Chime In Topic #7: Helpful vs. Unhelpful Reviews, Are You Biased?
Chime In is our discussion segment here at M/G/W where we discuss anything from books, to writing, and blogging. As readers, writers and bloggers, sometimes a girl just needs to vent – on or off topic, so this is our outlet to discuss whatever shenanigans are flowing through our minds. Pet peeves, book boyfriends, the never-ending awesomeness that is social media, you name it, and we’ll discuss it. With happy smiles or evil grins and give you the readers, a chance to dish it back at us in the comments. And if you’ve missed anything you can catch up on all the awesome right HERE.
Reviewing books is an awesome experience. For me, what started out as an outlet for my nerdiness, changed to an absolute honor when I received my first official “review request” from an author. Who knew anyone would actually listen to what I said or value both my straightforward and sometimes overzealous opinions. Heck, half the time I wasn’t even sure I made sense. Though somewhere along the way, I came into my own, found my niche and made (what I think will be) many lasting friendships. However, over the course of my two-year blogging/reviewing experience (yes it’s been THAT long!), I have noticed one thing in particular that really, really drives me nuts about reviewing…Amazon.
Recently my associate reviewer Heather and I, joint reviewed a particular novel (which I will not name because I loved said book) on both Goodreads and Amazon – a novel that just so happened to be the last book in the series AND had very negative reviews. Now, I’m not one to judge a book before I’ve read it. Moreover, I do not troll the internet seeking out positive or negative reviews to form an opinion on something that I haven’t experienced for myself. Therefore, I was pleasantly flabbergasted – or should I say SHOCKED – to see that numerous people did in fact, troll every positive review of this particular book and vote against them.
Which brings me to the point of this topic….what constitutes a review as Helpful and Not Helpful?
Now, I get that sometimes a positive review is not helpful, same with a negative. I have seen some terrible reviews written by people who have obviously either not purchased the product or who are writing a review/giving a star rating based on the name of the product (in this case books). On Goodreads, its common to see a book with a 5 star rating a year before the book comes out simply because the fans of the author are just excited. On the other side of that fence, books are given a 1 or 2 star if fans of the author or series didn’t like the last book and think the next one will be just as dreadful. Is this helpful to me? Clearly not. So why is it that some people feel the need to rate something that have yet to see?
Regardless of the fact if my review is positive OR negative, I try to give several reasons why a certain book is an instant hit or a sideways miss with me in order to be helpful to other people when/if they decide to purchase the product. For me, a helpful review is one that backs up their statements with facts (information from the books) that point out why, “this makes my heart melt” or “OMG scenes like this make the book cringe worthy”. If my review was unhelpful to you, is it because you are biased, or because my review is simply unhelpful?
In regards to Amazon or any other outlet where people can state their opinions on purchases, reviews are in place to help people make informed decisions. Essentially, to say “reasons A, B, and C are why this product may or may not appeal to you” and you are forewarned. What I think is unhelpful, are people who – for some reason or another – feel the need push reviews positive/negative out of the way because they simply don’t coincide with their beliefs. I’m not upset if you dislike my review. Heck, I love a good debate so I always enjoy when someone leaves feedback and we can discuss our differences. However, I don’t think it’s good practice for us as bloggers/reviewers or anyone for that matter to unfairly judge a book or a review simply because it’s does not match your thoughts. I shouldn’t be surprised this happens after the little incident with an author and their legion who did the same thing. It is the internet after all, and people can tend to act out of pure emotion when clicking the little “yes – no” button.
So really, are you being helpful or are you just a troll?
Chime In Readers: What helps you decide if a review is helpful/unhelpful? Do you think the review system as-is works as intended? How do you feel about people rating books on Goodreads without having read the books?