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This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Amazon.com readers misinterpret question, "Was this review helpful to you?"

I think that many readers of the Amazon.com customer reviews misinterpret the question "Was this review helpful to you?" as meaning "Do you agree with the personal opinion(s) in the review?" IMO if the review helps at all in informing one about the book itself, then one's answer to that question should be "yes," even if one disagrees with the review's opinion(s) (also, too many of the customer reviews don't actually review the book but just state the reviewers' personal opinions). I think that my customer review of "Monkey Girl" got a poor score -- only 4 "yes" votes out of 30 votes -- on that question (I consider a "good score" to consist of both a high number of votes and a high percentage of "yes" votes) because most readers disagreed with my opinions and not because I did not help inform them about the book. I correctly pointed out that the book made one-sided conclusions; that is a simple fact, regardless of how impartial or objective the author might have initially been. In Amazon.com's website on "Monkey Girl," the general pattern is that customer reviews that criticize the book have poor scores whereas customer reviews that praise the book have good scores. I think that the answers to this question "Was this review helpful to you?" are very important because I think that good scores on those answers are the basis for selecting the two "spotlight reviews" that are placed at the head of the list of customer reviews. Where there are hundreds or dozens of customer reviews, being chosen as one of only two spotlight reviews is obviously very important. The spotlight reviews may change occasionally. Ann Coulter's "Godless: The Church of Liberalism" now has 905 customer reviews and one of the spotlight reviews has a score of 2339 out of 3472 on the question -- probably a lot of those votes were picked up while the review was in the "spotlight reviews" section.

A reply to a customer review of "Monkey Girl" said,

When the review is about the book, it gets my "Yes", even if I disagree. When the review is about the reviewer's opinion of the subject matter, the reviewer's personal agenda, or -- especially as yours are -- unrelated opinions not remotely related to facts -- then it absolutely gets a "NO!"

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24 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I think that many readers of the Amazon.com customer reviews misinterpret the question "Was this review helpful to you?" as meaning "Do you agree with the personal opinion(s) in the review?" <

You appear to have misinterpreted their answers. What else is new?

Perhaps some of them rated the reviews as not helpful because the reviews were done by idiots who would try to comment on a book they have not read?

Thursday, June 14, 2007 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> You appear to have misinterpreted their answers. <<<<<<

How could one "misinterpret" a "yes" or "no" answer?

>>>>> Perhaps some of them rated the reviews as not helpful because the reviews were done by idiots who would try to comment on a book they have not read? <<<<<<

You profoundly retarded nincompoop, why should I read the whole remainder of the book when nothing could change my opinion of the part that I read?

Folks, ViW is for real -- I am not practicing Charlie McCarthyism.

Thursday, June 14, 2007 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> How could one "misinterpret" a "yes" or "no" answer? <

Now you are arguing with yourself, you profoudly retarded nincompoop. Your answere to your question, given by you is:

> I think that many readers of the Amazon.com customer reviews misinterpret the question "Was this review helpful to you?" as meaning "Do you agree with the personal opinion(s) in the review?" <

Folks, Larry is for real. He is not a pro-evolutionist trying to make the fundies look like fools.

Thursday, June 14, 2007 9:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill Carter said...

> How could one "misinterpret" a "yes" or "no" answer? <

How does shoe leather taste Larry?

Thursday, June 14, 2007 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness said...

>>>>>> How could one "misinterpret" a "yes" or "no" answer? <

Now you are arguing with yourself, you profoudly retarded nincompoop. Your answere to your question, given by you is:

> I think that many readers of the Amazon.com customer reviews misinterpret the question "Was this review helpful to you?" as meaning "Do you agree with the personal opinion(s) in the review?" <<<<<<<

So what are you saying? That I misunderstood which question they were answering? Does that mean that I did not know that they were just answering "no" to the question of "Was this review helpful to you?" and that they did not mean that to be understood as a "no" answer to the question, "Do you agree with the personal opinion(s) in the review?" ? Or is it vice-versa?

Bill Carter (?) said...

>>>>> How could one "misinterpret" a "yes" or "no" answer? <

How does shoe leather taste Larry? <<<<<

How does your hat taste, Bill? And how does crow taste?

Thursday, June 14, 2007 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

I see that this discussion, like most, has gone over Larry's head.

Friday, June 15, 2007 7:50:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness said...

>>>>> I see that this discussion, like most, has gone over Larry's head. <<<<<<

No, it has gone over your head. It's like this, stupid. There are two questions: (1) "Was this review helpful to you?" and (2) "Do you agree with the opinion(s) in the review?" You said that I misinterpreted "no" answers. There are only two ways that I could have misinterpreted "no" answers. One possible "misinterpretation" is that they were really intended to be "yes" answers to both questions, and that is absurd. The other possible misinterpretation is that the "no" answers were intended for only one of the questions and that the answers to the other question were therefore "yes."

