Reviewing controversial books

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Reviewing controversial books

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jul 27, 2007, 6:49pm

I've been working on getting my paranormal collection in order, both on my shelves and in LT, and while I was at it, playing with the new reviewing options (thumbs up and flagging for misuse.) I'm having a a really hard time trying to figure out how to be fair with the thumbs up.

I know you're not supposed to upvote based on whether you agree with a reviewer's opinion or not, and that's easy enough to do with something like Harry Potter where it's mostly just a question of whether you liked it or not. But with a lot of these books that are misleadingly written at best (like The Teachings of Don Juan , for example, although none of those are as bad as what I've seen for other books) - I want to go up to overly-credulous or badly informed reviewers and say, "You are wrong. Wrong. Wrong like a very wrong thing. Wrong wrong wrong." Even if their review is very well-written and perfectly consistent with what you'd get from just reading the text of the actual book.

I feel like that's skating awfully close to "I only upvote reviews I agree with", though. What's the distinction for you guys between a person who disagrees with you on a book's thesis - and a person who is spreading falsehood?

And why do a feel a lot less jumpy about being scathing about things like Dianetics or Angelic Messenger Cards than I do about The Book Of Mormon? I have them *shelved* together, for heaven's sake.

Plus, I know if I keep reviewing like I want to I'll eventually get to the parts of my shelves where *I* don't have the context, and probably do something just as dumb as taking Castaneda at face value. Now I've almost talked myself out of reviewing at all.

How to you guys hit the balance between judging the quality of the book (or review) itself, and judging what the it's saying?

jul 27, 2007, 10:20pm

What's the distinction for you guys between a person who disagrees with you on a book's thesis - and a person who is spreading falsehood?

Obviously, you won't "thumbs up" either of them. But neither should you flag either of them. Read the criteria for flagging. It's either "it's not a review" or "it's a violation of the TOS". These don't fall into either category. Frankly, I think the best method for dealing with a view which you believe is spreading a falsehood is to write your own review, pointing out the errors.

jul 28, 2007, 12:40am

Oh, I wasn't *flagging* any of them - flagging is pretty straightforward, I think, except that sometimes there's one that so bad I want to flag it for *both* reasons (like, you know, a copy of the author bio from the dustcover.)

But I was going through and 'helpful'-ing all the reviews that I thought were useful - which sometimes meant, all the reviews except the one-liners and the ones that were wrong wrong wrong. That's when I starting getting the itchy feeling. And thinking about my own reviews, and what I was judging by.

If there's no downvote option, eventually, 'not upvote' starts to feel essentially the same as 'downvote' - even if you're being careful with your upvotes.