Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rumination: Anonymity & Amazon Reviews

Dear Authors and Gentle Beings considering the signing of petition(s) to eliminate anonymity for reviewers on Amazon....

An author makes the choice to use a pen name or not, why should a reviewer be denied that option?  No, it is not unreasonable to desire respectful communication or to demand an accounting of how many books you sold on Amazon. Yes, it is unreasonable to demand the enforced compromise of privacy choices for the privilege of reviewing your book and proof the book was purchased on Amazon.  No one should have their privacy options removed without shrieking, screaming and kicking, or at the very least refusing to review material on Amazon.

To be as transparent as I am willing to be, I confess, I have two Amazon accounts.  One that I've used for fifteen years and intend to keep using.  It has my purchase history, my children's deepest longings (AKA wish list), and is no one's business but my own.  I do not choose to share with the entire world any information associated with this account.  I still have that right.  Neither do I choose to risk having to delete that account because some spam-off deciders to send me 6000 e-mails recommending Viagra for Cats. Further, as a kindle resister, I expose the fact, all but (2) of my e-book purchases for the last five years have been elsewhere.  There are other retailers online, still, hanging on, thank God!

In order to have a second Amazon account and submit reviews on Amazon, I was required to make a purchase.  I did so.  This is not a violation of TOS or intended to undermine the review process, it is merely self-protection.  Just as I tell my children not to put their real names out there, I practice what I preach.  For most of us, there is a wobbly triangle of security, privacy and interaction when it comes to the Internet.  We want to be involved but we know there are risks and we do what we can to minimize them.   Retaining our right to have a display name that is not our real name, e-mail address or gateway to our bank account is a common sense part of that.

The publicity over this petition is certainly feeding the very monkey many authors wish to silence.  Why trolls, snerts and other assorted annoyances should be awarded five seconds more time than they already steal is beyond me.  To the best of my knowledge and a little research, there are processes in place to report abuse. I sincerely doubt it takes longer to report issues, violators, bullies, stalkers, et al than it does to obtain 1000 signatures, but I could be wrong.

Of course, non-response to the monkey is always an option but that does not generate requests for interviews or re-tweets, commiserating diatribes or even admiration.  Ignoring idiots, imbeciles and vicious cretins just means you carry on via the Internet in the same way you do in Real Life.

I sincerely doubt Amazon will succumb to this latest effort to control how they do business.  What I don't doubt is how obvious it is becoming that the world's largest Internet retailer is not the place to look for well monitored but meaningful dialog.  In other words, just because it is there and so convenient, does not require anyone, author or reader, to use it, at least, not yet....

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