Posting book reviews in a public forum as large as Amazon.com is like swimming in an Internet ocean. One never knows what creature lurks behind alias (alien?) corners.
I posted my first book review on Amazon back in 2002 for Diane Dean-Epps’ Maternal Meanderings. Today, like many of the books I have reviewed, it’s available on Amazon for a penny. It was brief and 2 of 3 readers found it helpful.
Over time my reviews became more in depth—some very helpful to readers, others decidedly not helpful at all. And then there are the reviews that generate controversy—reviews that stir the pot and unleash the trolls.
TROLL: A member of an internet forum who continually harangues and harasses others. Someone with nothing worthwhile to add to a certain conversation, but rather continually "threadjacks" or changes the subject, as well as thinks every member of the forum is talking about them and only them. Trolls often go by multiple names to circumvent getting banned.
Reading troll threadjacks is like watching a bitch fight among the BRAVO TV housewives. In other words, it’s a waste of time, but it also provides a bit of mindless, guilty pleasure. It’s like sipping a cocktail of sweet relief knowing I’m not living in their worlds mixed with a full jigger of schadenfreude.
Earlier this week, one of my reviews attracted a troll, and I couldn’t help but break the DNFTT (Do Not Feed The Troll) rule, and poke back a little bit. After everything I had recently learned about how to successfully handle a bully, let’s just say I was in the mood to expose and fight back.
The book, no coincidence, is by former BRAVO TV housewife, Bethenney Frankel, and it’s her first effort at fiction. From what I’ve seen of her on television over the years, I found her to be funny and refreshingly honest. My opinion of her thinly veiled autobiographical novel, Skinnydipping, reflected these same characteristics, and I expressed this in my review. It’s no great work of literature and isn’t meant to be so. It’s light reading, funny and fun. Four stars.
Well, “my” troll didn’t like that I wrote anything positive about the novel. Using the alias, “Julie,” it not only called me a “moron,” but it also claimed I had “low standards for literature.” Silly as they were, it was easy to laugh off the comments, and I wouldn’t have fed it anything had I not learned that “Julie” posted similar insults on every positive review and issued supportive comments on every negative review.
Clearly, this troll was on a mission to trash the book, the author and any reviewer who even remotely enjoyed reading Skinnydipping. This practice is against Amazon’s standards and needed to be exposed. I mean really! I am many things, but I’m NO moron!
The troll’s final comment on the thread attached to my review was “deleted by Amazon,” before I had the chance to read it. After that, “Julie” crawled back in her hole, defeated. Show over. Moving on. Like I said, it’s like swimming in a vast Internet ocean with trolling creatures around every dark and anonymous corner.
Troll attacks is one risk book reviewers (and authors) take. Most of us understand that in a forum like Amazon, many shoppers don’t actually read the reviews. They look at the stars and jump to conclusions. They base their helpful, non-helpful votes on whether or not THEY liked the book—and in more cases, whether or not they like the author.
Posting reviews on Amazon is done strictly on a volunteer basis. It’s a hobby—perhaps a way to keep track of the books you’ve read—and a practice that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
I’ve made many friends by reviewing books on Amazon and I’ve also made a few enemies. It’s apparent not only in the comment forums, but also on my own books sold by Amazon.com. Several over the years have received anonymous one-star “reviews,” some of which I believe are from trolls with retaliation on their small minds.
Perhaps the trolls are incapable of understanding that alias accounts and transparent tactics emit a powerful stink that gives their “reviews” and their comments no power whatsoever.