Thursday, February 25, 2010 Reviews and Why I May Stop Writing Them

I used to frequently write reviews on the shopping site. As of this writing I have 181 items reviewed, from CD's to books to DVD's. Most are pretty positive reviews.
But, I'm not writing reviews nearly as often as I used to. The reason for that is a few years ago the powers that be at Amazon decided to allow comments to be made from readers about the reviews written.
I didn't like that.
I found that there are those who just want to cause a stir no matter what. There is name calling, accusations, major bantering, snide remarks...even on good reviews.
For example, I wrote this review a number of years ago on a book called "Inventing Christmas: How Our Holiday Came to Be." I liked it so much I gave it the highest rating - 5 stars.
Here's what I wrote:

This book is such an amazing find! It tells the whole celebration of the Christmas holiday, from it's pre-Christian pagan celebrations, through the 20th century. Particularly interesting is how it became a Christian Holiday a few hundred years after the birth of Christ. But the book also covers how Santa Claus came to be, the history of the Christmas Tree, carols, and a pretty extensive article on Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol.'
The author, Jock Elliott, is probably the foremost collector of Christmas memorabelia, and through many color photos has shared some of his extensive collection with us. The man even has his letters to Santa from the 1920's! But, most impressive of all (to me!) is his 'A Christmas Carol' collection. He has a copy of the original first edition from 1843, as well as the original newspaper advertisement for the book from that same year! And, yes, Mr. Elliott shares this with us, too.
I've compared his history of the holiday with other books I own and I feel I can safely say that Mr. Elliott has done his research. His writing style is very entertaining and easy to follow, so the younger set can enjoy this book, too.
All in all, this is one of the most entertaining books I've read on the Christmas holiday. I guess if I had one complaint it would be for Mr. Elliott to maybe add a bit about the Reason for the Season - Jesus Christ.
Very highly recommended.

Do you find anything wrong with this review? It's upbeat, gives snippets of what the reader will find inside, and comes highly recommended.
But look at a comment I received on my review (printed here exactly as written):
christ is not the reason for the season. In fact the book is showing just that. chirstianity adopted the holiday but they do NOT own it, nor is this book about making you feel safer in your current beliefs. It is about learning something new... obviously you are not capable of that.
Nice, huh?
I did respond, explaining (nicely) that the commentator was obviously...not capable of comprehending what I wrote in my review.

There are numerous other comments made to many of the other reviews I have written, too many in a stand-offish manner.
By allowing these comments Amazon has taken the fun out of review writing.
So, I pretty much stopped.
I have no problem of people voting on the reviews. That's a mainstay and I actually like that. But, I do not like being attacked...even on what I thought was a decent review. And I have no choice at what comments are printed. I had asked if certain comments could be removed due to the what I felt was an abusive tone, but was told that there was nothing threatening and were just opinions.
At least on my blog I can choose not to publish whatever comments I deem 'unworthy.' I have yet to do this, however, because the few I have received that were unfavorable were written respectfully. I can accept constructive criticism and differences of opinions if written respectfully, which can be a rarity on Amazon.

What does this have to do with history you may ask?
The greater majority of my reviews are of items historical in nature: period dramas on DVD, social history books, etc.
Maybe I'll just write my reviews here instead and include a link for anyone who might be interested in purchasing the item.

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