amazon is committed to intellectual integrity. Amazon does not censor books and is cracking down on bogus reviews.
Compare that to Google, which censors Youtube and fired an employee for his opinions.
We would have been better off if Youtube was bought by Amazon, not Google.

Anonymous BBGKB December 14, 2017 11:21 AM  

So if one nurse, janitor, doctor, physical therapist, etc has any kind of negative interaction, or the patient perceives the interaction

Even worse 3rdworld entitled patients expect their free care to be VIP. If you watch the documentary of the PULSE shooting "GAYCATION ORLANDO" (free on jewtube) you will see that they respected the afghani moslem who shot 102 brown gays but strained at gnats ,like the Pharisees, the hospital that saved the majority of their lives despite cops waiting 3 hours to go in. The hospital obviously did great care, & even decided to save money that would be wasted trying to collect by saying they wouldn't charge patients for their care.

Anonymous Random #57 December 14, 2017 11:31 AM  

@6 Looking Glass:

"Reviews are useful of products on Amazon, or anywhere else, which is why fake ones are an issue."

This is part of what's become an existential threat to Amazon's greater marketplace, which has by and large gone to hell with counterfeits and items fake reviewed as being much better than they really are.

Blogger VD December 14, 2017 12:16 PM  

Hey Vox, does the current hardcover for Throne match the design for what will eventually be Sea's hardcover? Thanks!

Yes, although the interior spacing between paragraphs will be improved.

Blogger rws December 14, 2017 12:58 PM  

I think the exclusion of KU readers from the review process will hurt the authors bottom line more than the fear of bad reviews.

It seems to me the answer is already built in. If Amazon pays an author according to the amount of the book that is read via KU, then Amazon already knows if a reader has in fact read the book. Restricting reviews to verified purchasers (KU or otherwise) only who have actually read the book should be trivially easy for Amazons mighty 286's.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab December 14, 2017 1:04 PM  

I was able to finish Moira Greyland's book but I skipped the appendices. Do I need to read them to get a verified purchase?

Blogger Snidely Whiplash December 14, 2017 1:45 PM  

rws wrote:I think the exclusion of KU readers from the review process will hurt the authors bottom line more than the fear of bad reviews.
Amazon has the actual data, and they disagree. I'm pretty sure they know what they are doing. Remember, the more money the publisher and author make, the more Amazon makes.

Blogger WarKicker December 14, 2017 2:41 PM  

That's generous of Vox, but I love my hardcover ATOB.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash December 14, 2017 2:57 PM  

WarKicker wrote:That's generous of Vox, but I love my hardcover ATOB.

It's not generous. It's mercenary.
i, for instance, will grab three copies for my adult sons. And they will almost certainly purchase A Sea of Skulls, and will consider A Man Disrupted.
Pretty quick, he's got 1 dedicated Castalia fan and 2 potential customers.
Strictly mercenary.

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 14, 2017 3:19 PM  

Cataline Sergius wrote:My review of The Last Closet hasn't posed yet and should have by now. I'll have to check and see if my other reviews are still up.

Yep it got bounced.

I have submitted a drastically reduced review.

Anonymous A reviewer December 14, 2017 4:14 PM  

Going through it as I can.  It is a painful read which has to be chewed slowly and carefully.

Anonymous Man of the Atom December 14, 2017 5:31 PM  

This is a fortunate time for Amazon to take this action. We know that SJWs, specifically SF-SJWs, are lined up do downplay "The Last Closet" and defame its author and publisher, to the greatest extent they are able.

A troubling but necessary book. Thanks Ms Greyland, Vox, and Castalia House for making sure it was published.

Blogger VD December 14, 2017 8:15 PM  

I think the exclusion of KU readers from the review process will hurt the authors bottom line more than the fear of bad reviews.

You're absolutely wrong. KU readers will not encourage authors to put their books into KU. Fake reviews will discourage them from doing so. If I was seeing that being in KU was permitting fake reviews to masquerade as Verified Purchases, I wouldn't hesitate to pull my books from it. I was already considering that for some books when I heard about this new policy.

Anonymous TE December 14, 2017 8:59 PM  

"I have already seen how some KU subscribers will download a book they have no intention of reading in order to be able to post a fake review that is marked as a Verified Purchase."

This happened to me shortly after I posted a comment here. I have two reviews, one which actually describes characters and scenes, and one which says I have bad grammar and punctuation. I reported the fake review but Amazon left it up.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ISNMV7K

Anonymous Brick Hardslab December 14, 2017 10:04 PM  

I love Castalia on ku. It gives me something good to read no matter what. Any new authors or books coming?

Blogger SirHamster December 15, 2017 3:16 PM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:WarKicker wrote:That's generous of Vox, but I love my hardcover ATOB.

It's not generous. It's mercenary.

i, for instance, will grab three copies for my adult sons. And they will almost certainly purchase A Sea of Skulls, and will consider A Man Disrupted.

Pretty quick, he's got 1 dedicated Castalia fan and 2 potential customers.

Strictly mercenary.



Sneaky ebook merchant.

The first hit is free.

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