Can you trust negative reviews?

Negative Reviews

Why you can’t really trust negative reviews


Hello to all my friends and readers. I’m very interested in reviews, including negative reviews.

In preparing for the imminent release of my newest book Perfect Prey, the sequel to The Trafficking Consortium, I’ve kept my eyes and ears open to anything that might be relevant to you, my readers, and all readers alike about why one buys and reads books.

This morning I came across this NY Times article written by Caroline Beaton. She is a freelance writer and producer who sends a monthly newsletter about science and society. She wrote the following article ( on reviews.

Now as all writers and independent publishers know, our books live and die by the reviews people put on our products. In my case, people either write extraordinarily positive or extremely negative reviews. Given the subject matter of my stories, I feel that is understandable.


What bothered me were negative reviews based on pure emotion due to the subject matter fell outside their usual comfort levels. Let me say this in response. I wanted to write something different that appealed to a decently sized reader base which stood out among the crowd. Not wanting to compete with thousands of authors with similar material, I looked long and hard to find a less populated niche of competing books. I found that niche and I proudly write my stories to stand out from the crowd.

Then today I found this article. For the most part, it confirms my findings and beliefs, yet articulated in a way that I might not have considered. The essay is not focused on books but rather on all online products for sale. I still feel that it is pertinent to my arguments on the decision process to read a book or not.

Postive and Negative ReviewsAmazon and other online retailers would have you believe that if a product has a bunch of five-star reviews, it must be good. Inversely, if it has a bunch of one-star reviews, it must not be good. In my case, my books garner either five-star or one-star reviews. Very few are in the middle. Combined those reviews net out to about three-stars, which may appear to be mediocre.

What is important to remember, is to read the language of the review in the context of the book. One of them doesn’t even apply to one of my books but rather a pair of socks. Huh? Obviously, the reviewer made a mistake, but there is little I can do about it. If I could edit or delete someone else’s review, that would destroy the confidence of the buyer in the decision-making process.

“Pay attention to contextual details and specific facts rather than reviewers’ general impressions and ratings. The number of stars someone selects often has “very little to do with” their review text, Dr. Gretzel said. People have different rating standards, and written explanations are inherently more nuanced.”
~Ulrike Gretzel, a communications professor at the University of Southern California and the director of research at Netnografica

Writing Reviews

Still, from my sales figures, I have an audience out there. Thousands of people have bought my books. Few have written a review. So, as a writer, how can I decide on whether what I write is what they want?

Negative Reviews

That’s a hard question.

“Very few people write reviews. It’s about 1.5 percent or 15 people out of 1,000. Should we be relying on these people if we’re part of the other 985?”
~Duncan Simester, a marketing professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management

We all read the reviews and make decisions based upon them. As an author, I would want everyone to write a review so that I can learn. However, as a consumer, I depend upon the reviews written to decide whether I buy or not, and at the same time, rarely post a review. I try to be good about them, knowing what I know from both sides. I still fail to do justice to my fellow authors. What I do know, is that to me, negative reviews have more weight in my decision-making process than positive ones.

“People are much more likely to write reviews if they have extreme emotions about something. This is why you see so many rave reviews and so many rancorous ones.”
~Eric K. Clemons, who teaches information management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.


“We want to feel secure in our decision-making processes. We use negative reviews to understand our risk and reduce our losses, studies show. — Put simply, we should distrust online reviews because emotions are involved.”
~Lauren Dragan, an analyst of consumer feedback as the audio tech products reviewer at Wirecutter, a New York Times company.

My thoughts

As I read and processed this article, I understand and agree with most of the conclusions made therein. However, I want people to write reviews, both good and bad regarding my books. I need the feedback. To me, the only bad review is the one not written. All I ask as you write your review, write constructive and meaningful evaluations of your opinions, without letting your emotions drive your words. That’s all I ask.

Have a great day and a better tomorrow.

Editorial on Google Chrome v56

Google Chrome

Editorial on Google Chrome v56

Google ChromeFirst off, let’s just say that I have been a Google Chrome supporter for at least two years. In my mind, it’s done an excellent job isolating and protecting us users from the nasties out there in the world trying to screw with us. I know because as an IT engineer at work, one of my jobs is to test the interactions of new software product versions in our environment. As such, I read up on upcoming releases of our critical applications used in our environment. The Google Chrome browser is one of those applications.

