…and hopefully, I’ll never be tempted.
No, scratch that. I’m going to hoist my flag to the mast right now. I’ll never be that desperate.
The whole ‘sock-puppet’ controversy seems to be growing legs, with more and more writers being exposed as, or at least accused of being, creators of sock-puppets. For those who don’t know, sock-puppets are fake reviewers, (created by less-than-honourable writers) on the likes of Amazon who positively review their own books and, in some more sinister cases, set about trashing competing books.
The Crime Writers Association are talking on Twitter about acting against these sock-puppeteers and, in doing so, protecting their members and the crime-writing community at large. But, in this writer-and-reader’s opinion, the damage has already been done.
The moment that reviews stopped being about a person reading a book, liking it or disliking it and telling the world (or at least the online segment of it) what they think, reader-reviewing became absolutely pointless. Amazon should shut down this part of their website and the likes of LoveReading and Goodreads might as well cease to exist as well. And lets do away with TripAdvisor and Epinions while we’re at it. Because how can we trust the reviews we read on there ever again? (How’s that for dramatic…)
All is not lost. We can just go back to the good old days, when we got our book reviews from the professionals – journalists, culture-show panelists…oh and Richard, Judy and Oprah.
And you and I can still review books, hotels and iPads all we want – we can just stick to our own websites, blogs and Facebook pages to do so. And the sock-puppeteers can go ahead and create a fake blog or website, blow sunshine up the asses of their own books and rubbish the competition to their hearts’ content. It’s just that no-one will see them. In fact, they might as well call it http://www.iamasockpuppet.com for all the visitors they’ll get (I just checked, it is available).
I am a fan of the CWA and if they feel that they can arrest the practice of puppeteering and fake reviews, they should try. I’m sceptical that they’ll be definitively successful, it’ll take Intelligence-Services levels of technology to know who’s a real reviewer and who’s a puppet. If anyone can control it, it will be the websites themselves, but they’ll also struggle to weed out the fakers and purchased-reviews (another practice that grinds my gears) from the genuine reviews.
In the meantime, I’ll continue deciding what to read by the book-jacket and by the writers shamelessly plugging them on Twitter.