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Should Amazon Abolish the Negative Vote Altogether?


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Initial post: 11 Mar 2010 12:24:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jun 2010 20:12:31 BDT
NeuroSplicer says:
The recent Reviewers Ranking Reform seems to be based on a shaky cornerstone: percentage of approval. Ranking is not exhausted there of course and there are other parameters, such as how recent are the reviews receiving positive feedback. Also, when it comes to distributing the spotlight positions, it appears that the total number of positive votes is ignored in order to...dislodge older reviews and encourage new reviewers to keep writing.
Still, approval percentage seems to be disproportionately important. And there lies the problem.

The old system was indeed an ugly jungle. Anyone could abuse the Profile/voting system to attack anyone he was envious off and no Amazon moderator could do anything about it. Only some weeks ago my reviews received over ...2,500 new negative votes - all within 48hours and all from the same deranged individual, blind with envy (details can be provided by email, please check my Profile page).
These votes were obviously bogus but I too had to wait for the "tool under development" to have them removed. And they were removed. Amazon's new vetting system cleaned out over 16,000(!) from my reviews. The bozo was slaving in front of his monitors for nothing.

So, yes, the new system may indeed be better than the old one in detecting and neutralizing negative campaigns but it is far from fail-proof.
From the very first day the ...usual suspects have been testing the system for weaknesses and, judging by the latest selective papering of my reviews with new negative votes, have found chinks in the armor.

And there is the wrench in the machine: when spiteful negative votes cannot ALL be detected and removed, the importance of approval cannot remain cardinal.

However, there is a very simple solution that would kill both birds with one stone: ABOLISH THE NEGATIVE VOTE.

Reviews could still be ranked by the positive feedback they received. Votes could still be weighted by how recent they are and so forth, thus new reviewers could still have a fair chance to advance over older ones. And without the negative vote to vent their frustrated envy with, the Trolls would have to find different venues to waste their pathetic life at.

I am interested in reading your opinion.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 12:36:25 GMT
Yes: abolish it. Brilliant idea.
A postive vote is a positive vote. What more does anyone need?

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 12:41:17 GMT
I agree, but how would it weed out the "trolls" who scam their way up the rankings ?

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 12:48:41 GMT
That's all we need : get rid of netaive votes OR put in a "do you agree?" and "was this helpful"?

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 12:52:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Mar 2010 13:13:16 GMT
OEJ says:
I suggested a slightly different solution last year, prompted I suppose by how the 'negative feedback' system works on eBay. On there, you can't leave negative feedback unless you explain the reason why you feel the way you do.

My idea was to make a text box open up (limited to 30 characters, say) if anyone clicked on 'unhelpful'. They would then have to enter some very brief explanation as to why they were voting negatively. The key point, however, was that their Amazon user name would be displayed in that box, so while trolls might be happy to copy and paste the same response in every box, what they would definitely NOT like would be to see their identity displayed, even a fake one. It's the anonymity they crave.

In the absence of that, however, then YES, removing the negative vote option would be very positive and I'm all for it.

I wonder, however, if the big knobs in Amazon Towers deliberately set out to create this conflict, because it generates debate, argument, even death threats (I've had one myself) - and if all this were to be removed, people might get bored and look on other websites for some 'action'. I suppose even trolls buy stuff on Amazon....

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 13:27:42 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Mar 2010 13:34:49 GMT
Pundit that would not work, surely ?

The person who wants me dead because I criticised Sgt Pepper, will simply explain in less than 30 words why I should die and his favourite album is brilliant (in his opinion).

Also, I do not crave anonymity when I leave a negative. I would love to be able to tell someone "face to face", so to speak, that I find their reviews pompous and self-important, for example. I never leave a negative simply because they don't like the same album I do. I do, howver, leave negatives if I feel the reviewer is arrogant and narcissistic. Also, I leave negatives if the review is poorly written, or if it is submitted before an album has been released e.g. "this album is going to be brilliant. Buy it. 5 stars".

