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Book Reviews: Honesty is best

review

When reading book reviews you expect a level of honesty and thoughtfulness from the reviewer not only for the potential reader, but for the author too. Lately, it has come up in various posts and sites that there is a push to ban negative reviews or to at least have some standards put in place to control what can and can’t go into a review.

To begin with, negative reviews have their place. Banning negative reviews should not be an option. Negative reviews help a book find the target audience it was intended for. It provides balance to positive reviews and as anyone who reads both good and bad reviews it allows you to make a more informed decision about the book.

You can’t please everyone, and every reader and writer knows this. So negative reviews should stay. It’s how these negative reviews are written that is the issue. There are some reviewers who aim their opinions at the author, making their review not on a product but on an individual. It becomes less objective and more personal. It’s awful to read and disheartening to think people can be so petty. This type of review should be banned from sites such as Goodreads and Amazon.

Another disappointing and utterly pointless review occurs when a reviewer states they haven’t bothered to finish the book. Why would you want to listen to the opinions of someone who wouldn’t even finish the book. It’s something that should be stricken from the same sites and people who don’t bother to finish the book shouldn’t review it to begin with. Only the opinions of someone who took the time to read the book should be allowed voice their review.

There comes an inevitable argument about the sheer volume of reviews these sites contain, and these are only two of many out there. Moderating these reviews would be a colossal feat with no easy answer but hopefully it is a problem that will gain more attention the more people discuss it.

So what do you think? Do you think reviews should be moderated by third party sites or should reviewers have the freedom to say whatever they want?

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  1. #1 by sandradan1 on May 1, 2014 - 12:08 am

    Oh dear. Not everyone likes everything, it would be a boring world otherwise! Writers: accept negative reviews with grace and move on. Reviewers: learn how to review and give feedback profressionaly. SD

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  2. #2 by Jacqui Murray on May 1, 2014 - 1:58 am

    ‘Honest’ and ‘truth’ is a moving target rather than a fixed point. ‘Truth’ through whose lens? That sort of uncertainty often informs my reviews and pushes me toward tolerance, open-mindedness about good and bad.

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  3. #3 by Ellie K on May 2, 2014 - 9:44 am

    If negative reviews were to be banned, online review sites and forums would lose all value. The search for authenticity is more of a challenge every day! I do believe that standards should be put in place to filter out gratuitously extreme or irrelevant review content, e.g. obscenities lobbed at the author, all caps discouraged. That is standard practice now, isn’t it?
    Now I’ll risk non-compliance by going off-topic to inquire, “HOW did you get so many followers so quickly, in two months?” Wow! I have four years of (not-so-consistent) WordPress blogging, and at a fraction of your count. I am truly impressed. Keep up the good work!

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    • #4 by David J Delaney on May 3, 2014 - 1:41 am

      I agree there should be a balance but the recommended standards for reviews don’t seem to be enforced unfortunately.

      In regards to the blog, I try to engage as much as I can with other bloggers. I sometimes spend a lot of time reading and commenting around the place but I’m working on time management skills (o:

      Thanks for reading though.

      Like

  4. #5 by suecoletta on May 6, 2014 - 10:29 pm

    To a point. I just read an article today about “trolls.” Apparently trolls are people who troll the review sites and post negative reviews, even though they haven’t read the book, just to be cruel and to give the book a lower starred rating. I think that’s disgusting. Mean people with nothing better to do than bashed someone’s hard work. Those should be banned without doubt! Have you ever heard of trolls before? It shocked me, but unfortunately I can’t remember what blog I read it on.

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    • #6 by David J Delaney on May 7, 2014 - 10:34 pm

      Yeah Trolls are a really crappy aspect of online communication. They’ve ruined lives with bullying resulting in suicide. Unfortunately the evil’s of society upgrade who they bully people in line with technological advances. Anonymity is their best friend but hopefully this will change as time goes on.

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  5. #7 by Hubert Williams on November 29, 2014 - 2:56 am

    When I was growing up in Oklahoma there was a weatherman, not just sometimes, always gave the wrong forecast.
    My dad relied on the man’s inaccuracy and always new what to expect. If the weatherman said sunshine, my dad took a raincoat.
    Negative reviews from some reviewers can have the same effect on readers. Some readers will read a book simply because the reviewer had been wrong on a book the reader had previously liked. “Everybody to their own thing”, said the woman as she kissed the cow.

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  6. #8 by ptslug on November 29, 2014 - 4:13 am

    I think the best answer to trolls is a rating system. Slashdot, a techy site has the best system for that I’ve seen, though Amazon’s works well.

    As to finishing a book, that is a tricky situation. Some books are simply awful. I’ve tried to read some self-published books that read like first drafts, badly in need of both content and copy editing (sometimes concept revisions, too). 50 pages into one of those is a trudge, finishing one sheer torture. Before I quit accepting fiction in my Amazon Vine queue I got exposed to a couple of those. Finishing such books only torments the reader.

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