Well, yes and no. I tend to fall more in line with Joe Konrath's opinion here than with those who created a petition to show their disdain for sock puppets. I disagree whole-heartedly with those who create false accounts to snipe at authors they view as "competition." C'mon, people, let the stories sink or swim on their merit.
You can read all of Joe's post, and then the hundreds of comments in the thread that follows. It wouldn't be a waste of your time if you want to look at the ethical debate surrounding this controversy. But for practical purposes, the argument is finished in the third sentence of Konrath's post:
Amazon allows one-star reviews.
Until they come up with a different system for feedback, abuses like these will take place.
Look, I appreciate good reviews. I appreciate bad ones, too. I'm thankful that somebody took the time to provide a thoughtful, insightful note on a text, regardless of which way the wind blows.
What I don't appreciate is this. Sure, this reader can post this up there on Goodreads. Obviously, it takes very little time to slam a book that wasn't even finished with three trite sentences and a one-star review. Must make some people feel good, I guess.
Would I do it? Hell no. It's completely demeaning.
But that's the way the system is set up.
I think, in order to earn the right to post a review, one should do two things: finish the book (or use the product) and offer concrete rationale. It's okay not to like something, of course, but the best way to demonstrate that while maintaining your dignity as a credible person is to show why.
Criticism, by its very nature, should be critical. I know that sounds redundant, but it's true. There should be something there. If a reader feels the writing is "choppy," fine...but illustrate how that might be with a passage or two from the text.
I will never post a review for a book I don't finish. Will I post negative reviews? Maybe. I slammed Swamp People (and received about a dozen e-mails for it) some time ago. That was based on what I thought was offensive content. Generally, I post reviews if I like something. My mom taught me that, if I dislike something, there's no shame in keeping my mouth shut. So I do. That's how I roll. Your mileage may vary, and that's fine too, of course.
And I don't think purchasing reviews is the terrible thing that some do, particularly if they are written by those working for a service like Book Rooster. Those folks call it like they see it, and subscribing to the service doesn't guarantee a rosy response.
But I do think the one-star drivebys are ridiculous if they don't actually say anything about the story itself.
Now, speaking of reviews, I'm loving Jeff Ford's Crackpot Palace and will have my thoughts up on that one in a few days. Great book...go buy it.
And, if you would like to read Torched, you can enter a drawing to win a copy here: