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How to improve your rating

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Showing 1-25 of 127 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Apr 2010 18:18:11 BDT
Big Jim says:
Bit late at the party but if you are concerned about your place in the big ratings league here are a couple of rules for you.

Don't review obscure things as no one will read the review and therefore not give you a positive vote. It would appear that the new rules mean that a review without any positive votes doesn't count although I may be wrong about that.
Give positive reviews basically 5 star only - more likely to meet with approval.
Review the product as soon as you can after release so that you are on the front page of the review section and therefore more likely to get noticed

Obviously you needn't bother about what your status is and if you are only reviewing as a vanity thing then more fool you. I certainly try to write reviews for the education and hopefully the entertainment of the reader. I'm not without vanity myself of course and welcome positive feedback but only wish that anyone who presses the not helpful button would have the courage of there convictions and explain why it was unhelpful. In fact I'd go so far as to say you couldn't press one of the buttons without identifying yourself and leaving a comment.

I would hope that most people are like me and find the negative reviews in many ways more useful than gushing fan written 5 star ones and stick a helpful marker on there regardless but I suspect the fan base thing is still prevalent.
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Posted on 1 Apr 2010 19:28:26 BDT
Danny says:
If you try to write reviews for the education and entertainment of the reader, why do you care about your rating anyway?

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Apr 2010 21:32:36 BDT
Big Jim says:
Did I say that I care? It seems that many do though. I'd get rid of the helpful / not helpful things all together. All I want from a review is an honest opinion which the obsession with league ranking can affect. The best guide for me is to check what a particular reviewer likes/dislikes so I can see where tastes differ/converge.

Posted on 1 Apr 2010 22:45:39 BDT
I don't think there's any need to give positive reviews only. I've got 39 helpful votes out of 42 for a 2-star review. Whether you're praising or criticising, you can get positive votes for making the reasons behind your review clear and ensuring that criticism is justified.

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 10:44:55 BDT
Damaskcat says:
I can't agree with the opening post I'm afraid. Some of my negative reviews have received more positive votes than my 5* reviews. Personally I review everything I read - whether obscure or not - and give my opinion of the book without considering the effect it might have on my ranking. So it is my reading which is driving my reviewing not my ranking.

I am interested in my ranking and I'm pleased when it goes up and yes I'm aiming for that number one spot - which I'm sure Peter Durward Harris will not mind me saying! But I read for pleasure and if I want to read and review obscure books then that's what I'm going to do. Of the ten latest reviews on my profile I have two votes and yet I've gone up 3 places in the new system in the last few days. So revieiwng stuff that you're going to get lots of votes on immediately is not what counts - or not the only thing that counts.

As Amazon themselves say they're interested in promoting good quality reviews - a review can be good quality without being 5*

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2010 12:49:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2010 13:37:12 BDT
O E J says:
I agree with Damaskcat and find Big Jim's OP naive and of no value at all to anybody. He says that his suggestions are 'rules', which is a comically poor description of a method that smacks of motivation to boost his own image and one that is not in the interests of any reader of reviews. Like Damaskcat, I tell it like it is - good, bad or indifferent - and try to explain my reasons for saying so. I have never sexed-up a review just to garner more approval, that is hypocrisy and anyone openly admitting to operating like that should stop reviewing, full stop. I've learned over the years to only buy books from reviewers I have grown to trust; I've made the mistake in the past of taking an 'unknown' reviewer's enthusiastic recommendation only to find that their judgement was over-rated. To encourage people to over-rate products would undermine the integrity of the Amazon reviewing culture (assuming it has any left).

Similarly, telling people not to review obscure things - or indeed not to review anything of any kind - is dreadful advice and should be categorically ignored.

The OP claims to be without vanity, but I would counter that it was just this weakness that prompted him to post that nonsense. The only comment made of any value was the backing of any movement to identify negative voters - an idea which, as Damaskcat might remember, I put forward on the Vine Forum the best part of a year ago and now seems to be gathering wider support.

There's only one good way to improve your rating. Review often, and do it well.

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 12:59:51 BDT
Damaskcat says:
Pundit wrote: - 'There's only one good way to improve your rating. Review often, and do it well. '

I agree completely

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 13:40:26 BDT
JJG says:
Agree with everything being said, reviewing obscure items is something I like doing, but has everyone missed the point of the original post?

Big Jim says: Obviously you needn't bother about what your status is and if you are only reviewing as a vanity thing then more fool you.

When reading the OP that sentence made the 'rules' he suggests a jest, alright a fairly poorly executed one, but a joke none the less. I don't think he meant anything serious by his rules, quite the opposite, he was trying to poke fun at people who does this for their own vanity.

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 14:00:38 BDT
O E J says:
Sorry JJG - I've read that OP again and can't see any tongue-in-cheek jesting there. Looks dead serious to me.

But to take up the theme of the thread itself, I do have guidelines that I'm trying to improve upon that are employed to make for a better individual review, which in the longer term leads to becoming a better reviewer. I'm referring mainly to book reviews - fiction in particular - and my three main aims are to expain the synopsis simply and without spoilers, to talk about the quality of the writing/prose/structure, and to comment on the standard of character creation and development. I believe these are the three main staples of analysis, and provided that all three are addressed economically but clearly, then in theory that should lead to a helpful review.

