Especially authors like me.
This Forbes Magazine article, by David Vinjamuri, expresses my concerns about the problem of sock puppet reviews – DO CONSUMER REVIEWS HAVE A FUTURE? WHY AMAZON’S SOCK PUPPET SCANDAL IS BIGGER THAN IT APPEARS.
Several days ago, I read Joe Konrath’s article and code of ethics regarding phony reviews wherein he stated- and I paraphrase- I wouldn’t do it, but it ain’t all that bad. I admire Mr. Konrath and I respect his personal code of ethics, but I was disappointed. I agree with Mr. Vinjamuri, this is moral relativism– I wouldn’t do it, but well, you do what you gotta do. Mr. Konrath says since there is no way to effectively police the system we must, as consumers, accept varying degrees of dishonesty. In other words, there is dishonesty and there is dishonesty.
He does have a point, but let me ask you this… When my husband prevaricates regarding a certain pair of jeans and my butt, is this the same as deliberately attempting to fool the public in order to make money and/or stick it to one’s competition?
While I believe a lie is acceptable on certain occasions– like, say, when your life is threatened or as in the above case involving jeans and my butt– if a certain percentage of book reviews are sock puppet reviews, by definition that makes every review suspect and therefore, worthless.
Here’s an obvious understatement for you- Fraudulent reviews distort the original intent of review sites. Duh.
It’s easy as pie to create sock puppet identities in order to scam consumers. At its least offensive this practice is misleading and annoying, at worst it’s flat out fraud.
Mr. Vinjamuri points out in his article that David Wagner, writing for the Atlantic Wire, intimates (perhaps with tongue in cheek) it’s easy to spot the fakes. I beg to differ. I’m really smart (I sound like Homer Simpson – “I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!”) and while I discount what I call rah-rah yay-yay reviews as well as spiteful, vitriolic reviews, I doubt I could identify your run of the mill phony review.
Frankly, the practice of using sock puppets to write fraudulent reviews pisses the hell out of me.
As a consumer I want to read honest reviews.
As an author, no matter how hard it is to sit on my hands, my job is to tell the story, write the best book I can, put it out there and let the chips fall where they may. I know damn well the decision has cost me in terms of sales. Even knowing that, I will still do the right thing.
No sock puppets here.