March 6, 2012

Amazon Is Playing Games

I wrote a review for the Communist Manifesto on March 2, 2012.  Amazon sent a confirmation email on March 2, 2012 letting me know my review was live on their site. It wasn't listed on my profile as my most recent review so I thought maybe there was a lag so I gave it a couple of days - no luck. This morning I just happened to be looking for comments on past reviews and there was my Communist Manifesto review from March 2, 2012...dated June 20, 2011!

You might be wondering why that matters as long as my review was accepted and tallied. The problem is, Amazon keeps a running list of recent reviews on the front page of each product. They feature the top 3 reviews directly under the product, then 10 of the most recent off to the right side.  The very bottom review of the 10 most recent was posted three months ago...meaning that review has stayed on the front page for three months waiting for someone to come along, write a new review, and bump it to another page. Which means my review had a good chance of being on the front page for no less than 3 months! And clearly that was unacceptable to someone at Amazon.

My review submitted on March 2, 2012:

1/5 stars selfish drivel

it takes a soft mind to believe legalizing theft and destroying private property has a prosperous future. had the authors been gainfully employed they might have viewed the world less selfishly. there is no more solipsistic ideology in the world than what is put forth on these pages.

From my email, alerting me my review from 'June 20, 2011' had been accepted.

UPDATE: Welcome to the morons from Ace of Spades. Not sure how you got here but thanks for blowing up my stats.

UPDATE: Same day, just adding some shenanigans that put Amazon on my radar in the first place. Full disclosure, I'm currently a satisfied yet suspicious prime member. They've lost so much money to me in free two-day shipping that I almost feel sorry for them.

At least as early as March 12, 2011, I tried to stream the Ayn Rand documentary A Sense of Life through Amazon's instant video on my television (a service that I also pity them for offering). Sadly, I got a content error and couldn't watch it. Luckily, every single other movie I wanted to watch worked fine. But even from that first attempt I was suspicious because it wasn't happening in a vacuum. At the same time, there was buzz for the upcoming Atlas Shrugged movie and people, such as myself, might just have wanted to prime their pumps for the big show with a little perspective. So I tweeted my disgust. I continued to tweet my disgust until March 21, 2011, at which time the movie's content continued to err but I stopped bitching for whatever reason. All this time, anticipation for the movie's April 15, 2011 release was building and there was probably a larger than normal interest in all things Rand. For at least nine days using Amazon's instant video service, that was a futile desire. I ended up watching A Sense of Life some time in November of 2011 when Atlas Shrugged came out on video.

Probably another update or two coming up.

UPDATE: Over the past year I've probably bought a dozen economics books. Most recent was Hayek's The Fatal Conceit so an economics theme runs through Amazon's book recommendations. There I saw Adam Smith's masterpiece The Wealth of Nations looking for a home. I scrolled down to revel in some 5-star reviews because it sends the purchase off on a good note. And what do you know? The only displayed review in the editorial review section, before the general reviews, is this turd by former socialist Robert L. Heilbroner:

"Adam Smith's enormous authority resides, in the end, in the same property that we discover in Marx: not in any ideology, but in an effort to see to the bottom of things."

Nevermind that Marx was trying to see the bottom of a bottle. Nevermind whatever tenuous comparisons can be made between the men's motivations. The Wealth of Nations was published over 40 years before Marx was born and if either man deserves to be named in the others editorial review section, it is Adam Smith. But you won't see him there, you will only see this olive branch:

"...Marx and Engels's critique of capitalism and its deleterious effect on all aspects of life, from the increasing rift between the classes to the destruction of the nuclear family, has proven remarkably prescient..."


  1. This is weird, but this isn't a conspiracy.

    This isn't even a very damning review. It basically just says that the book sucks.

    I think you are ascribing too much importance to your review.

  2. The Mistress of Disaster, she strikes!

  3. Is it possible you wrote a review in June, deleted it, and months later wrote another?

    1. I don't remember writing one, and if I had, I probably wouldn't have deleted it.

    2. Cool. I only asked because I had a review post with a very old date, and then I realized that was the date of a review I had written years before and deleted because the product I got was defective (so I gave them a second chance and then forgot all about it).

      I never rule out liberals being censors and dishonest with reviews, but I've had good experiences with Amazon so I hope it's some error rather than a deliberate effort.

      Of course, Amazon mainly just wants to make money... this kind of shenanigan makes a bit of sense from that POV (still is wrong).

  4. A few years ago I got into a long back-and-forth with Amazon about their blatant promotion of leftist books, etc. For example, the website used to have a "Fishbowl" feature wherein someone or some group of lefties had their say. I recall Bill Maher and the Ditzie Chicks being highlighted in the Fishbowl. Besides this, Amazon was going full-tilt to promote Gay & Lesbian items at every turn, but had no religious or Christian categories at all. I simply wrote to Amazon asking how this made sense from a marketing perspective, seeing how most Americans were professing Christians and conservative. No one at Amazon ever acknowledged the logic of my argument, but soon after there were Christian categories and the Fishbowl feature went away.

    1. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

  5. I would have rejected your review for lack of proper capitalization. We have to maintain some standards if we expect ourselves to be exemplary citizens.

  6. To Anonymous Mar 6, 2012 11:13 AM

    His review did not say the book sucked or didn't suck.

    He said those who believe in the subject it was written about have soft minds.

    He denounced Communism not how they wrote about it.

    Lame distraction you tried there. Soft mind, eh?

  7. Amazon is a private company entitled to do what it wants - and I am a private citizen entitled to no longer use their services

  8. Actually, there are two parts to the Communist Manifesto. There is the historical analysis, and then there is the ideological screed. If you look at the historical analysis (through about the first half of chapter one), there is a very insightful discussion of the way that capitalism has revolutionized the means of production and thereby brought every corner of the world under the influence of a global economy. In other words, because of its superior ability to respond to changes in conditions, capitalism has displaced every other type (feudalism, oligarchy, agrarianism) of economic system. This is good stuff. The Communist Manifesto contains one of the keenest analyses of the strengths of the free-market system and the reasons it has been so successful. Then, the authors drift off into wish-fulfillment. They seem to believe that this amazingly adaptable economic system will somehow stop adapting and just sit there and wait to be dismantled by the working classes. If you just look at the first part, it is clear that Marx and Engels were brilliant economists with an amazing grasp of the disruptive nature of a free-market economy. On the other hand, they couldn't get past their own prejudices to see that this economic system would go on, enriching EVERYONE, not just the capital holders, until we reach a point where even the poorest of us live better than the ultra-rich lived only 60 or 70 years ago.