Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

sábado, septiembre 15, 2012

Fake Reviews

The mind boggles. Well, not really, it doesn't. A well known author (no I’m not giving links) writes fake reviews of his books and posts them on Amazon. He gets caught. Not to be undone, other authors (again, no links) hire a company to write fake reviews and post them all across the Internet. The New York Times reveals this. The fake reviews are no doubt still available. Still other authors get their friends to write reviews and post them. Most of the reviews gush about how wonderful the book is. In fact, I’ve read one these books recently and in two words, it was not good. And that’s being charitable.

A hotel hires a PR firm to file fake reviews on TripAdvisor (again, no links). Not to be undone, a hotel offers a free drink to any guest who posts a favorable review on TripAdvisor from the hotel. Surprise, surprise, the hotel has many 5 star reviews. None of them says how expensive and awful the food in the restaurant is. Or that the review was paid for. With a drink. I hope the guests enjoyed their “free” drinks.

None of this should by now be surprising. This is business. This is the everyday world of the Internet. Everybody ought by now to know that this goes on. The story is so familiar and disappointing that it cannot even provoke real anger. It’s just some more dishonest, misleading marketing. Just more shilling. Just more commerce.

But it does present a real problem for consumers, for readers. And for writers and those who run vacation businesses.

How do you know that the reviews of my two books, Tulum and The Dream Antilles, are real?

How do you know that the posted guest reviews of our vacation rental, Nah Yaxche in Bahia Soliman near Tulum, Mexico, are real?

I can tell you this: They are real. Nobody got paid anything for writing them. Nobody was solicited to write them. Nobody received anything in exchange for them.

But forget about me. The important question here is this: can you tell that these reviews are real just from reading them? I hope you can. But I wouldn't be surprised if you couldn't. After all, the sole intent of the fake reviews was to fool you and make you think they were real. So real reviews and fake ones look surprisingly alike.

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