"I'm always kicking their butts -- that's why they don't like me." -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Friday, June 15, 2007 8:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> You said that I misinterpreted "no" answers. <

I didn't say that. Where are you getting it?

> There are only two ways that I could have misinterpreted "no" answers. <

False. You have found a new way to misinterpret all answers.

As of yet, you can't even match the accuracy of a stopped clock which is at least right twice a day.

We are always kicking Larry's butt -- that's why he doesn't like us." -- Voice in the Wilderness

Friday, June 15, 2007 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness said...

>>>>>> You said that I misinterpreted "no" answers. <

I didn't say that. Where are you getting it? <<<<<<<

Stop playing games. You originally said,

You appear to have misinterpreted their answers.

The answers that you claimed I misinterpreted were simple "no" answers.

Friday, June 15, 2007 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> Stop playing games. <

You should take your own suggestion. You made a mistake and now you are trying to redefine the question to weasel out of it.

> You originally said,

You appear to have misinterpreted their answers.

The answers that you claimed I misinterpreted were simple "no" answers. <

No. You were interpreting the meaning of the answers without regard to whether they were yes or no.

You are doing it to yourself again.

If you make a mistake, don't make it worse by trying to squirm. You aren't fooling anyone (except apparently yourself).

Friday, June 15, 2007 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in the Wilderness driveled,

>>>>>> You originally said, "You appear to have misinterpreted their answers. "

The answers that you claimed I misinterpreted were simple "no" answers.
<

No. You were interpreting the meaning of the answers without regard to whether they were yes or no. <<<<<

WHAT? Interpreting what meaning of the "yes" and "no" answers? You are always talking in riddles. I couldn't read your mind even if you had one.

"Yes" means "yes" and "no" means "no." It is as simple as that.

>>>>> If you make a mistake, don't make it worse by trying to squirm. <<<<<<

I made no mistake. And you are the one who is trying to squirm.

Friday, June 15, 2007 1:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> WHAT? Interpreting what meaning of the "yes" and "no" answers? <

It looks like you don't even read your own posts before commenting on them. Your original article was trying to claim that reviewers misinterpreted the question, not whether the answers were "yes" or "no".

I think that many readers of the Amazon.com customer reviews misinterpret the question "Was this review helpful to you?" as meaning "Do you agree with the personal opinion(s) in the review?"

Try again, Larry. It really isn't that difficult. If you are still having problems, ask one of the neighbor kids to explain it to you.

Friday, June 15, 2007 4:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Fafarman said...

> I think that many readers of the Amazon.com customer reviews misinterpret the question "Was this review helpful to you?" as meaning "Do you agree with the personal opinion(s) in the review?" <

The purpose of the reviews -- certainly Amazon's purpose, but also that of Amazon's customers -- is to help decide whether to buy and read the book. This is especially obvious when the same system is used to review, e.g., novels. Most respondents, with their "yes" or "no" votes, are saying whether that purpose was well served by the review.

It can also be assumed that most of the voters haven't (yet) read the book, so they can't know whether or not they agree with the reviewer's opinion. (Their opinion might even change as a result of reading the book.) They do come predisposed with an interest in the subject matter -- that is why they're there reading the reviews.

Friday, June 15, 2007 7:27:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

ViW wheezed,
>>>>>> It looks like you don't even read your own posts before commenting on them. <<<<<

You either don't read them or you don't understand them -- I think the latter is the case. Your reading comprehension is abysmal, as is your ability to make comprehensible statements.

>>>> Your original article was trying to claim that reviewers misinterpreted the question, not whether the answers were "yes" or "no". <<<<<

I wasn't merely "trying" to claim that readers of the reviews misinterpreted the question -- I was claiming that the readers of the reviews misinterpreted the question. And I don't know what you mean by your statement that I was not trying to claim "whether the answers were 'yes' or 'no'."

I claimed that all or many of the "no" votes that my review got would have been "yes' votes if the readers had correctly interpreted the question. Here again is what I said:

I think that my customer review of "Monkey Girl" got a poor score -- only 4 "yes" votes out of 30 votes -- on that question (I consider a "good score" to consist of both a high number of votes and a high percentage of "yes" votes) because most readers disagreed with my opinions and not because I did not help inform them about the book. I correctly pointed out that the book made one-sided conclusions; that is a simple fact, regardless of how impartial or objective the author might have initially been.

Friday, June 15, 2007 8:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill Carter said...

