The Fakery Behind Amazon's "Top 10 Reviewers"

Amazon reviews, especially the effusive ones, have always been suspect—you never know when a five-star review came from an employee, publicist, or marketing type. Slate describes the dishonest world of Amazon’s “Top 10 Reviewers,” where a small group of writers churn out purple-prosed blurbs and jacket-ready compliments at an astounding rate, sometimes for a fee. In turn, these reviewers are inundated with a sort of fame as well as free merchandise—mostly books in the past, but now electronics and other goods. Because good reviews sell more books, Amazon has no incentive to weed out the reviewers who have turned the system into a cottage industry. We suggest you disregard any review with a “Top 10 Reviewer” label on it.

Their rankings, which are determined largely by the number of “this was helpful” votes, are kept high through “you scratch my back” arrangements and swarms of adoring fans who blindly vote for their favorite reviewer while voting down other Top 10 Reviewers.

The author of the article grew interested in Amazon’s Top 10 Reviewer group when he saw an over-the-top positive review of his debut fiction novel. He felt the praise was a little “packaged” and didn’t read as genuine, so he asked his publicist about it—she admitted she’d “solicited Grady Harp’s review.”

“Who Is Grady Harp?” [Slate]
(Photo: Getty)