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Sunday, August 29, 2004

What do you think could be the motivation behind this? A reader notes this change in policy at Amazon for the review policies for Unfit for Command.
Important note from Amazon.com: We've decided to suspend our normal customer review policies and rules for this title. For example, we usually prohibit ad hominem attacks. That policy in particular seems to be incompatible with presidential election year politics. Therefore, short of obscenities, reviews on this book are now a free-for-all. We take no responsibility for the following discussion. Aren't presidential election years great? Have fun!
Do you think that Amazon is out to encourage attacks on the Swifties or on Kerry?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suspect they just didn't want to deal with the extra work of monitoring the review forum.

Anonymous said...

I just looked. They've got over 1200 reviews. It's like FreeRepublic meets DU in a death match. Who can blame them for wanting to wash their hands of moderating civility into that mess.

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Oh please. Let's look at the timing (start of Republican Convention) of deciding to let it be a "free for all". Sorta in keeping with the "thou doest protest too much" bunch in NYC.
If Amazon takes this position, they should well expand this new policy to include all reviews on all books....or do away with them altogether.

richard mcenroe said...

I'm a Bush voter, and one of the most productive things I can think of to do for my candidate is give everyone who'll take it the link to DU. If the trolls are coming out into the daylight from under their ban-happy bridge on their own lookout, so much the better...

Anonymous said...

Look at the "usefulness" ratings of the reviews. I looked at 10 or 20.

Reviewers who panned the book with only one or two stars averaged "useful" ratings of about 25-35%. Reviewers who raved with four or five stars got "useful" ratings averaging about 50-60%.

The pans tended to be vague and ad hominem, saying things like "repugs" for Republicans. The raves for "Unfit for Command" were more reasoned and factual.

Anonymous said...

I've been following the review section for this book since it was first released. In the first couple of days there were 9 reviews, then all of the one star reviews were deleted. Finally all of the reviews were deleted. This happened again with the next batch of reviews. Amazon must have been deleting the ones that received complaints. I can understand Amazon throwing up their hands finally and deciding to leave all reviews up except those with profanity.

Anonymous said...

The average review is three stars. Want to bet that virtually every review is either five stars or one star, depending on affiliation? With roughly equal numbers of anti-Kerry and pro-Kerry reviewers?

Pixy Misa said...

When I first checked out that page at Amazon, there were five reviews, all panning the book, and all with a favourable rating of around 10%.

A day later all five were gone.

I think Amazon just got sick of deleting leftist slurs.

Matt said...

I have to agree with the first commenter here. I don't think that Amazon has some shady ulterior motive, or that they want to give tacit support to one side or the other. They probably simply observed that the reviews on this particular title are turning into a cage match, and figured that A) there was probably no hope of getting any genuinely useful reviews now that this book has become a bitterly contentious political issue, B) that as a merchant that prides itself on the breadth of free speech they offer, they didn't want to be seen as censoring anyone's viewpoints, and C) they simply don't have anyone with the time, inclination or sanity to even begin to sort it all out. If I was asked to police an unholy meeting of Free Republic and Democratic Underground, I'd probably begin to envy the dead within minutes.

Anonymous said...

From Tom Holsinger:

IMO Amazon just doesn't want to bother. They had the same problem with Michelle Malkin's recent book. I complained about the reviews which had nothing to do with the book, which together with many other complaints got most of the ones at the time pulled.

But Amazon really doesn't have a choice. They can either disable comments entirely for a particular product which engenders flames, or let anything goes, or assign someone more or less full-time to censor this particular book. The latter would eat their profit margin.

I think they should just disable comments on products which inspire flamewars just for bandwidth reasons, but it's their money.

Just Dan said...

Not so fast. Actually, I hear Amazon is planning to raise the bar for "Unfit for Command" reviews. Effective tomorrow all reviews will need to be signed by former Naval Secretary Lehman to insure thier integrity. ; ))

tony said...

it's the number one best selling book. people are buying it *because* of the controversy around it, obviously ignoring the fact that one of the co-authors is a racist, one of of vets backed kerry in '96 (and is now saying that he's no good), etc etc.

the best way to continue to sell this book is to allow the "reviews" to keep flooding in.

dont be so paranoid.

Anonymous said...

Amazon only has to do ONE THING in order to make this process much more legit: allow reviews only from Amazon customers who've purchased the book. Sure, it keeps out some folks who may have checked it out from the library or bought it from a B&N store, but it also keeps out all the ABB loonies and forces reviewers to put their money where their mouths are.

Anonymous said...

Burroughs was at a meeting similar to the one you describe. - M. Simon

The Parties of Interzone Islam Inc.

A rout of Mullahs and Muftis and Musseins and Caids and Glaouis and Sheiks and Sultans and Holy Men and representatives of every conceivable Arab party make up the rank and file and attend the actual meetings from which the higher ups prudently abstain. Though the delegates are carefully searched at the door, these gatherings invariably culminate in riots. Speakers are often doused with gasoline and burned to death, or some uncouth desert Sheik opens up on his opponents with a machine gun he had concealed in the belly of a pet sheep. Nationalist martyrs with grenades up the ass mingle with the assembled conferents and suddenly ex- plode, occasioning heavy casualties.... And there was the occasion when President Ra threw the British Prime Minister to the ground and forcibly sodomized him, the spectacle being televised to the entire Arab World. Wild yipes of joy were heard in Stockholm. Interzone has an ordinance forbidding a meeting of Islam Inc. within five miles of the city limits.

jaed said...

I just looked. They've got over 1200 reviews. It's like FreeRepublic meets DU in a death match. Who can blame them for wanting to wash their hands of moderating civility into that mess.Maybe. However:

1) The policy went up some days ago. At the time there were 7 reviews up. Seven reviews (or even, say, 20, per comments on disappearing reviews) is not too many to police.

2) Amazon carries quite a few political volatile books. Many of them have hundreds of vociferous (to put it politely), highly polarized reviews. (Take a look at the reviews of Richard Clarke's book, the bios of both Clintons, "Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man", and similar titles on both "sides".) To the best of my knowledge, Amazon has not applied any similar exemption to any of them. I didn't find any with 1200 reviews but most of them have over 500.

3) A couple of weeks ago, Amazon placed the McCain quote about the Swift Boat Vets being "dishonest and dishonorable" on the book's page, as an EDITORIAL REVIEW. Amazon does not come into this with clean hands.

RJGatorEsq said...

Three points.

First, any publicity the book gets will only help its sales. The smartest thing the libs could have done was to ignore it. Oh well, the libs rarely miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Second, few if any people are looking at Amazon's reviews to decide whether to buy the book. They're either going to Amazon to buy it, or they are not going to buy it period. So, I don't expect the reviews to influence many people. I.e., few people are going to say, "Well, if it had FOUR stars I would have bought it, but it only has three, so I'll buy Danielle Steele instead...."

Third, a lot of comments on there sound like they are straight out of DU. I send all my swing-vote friends to DU, with the question, "Are these the sorts of people you want to be associated with? That you want picking the President?" Trust me: the more people that see these nuts, the better for GWB.

Octavian Shaw said...

I've long thought that Democratic Underground and Michael Moore are two of the best things to happen for conservatives.

Anonymous said...

I've often thought that FreeRepublic and GWB are two of the best things to happen for liberals, no doubt for the same reason.