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Publishing and Promoting > Does friending a reviewer on Goodreads make Amazon delete their reviews?

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message 1: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments I have only just opened a Goodreads author account, and when two people (a couple) reviewed my new book I asked to add them as friends on GR (only because that is the facebook model.) Not long after they accepted being friends, their reviews disappeared from the Amazon page for the book. They contacted me to let me know, in a friendly way, so I know they didn't remove the reviews themselves. I am seeing commentary about Amazon detecting GR 'friendships' and taking down reviews. Is this true? I have unfriended them on GR. Perhaps after a few days they might try leaving reviews on Amazon again? Or what else do I need to know about this situation? I asked in an Amazon forum but no one's got back to me, and Amazon Support send a generic email when asked.
Thanks for help.


message 2: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) i have 2 book reviews up for GR friends and they haven't been taken down. then again, i'm not a prolific reviewer. i doubt that GR friends would count as "close friends" as denoted in the amazon ToS.

i had heard that multiple reviews coming in from the "same" IP would count as a single household and that isn't allowed according to the amazon ToS (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/custom...).


message 3: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments Yes, the Amazon generic response I got includes the link to those guidelines, where I saw the note about 'members of the same household'. One would think the first review would be allowed to stay, though, not be removed.


message 4: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Laura wrote: "Yes, the Amazon generic response I got includes the link to those guidelines, where I saw the note about 'members of the same household'. One would think the first review would be allowed to stay, ..."

try having one post from work and the other from home.


message 5: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 50 comments Not to contradict, but even if it is sad that they removed both posts instead of just one, don't play with the system. The more people are trying to go around it and find tricks like that to do so, the more Amazon will get strict.

More people will read your book and will review with time. Have them post here on Goodreads if they can't on Amazon.

Just my two cents.


message 6: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments I'm not at all obsessed with reviews, just trying to understand. I can't tell if the friending I did of these nice people, after seeing their reviews here on GR, had anything to do with the removal on Amazon. The Amazon community guidelines mention 'close friends', not the friend relationships of social media. Does anyone know about that?


message 7: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 50 comments I have nearly 500 friends here on GR. A few of them have reviewed my books on Amazon and their reviews haven't been removed. I have friended someone who posted a review mistaking them for someone I actually knew from another website (not in real life). That review stayed too. I could be wrong, but I doubt that friending someone on GR would actually make Amazon delete their review.

Again, this was before the changes in policy, but I don't see anything in there saying you should not friend people on Goodreads. That'd be a bit silly.


message 8: by Marie Silk (last edited Feb 01, 2017 12:30PM) (new)

Marie Silk | 223 comments I'm pretty sure that's an author urban legend. Some people have even suggested that Amazon checks who your friends are on Facebook and deletes their reviews too. I have not seen anything to support these claims and even though Amazon and Goodreads are connected, I don't think GR friends have anything to do removed reviews.

What Amazon looks for is reviews coming from the same account/household, reviews coming from people in your Amazon address book (friends or family you have shipped gifts to), and reviews coming in without corresponding sales. So if a book gets 100 reviews in a short period of time and there are no sales, Amazon would likely consider the reviews to be suspect.

From your description, it sounds like the reviews were removed because they came from the same household.


message 9: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) G.G. wrote: "Not to contradict, but even if it is sad that they removed both posts instead of just one, don't play with the system. The more people are trying to go around it and find tricks like that to do so, the more Amazon will get strict."

in what way would amazon get more strict?

besides, this "trick" is already well-known. a lot of companies can check your IP. ISPs usually use dynamic IP assignment, but many times they just keep the same IP until you reboot your modem.

in the larger scheme, it's an issue of personal privacy for a reviewer.


message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments Laura wrote: "I'm not at all obsessed with reviews, just trying to understand. I can't tell if the friending I did of these nice people, after seeing their reviews here on GR, had anything to do with the removal..."

G.G. wrote: "I have nearly 500 friends here on GR. A few of them have reviewed my books on Amazon and their reviews haven't been removed. I have friended someone who posted a review mistaking them for someone I..."

Thanks, that would seem to settle the rumour about GR friends' reviewing on Amazon. I've now read a lot more concrete information and guess the use of 'close friends' in the Amazon guidelines for reviewing is there to distinguish real from social-media friends. That's good to know.


message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments Marie wrote: "I'm pretty sure that's an author urban legend. Some people have even suggested that Amazon checks who your friends are on Facebook and deletes their reviews too. I have not seen anything to support..."

