Beware the Smiling Sock Puppet
Today, my provocation for you has to do with one aspect of author community.
The incident I’m going to tell you about didn’t occur in the Writer Unboxed community. This commentary isn’t about the Writer Unboxed community, per se, nor about my bro Vaughn Roycroft and the other great people who shepherd that group so faithfully, nor about the terrific writers who draw strength and aid from it. You’re all golden. And I’d like you to give me your input on this issue.
We’re going to talk about false consumer-review ratings of the happy kind. I’ll tell you about the incident that prompts this.
Last week, a friend of mine who’s an author–a very good one–needed help in putting the cover image of her forthcoming book into a listing on a big Web site we all know well.
She went to a major writing community of which she’s a respected member, and she put out the call for help.
Happily, my friend got the assistance she needed from a kindly fellow author, who helped her get the image into place.
And then my friend got a five-star rating for the book from that kindly author.
The kindly author hasn’t read the book. Because it’s not out. She hasn’t been given an advanced reading copy, either. She gave a five-star rating to a book she’s never seen, surely as what she felt was a generous gesture.
My author friend who was helped with the image was just as shocked as I was. She’d asked for no rating or review-ish support whatever.
So this is a case of a good-Samaritan writer, our “kindly author,” responding to the supportive-community concept with some technical assistance…and a bogus rating. Our kindly author evidently thinks it’s okay for her to give a five-star endorsement to a book she’s never seen. On the site in question, a five-star rating is the best possible.
As my provocation today, I propose that we examine this event for several important issues.
Is our kindly author a representative of the goodness that can come from author community? Or is she making a wrong-headed interpretation of the one-for-all dynamic?