If you think Amazon is bad, check out the Google Play app store. Customers rate a product at one star and say, "Add such-and-such a feature and you get five stars," or "It doesn't work" (which tells us only that the reviewer probably didn't bother figuring out how to use it), or "Used this app for three years but the latest update removed feature X." Few people rate a product at 2, 3, or 4 stars or offer useful advice to prospective downloaders. They just use the rating system as a weapon against the developers.
I think any attempt to downgrade unhelpful reviews would be counterproductive. I once wrote a careful critique of a very popular nonfiction paperback and within an hour my review had been marked "unhelpful" more than 20 times. Clearly the author had friends and sock puppets doing this, while marking favorable reviews helpful no matter how unhelpful they actually were. The gamesmanship goes on on both sides, and I don't see that there's much more Amazon can do about it.
Anyway, if we're going to talk about lies (and this is not directed against anyone on this thread), how about the biggest lie of all, perpetrated by thousands of Kindle authors: "I can write well enough to publish a book that's worth buying." If we're going to weed out bad reviewers, let's weed out the bad writers too.
No need to weed out authors who lack basic writing skills. The public will do that on their own. The main concern is that bad writing will give (and has given) self-publishing a bad name. It's frustrating because this is an easy problem to fix. Simply, have your manuscript proof-read by at least two unbiased individuals. Then, if your proofreaders haven't suggested keeping your day job, find a good editor and cover artist. If all independent writers would do these things, self-publishing will quickly gain credibility
Good thought jake6238, but the problem is that many are out to rip-off what they can get. Many more will claim they had two good editors look at it. Think about some of the editors today, and I use the term loosely.
The only way it could work is if Amazon provides these editors at a price and requires a pass before publishing.
It's a canard perpetrated around here that somehow all a writer needs to do is hire an editor and everything will be hunky-dory.
An editor's job is to work with the author to improve a work that has merit.
What the would-be author needs to do is take a course, read a few books about how to construct a story (and READ generally to soak up the language), and above all write a few hundred or thousand words for every word that is intended to be published.
Much if not most indie fiction being published on KDP simply has no value that can be increased by editing. The best advice that can be given is: learn to write.
Yes, I learned today that Amazon will not remove a review that contains blatantly false statements. Even when they could have looked at the section of the book that was referred to (right in the Amazon preview even!) to see that the review was entirely false and malicious.
Amazon considers blatant lies and verifiably false statements in a review to be "opinions" or "inaccuracies," as they have told me in their responses.
Even Apple is more understanding and cooperative than Amazon regarding suspicious and malicious reviews!
edit: In an interesting turn of events, I now received a review that made blatantly false statements about Amazon! (Claiming that Amazon customer service told them that Kindle books can not be read on an iPad.) Let's see if they will remove that review!
How, might I ask, would you have been "published" without Amazon?
While everyone would prefer a favorable to an unfavorable review, I never or almost never see a complaint about a negative review on Amazon - demented or deserved - from a writer with a history of books published by traditional publishers or those solely self-published here who have brought themselves up to a professional level.
But I see endless complaints, howls of outrage and indignation, and condemnation of Amazon from neophytes whose offerings, as often as not, are at best sub-literate.
Beyond that, anyone with a fragile ego or overly heightened sensibilities - regardless of ability - is ill-advised to try to work in an art, or for that matter even a craft. It will just them nuts and keep them in a near constant state of agitation.
"If we're going to weed out bad reviewers, let's weed out the bad writers too."
What makes you think bad writers aren't ever weeded out? Read the KDP content guidelines. Those writers who don't comply are in danger of being weeded out as soon as a KDP employee discovers a violation.
I do, however, appreciate your point about sockpuppets downrating a review no matter how well it is written. That happened to one of my reviews as well. I put a lot of time and effort into it. I have gotten to the point where I don't write reviews free of charge anymore, nor do I take reviews seriously. Too many games, too much fraud. I just read the product description and the free sample, then make up my own mind whether a book is good or bad. Another option is to ask a trusted friend who has read a book I am considering.
"I never or almost never see a complaint about a negative review on Amazon - demented or deserved - from a writer with a history of books published by traditional publishers or those solely self-published here who have brought themselves up to a professional level.
But I see endless complaints, howls of outrage and indignation, and condemnation of Amazon from neophytes whose offerings, as often as not, are at best sub-literate."
How do you determine which complainant is a neophyte and which isn't, given the fact that most people here have usernames that hide their true identities? Quite a talent you have there! LOL! .
Jack London's books get bad reviews, but he is dead, so naturally he can't complain. lol. I think the best tool any artist or writer can have is a thick skin. Easier said than done--even for the rich and famous.
"How do you determine which complainant is a neophyte and which isn't, given the fact that most people here have usernames that hide their true identities? Quite a talent you have there! LOL!."
I wouldn't claim infallibility on this. On the other hand, it really isn't that hard. Not if you've been writing for a living all your life, and know and have known a fair number of your peers along the way - mostly novelists, though not exclusively.
[i]"While everyone would prefer a favorable to an unfavorable review, I never or almost never see a complaint about a negative review on Amazon - demented or deserved - from a writer with a history of books published by traditional publishers or those solely self-published here who have brought themselves up to a professional level.
But I see endless complaints, howls of outrage and indignation, and condemnation of Amazon from neophytes whose offerings, as often as not, are at best sub-literate."[/i]
Well, this just isn't the case with my "complaint." I was not speaking of an unfavorable review, I was speaking about blatantly false and malicious statements made in a review. These bogus reviews, whether you are an accomplished writer or sub-literate like the rest of us neophytes here, can be unfairly damaging.
I have received critical reviews, and while upsetting, in the end they have helped me to improve my work. But what I was speaking about, what I have recently learned is that you can simply say whatever the heck you want in a review, whether or not it its true or even pertains to the book, and Amazon does not care. You can write a negative review of an entirely different book, and it will stay. You can claim that "all the characters in the book speak the entire time in untranslated Swahili and thus it is unreadable," and even though this is absurdly false, Amazon will not take down the review. They will call it an "inaccuracy" that is the reviewer's responsibility to fix, or an "opinion."
If you wish to call your book neophytic and sub-literate, that's okay with me (though it doesn't seem to be that at all, and were I you I wouldn't), but please don't imply, even indirectly, that I did.
Now, as to the "review" itself, this is what you're fretful about (see jpeg)?
You have thirty-one 5-star reviews for this book and four 4-star reviews, most of them lengthy, detailed, and highly praising. And you get a single obviously and patently unwarranted 1-star review complaining that the book isn't available for iPad, a review that is two sentences long, a one-star rating that is easily recognizable by anyone of even minimal intelligence as ridiculous and irrelevant, that does you no demonstrable harm whatsoever, that in fact may even offer a helpful and refreshing balance in possibly making all your many praising reviews seem more credible (even if only subconsciously), and you get yourself all in an uproar over it?
This "review" is at best a little helpful to you, and at worst irrelevant, friend.
Really. Calm down. It, and Amazon's response to your request to have it removed, if you did in fact ask and they did in fact decline (not surprising) and using the the language you quote (not surprising or for that matter particularly distressing either), doesn't rank very high on the list of Terrible Things in the world.
A reviewer gave the paperback version of one of my own books on Amazon, offered by a legacy publisher, a 1-star review on the basis of her finding the print too small to read. It wasn't, and isn't. It was, and is, a standard font size in a standard-sized paperback.
I wish you you every happiness and success with your work.