Thank you, yes, that's what it looks like. The Amazon guidelines do not mention IP but 'members of the same household', and the reviewers in question here may have the same address and surname on their Amazon account.


message 12: by Griselda (new)

Griselda Heppel | 2 comments It isn't an urban legend. I wish it was. I too have had two reviews removed from my Amazon The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst page by a couple, one of whom is a friend on Goodreads. Many of my author friends have had the same harsh treatment, and given how hard it is for children's authors to chalk up enough reviews for Amazon to notice their books (because obviously, the people who read the books aren't old enough to review them on Amazon!), it feels particularly unkind.
As a result I'm not befriending anyone on Goodreads anymore (just in case they might review my books) and am considering leaving the site altogether. Sad, but it strikes me this is a site that's good for readers and not for authors.


message 13: by David (new)

David J. Bookbinder (davidbookbinder) | 2 comments I don't think it's an urban legend. A Goodreads friend bought a coloring book for adults I published and she reviewed it on Amazon. Her review was deleted within a few hours. I've also become hesitant to "friend" someone here, as a result.


message 14: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments And there is no other reason that could explain it? The guidelines: http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

One of the couple whose reviews were taken down tried to repost, now that we have not been GR 'friends' for 4 days. She was refused, with reason given 'her relationship with the author' (me). This could be a wrong error message by a system employing brute force. Or not. We have no relationship elsewhere.


message 15: by Jan (new)

Jan Notzon | 221 comments Hmm. I was thinking of sending a friend request for the author of a book I recently read and reviewed. Perhaps I better not.


message 16: by Griselda (new)

Griselda Heppel | 2 comments Laura wrote: "And there is no other reason that could explain it? The guidelines: http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

One of the couple whose reviews were taken down tried to repost, now that we have not be..."


No, I think once Amazon has 'established' your relationship there's no going back. It is a rotten way to behave, as authors are encouraged to be active on Goodreads and relate to their readers, only to be punished in this way. I also belong to several writers' communities locally and nationally. Am I not allowed to review other writers' books, simply because I've chatted to them at a conference, or become facebook friends? It's ridiculous.


message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments Griselda wrote: "Laura wrote: "And there is no other reason that could explain it? The guidelines: http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

One of the couple whose reviews were taken down tried to repost, now that ..."


I put in a query to GR support, because they should warn about this if it's true. Perhaps the algorithm only does it to new users/authors? Otherwise how to explain those above in this thread who haven't had the experience? Or perhaps Amazon UK is more drastic at the moment than Amazon US.


message 18: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments GR second response: 'To clarify, unfortunately we can't provide any information on whether or not Goodreads friendships affect the legitimacy of a review on Amazon. As we touched on previously, if you're concerned that Amazon's algorithm is picking up on Goodreads friendships and consequently causing reviews to be taken down, we'd strongly encourage you to contact Amazon for clarification.'

Amazon of course never replies except to send the link to their review guidelines. I call this a runaround.


message 19: by Suzan (last edited Feb 11, 2017 12:50PM) (new)

Suzan Lauder (suzan_lauder) A quick count off the top of my head says I have at least 7 friends on GR and more on FB who are also book reviewers. I have never had a review removed by other than the reviewer themself (a former close friend pulled hers). Reviewers are very clear that their reviews are unbiased, and some have given me less than stellar reviews and still remained as friends. Their feedback was a chance for me to learn to be a better author.


message 20: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 223 comments Thank you for posting that response, Laura. Interesting.


message 21: by David (new)

David J. Bookbinder (davidbookbinder) | 2 comments I'm imagine the Amazon algorithm can't monitor every review all the time. The fact that some of us have had reviews deleted by people who are Goodreads friends indicates they do that.


message 22: by Wayland (new)

Wayland Smith | 36 comments This came up at a topic at a writers' seminar I was at last week. The general consensus of writers from newbies to NY Times bestsellers was that the Amazon/Goodreads removing reviews because of possible links/friendships was utterly random and capricious.


message 23: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments Ah, interesting to hear that it is indeed a topic elsewhere still and not just dismissed as 'legend'. The algorithm could be written so that not all but only some such links cause death: for example, book is new and links are found > die, whereas book is old > allow to live. As a newcomer to GR I feel put off friending anyone. Is it still possible to act here not only as reader but author, do people think? In my long previous social-media experience friending is benign, not heavily meaningful.


message 24: by Janet (new)