Also, wouldn't it be great to tell Peter Durward Harris to get a life !!!

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 13:41:22 GMT
NeuroSplicer says:
I agree. Any excuse will do as a reason to vote someone down if one is so inclined. It would require an army of moderators to read and determine if the reasons are valid, very costly even for a company the size of Amazon.

I believe the negative vote option is like keeping a liqueur mega-store open just across the street from a AA group. Everyone is free to run his business as he sees fit but some temptations are just too obvious to keep ignoring them.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 13:41:50 GMT
OEJ says:
Of course it won't work! That's because it's a good and practical idea. Amazon don't understand such thinking.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 14:00:44 GMT
K. O'Leary says:
Like the idea in general of getting rid of negative votes - but Pundit's idea could work if it was moderated by other reviewers. This is pretty successful with Wikipedia, and also in the comments pages where trolls are quickly "ignored". I for one would be very interested in hearing why someone didn't approve of my review.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 14:16:16 GMT
Yes

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 14:19:03 GMT
Quiverbow says:
An interesting idea. Would the 'trolls' bother to vote if they had to explain their reasons each time?

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 14:37:37 GMT
Bob Ventos says:
I've noticed I get negative votes when I'm less complementary about a book. I think people are using the negative vote not for being 'helpful' or 'unhelpful', but to show support for their friends. When I'm looking whether to buy a book, I read all the reviews equally and ignore whether they've been marked helpful or unhelpful as the system doesn't really work.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 15:13:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Mar 2010 15:13:44 GMT
Quiverbow. As a troll myself, I'd love the opportunity to "explain my reasons". Love it.

Bob Ventos - I don't think they are supporting their "friends". Some of my friends may write Amazon reviews. I neither know or care, and certainly would not scroll through them leaving negatives for people because they are "rival" reviewers to my friends !

It is more that they are obsessed with the artists you are criticising - hence one can "earn" the most negatives by reviewing critically the work of artists who have a loyal fan base, such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Bruce Spingsteen, U2, David Bowie, Queen etc

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 16:27:13 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Mar 2010 16:28:42 GMT
Pardo says:
Despite the abuse I still think the negative vote serves a purpose when properly used. I don't use it often, only when I come across a review that is very short and pointless or so badly written that I crave a button that says "this person is so stupid that his/her opinion doesn't count". There needs to be a way of clearing away unhelpful reviews because, as a purchaser, I don't want the dribblings of morons clogging up my view of helpful reviews.

However, there is a problem with fans dishing out negative votes just because they disagree with the reviewer's opinion. I would agree with Pundit that those expressing a negative view should have to justify it. The option to report pointless or abusive comments in such negative votes would be available and if any reviewer had more than two or three comments removed for that reason then they should be barred from reviewing.

The answer seems to be:
1 If you have reviewed a product you can't give negative feedback to another review of the same product
2 If you give a negative vote you must justify it
3 Give the option to vote "agree/disagree" and these results can appear next to the review, but not form part of the reviewer ranking score
4 Anyone consistently dishing out a high percentage of negative votes get barred from voting

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 16:34:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Mar 2010 16:35:49 GMT
How about someone consistently dishing out a high percentage of positive votes ? Surely they should be banned too ?

The person you feel is writing "the dribblings of morons" might think their stuff is great, so why can't they write it ?

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 16:49:35 GMT
NeuroSplicer says:
Not a great number of people would vote up a bad or stupid review. On the other hand, without Troll-interference, all the good reviews will come on top in the end.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 16:53:33 GMT
OEJ says:
At the end of the day, week, month and year, Amazon is a sales website. It's overwhelming priority is to sell as much as possible.

When the king-pins at the company discuss strategy, you can be sure that there's probably one word that IS king. And it's traffic. Sorry to state the obvious, but more traffic = more sales.