Last Wednesday, Feb 7, 2016, Google released its latest version of their Chrome Browser. I knew in advance that it was coming. I thought I knew how it would affect my user base at work and my devices at home.

I was wrong. In the week since Google released it, I have discovered a failure within printing calendars from OWA (Outlook’s web application for email and calendars for Exchange Servers) and Android device breakdowns. I’m less worried about the printing of calendars which I’m sure will be fixed at some point. I’m more worried about the total disconnect on Android devices.

When I first learned of the upcoming Chrome release, I figured that it would not affect me. All of my devices are relatively new and update frequently. Okay, apparently I was partially correct.

Google DriveAbout 3-4 years ago, I bought a Samsung tablet 10.2. It’s been a workhorse in my house ever since. My girlfriend uses it to read her webmail and traverse the various social sites. I use it to make use of the Google Drive features which depend on Chrome. When I am away from my home office, I can pick up the table and write full chapters of a new book on it. Then, when it’s time to do initial editing, my girlfriend will read out loud what I wrote on the tablet while I follow along on mine and make corrections.

With the release of Chrome 56, that all broke and apparently will be gone forever. In researching the question, here is what I found.

Samsung stopped updating the Android OS on my 10.2 tablet at version 4.0.4. Okay, it’s an older version. I get that. But until the other day, I didn’t care. The tablet did everything we needed, browsing, docs, sheets and a bunch of other stuff that is not germane to this editorial.

When version 56 installed, Google in its infinite wisdom simply disabled the installed instance on my tablet. It didn’t say why. It didn’t throw up a message why the program wouldn’t load. Tapping the icon on the screen merely appeared to start and immediately stopped. When my girlfriend told me that her chrome on her tablet had broken, she just handed me the tablet and told me to fix it

ChromeNormally, this is a no-brainer for me. I uninstalled the app and went to the Playstore to reinstall it. What do you know? The app wasn’t listed. WTF? When I dug deeper, I found an article in 2015 mentioning that due to the disabling of certain external features, most notably .mobi, Google was going to stop supporting Chrome on certain devices in the future. Okay, to me that means, support will stop answering questions, and I am free to use the software for as long as I want, as long as I don’t call them. Right?

Wrong in this case. Google effectively crashed my installed copy and prevented it from being used at all. Okay then, at first I accepted it and moved on, giving the tablet back to my girlfriend and told her to use the built-in browser that came with the table.

A couple of days later, it hit me. My current cell phone is a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. What would happen if I decided to continue to use it for the next, say, 3 or 4 years. Not to say I would, but what if? I still have my Galaxy S3 in use, so it is possible. What if Google decided to build in yet another security feature into Chrome and disable all previous versions of Chrome. What if they decided that the Android OS version was just too old to support the latest and greatest (?) version of Chrome and just killed Chrome on my device.

You would say, just use a different or built-in browser. My answer would be, wrong.

Chrome is the built-in browser on this device. As such, I would have no browser at all, and I suspect a bunch else would break as well since the OS on the S6 Edge is so heavily dependent upon the Chrome backbone.

Would I be able to use the playstore to go out and find the current copy of Firefox, Opera, or Safari? I’m not sure. They would be forcing me to buy a new smartphone when I had a perfectly good working one yesterday.

Is this right? The same goes for my tablet. It was a perfectly good working one yesterday and not today. Its usefulness is now cut in half, and my girlfriend and I are already talking about replacing it.

Now, you Apple people out there would ask, why not buy an iPad, or why didn’t you buy and iPad.

I’ll tell you. I’m an open systems kind-of-guy. I do not like the small little world that Apple forces me into. I do not like how they force you to buy new expensive accessories on each device you own. And by-the-way, Apple builds in their own planned obsolescence into each of their products. Now, before you try to defend your position, just know that I do have an iPad 2. Yes, this is an older tablet, predating my Samsung Tablet. I had figured that it would force me to replace it two years ago. The thing is, I don’t use it very much. In fact, about the only time I use it is to test my website designs on it. And hey, guess what? I haven’t gotten the nerve to load up Chrome on it and see what happens. I will soon, just not today.

In the end, I’m not happy that Google is doing what they are doing, in the interest of making a better, more secure browsing platform. I feel they should have a least let me keep on continue using the older version, and given me a disclaimer. Fine, I’ll accept the disclaimer and continue to be productive. If something happens afterward, it’s on me, and I’m okay with that. #sad