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So, what have we learnt this week?

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Showing 1-25 of 86 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Mar 2010 04:13:41 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Jun 2012 14:54:09 BDT]

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 08:08:15 GMT
Danny says:
Its a shop site. Get over it.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 08:48:52 GMT
Misqué says:
I never post on these forums but when I read Pundit's post it kind of made me feel rather annoyed and I had exactly the same thoughts as Mr Twain. I am very new to reviewing and yes I keep an eye out on my rank but I do it purely for fun and don't take it too seriously.

It is rather insulting to people who review and also who vote to say that we will only get good votes if we write positive reviews about products and you practically say that people do that now and if not will do in the future to get votes. I think if it is getting to the point where you feel you have to think up sneaky ways of getting positive votes by writing reviews that you don't really stand by or aren't true then not only are you cheating people who read the reviews and use them to guide them in their puchase decisions but you are also cheating yourself. Why on earth anybody would prefer to cheat their way up the ranking via flaws in the new or the classic system I will never know and cannot see where the satisfaction would be in that knowing climbed your way to the top because you cheated/manipulated the ranking system.

Without meaning to sound harsh it sounds as though you have been thinking about it way too much and are indeed thinking of doing this yourself, never mind anybody else. I think you need to get some perspective Pundit and I hate to say this but Mark is right - yes you do need to get over it.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 09:02:46 GMT
Interesting but not strictly matching my experience - there are many voices that will seek to quash dissenting voices that do not share the same inflated opinion of their favourites : hence concerted "unhelpful" votes on critical reviews. It may be a shop site, but Amazon is clearly also aiming to create a most trusted brand position, which it will lose if it does not maintain the integrity of it's ranking system.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 10:18:10 GMT
Thoughtful post, Pundit, but it's a sad day when people start deleting and reposting negged reviews or adding stars to appease the mob. As for reviewing kettles, I think I'll give that a miss. I take the reviews I write for Amazon seriously, but I realize nobody else does. It is, as Mark Twain says, just a shop site. Serious-minded reviewers should not resort to petty vote-grabbing, just accept that they are destined to toil in the margins, and occasionally receive heartening comments from like-minded individuals. To take your advice on this, Pundit, would ruin the credibility of Amazon as a place to go to find a real opinion on new products, and make it a dull and dispiriting place.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 13:02:37 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Jun 2012 14:54:22 BDT]

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 14:05:43 GMT
Were you being entirely ironic, Pundit? I know from following yesterday's posts on the 'Recent Changes...' thread that you were seriously considering deleting negged reviews.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 14:32:20 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Mar 2010 15:14:25 GMT
F. S. L'hoir says:
Mr. Wallace and Pundit: you both make valid points. One supposes that Amazon's idea of a 'horse race,' was to encourage people to write for them, but as has been observed, the idea has had its drawbacks on all sides.

I too care about writing reviews: 1) because I enjoy reading books and watching DVDs 2) because I enjoy writing about the books & DVDs that I have read and seen. And while I might be tempted to remove one particular review of a film that I detested (as opposed to everybody else) and which was greeted by a chorus of obloquy, I am not going to do so. For one thing, in trying to be terribly clever and ironic, I produced what I can only call a snarky review, which got what it deserved, although it did engender an interesting, lengthy, and serious discussion in the comments section. That review taught me a lesson. And, I believe it is the only review in which I took the low road in order to be glib.

Despite the changes in the system, I shall continue to take the reviews that I write seriously, the votes be damned. Even though it was fun getting what someone has called "fan" votes, really, the stakes are so awfully low (as they say of academic infighting). I shall continue to write reviews into which I have put both thought and effort, and to call them as I see them for better or worse. I am not going to gear my reviews or water them down to sell Amazon's products at all costs (And if Vine sends me a turkey, I shall either not review it or explain in considered words, what I found deficient about it [The books on your UK Vine, incidentally, look so much more interesting than those on our US Vine, but unfortunately they cannot at the moment be sent out of the UK.]).

In addition to writing what might be called mainstream reviews, I review a number of books that are "currently unavailable," or about ancient classical studies or other esoteric subjects that appeal only to a limited audience, or even about movies that were made before the flood. But I write, in all seriousness, because I enjoy writing reviews, to the point of rewriting them, and cleaning up syntax and punctuation.

And isn't that why we go to the trouble in the first place? For the sheer enjoyment of writing and conveying our thoughts to others?

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 15:25:36 GMT
FSL, spot on! My thoughts exactly.

Pundit, we can still write the 1* review, but it now requires careful tact and possibly humour as well, to make the negger smile instead and change his mind to give PVT.

I think it could be the new writing trick, perhaps even become an art form; to create a 1* that does not attract any NVTs.


Posted on 12 Mar 2010 16:17:10 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Jun 2012 14:54:37 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2010 17:00:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Mar 2010 17:01:25 GMT
F. S. L'hoir says:
Pundit: Your dread is generally well-founded, although sometimes US Vine offers diamonds at the bottom of the mine. I did get John Le Carre and Julian Fellowes' latest (both of which I enjoyed immensely), and they did offer my daughter's latest thriller (which I recused myself from reviewing). Often their good selections are "no longer available."

Well, perhaps it would be unfair to brand Vine's US offerings as all dreck, just because I find a great deal of them not-my-cup-of-tea. They have this idiotic "targeting" system in which they send me the possibility to review books "picked just for me" in which I could not possibly be interested: e.g., last June: "Jungle Jack's Wackiest, Wildest, Weirdest Animals in the World," "A Short History of Tractors," and, Jones' Pomegranate Soda: 12 pack of 20 bottles. What in their supposedly sophisticated profiling system, which, in my case, features the tag-words, Cold War Espionage, Toby Stephens, British Period Dramas, Shakespeare films, etc., possessed them to offer me choices that are beyond ludicrous?

