Monday, December 31, 2012

Amazon bans authors reviewing other authors on its site

In the past couple of years there have been several instances of authors posting glowing reviews of their own books on Amazon under fake names to promote themselves. This has been dubbed "sock puppeting" and after several complaints from other authors and the public Amazon has decided to crack down on it by banning authors from reviewing other authors who write the same genre as they do. Authors can still review books as long as they are not in the same genre they write in and - this is what really makes me mad - are positive and fit Amazon's guidelines.

So even if you hate a book if you want to review it you will have to put more stars then you think it deserves. How is this fair and honest? How is this a good thing? Amazon is treating all the authors of the world like they are children. "Now now," said Amazon. "Can we play nice, please, children? Anyone who says something nasty will have to go to their room!"

It seems that the humble review has become a bit of a weapon. Now anything below five stars is viewed as "trolling" and the reviewer can be targeted to an online hate campaign for attacking an author and trying to damage their career all with a simple honest review. Amazon thinks if an author reviews another author who writes in their genre that should be considered a "conflict of interest" and that they cannot be impartial about their views.

Oh please. Can NO ONE handle honest criticism anymore? Do we all have to hold hands as authors and constantly pat each other on the back and say "Good job!" and pretend to be friends? Is it so wrong to be honest and to point out each others flaws? Do we really want to live in a world where negative reviews are not allowed? Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Shouldn't we be able to say "I didn't like that book and here are the reasons why..." without being thrown off a site or bullied on facebook and youtube?

On the other side of the coin is authors who really are using reviews as weapons. I'm talking about people who have not read a book but target other authors because they might see them as competition or they might have posted a negative review of their ow work and want revenge. This is childish behavior and should be stopped. But forcing all authors to post "only positive" reviews is not that answer. Do not stifle the free speech of everyone because a couple of big babies don't know how to act like mature adults on the internet.

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