The world of online reviews as it pertains to literature just got a little more unclear. To be honest, open-ended reviews from anonymous masses has always been dodgy. Hotels have long since spiked their own ratings, and many authors have recently started to do more than just simple outreach in order to solicit positive reviews for their work. For the longest while, places like Amazon have mostly rested while letting the flood of complaints from both sides go unnoticed. But no more. A new report is suggesting that Amazon is attempting to delete reviews that it believes are faked -- positive ones, anyway. The company isn't commenting on the process itself, but it's opening up a whole new can of worms.
You see, an online review at Amazon has two sides. For some authors, fans can play up a book. For some authors, haters can destroy a book's chances at success with awful and unwarranted reviews. But it appears that Amazon is only attacking the former side. So, what about the negative reviews? What about reviews given to a book by bitter rivals or sour followers? What happens when a book receives a negative review that's unwarranted? Only addressing one side of the equation seems like a mistake right from the start.
In the end, it's unlikely that any of Amazon's efforts will truly free online reviews from disease. It's a flawed system to just let any human with an e-mail address leave a mark on a product that took months or years to produce, with no checks or balances whatsoever. We honestly wish Amazon would take their efforts to the next level and force reviewers to prove that they've at least purchased the item before leaving potentially damaging remarks.