On Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at 1:13:29 PM UTC-4, D B Davis wrote:
> James Nicoll <***@panix.com> wrote:
> > In article <email@example.com>,
> > Joe Morris <***@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>Not so long ago, Ted Nolan <tednolan> wrote:
> >>> My working theory is that "discussion" about books has moved to other
> >>> fora. I guess it's also possible that people have feedback-fatigue from
> >>> every site you interact with on the Internet wanting "just ten minutes
> >>> to fill out our feedback survey!" or rate the interaction.
> >>The places I usually read/post comments are
> >>* LibraryThing
> >>* GoodReads
> >>But I always assumed Amazon had the *most* reviews. Regardless of
> >>the actual quality, I thought they had quantity, even if the
> >>quantity is made up of "Book arrived quickly and undamaged"
> > Not to mention:
> > Five stars: best book I ever read! signed Sue Dough Nym
> > Five stars: best book I ever read! signed A Reader for whom this is the only review
> > Five stars: best book I ever read! signed the author who forgot to use a different name
> > zero stars: I enjoyed the story and will buy the next one but 1.99 is too
> > high a price for an ebook, so I am downrating the novel accordingly.
> You mention one of the rare cases where a negative review is useless.
"Zero stars: The book arrived a week late and the dust jacket was torn."
> Other than the rare bird who squawks about prices, negative commentary
> provides me with the best intelligence about the unknown.
> Humans love to criticize. It may start during the "terrible twos"
> when toddlers fall in love with the word "no." People prone to stretch
> the truth in other areas tend to become brutally honest with their
> criticism. Anonymity helps people to not hold back and tell the world
> what they really think.
> "One man's poison is another mans desert." To find something worthy,
> just look for criticism of your desert. If Ayn Rand's your desert look
> for the one star that says something along the lines of, "This crap sack
> story makes _Atlas Shrugged_ look like a utopia. I hate Ayn Rand. People
> who like her are total a**holes. "
I mostly ignore reader reviews for fiction. De gustibus and all that, some random reader's response to the book is unlikely to correlate strongly with mine.
Non-fiction is a different matter. There, some small fraction of reader reviews are useful. Fortunately, they are actually pretty easy to spot. First off, they are longish. A short review doesn't tell me if the reviewer knows what he is talking about. In a long review it usually becomes pretty clear whether the reviewer knows his stuff or is bullshitting. And yes negative reviews are more likely to be useful, for the reasons you state. Finding something substantive to say about a good book is harder (and less fun) than enumerating the flaws of a bad one.
Richard R. Hershberger