Reviewing The Reviewers

As any author knows, reader reviews can’t be ignored nowadays. Amazon is central in that change. Readers may praise, but authors now also need a skin as tough as iron too.

Authors aren’t alone. A business owner we know got an appalling review a few months ago on a non-Amazon site from a customer who’d – we were told – had a personal ax to grind. It was “1 star” followed by a single, vitriolic sentence. (How classy.)

I recall a B&B owner where we stayed some years ago in Canada telling us of a recent guest (and she said she suspected who it was) who’d given her a poor review on TripAdvisor because he didn’t like the breakfast. She told us that he got exactly what everyone else got (which was exactly what was promised), and never complained to her in person which, she said, would have at least allowed her to have addressed what he didn’t like. Instead he left having said nothing and scribbled something negative online, which she thought was unfair and even nasty of him.

TripAdvisor has impacted travel profoundly. Where we stayed in France a few weeks back gets mostly “5 stars,” but there were some “4s.” The chalet owner told us he had gotten one very low rating; that stunned us so we scoured the site looking for it, but couldn’t find it. Regardless, obviously even the thought of a low rating clearly bothered him.

TripAdvisor homepage. [Screen capture by me.]
TripAdvisor homepage. [Screen capture by me.]
Then there’s crossing the line into the realm of the ratings ridiculous, such as “rating” – yes, really – the Nazi German extermination camp Auschwitz. Over 1 million souls were murdered on that site in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II: on TripAdvisor Auschwitz reviews. [Screen capture by me.] on TripAdvisor Auschwitz reviews. [Screen capture by me.]
Who visits a death camp and complains about, say, the “uneven ground” for the walking tour? Or that the tour is long, with little time to rest? Or cramped conditions on the tour vans? Seriously?

Are some so lacking the ability to grasp that they are not reviewing a novel, a local business, a breakfast, or a ski chalet? Apparently so. One of the great dangers of writing is it reduces everything to the same size: a paragraph on a book one didn’t like all that much vs. a paragraph on a death camp.

They are NOWHERE in the same league. As that Metro article suggests, it’s probably best not to “review it” at all. But in our world of now thinking reviewing everything makes sense, it’s hardly surprising that some actually ludicrously try to do so.