Not So Anonymous Reviews

By Deane Barker on February 14, 2004

Amazon Glitch Unmasks War of Reviewers: Amazon accidentally posted the real names of anonymous book reviewers on their site, and in the process, revealed that the whole user-submitted review process is garbage.

But even with reviewer privacy restored, many people say Amazon’s pages have turned into what one writer called “a rhetorical war,” where friends and family members are regularly corralled to write glowing reviews and each negative one is scrutinized for the digital fingerprints of known enemies.

One well-known writer admitted privately — and gleefully — to anonymously criticizing a more prominent novelist who he felt had unfairly reaped critical praise for years. She regularly posts responses, or at least he thinks it is her, but the elegant rebuttals of his reviews are also written from behind a pseudonym.