Wondering Wall: Downgrading Reviews

October 1, 2013 Wondering Wall 6 Comments

Wondering Wall: Downgrading Reviews

I haven’t done a Wondering Wall for a while but there is something that had me wondering today as I browsed through Amazon. If you’ve been on Amazon, you would note that there is a little yes/no section at the bottom of each review which asks ‘was this review helpful to you?’ Goodreads has something similar but they only have the option to ‘like’ or ‘flag’ if the post is inappropriate. The person ‘liking’ a review is identified whereas in the Amazon system they remain anonymous. I’ve never downgraded a review but I’m curious about what makes people do it. Here are some possible reasons…

1.  The review was at odds with their personal opinion. Rather than accepting that someone might not like the book they adored or vice versa, the button pusher wants to devalue the reviewer’s stance. On the plus side though, if someone is going to such lengths, it suggests that they are really passionate about that book/series.

2.  The review contained factual errors or had spelling/grammar problems that impeded understanding. I don’t like it when the reviewer gets the names of the protagonists wrong or there are simple plot inaccuracies. It makes me wonder if the person has actually read the book or if they did so, it was a while ago they can’t actually remember it properly.

3.  The button pusher is friends with or related to the author and only wants to see positive reviews of the book online. Funnily enough, when I read reviews, I often go to the lowest rated ones first and see exactly what issue/s they had with the book. If the biggest ones they can come up with are minor in my eyes, then I’ll happily buy the book. I’m also a bit cynical so I’m far more likely to buy a book that has a range of reviews rather than one that only has 5 star ratings.

Are there any other reasons? Do you downgrade reviews and if so, why?

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6 responses to “Wondering Wall: Downgrading Reviews

  1. I would never downgrade a review but I have to wonder why that functionality is there. I understand the flag (you can’t or shouldn’t have them censored)because sometimes the review has nothing to do with the book/product at all and is instead a personal attack. However the No functionality is more personal opinion in my book and shouldn’t really be allowed. Try giving someone with a street team a 3 star review (fair or not) and their team will thumbs down it. I don’t really care but it seems unfair to the general reader.
    Felicia The Geeky Blogger recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: Fierce by Sabrina YorkMy Profile

    • Good point. Some of the street teams can be a tad…rabid. It’s almost as if pack mentality takes over at times. There isn’t actually anything wrong with 3 stars and Amazon is already weighted towards positive reviews with an okay being 3 stars when it is a 2 on Goodreads. There is the same problem with video games where some of the top review sites give nothing under a 4.

  2. I’ve downgraded reviews for reason number 2. Or if it seemed like the reviewer had something wierd against the author/genre that was influencing their review negatively, ie: “I don’t like zombie novels” “I don’t like YA romances” and I think “Oh, well, then why did you read it.” It seems like they are going out of their way to find something not to like. Which is fine,hate read all you want, but: no that review is not helpful to me.

    • I know what you mean. I’ve read a couple where the reviewer states up front that they hate the genre and then go on to bag the book. Why read it if you know what you are getting into?

  3. I think the whole “like” system on Amazon is silly. Because I see on blogs all the time people fishing for “likes” on their books or reviews which I think is ridiculous and dishonest. I get that Amazon is trying to determine if the review was helpful or not – they use that helpful yes/no system to determine what reviewers to pick to send ARCs to for their Vine program. It’s just not a good way to do things. I have never downvoted a review but I have liked the ones I felt were well written – but then not very often. I usually just read/skim them and move along.
    Tabitha the Pabkins recently posted…Review: Charming by Elliott JamesMy Profile

    • The Vine program is a whole nother kettle of fish. I think it is wonderful to reward great reviewers but I would really like a bit more transparency around why people get picked and what companies do to get their goods featured.

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