One step at a time, as they say. You can't improve your ranking today, at least not by a known number. But you CAN post a really good review if you put your mind to it. Do the same thing tomorrow - and you're on the way up.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2010 14:13:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2010 14:28:05 BDT
JJG says:
Interesting, I don't review books too often, but when reviewing comics I try to follow a similar guideline to yours. Break paragraphs down into one about the writing, one about the art, one about what I thought worked well, one about some of the things that didn't, and usually a final one on the extras included (or lack there of). Admittedly I go beyond my required word count practically every time, but I'm always coming back to them to reshape things.

Edit: Okay, I take back what I said about the OP, I think I mistook 'status', for meaning your place in the rankings, rather than what your profile status is. Looking at it like that it doesn't seem like such a joke, stupid me always thinking the best of people.

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 14:59:35 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
Re: Big Jim - I think his post -is- ironic - let's not start arguing though, it got quite heated on another post last night - and J J Graber, you're not stupid either - your review style remarks are useful and you tend to think the best of people and there is nothing wrong with that. The point made by Damaskcat:
"Personally I review everything I read - whether obscure or not - and give my opinion of the book without considering the effect it might have on my ranking. So it is my reading which is driving my reviewing not my ranking."
- is the most important point of all - reviews are almost always driven by a liking for the process of reviewing, an enjoyment of writing and an enthusiasm for exchanging views, even if these are negative. Of course ego is involved, but its involvement does not have to be destructive. It's only a tiny minority who write reviews out of malice or dislike for others' opinions. It's the product, not the person, which should drive the review. If we all remembered that more often life would be a lot more peaceful on these posts!!

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 15:10:07 BDT
Danny says:
Big Jim said: "Did I say that I care?"

Starting a thread called "How to improve your rating" tends to suggest you are not exactly ambivalent about the whole procedure.

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 15:50:06 BDT
Mr Smith says:
I think you might be being a bit harsh to Jim here. While I think his point got away from him I can certainly sympathise with most of the comments he makes. I don't think most people review purely in order to increase their ranking, but if you did you would follow his suggestions - review early, positively and stick to popular items. Just because you can identify cases where you have 38 out of 42 on a negative review doesn't stop it being true in general. My most popular reviews, and the ones I personally think are best, are negative - I don't think I gush well, but I have seen numerous reviewers who have 80% or more five star reviews, and high appreciation rates, where I don't think the quality of the reviews is particularly good. But that's just my opinion, of course.

And there is an element of vanity in choosing to review at all - at least to the level that says "you're better off with my opinion than without it".

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Apr 2010 16:09:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2010 16:10:56 BDT
O E J says:
Mr Smith said : "And there is an element of vanity in choosing to review at all - at least to the level that says 'you're better off with my opinion than without it' "

Spot on. Few like to admit to possessing or displaying vanity, but I think anyone who has posted a large number of reviews did so partly because they simply wanted their opinion to be heard. A lot of those retain the core objective of trying to help potential buyers in the decision-making process (I certainly do) but I'm the first to admit that there was an indefinable point in my past here on Amazon when my reasons for posting reviews took on a new 'importance' to me, driven by the seeds of desire to do better, to BE better. And as I said somewhere else in another thread, there's nothing wrong in the slightest in wanting such things. Where things become a bit twisted is when that drive for betterment becomes so strong that some will 'neg' other reviews (or specific reviewers) in order to get a higher review placement and/or improve ranking position at the expense of a competitor. The new software brought in last month has knocked such cynical activity on the head, but the egos of many remain oversized in relation to actual ability; there are exceptions however.

For me, the best return I get from doing this isn't a number on a list, it's a comment or email from someone thanking me for recommending a book that they have just enjoyed (or perhaps thanking me for advising them not to buy).

Thanks to some useful software I was given access to recently, I was able to instantly see my average star rating from day one - it was 3.9. It's roughly what I had expected; most things are very good but not outstandingly great.

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 16:38:16 BDT
Mr Smith says:
My vanity likes the new system - I've jumped up by something like 8,000 places. But, having discovered that my average stars are just under 3, I'm clearly less vain in terms of wanting easy positive ratings than I thought, and under the new system I'm unlikely to ever reach the highest echelons since I can't see me ending up with a high % approval rating (setting aside the minor point that I'd have to review a lot more). I agree completely with Pundit on motivation - it is definitely Malcolm Gladwell's maven characteristic coming out in wanting to be helpful - and my favourite response is probably someone disagreeing with me and bothering to go to the effort of explaining why so I have to really think about my response to whatever the product was.

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 16:48:40 BDT
Danny says:
I wouldn't necessarily say its a vanity thing. My attitude is that I always check people's reviews before buying if possible, and I appreciate that for the system to work, there has to be give and take.

I honestly had no idea how seriously some people took this reviewing lark before reading these forums (or is it fora?).