One of the chief problems with getting British books to review on Vine is that American publishers (or the American branch of a major UK publishing company) get a hold of the book and change both the language and the spelling (as if one cannot understand words ending in -our and -ise instead of -or and -ize). I just read an American version--a different publisher from the UK publisher--of what I think was originally a good WWII thriller set on Malta, but the dialogue (I suspect) was rewritten so that it sounded both "Mid-Atlantic" and "Twenty-first century." Unfortunately, I haven't seen the UK version for comparison.

But I digress from the topic at hand. Apologies!

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2010 20:23:42 GMT
F.S., I agree with everything you say about writing reviews. I too revise my old reviews, and write reviews on literary criticism and obscure novels that few will encounter. And as to fan votes, the stakes truly are, as you say, awfully low, especially for me, though it appears Amazon suspected me of having at least one 'fan', as they wiped out seven of my helpful votes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank this possibly inexistent individual for her/her efforts on my behalf.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2010 03:11:37 GMT
F. S. L'hoir says:
Mr. Wallace: I couldn't resist looking at your reviews, which I found most interesting, especially those on literary criticism. You also called my attention to some interesting books of which I wasn't aware. I even succumbed to the temptation to vote on three of them (I was afraid to do any more, lest Amazon brand me as a "fan" and invalidate the votes, which they might do anyway!). On another forum, I would enjoy engaging in a discussion with you about Dickens in film and other literary topics.

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 12:21:33 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2010 12:22:53 GMT
Naughty, naughty, F.S. Those votes are still standing at the moment, anyway, but you may be sailing close to the wind with three. Who can tell the workings of the Amazon vote-police?
I'm not a member of any literary forums, or fora, if you prefer, but if you know any good ones, I'll check them out. Incidentally, and at the risk of engaging in shameless self-promotion, there is an online journal called the Dublin Review of Books - - whose latest edition (Spring 2010) includes a long review (3600 words) by myself of the new Dickens biography by Michael Slater which you may or may not find interesting.

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 14:44:57 GMT
Damaskcat says:
Mr Twain - if Amazon thought how you did I doubt if they would have introduced the 'new' software.

Pundit - yes I realised you were being ironic and I for one won't be deleting and reposting any of my reviews even though I still have some with a lot of negative votes on even after the 'cull'. I also shan't be giving more positive reviews than I do now - my reviews are my opinions and if people don't like my opinions that's fine by me. But then you'd be surprised if I said anything else I'm sure ;-)

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 14:54:15 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Jun 2012 14:54:47 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2010 15:22:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2010 15:32:12 GMT
F. S. L'hoir says:
Mr. Wallace: Thank you for your link to the DRB. I read "Never Satisfied, Never at Rest" with great enjoyment and interest, since my approach to Dickens has always been as a general reader rather than as a scholar; he wrote about 1900 years after my literary time (As the author of two books that are nos. 3,346,776 and 4,098,459 respectively on Amazon's best-selling list, I am used to writing things that no one reads, except for the benighted denizens of dusty academic libraries who need to pad their footnotes--maybe that's why I enjoyed my paltry little "fan" votes.). So I appreciate your letting me know about your article.

Alas, I know of no literary fora on Amazon, and I haven't the faintest notion of how one starts such a forum; I got onto this one only by accident, clicking on the link that accompanied the question mark announcing Amazon's New Order. Perhaps one merely starts a discussion under a book or a DVD and waits for the fish to bite--perhaps not today, but surely tomorrow.

Like waiting for Godot!

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2010 17:16:48 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2010 17:38:45 GMT
JJG says:
One should already exist. To access it, try and find something with a 'tag' with something like 'literature', and then click on the tag. That should bring you to a discussion forum for that tag. It may be incredibly sparsely populated, or even be devoid of life entirely, but it will be a start.

The most popular (used) tags make it onto the most popular tags board, and therefore attract a more prosperous community.

Here is the address for the most popular tags page:

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2010 17:25:52 GMT
F. S. L'hoir says:
JJG: Thank you so much for your advice and helpful instructions.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2010 17:44:18 GMT
JJG says:
No problemo. I can't really see anything on the most popular board that would suit your needs, I'm partially active on a few forums, but fiction I watch like a hawk. This probably wouldn't fit amazingly well for your discussions.

I'm in a similar boat, I'm trying to get a comic or comic book forum going. There have been attempts in the past, but they seem largely doomed to failure if they don't make it onto the popular tags page. So I'm slowly going around and tagging comics with a uniform tag in a valiant one man effort to make it onto the leaderboard.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2010 18:35:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2010 19:41:19 GMT
F. S. L'hoir says:
Well, how about this one? There is an espionage tag, which no one will touch with the proverbial ten-foot pole. Who knows who's watching it?! Actually, do you suppose that Amazon, with all its tracking devices and fan-vote-sweepers, is a part of the intelligence community? Perhaps I should start such a discussion with that question and see what happens?

For that matter, does Amazon, with its purge of "fan votes," use Spyware? :)

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2010 18:35:49 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 13 Mar 2010 18:36:04 GMT]

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 18:38:54 GMT
F. S. L'hoir says:
I deleted the post because for some reason, it duplicated the one that I just wrote!

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 21:53:12 GMT
I see that the 'literature' and 'literary fiction' forums have no discussions at all.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2010 02:23:32 GMT
F. S. L'hoir says:
Let's start a discussion on 'literature'! Who goes first? Subject, anyone?
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Participants:  16
Total posts:  86
Initial post:  12 Mar 2010
Latest post:  5 Jul 2012

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