Friday, February 10, 2006

More on "helpful" buttons

I've griped about these before, but I was just looking at my Amazon Reviews kind of idly. I'm not unduly proud of any of them as criticism actually, but that's not the point.

I have four reviews. I have eight notations of "helpful" or "not helpful", six were, in fact, helpful.

As I would come to understand the concept of a "helpful" review, it should in some manner inform your ability to decide to choose that product.

If someone writes a review that says, "As someone who loves to shove his foot up his own ass, I found this product excellent!", I, as someone who doesn't believe he cares for shoving his foot up his own ass, must call this review "not helpful" to me personally. I do see that it could, in principle, be a helpful review to others.

If this were a real world example and I was pushing those buttons for reviews of that product, I would abstain from that one.

However, if one said, "I love Glenn Miller because of all the crunchy guitar distortion.", I'd make a point to say "not helpful".

Now, here's where I'm unsure where the functionality comes in. I believe most of the review raters merely click "helpful" for reviews they agree with and "not helpful" for reviews they disagree with, which doesn't really help anyone.

I look at the four measly reviews I put up on Amazon, for whatever larky reason I did for any of them, and I think my review for Planet of the Apes - The Complete TV Series is easily the most helpful. If I were an ignorant buyer, trying to decide whether to buy the product or not, this is the only one of the four that I myself would find helpful at all.

And yet, it's the only one that has more "not helpful" votes than "helpful".

So, are the "helpful" buttons helpful themselves? As far as I can tell, no. Not helpful.

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