> I wasn't merely "trying" to claim that readers of the reviews misinterpreted the question -- I was claiming that the readers of the reviews misinterpreted the question. <

Clear evidence of insanity.

> And I don't know what you mean by your statement that I was not trying to claim "whether the answers were 'yes' or 'no'." <

You seem to be badly confused here. Go back and see if you can make any sense of what you are trying to say.

> I claimed that all or many of the "no" votes that my review got would have been "yes' votes if the readers had correctly interpreted the question. <

That is what VIW said you were claiming. Then you got off on:

> How could one "misinterpret" a "yes" or "no" answer? <

VIW is making sense. You are not.

Friday, June 15, 2007 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Bill Carter (?) wheezed,

>>>>>> I claimed that all or many of the "no" votes that my review got would have been "yes' votes if the readers had correctly interpreted the question. <

That is what VIW said you were claiming. <<<<<<

Here is exactly what ViW said, birdbrain:

You appear to have misinterpreted their answers. . . . Perhaps some of them rated the reviews as not helpful because the reviews were done by idiots who would try to comment on a book they have not read?

One of the reasons why that statement is stupid is that none of the reviews of Monkey Girl that got poor scores on the question "Was this review helpful to you?" said that the reviewer did not read the whole book. Furthermore, it is quite possible that a helpful review could be written by someone who did not read the whole book. I commented on the sections that I commented on, and nothing else in the rest of the book could possibly have changed my comments about those sections. What ViW actually did was add at least two more possible misinterpretations of that question in addition to the first misinterpretation that I suggested (i.e., do you agree with the opinions in the review): "do you think that it is possible that a helpful review can be written by someone who did not read the whole book?" and "do you think that it is not unreasonable for a person who read the whole book to write a negative review of it?" I am sure that there are other misinterpretations that we have not thought of. Let's make things simple by just going back to the original question: "Was this review helpful to you?" I am a firm believer in the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. I also believe in Einstein's dictum: things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Dammit, it is the same old gang of trolls that keeps cluttering up this blog with their drivel.

Friday, June 15, 2007 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said (June 15, 2007 @ 7:27:00 PM) ,
>>>>> The purpose of the reviews -- certainly Amazon's purpose, but also that of Amazon's customers -- is to help decide whether to buy and read the book. <<<<<

I emphatically disagree. That is certainly one of the purposes of the customer reviews, but Amazon.com is arguably the best forum on the Internet for discussing books, for the following reasons: (1) it is a popular, centralized forum that many people know about so that they can go there to post their opinions and know that their opinions will have a large audience; (2) it is like a book review blog where anyone who is an Amazon.com customer may post "guest articles," i.e., their customer reviews; (3) readers of the customer reviews can comment on them; and (4) there is no arbitrary censorship of customer reviews or comments. The only requirement for participating in the discussion is a past Amazon.com purchase.

>>>>> It can also be assumed that most of the voters haven't (yet) read the book, <<<<<<

I see no basis for such an assumption.

>>>>> so they can't know whether or not they agree with the reviewer's opinion. <<<<<

I disagree. Those who have not read the book but have some knowledge of the book's subject could have a basis for agreeing or disagreeing with the reviewer's opinion. Anyway, as I said, the question is not "do you agree with the reviewer's opinion(s)," but "was this review helpful to you?" In fact, the question should be "do you think that this review could be helpful to anyone?" because the contents of the review might not be new to the reader, in which case it would inappropriate to answer "yes" to the question "was this review helpful to you," even if the reader thinks that the review could be helpful to others.

Saturday, June 16, 2007 12:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

>>>>>> That is what VIW said you were claiming. <<<<<<

> Here is exactly what ViW said, birdbrain: <

Thank you for making my point.

Is there anyone else around here who is two dense to understand this? I doubt it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007 6:58:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Here is exactly what ViW said, birdbrain: <

Thank you for making my point. <<<<<<

You profoundly retarded protozoan, how does merely quoting your drivel make your point?

Often your sole argument is that I didn't read what I am discussing. You are only making yourself look foolish. You have been trying to sabotage this blog by cluttering it up with your drivel and trying to create the appearance that I am practicing Charlie McCarthyism. You have boasted that you have your own blog but so far as I can see you are lying because you haven't told us where it is.

BTW, here are some more of your misinterpretations of the question "Was this review helpful to you?": "Do you think that the author of this review read the entire book?" and "Do you ever not assume that the author of a book review that you disagree with did not read the entire book?"

Saturday, June 16, 2007 8:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

You pathetic moobat,

> quoting your drivel make your point? <

You quoted something that disproved what you said that I had said, dimwit.

By not reading what you are discussing. You are only making yourself look foolish.