Janet Doolaege | 56 comments It seems very unfair that two people in the same household are not entitled to post reviews on Amazon. My book was read and reviewed first by a woman. Then her husband read it and tried to post his own review. Result: both reviews were deleted. But they were entirely genuine, and heaven knows we need reviews.


message 25: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments And apart from couples there are, in expensive cities. large numbers of flats and houses where 3 and 4 live and might well share a book. This overly drastic anti-scamming algorithm would require 3 of them to go to different internet cafés to do a review.


message 26: by Pat (last edited Feb 18, 2017 04:39PM) (new)

Pat Frayne (goodreadscompat_frayne) | 5 comments I have lost four reviews out of 17. That hurts. The sad thing is, I didn't know any of the people who wrote the reviews!


message 27: by Marie Silk (last edited Feb 18, 2017 05:55PM) (new)

Marie Silk | 223 comments They made a rule recently that people must have purchased at least $50 through Amazon to be allowed to review products on Amazon. They also made a rule that people could not leave unverified reviews for more than 5 products in a week. Before that, anyone with an Amazon account could leave a review about anything. It's possible that they are retroactively removing reviews that fall under these circumstances. They also implied that reviews containing the language "I received this book in exchange for a review" could be in jeopardy. I'm not sure whether they have followed through on that last one though.


message 28: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments There are other loopholes, yes, but I brought the topic up for reader/reviewers that I know qualify to review on Amazon, who don't review too much and where no exchange-deal is involved. The circumstances for my example and perhaps some others who have participated comes down to two choices: 1) Amazon reviewers share an IP address and 2) Amazon reviewers became friends with an author on Goodreads.


message 29: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 122 comments I always ask that since I review a lot on Amazon, that authors I work with (I write and do cover design work as well) don't mention me by name in their book's acknowledgments. Just to keep it safer, since Amazon has been enabling all kinds of connection sniffing bots lately. My newest book had a good review dropped, which came from another author I knew... but it was reinstated within a couple of months, so who knows? Most reviewers I know will always mention in some way that they were reading a review copy or ARC. Which is the most ethical way to do it.


message 30: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments Richard wrote: "I always ask that since I review a lot on Amazon, that authors I work with (I write and do cover design work as well) don't mention me by name in their book's acknowledgments. Just to keep it safer..." Richard, have you seen something concrete about Goodreads-friends being disqualified as reviewers on Amazon? I did a lot of searching online without finding that.


message 31: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 122 comments There was an email sent out last year that I deleted, from KDP, that implied exactly that. The whole discussion has been going around in writing circles along with changes to the Amazon marketing/position algorithyms which change almost weekly. IT all really boils down to them banning "Review Exchanges" between authors, if it appears the reviews were not honest (say, five star raves on both sides, etc. ) I usually tell anyone I know that wants to review one of mine not to rate it above four stars unless you can make a very compelling, specific case for five stars.
Amazon's ENTIRE marketing approach relies upon honest user reviews of products, so they take it very seriously. Of course, they will accept editorial reviews from known industry review sites, such as Kirkus (which are very far from un-paid for...) without an issue, so it all seems to be a big, amorphous mess determined on an as you go basis.


message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments Yes, I saw that it was ever-changing and endlessly chewed over going back a few years. But I have a hard time seeing GR friendship as a 'review exchange', and in the cases being discussed above they are not author-to-author but author and reader: ie a reader who reviewed a book on amazon, then found the author on GR and friended them, and whose review was then deleted on amazon. I suppose one must not friend anyone ever then.


message 33: by Richard (new)

Richard Sutton (richardsutton) | 122 comments Amazon has owned Goodreads for a couple of years now, so unless you want to use a pseudonym, it's better to keep a pretty low profile in reader groups here, for the trolling that can get really ugly, too. As far as GR being more of a red flag to Amazon's editors re: reviews? I just don't know. If the "friended" reader paid for the book, it shouldn't have been a problem, especially if the review had more than just raves. I think if a review is specific and uses literary language, Amazon takes it more seriously, but that's just an impression.


message 34: by Laura (new)

Laura Agustín | 14 comments Thank you, Richard. It may be in this innocent case (mild appreciative non-professional-sounding reviews) the OTHER drastic reason that caused their deletion: that these two people share a house (with two others as well) and thus an IP and thus were bashed because they could be - scamming. Neither GR nor Amazon admit to any of this.


message 35: by Jan (new)

Jan Notzon | 221 comments Thank you all. Some excellent information to keep in mind.


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