Posted on 2 Apr 2010 17:08:08 BDT
Ethereal says:
I'm the first to admit my ignorance about voting, reviewing and ranking issues, but I must have been naive when I first came onto this forum a few weeks ago not to realise the skulduggery that could go on (beyond the obvious of glowing book reviews by family, friends and publisher of authors).
And I like the honesty of the last few posts. Is it my imagination or have these discussions become more constructive of late? Nothing wrong with humour but I'm not sure it's always been meant or taken that way.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Apr 2010 22:54:25 BDT
Big Jim says:
Sorry to take so long about getting back to this as I've been out of computer range for a few days but I have to take exception to your remarks. I don't "tell" anyone to do anything. I was making fun of the whole ranking issue. I WAS being ironic but that was obviously lost on you. To say I post "nonsense" is rude, hardly objective and totally misses the point. You are of course allowed to hold your own view on my reviewing or posting merits but you obviously deem your opinions more worthy than mine. a touch of vanity there perhaps? Maybe I'm not as eloquent as some but I always try and review with honesty and good humour. I stand by my comments and would welcome the removal of any ranking system.

Posted on 9 Apr 2010 09:20:46 BDT
Damaskcat says:
Everyone's opinions are of equal value in my opinion. It would have helped if you had indicated in some way that you were being ironic - for example this ;-) is a very useful symbol. If you don't indicate your irony somehow it isn't always going to be obvious just from the subject matter since not everyone regards everything in the same light as you do.

Posted on 9 Apr 2010 10:58:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Apr 2010 10:59:45 BDT
Danny says:
I find it ironic that pundit started a similar thread which he later claimed was ironic, when people had said that he was talking nonsense. Were they being ironic? Was he being ironic? Is Big Jim being ironic? Am I being ironic? Are we all being ironic, or am I just being sarcastic?

Why is Jim big?

Thats not being ironic, that's being nosey. Oh they irony!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2010 13:04:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Apr 2010 13:38:36 BDT
A great post, Pundit

Pundit said: "but I think anyone who has posted a large number of reviews did so partly because they simply wanted their opinion to be heard."

When the 'A Customer' option existed, it seems to me that this represented the possibility of an ego free posting (though of course, open to abuse as well, to try and increase sales of your friend's book, books published by your publishing house, etc etc)

I guess many of us start reviewing because we think a product is so awful that we want to stop someone else making the same mistake, or so wonderful we want others to share the good experience - but then, with a ranking system, any ranking system, there will be a natural desire in most of us to do better - so altruism shares the space with the ego. As you said the desire to do better will probably improve personal standards of reviewing - but/and there's then the danger that you fall in love with your own ranking and start to take part in tactical reviewing, whether that means taking the decision to avoid writing negative reviews or to do something shadier like trying to 'sink' someone else's ratings.

But the truth is, we really DON'T know why anyone else responds to reviews - or posts reviews - in the way they do.

I guess everyone will find their own place within this. We each have our own reasons for reviewing and will probably continue to follow our own reasons for doing so. I doubt that the sometimes angsty reviewing conflicts that surface will change any individual reviewer's reviewing behaviour much!

Posted on 23 Apr 2010 12:11:14 BDT
M. Dowden says:
I like reviewing obscure things, as a lot of what I read probably falls into this category. As a Vine member I am often the first to review some books, but those who come after don't vote and thus instead of being at the top you get knocked down to the bottom as there's is the most recent, unless someone is kind enough to give you a vote.

I review what I like and if other people don't read the same things then thats just the way it goes. A couple of books and a few of my dvd reviews haven't done too badly but I wouldn't go out of my way to change what I review just to get a higher placing. I must admit that if you have an obscure item reviewed on here and then suddenly you get a helpful vote after years, then it could well be me. I gave a helpful vote to something that had been on here for 6 years that no one had voted on before or had given another review of.

Posted on 27 Apr 2010 13:33:39 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 May 2010 14:14:24 BDT
I spend most of my time reviewing obscure things: they may not be important to most but they are very important to me. Anyway, many things wouldn't get reviewed otherwise.

I don't really see why votes on old reviews are so unimportant to amazon either, since anything that is any good will still be around years later. (And unfortunately, too, many things that are quite bad are too!)

Posted on 27 Apr 2010 15:30:29 BDT
Danny says:
Its like the top 100 music charts. Thats based on sales in the last week. If it was based on all time sales it would be virtually non changing. It doesn't mean that you can no longer listen to music from the sixties. And if your favourite sixties track is featured on an advert or whatever and gets bought again, it will re-enter the charts. It just won't stay there unless people keep on buying it.

Posted on 27 Apr 2010 18:58:06 BDT
M. Dowden says:
Mike, I agree with you, after all today's new review is tomorrow's old review. If you review more obscure items it may be years before you end up with a helpful vote, and unless you are one of the first to review something new - and people like it and vote - then there is a chance that any review may not be read or voted on for some time. I do like it if someone has reviewed something that I am looking at when browsing when there is no actual product description shown. At least in a bookshop you can pick up a book and read the back, but some here only show the cover picture, book title and author's name.
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