Reminder: Use of Flags on Reviews
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Important: Do not abuse this feature. "Not a review" is not intended for short reviews, poorly-written reviews or reviews you disagree with. Links to the reviewer's blog are also acceptable. "Abuse of terms of service" includes violations such as spam reviews and posting copyrighted material without permission. See the terms of service for more guidelines.
Please note the important exception to this rule: LibraryThing Early Reviewers reviews, as per the LTER Terms:
"A book will be considered "reviewed" if a review is posted to LibraryThing and is composed of at least 25 words. Reviews may include but not solely consist of a URL."
In this case, bloggers and others must post some text (the whole thing, just the first paragraph, some substantive portion) of their reviews onto LT, although as always they are welcome and encouraged to also post it to their own blogs, &c.
He's also saying -- and I think this is the main point -- that it's not ok to blue-flag short or link-only reviews on normal, non-LTER books/reviews.
It sounds like this message is responding to a problem of people misusing flags.
Adding the link so folks can see the discussion.
Maybe adding the exception about the ER reviews to the bold text copied above on the flagging dropdown would be helpful.
Did we ever get any follow up though on the commercial and/or affiliate links within reviews? Yes, Jeremy, I'm bugging you about that again. :)
- A group of bloggers has two LT accounts. They link to their reviews, but don't necessarily list their blog in their LT profile. Its multiple bloggers, not one person. What if people have flagged these reviews?
- Add to this issue, they link to the same review for both accounts for the same book. How does one deal with this?
11: It's a fine line there and frankly not one I think we want to spend a great deal of time trying to make judgments about (what links are allowed in reviews and which aren't). There are a finite number of hours in the day.
I agree with Jeremy that it's probably not worth the effort to police or define rules for individual reviews (how many clicks could an individual review get anyway). I could imagine someone abusing this, and posting just to get the affiliate links, but that seems a rare case, and one best decided case by case.
Slightly OT - I did, however, once find that someone had edited a "quick link" (for amazon or a similar site) to add her affiliate code. That's a link lots of people click on, and I thought it was a very shady thing to do. I changed the link back, of course, to get rid of the affiliate link.
I keep finding these "rare cases" though. What's annoying is, no, I'm not going looking for them. I run down the Zeitgeist -> Reviews -> Page 2 list once a day and find these things.
Re: OT, I've found those as well. I'm sure you realize that you can pull up the history to find out who did them.
And I just found the user posting the outside link to their reviews in question. I have to admit that I wouldn't follow such a link either. I'm more concerned though that the user in question is posting comments consisting of "DIE HIDEOUSLY" on other people's profiles.
edit: The poster is also getting around the 25 word requirement also by including 'Edit: added to meet the following requirement: "A book will be considered "reviewed" if a review is posted to LibraryThing and is comprised of at least 25 words."' in their reviews. I think that's bending the rules slightly but if they're still getting ER books, it must be acceptable.
On the reviews thing: Can you post an example of one of the cases you're talking about of affiliate links in reviews? Why do you run down the zeitgeist>more reviews page?
That's clearly not acceptable, and I think I've read elsewhere that LTER word limits also take into account content. You couldn't post "didn't like it" 7 times just to get over the word limit.
You'll have to forgive me for not posting example links. The last time I did such a thing, I received quite a lot of negativity from both other users and staff for doing so.
I messaged the reviewer and she was trying to link to the author's website as a way of getting more information.
Is this not allowed?
True spam and true author or publisher promotion are almost always VERY easy to spot; it just requires a quick check of the profile and the pattern of reviews. (The only really difficult cases are the ones where authors or publishers create sockpuppets, and those require a lot more investigation and staff intervention rather than the flagging route.)
Most of the removed reviews include a link to ezinearticles articles.
The first thing that comes to my mind with those links is that they're actually landing page for affiliate accounts to but those books. Looking at the whois, it appears that this is not the case. For example:
The examples that I looked at, they're registered to different people and scattered around the net.
In this case, it does look legit. edit: Well, the more recent ones. I know in our antispam database, anything with an ezinearticles article link currently scores a 11.7 on a 5 point scale for spam. (Which means it's automatically tagged as spam.)
Edited to add: the problem is not that they include a link to ezinearticles, but that they reproduce ezinearticles, against copyright.
I didn't go through them all but I believe the ezinearticles were all done by the same person. I was thinking that it was in this case the user here as well.
The more recent reviews do not include such a link. If they are intermixed, I;m not seeing it but I didn't click on every link to check.