And one of the ways in which they manipulate traffic in their favour is to 'create' debates just like this one, as well as dozens of others on various forums on Amazon. We are subtly manipulated into expressing an opinion, not because we're happy but because we're not happy. And after posting our thoughts, we go back to that forum to see how others have reacted to it, making friends and enemies along the way.

But the bottom line is we keep on coming back to Amazon. Those king-pins are probably laughing their heads off at all the 'serious debate' we have on here, talking about conspiracies and trolls, reviewer ranking algorithms and so on, when the one and only thing they're goading us into doing is to keep coming back. Because you never know, we might actually buy something!

Despite my cynicism however, I keep on coming back. And I buy stuff. So I'm the sucker.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 16:54:59 GMT
Spot on Pundit. 110% correct.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 17:02:47 GMT
You're not a sucker, Pundit. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. Amazon get the traffic and we reviewers get to write more or less what we want and know it will be read by a large number of people, precisely because of Amazon's heavy traffic. Where else can amateur writers, dilletantes and time-wasters go and know their work can be potentially read by most of the population? Every move Amazon makes is for ultimately commercial reasons, and every reviewers writes for ego-satisfaction.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 17:37:14 GMT
Let us not also consider, that if Amazon only applauds product, the reputation Amazon will have as allowing fair and honest discussion of products will dip, and the punters will have no idea if what they are being is any good or a total rip off (see the innumerable releases of The Stooges and Sex Pistols back catalogue for a minefield where quality control and even correct song titles are an alien concept). Without this reputation, the click through of sales, where people trust the Amazon review brand and buy there because they can't be bothered to shop around, will fall. It is in Amazon's best interests to build a reliable community of trusted reviewers.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 17:46:49 GMT
Cartimand says:
I would like to get rid of the "snitch button" (i.e. the 0 out of 1 people think this post adds to the discussion). That is for the terminally lazy or those with insufficient intellect to contribute with a coherent argument of their own.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 18:59:41 GMT
Bluebell says:
I absolutely agree with NeuroSplicer that negative votes should be abolished. It's a very rare situation where a review is unhelpful as opposed to not helping. I think I've only once rated a review as unhelpful.

Posted on 11 Mar 2010 19:06:01 GMT
Picard says:
A good idea would be that rather than having 'Pos' or 'Neg' votes, to simply have a counter (like that of a web page that counts how many times it been visited) of how many times that particular Review has been 'Respected'.

Or alternatively, rather than having the reviews in full display, simply have a list of Review Titles. Then when you click on one, that counts as a 'Read' and you have the option to 'Respect'. This could create a ratio between the amount of times its been read and how many people found it helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 21:33:33 GMT
Mondoro says:
The proposal to eliminate negative voting entirely has the advantage of simplicity in that it would take away the main weapon used by spiteful or mindless people who exploit anonymity to pay off scores or simply engage in vandalism. It is really annoying when one has gone to the trouble of writing a considered review to see it abused in that way.

On the other hand, there are far too many very short/emotive/ill-spelled/abusive reviews that in turn show a lack of thought or simply spite on the part of the reviewer. There needs to be some sort of protection for the work reviewed.

So I am going to add my support to the suggestion made above that Amazon should require a negative voter to post a comment on why he/she finds the review 'unhelpful'. This will in turn give other people consulting the review in question and then investigating the comment left behind by the negative voter, the opportunity in turn to comment on the comment. If the negative comment is unhelpful, no doubt someone - maybe a lot of people - will say so.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2010 23:35:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Mar 2010 13:06:34 GMT
NeuroSplicer says:
There are sad people who are so unhappy and unsuccessful in life that they can only find meaning by trying to tear down what others accomplish. They know they will always be losers themselves so they try to drag everyone else down to their level.

Providing vandals with spay-paint cans is only encouraging them to keep vandalizing.
The negative vote, in whatever form or under any excuse, is providing them with that spray-paint.
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