The rise of book-based social networking has spawned some bottom feeders. Top of my list are companies that charge hopeful authors for positive reviews, which are then owned by the company, edited by them and posted mechanically on multiple social networks and commercial sites over the web, on Twitter and so forth.
LibraryThing was hit by one such outfit, who charge $425 for reviews posted to us, as well as Google Books, Fetchbook and WorldCat.org. (A lower payment gets you on Amazon and some of our competitors.) This organization has posted 94 reviews—$39,950 in theory—and wouldn’t you know, all of them were five-star reviews!*
At the same time, we have nothing against publishers and authors getting their books out there. LibraryThing does that, and although we don’t change anyone anything, we don’t even have a problem with that. Nor we we have a problem with requiring people to review a book—it’s requiring or otherwise producing only favorable reviews that bothers us. We want members and visitors to feel confident that reviews on LibraryThing aren’t manipulation and spam. We want to be a community for readers, not a dumping ground for spam.
Fortunately, this is still a small problem. But it’s not one we’re going to allow. And I’d like to see if I can get other sites to agree.
We are going to be writing to other sites in our space, seeing if we can get anyone else to sign on with these rules, or ones like them.
Come discuss it on Talk.
*I’m going to avoid giving them publicity—all of which is “good.” They have been removed; they were already in violation of our personal and organizational-use rules.