reviews, comments, opinions. How helpful are they really?


On my goodreads page these are my available stats:       886 ratings (3.50 avg.)     27 reviews


Isn’t it great to be able to read other people’s ratings to help you evaluate a product? I love Amazon and Kindle and Goodreads because you can read so many opinions and that can help you make a decision. Except when you don’t like what they say and you were dumb enough to reply. (That was me).



My latest ridiculous theory: If you read my review of the Butterfly Garden, you’ll know that I really loved it. After reading it, I posted a review on Goodreads. I also looked at some other reviews. I read some that were only one star because I was curious as to the reasons for not liking something I thought was so good. There was one post, where the woman, in my opinion, ranted about how awful the book was for four or five long paragraphs. Why would someone put so much energy into not liking a book? In my stupidity, I posted a reply. Do you remember the term “flame war?”


Theory: People enjoy expressing themselves. They do not however, like, when they are disagreed with.

Hypothesis: When most people express their opinions, they believe they are right. Well, we all think our opinions are right or why would we express them? (Except for our friend Fred, who enjoys stirring people up). Many people do not understand that an opinion is not an actual fact, and will fight til the death defending their words.

Research design:

In this instance, all I have to go on is my experience. Being old is always a good justification for that. Except maybe when it comes to technology. However, I have been on line for many years. Especially on Ebay. And I think that may have been where you could get in trouble because they didn’t have the rating system and monitors they now have.


Back in the day, if you said something someone didn’t like, you incited a war. Nasty words flew back and forth and it was definitely not something you wanted to get involved with. I never did. Not until, well, here’s the story.


In research we call this anecdotal evidence. Which is the fancy way to say, “oh yeah, this is what happened to me.” This is what we use when we don’t have any actual statistics to back us up. (Think of this like insider trading only since there’s no money involved we can’t get arrested).

Now I get to tell a story.

You can check the year, since I’m too lazy. It was right after Michael Jackson died. I had this really cute broach which was a Mickey Mouse head, with attached, swinging gloved hands. It was gold tone with rhinestones and in perfect condition.


I couldn’t find the pin on line. It must be really rare.



I had purchased it quite a few years before I decided that Michael was a sicko, so I decided it might be a good time to sell. I put it on Ebay and had one winning bid. From a woman named Dawn.

I waited for payment and it didn’t come. I sent her an email. Her response was an apology but she had bid on impulse and she and her family didn’t even have rent money etc. so she wouldn’t be buying it and it was my fault for tempting her. In retrospect, I should have let her go. But blaming me? That brought out my stubborn. I wrote back that I would inform Ebay and she would get a negative review. So, before anything happened she wrote an awful review about me. I don’t recall the deets, but it pissed me off. I had 100% positive feedback and was not going to let this nutcase get away with this.

I put in a complaint to Ebay because she was wrong, and I wanted that review removed and didn’t want to pay the commission on money I hadn’t received.

The next communications I received from Dawn, after threatening, were mostly her telling me I was the devil and she and her pastor were praying for me. I think that was her way of apologizing.


At that point I pursued the proper channels. I got them to drop the charges against her (since I was not looking forward to any more to do with her) and had Ebay take down the feedback. I never posted anything negative about her. It was like nothing had happened. Mostly I forgot about it. Until now.


Working definitions.

Every site has a different term or format for feedback from its customers. On

Goodreads you write and give numbers for stars for a review of a book.


I read a review that I responded to on Goodreads. Honestly, I had no idea that Lucille would be so offended. As I mentioned she really put what sounded to me like vitriol into this review. I disagreed with her reasoning and the only thing that I said that seemed to set her off, was, “where is all this hate coming from?” (I have since deleted my posts because I didn’t want them there). I assumed she would understand that I meant hate for the book. Here is where I will say that I was picking up something in my unconscious. My training was kicking in. Because when you read her replies, she actually was rather hateful. Don’t you think?

I got a reply and was a bit surprised how angry she was. She thought I was calling her hateful, I think, and then lambasted me for my opinion.

One other woman wrote something that supported something I said, but then a couple of other women and Lucile kept coming back. I had of course apologized initially. I never meant to say anything hurtful and said so. I also said everyone was entitled to their opinions. And she wrote back something else.

I decided, okay. Another Dawn. I would stop responding. A month later, I get another email about a new thread. She is still on me and saying something like she’s going to be happy to ignore me.

Just another day in my life. That’s when I deleted all my posts.

Findings: Most of the time, reading other people’s reviews of products is a good thing. I like sharing (as you know since I’m writing this blog) and understand that not everyone will give a thumbs up. I actually appreciate the negative reviews, you know, like the product wasn’t well made, the screws don’t line up. Things that are helpful. I suppose, one should take this in mind. Reviews of an actual product that has dimension and purpose is easier to write. It can be based on facts and not just opinions.



Reviews, comments, thumbs up or thumbs down are useful tools. However, they are probably best used when there is an actual product involved. If you are reading an opinion, you have to remember that. It is only a person’s opinion. And a person you don’t know. Also, if you don’t like something, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself.

Except on this blog. I don’t want only positive comments. I would love to have a dialogue. Discourse and disagreements are places where you can learn. Just be careful where you leave your footprint.

Thanks for reading. As always, your friend in cyberspace.

guess which person is Fred?