How to Rate the Reliability-Odds of an Amazon Book Reviewer

How reliable are Amazon book reviewers?

Because most are anonymous and some are Trolls with a goal to only spew negative reviews—because Trolls are Internet bullies—finding an answer to this question may not seem possible.

However, while reading the reviews of another author’s first novel, I thought, there must be a way to rate the reliability of Amazon reviewers and I conducted an experiment that I think works. With no computer program to do the work for me, it took time to gather the data—all easily available on Amazon—and use a hand-held calculator to compute the odds.

I focused on one Amazon review of a book I have never read. In fact, I have never read any of Mirella Sichirollo Patzer’s novels, and she has published five. Before today, I was unaware of this author or her work.

Patzer’s first novel was The Blighted Troth: A Novel of New France, and the Amazon reviewer that I focused on wrote the only one-star review of the 19 reviews for this novel. There was no two-star review. There were 6 five-star; 9 four-star, and 3 three-star reviews. The average of those 19 reviews was 4 of 5 stars—a good average.

I have to thank Kindlefan (an anonymous name for this Amazon reviewer), because he or she inadvertently gave me the idea for this post. Click here to see Kindlefan’s profile on Amazon.

My dad was a gambler. He loved to play the horses and knew how to compute the odds in his favor long before there were computers.  In fact, one time, my dad picked eight winners out of eight races at Santa Anita in Arcadia, California. Then later in life, I became a card counter in Vegas and tried that out for a few years before giving it up. I discovered that it was hard work with long hours, and it was not stress free.

What I did was handicap—as my dad taught me—the odds of Kindlefan being a reliable reviewer for the tastes of the average reading public. To do that, I focused on only his or her one and two-star reviews and compared them to the four and five-star reviews of fifteen of the thirty-five books reviewed by this one anonymous Amazon reviewer.

Kindlefan’s reviews:

  • 10 one-star
  • 5 two-star
  • 7 three-star
  • 4 four-star
  • 9 five-star

Of course, it would be impossible to rate someone with only a few reviews on Amazon. In fact, alleged Trolls often only leave one/two poor reviews and then never review again, and I think that these reviewers cannot be considered reliable. In addition, anyone that only leaves mostly one/two star reviews cannot be trusted, but Kindlefan’s balance between 1 and 5 star reviews reveals an alleged non-biased reader expressing his or her own opinions.

Of the fifteen books that Kindlefan rated with one-or-two stars, there were a total of 421 reviews spread between 1, 2, 4 and 5-star reviews. Sixty were 1 or 2 star reviews and three-hundred-and-sixty-one (361) were 4 or 5 star reviews. I did not count the three-star reviews.

With that said, Kindlefan’s reliability rating as a reviewer compared with average reading tastes earned a 14% rating out of 100% (once I crunched the numbers). On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, Kindlefan scored a 1.4—pretty low.

That doesn’t mean Kindlefan’s reviews are invalid but that they only apply to a small minority of the reading audience telling us that his or her reading tastes do not match the average reader. We also learn that “The Blighted Troth” would probably appeal to 84% of readers that enjoy this genre.

If a reader still has doubts, there is always the free Amazon preview of a book to read first. If a reader likes what he or she sees, then he or she may buy the book—or not.

In fact, maybe Amazon might consider using a similar method to automatically rate a reviewer’s reliability as an average reader. If Amazon averages the reviews of an author’s work, why not rate the reliability of reviewers based on his or her reviews compared to reviews for the same books reviewed?

Amazon provides links to all the information needed to rate an Amazon book reviewer. Each reviewer has a link to all of his or her reviews and each review has a link to the books reviewed where it is easy to discover how many reviews there were for each book as I did. If you try this and have trouble finding the links, leave me a comment and I’ll see if I can help.

Discover Authors Finding Readers

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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9 thoughts on “How to Rate the Reliability-Odds of an Amazon Book Reviewer

  1. I have a much better way but there needs to be a lot of reviews for it to work.

    To show you what I mean, I looked at your three books. Two of them don’t have enough reviews but “My Splendid Concubine” does with 93.

    53 are 5-star
    23 are 4-star
    8 are 3-star (and I consider this neutral territory so I ignore it)
    6 are 2-star
    3 are 1-star

    76 liked the book and 9 did not.

    That means there is a 90% chance a reader will like the book and a 10% chance they will not. But first, the reader should read the 1-and-2 star reviews to see what they say. A well written review will give reasons with examples. A troll’s review will not. The usual troll review is short and sounds false when compared to the 4-star and 5-star reviews. Those reviews that sound false should be removed from the ranking process.

    • But what if the author paid for those 4-star and 5-star reviews? A critic may mention that as a reason to claim the book is horrible. Of course, what no one thinks about is the huge amount of money it might cost to buy 76, 4-and-5-star reviews and the risk of being caught is extremely high.

      Then the critic might allege that the author used sock puppet accounts to write those reviews and get away with it because few if any people would know that to do that the author would need to have a different computer and different account for each sock puppet. Most people probably don’t know that each computer has its own IP address (a code that Amazon can read) that allows Amazon to catch anyone using the same computer to set up a different account.

      Imagine the high cost of buying 100 laptops or tablets or desktops just so an author could write 100 4-and-5-star review for their own book. Where would the author find the room.

      Then the critic might allege the author paid one of those internet review services that appeared a few years ago and sold 4-and-5-star reviews before they were caught and blocked by sites such as Amazon. Most readers might not know that method was discovered and blocked too.

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  4. God Bless your analytical mind Lloyd. And thank you for doing all the number crunching. That particular review has always bothered me, but you’ve done much to make me encouraged more than discouraged. I’ve tweeted this post! It was well written and informative.

  5. Well considered essay, Lloyd. At first, when looking at the reviewer’s profile, I felt that possibly the reviewer was not sure of her favorite reading genres, but following the list, it seems she is quite specific in her choices. So then, I can only assume that unless she lives beneath a bridge, she is young enough to think that her opinion needs to be barbed to be useful. Oh well. Nobody reads her reviews anyway.

    • I wonder how many readers read the reviews before buying. I suspect that word of mouth from a friend is more powerful and once that friend recommends a book, the reviews are unimportant.

      In addition, some very opinionated reviewers apply their personal beliefs to what they write. If a book includes content they do not approve of no matter how well written or plotted the story might be, I think this sort of reviewer will write a negative review and focus only on what bothers their personal, religious or political beliefs. In other words, this individual wants to read stories that supports his or her beliefs and lifestyle choices.

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