Thursday, March 02, 2006

Something's up (down?) at Amazon?

I notice this morning that the highly critical "Cindy Brock" review of Love Smart has now been "genericized," meaning that it's simply from "A reader." And, Amazon has finally seen fit to post my review of Wayne Dyer's book--but also under the heading, "A reader." In fact, as of this morning, all of the reviews of Dyer's book, as well as most (but not quite all) of the more recent reviews of every other book I checked, bear that same nonspecific attribution; this includes the infamous "Marilyn A. Barry" review. I wonder what criteria Amazon is using in deciding whether or not to run a review by name. I also wonder--at the risk of leaving myself open to charges of vastly inflating my own place in the universe--if at least some of what we've tried to do here at SHAMblog has played a supporting role* in Amazon's decision making.

One likes to think this augurs the beginning of a wider campaign to ensure credibility and authenticity in the presentation of reader reviews. Perhaps from now on they'll use a name only when they're certain that the writer of the review is, indeed, the one-and-only writer of the review. (Of course, that doesn't explain why they spiked my name from my review of Dyer's book. Lord knows they should be sure of who Steve Salerno is by now!) Still--absent such controls on Amazon's part--this isn't necessarily good news for those of us who value fairness and openness. Removing name attributions makes it that much harder to keep track of these things. For instance, if the "Barry" review had been doing its little number all these months under the bland designation "A reader," would we have picked up on it as readily? Doubtful. One could argue that this just makes it easier for people with subterfuge in mind. We shall see, I guess, as things evolve.

* gratuitous Oscar-inspired reference.

UPDATE, afternoon, March 2. And now, no sooner do I get this post up than Amazon starts restoring the names--randomly, here and there across the review spectrum, seemingly without rhyme or reason. (Among the "name" reviews is the one I wrote for Dyer's book.) Wish I knew what was really going on here. If I thought there was the slightest chance they'd answer me, I'd ask...

1 comment:

acd said...

However, they just took down Barbara Rose's name from her spotlight review of Love Smart. I'm trying to look for a trend here. Is it only the "Real Name" reviewers that have had their names removed so far?