Amazon Reviewer Reliability

Over the weekend I finished the book I was reading and was looking around for something new to start. I have a copy I am Charlotte Simmons and as I liked Tom Wolfe's other two novels (The Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full), I thought I'd give his "latest" one a try.

So I went to Amazon to see how it reviewed. 3 and 1/2 stars after 598 customer reviewers. What was disappointing was that the top review only gave it one star. 361 of 596 people "found the review helpful", which I usually take to mean that they agreed with the reviewer.

When this sort of negative review happens for an author I like, I usually then go and look through the other reviews by that reviewer to see how they have reacted to something I've already read. I came across a review from Laurel962 for A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, and a book that I loved. This is a book that has 4 and 1/2 stars after 207 reviews. Again she gave it 1 star. 8 out of 38 people found it helpful. From reading the review, and I'm not convinced she got past the cover. Lines like:

"Obviously the many positive reviews here (which mostly sound as if written by one person, using different psuedonyms, and undoubtedly in the employ of Ms. Bujold's publicist ..."

make me sincerely doubt the reliability of anything she's reviewed.

At this point I decided to total up the number of stars that she gave for all of her reviews. There are 115 of them:

   5 stars - 6 books
   4 stars - 6 books
   3 stars - 6 books
   2 stars - 41 books
   1 stars - 56 books

Wow! 97 of 115 books have rated 1 or 2 stars according to Laurel962. Somebody should recommend something good for her, although I suspect she'd even give that a negative review. What's disturbing is that her helpfulness is rated at 50% (1,955 of 3,970 votes), which I personally think is rather inflated, and yet this isn't obvious to anyone reading her reviews unless you dig into it.

What I'd like to see is Amazon actually put the reviewers helpfulness percentage beside their reviews so it's clear how useful other people find this reviewer. Maybe even the total number of reviews they've done as well. These are probably simple things to do.

How about it Amazon?

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