Freerice and reviews

Although I don’t quite do it every single day–like lots of stuff, I’ll completely forget about it from time to time–I do spend a fair amount of time on Freerice.com recently. I think the highest level I can get to in English Vocab is 50, but I want to improve.

It gets me thinking about words. I love “autovetter”, even though I would rather do it myself. Of course, I love the words acetylene and coriander too, so maybe I’m just strange. I’ve even found misspelled and incorrectly defined words on the site. About one in 5K, so I’m hardly going to do more than mention it in passing once a year.

I’m cold and too tired to eat, but I don’t really want to go back to bed.

Something funny that I came across yesterday: while talking about The Egyptologist, I mentioned that a lot of its reviews on Amazon seem to have been written by people who didn’t understand what the book was actually about. That’s not just snobbery on my part, complaining that people don’t like a book that I enjoyed. They actually seem to have thought it was a straight-up mystery (it’s not) and act quite justified in saying that as its “mystery” is quickly obvious to the reader, it’s boring.

How silly, I think. I also feel a compunction to write Arthur Phillips and tell him that I liked the book rather a lot. Just in case he reads those reviews and experiences a sense of despair. It’s sad when you go to that much trouble and then see people miss your point entirely.

But you know what I didn’t think while reading those negative reviews? “I’m gonna flag this as unhelpful.” But apparently that happens a lot on Amazon’s negative reviews. Which is just disappointing. To (slightly) paraphrase what I read, negative reviews on Amazon get ‘dinged’ as unhelpful. Why on earth would this be? A butthurt author abusing their power? Butthurt readers who think that “your opinion differs from mine” is synonymous with “your opinion does not impart helpful information about this book”?

I like negative reviews and positive reviews. Both have helped me to make or avoid purchases–and not perfectly split, either. I’ve read negative reviews and decided that it sounds like my kind of book/film despite the reviewer’s dislike. I’ve also read positive reviews that made it clear I didn’t want to read it. I have also seen hilarious book rants on SBTB that made mention of how positive the book is reviewed on Amazon.

The internet has given people such a ridiculously veneration for their own opinions that disagreement can no longer be peaceful. And so a league of people sniff and click the little thumbs-down button. I hope it gives them a glowing sense of justice done. It certainly doesn’t benefit anyone else in any way.

…for the record, I do use that button. I use it when the review is genuinely unhelpful, as when someone complains that a book features a male main character rather than the female main character they want in books, bemoaning that this is common and wah wah wah. While saying nothing about the book they are supposedly reviewing.

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