> You have boasted that you have your own blog but so far as I can see you are lying because you haven't told us where it is. <

Where is the logic in that? Something can't exist because I haven't told you where it is. You don't know where much of the world is. Perhaps the world doesn't exist?

> BTW, here are some more of your misinterpretations of the question "Was this review helpful to you?": <

Those statements display your misinterpretations, not mine.

Saturday, June 16, 2007 6:54:00 PM  
Anonymous David Fafarman said...

Larry(?) said:
< (On Amazon) ... (4) there is no arbitrary censorship of customer reviews or comments. >

Sorry, but that is not true. I submitted a review (twice) of Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust, which Amazon declined to post (with no explanation).

Since quite a few reviews of this book had already been done, I did not want to rehash the other reviews, so mine asserted that IBM's business practices are still predatory to this day. Amazon apparently either (A) considered this insufficiently on-topic to the particular book (one of their censorship categories), or (B) was expressing corporate solidarity with IBM. (I'm inclined toward the first explanation.) I thought of boycotting Amazon, but unfortunately I find that impractical.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said:

>>>>> (On Amazon) ... (4) there is no arbitrary censorship of customer reviews or comments. >

Sorry, but that is not true. I submitted a review (twice) of Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust, which Amazon declined to post (with no explanation). <<<<<<

Wow. That really surprises me. I thought that Amazon.com didn't censor anything unless a lot of readers complained about it. Amazon.com has a "report this" option which says,

Report this content as inappropriate on the site:

If you find this content inappropriate and think it should be removed from the Amazon.com site, let us know by clicking the button below. This information will be sent to Amazon.com and we will take appropriate action.


Amazon.com neither requests nor allows a reason to be given for a request for removal of a customer review. That's bad because someone could request removal merely because of disagreement with the review.

>>>>> Since quite a few reviews of this book had already been done, I did not want to rehash the other reviews, so mine asserted that IBM's business practices are still predatory to this day <<<<<<

Anyway, I think that your comment was inappropriate, though I wouldn't censor it. What IBM does now has no relation to what IBM did 70 years ago. You are trying to use IBM's current actions to support the book's case against IBM and I think that's very wrong. You were just exploiting Amazon.com as a forum for venting your personal dislike of IBM.

And your statement indicates that you consider IBM's cooperation with the Nazis to be "predatory." As I discussed on this blog, the IBM Hollerith machines were not capable of doing the things that the book said they did. But even from a purely political standpoint, I think that the book's criticism of IBM is unfair. IBM cooperated with the Nazis for the legitimate purpose of population census-taking. Dehomag, IBM's German subsidiary, licensed IBM products as early as 1911. Presumably many other American firms also had business dealings with the Nazis.

>>>>>> I thought of boycotting Amazon, but unfortunately I find that impractical. <<<<<<

Anyway, you got a taste of what I mean about the problem of arbitrary Internet censorship. As you admit, "boycotting" Amazon.com would just be farting against the thunder. What is needed is a concerted effort to pass laws and change the Internet culture so as to prevent or discourage arbitrary censorship on the Internet.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 7:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

Real Dave said...

> Since quite a few reviews of this book had already been done, I did not want to rehash the other reviews, so mine asserted that IBM's business practices are still predatory to this day. <

While you may have a legitimate gripe against IBM, a book review is certainly not a place to vent it.

Amazon rightly considered this to be off-topic.

> or (B) was expressing corporate solidarity with IBM. <

I thought that only your brother was paranoid?

> I thought of boycotting Amazon <

You owe them an apology.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 7:56:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

ViW said,

>>>>> While you may have a legitimate gripe against IBM, a book review is certainly not a place to vent it. <<<<<

This is one of those rare occasions when ViW and I are in agreement. However, I would not have censored Fake Dave's comment and I am surprised that Amazon.com did because I thought that Amazon.com deleted comments only in response to complaints from readers (maybe some readers did complain -- I don't know -- it seems doubtful to me).

Fake Dave was obviously prejudiced against IBM and was therefore inclined to believe the book's charges. Even from just a political standpoint as opposed to a technological and practical standpoint, some professional book reviewers thought that the book's charges were unfair. For example, one review said,

The key question, in any case, is not whether I.B.M. sold Germany its equipment but whether, as alleged, it made the Final Solution part of its "mission" and whether its relationship with Germany in any way "energized" or significantly "enhanced" Hitler's efforts to destroy world Jewry. On the first point, Black never even attempts to substantiate his accusation -- a scandalous omission considering the gravity of the charge.

The first point above refers to the following statement in the book's introduction:

IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler's program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success. (emphasis added)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:53:00 AM  

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