Posts Tagged ‘Warrior cats’

Barnes & Noble reviews are Being “Gamed”

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Someone on an email list posted a set of bizarre “reviews” for her book on B&N. I won’t link there because I don’t want to out her. Also I don’t need to in order to show you that B&N has an issue they need to investigate and clean up.

Check out this Google Search, This Google image search on the “Lienstar”. You see several book covers. I moused over a couple of rows of them, and they were ALL from Barnes & Noble.

Click on an image, and go to the website. You’ll end up at a book page like this one: This Random Book. Now scroll down through the reviews.

Here’s a screencap of a portion:

Obviously Not Reviews

OK, so “Doomkit” is kind of odd. Google that and you end up at this DeviantArt site for Doomkit.

Read the comments (screencap)
A cat themed role-playing game?

And here Getting the picture?

Check out the last comment. Now Google “Lightening Clan.” After finding “Sea Breeze of the Lighting Clan” (also a cat) on DeviantArt I googled that phrase and ended up here:

And, at last, Google “Warrior Cats roleplaying” and you end up at

Take all this together and you get a role playing game centered around warrior cats with players who are, rather not very nicely, abusing the B&N website by conducting their games via “reviews”

I’m sure it’s fun for them, but to be honest, authors and B&N are collateral damage. These don’t even rise to the level of “fake” reviews. They’re garbage reviews.

B&N, you’ve been gamed. Clean it up.


I want to add a couple of things to this post. The first is that I understand that the RPG is mostly played by kids and young adults. And I bet it’s fun. But the process of using a third party’s website as an extension of the game does impact authors as well as B&N. Some of those books have over a hundred reviews, but only the first few are legitimate. ALL of the rest are these RPG comments. Not all the comments are 5 stars. A fair number are 1 star. This means that book is unfairly up-ranked or down-ranked in the overall star rating. Suppose a potential buyer only sees the first few legitimate reviews and, further, sees 100+ reviews. I noted, by the way, that they appear to be choosing books that have at least one lengthy review — so that the garbage entries are hidden (as it were) below the fold. The reader will have a false sense of how popular the book is. And so would B&N.

Here’s another issue: What does this say about B&N network security that it is unable to see what has to be an unlikely set of circumstances: A book with a low sales ranking suddenly sees dozens and dozens of “reviews” in a short period of time WITHOUT an accompanying or preexisting rise in purchases. That, all by itself, ought to trigger a warning that the servers are seeing network activity that is highly suggestive of a hack.

Yet another issue: What does this say about B&N’s investment in their reputation?