What I mean is that, since the vast majority of this member's reviews are copyright violations, it's not much of a stretch to imagine that someone, having seen dozens of copyright violating reviews, would just go down the whole list of reviews red-flagging most or all the reviews (and stop checking individual ones), and thus accidentally flag some legitimate, non-copyright-violating reviews in the process.
We were told previously to take that up with Jeremy directly if we saw a pattern I believe. He has stated a couple of times though he is limited on time. I say that in his defense and not as a negative.
*sigh* I'm not getting anything done today.
I do not remember which work this was on, though I think I might have flagged only one of the reviews.
I disliked actually deciding to read a review, finding 1 link five times as the only 'reviews', and actually clicking on link to find ... nothing much. So I flagged it. I won't do it again.
they're just ads for someone's blog
Not necessarily. It's often just easier for a person who reviews on multiple forums to use a link, rather than cut-and-paste the entire review multiple times, particularly when some forums allow html or images and others don't.
I'm not suggesting that anyone go around looking for these things and and flag them, I'm saying that in those cases, it is acceptable to do so. Anyone can or cannot blue-flag non-review LTER reviews as they see fit. They may not flag link-only non-LTER reviews.
Is there some type of obvious notice whether a review is for LTER? I know I've counter-flagged link only or short reviews. Maybe the reason for the flag was that it doesn't meet LTER requirements and I shouldn't have challenged the flag.
Is this flaggable? At least he didn't rate it - most authors rate their own books as 5 star.
He has now.
If I remember from past discussions, an author reviewing her/his own books is not, in itself, flaggable. (One author weighed in once to say that he'd actually given either a critical review or a less than 5-star rating evaluating his own work, so it is possible that author-self-reviews can be done in good faith.) If the author crosses the line to clear selling, then it is. This one seems borderline to me, not clearly flaggable. Not much of a review, though.
There were plans, at one point, to make authors' reviews more transparent, by having them marked as such. What ever happened that?
ETA: Here's a line from the rules for authors: "While you can review your own book, be aware that the review will be marked as the author's."
Tim has ruled that it's acceptable for authors to review their own books. At the time he dismissed our concerns with "Oh, I'll put some sort of indicator on them", but that has obviously never happened.
edit: As an aside, the user profile needs one of those LT Author flags.
reedit: Us Dr. Mike's have to stay ethical after all. :)
Except that LT spam rules on profile flagging distinguish between authors and other commercial spam. Authors promoting fall under "overzealous author," reported by email rather than the profile flag. In this case, I'd call him zealous perhaps, though not overly so. ;) There are actually very many authors on here with only their own books and a link to their publisher's book page. That in and of itself hasn't been considered spam.
If an author was to truly flood the site with spam reviews -- and authors have -- that would have to be through (a) adding and reviewing multiple copies of the work (against the TOS, I believe, especially if used to skew the database) or (b) through sockpuppets, definitely against the TOS.
One review, transparently by the author, might be a bit gauche, but it's within the rules.
(ETA: maybe the rules should be changed, and authors shouldn't be allowed to review or rate their own books. That's contestable. But staff have made clear that they are allowed to do so, currently.)
It's not fake, and Tim has ruled that he does not consider it corrupt. Pretty much everyone thinks there should be an obvious indicator that a review has been written by the author, but this has not been a high priority for the staff to create.
I suppose there would be nothing to prevent a self-published author from flooding the site with spam reviews of their own book?
Not as the rules stand; it has been ruled that (a), it is acceptable for authors to review their own books, and (b), it is acceptable for people to review the same book multiple times; if they tried doing so with multiple accounts, that would probably fall under sock-puppet rules (though IIRC the current sock-puppet prohibitions only apply to Talk), but if they're all on one account it falls within the rules.
No, several authors have tried doing this in order to add, rate, review, and recommend books -- including one author who has been banned for life as a result. Tim has come down very hard on these cases, making it very clear that such sockpuppets are against the terms, and deleting and suspending accounts.
It's true that multiple reviews are allowed, but there used to be an explicit rule in the terms (before they were revised) that said this: "Users may not use LibraryThing for unfair promotion. For example, authors may not add 500 copies of their book to LibraryThing in order to become the top book, even if they actually have 500 remaindered copies in their basement." In the current version, I think that would simply fall under "Do not subvert or misuse site features." If it were 2-3 reviews of the same book that might be one thing. If it were truly a flood of reviews, I'd venture staff would consider that misuse, though. 500 reviews by the same named member, though, would be very obvious, and isn't a very likely strategy for authors promoting their books; creating sockpuppets to do so has actually been relatively common.