Thursday, January 19, 2012

Responsible Reviewing, Part 2

What I'm reading: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford (book club); Contest entry #1 of 8.

After the discussion in the comments on Monday's post about reviews, I decided to carry it one step further. Since there does seem to be a lot of abuse of the review system, I went to both the Barnes & Noble and Amazon sites to see what they said about leaving reviews.

Barnes & Noble (where there's still a lengthy discussion of sick cats on my Danger in Deer Ridge page) does seem to be trying to guide reviewers as to what's appropriate. This is from their site:

What to include in your review:

Please focus on the title's content. Your review will be most helpful to others if you include the reasons why you either liked or disliked the title. Hold your readers' full attention by limiting your review to 500 words or less.

What to exclude from your review:
Don't ruin the ending for others, and please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the title page. If you see any errors in the information on the title page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:
HTML tags
Profanity, obscenities, or vulgarities
Comments that defame anyone
Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
Comments focusing on the author
Comments that may ruin the ending for others
Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Then, if you want to flag a review as inappropriate, you'll get the following choices to click:

Inappropriate or abusive language
Off-topic content
Spam, private or commercial solicitation
Suspected underage user
Terms of Use Violation
Suspected copyright infringement

But what happens when you flag a review? Who knows? I flagged the ones on my book, and as of yesterday, they're still there. 

Amazon, on the other hand, is much less detailed. There's a button by the reviews that says: Report this content as inappropriate on the site

Clicking it will take you to the following message:
If you find this content inappropriate and think it should be removed from the site, let us know by clicking the button below. This information will be sent to and we will take appropriate action.

What their idea of "appropriate action" is, and how long it takes to get it implemented is another question entirely. Nor do they say who "we" is. (are?)

Tomorrow, we're going biking with Nicole.

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Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I've heard of Amazon taking down reviews before (hasn't happened to me, personally, but I've heard through some of the loops I'm on.) If I'm remembering correctly, the reviews were wayyy over the top--like personal attacks on the author and that kind of thing.

Kellie Kamryn said...

If I didn't care for a book, I just don't review it. If I really like it, I'll try to let the world know that I think they should check it out. I'm not a reviewer so I never know what to say sometimes, so I always keep it short.

Terry Odell said...

I've heard that as well--I don't know what it takes to get something removed. You'd think a discussion of sick cats would be deleted! If I ran the zoo, I'd want reviews to be about the book. Not how long it took to arrive, or anything else not related to the actual content of the book. But I'm not the one in charge. :-)

Terry Odell said...

Kellie - I've been known to simply put star ratings on Goodreads without explanation. If I'm going to give a book 1 or 2 stars, though, I explain why. But, as an author, I prefer not to give reviews--too many cans of worms to deal with.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Reviews are very important to writers. Hopefully, when readers decide to post they will do so in a responsible manner.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

This is good information on reviews, Terry. Thanks for bringing it up.

jenny milchman said...

Interesting that the two sites have such a different approach. Thanks, Terry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an interesting post. I was a little surprised - I had a full review on Amazon, but on Barnes and Noble I got just the stars (All 5 of them, so I'm not complaining, mind you) but I always wondered why someone would do that without posting anything. Thanks for the understanding.

I haven't reviewed - I can barely handle a day job and writing... It's great that you do.

Bob Sanchez said...

Good post. A review should never focus on the author, but on the book itself.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, all for your comments. Given that just about anyone can post a "review", there's bound to be a lot of misunderstanding and misuse of the system. One only hope potential buyers know what to look for.

Karen C said...

Thanks for the information and good discussion - points to ponder!

Sandy Nathan said...

I do a few reviews, but only if I really like a book. I don't like judging people or their books. I find the emphasis on reviews and other forms of judgment in our society, where stars and ratings and numbers of reviews and all the rest matter so much, bothers me a great deal. So I review books I really like, and that's it. Even so, people see that I have reviews on my site and ask me to review their books. I posted an article on my blog giving my review policies, The article is linked to a bunch of sites that DO give reviews. Didn't help at all to post my policy: I still get people asking me to review their books. Sorry. I write, not review. Thanks for the thought provoking posts, Terry!