Reviews - what do you flag


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Reviews - what do you flag

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aug 8, 2007, 4:32 pm

Link to a review that you found inappropriate and explain why you flagged it.

Actual reviews though please, not hypothetical cases.

Do you agree? should that have been flagged? why not?

aug 8, 2007, 5:14 pm

Most of my flagging has been like this, for violations of the TOS.

In the "not a review category", here's one:

Another fairly obvious one, which I can't locate at the moment, consisted simply of a single letter, "r", if I recall correctly.

But here's a "review" that had me in a quandary, though I came down on the side of flagging it (though I'm open to argument on the point). What do people think of this review being flagged? It struck me as not a review, but simply an attack on another reviewer, and that seemed wrong to me.

aug 8, 2007, 5:17 pm

I agree that it's not a review, but a personal attack.

aug 8, 2007, 5:19 pm

I have to agree with you on the Mockingbird review. If someone wants to discuss the book and its reviews, they could easily come to talk and do so. I don't think the reviews should become a place for back and forth banter.

aug 8, 2007, 5:25 pm

By the use of the term "30 year old Norweign" I think this is quite a personal attack - the terms of service are very clear - Do not make personal attacks. As Wikipedia's policy states, "Comment on content, not on the contributor."

aug 8, 2007, 7:08 pm

Sorry, I don't remember where the ones I've flagged as "not a review" were. Non-hypothetical (but unlinked) examples:

"Haven't read yet"
"___ gave this book to me"
(Title, name of author)

Reviews that say "Great!" or "Lousy!" or "I loved this book!" or "I hated this book!" are useless to anyone other than the reviewer's soul mate, but do express a thought (or emotion) regarding the content. I won't flag them.

Some very short reviews I've seen on LT have been a clever summing-up of the book. The issue as I understand it is content (or the lack of any), not length.

Redigerat: aug 8, 2007, 8:08 pm

I've mentioned this particular group of reviews elsewhere. The first is stolen from Amazon verbatim. The second is the same text as the first, but without reference to Amazon. The third is an incomplete rendering of the first two, still without reference to Amazon.

To my thinking, those are all TOS violations, and it seems others agreed with me and flagged one into oblivion.

Redigerat: aug 8, 2007, 11:25 pm

I flagged this one --


as "not a review". He didn't say anything about the content of the book, but was simply making an antifeminist comment. Contrast with


which, while also intended largely or entirely as antifeminist comments, also included some "review" of the book in question (albeit puerile at best).

aug 9, 2007, 8:43 am

Unfortunetly I can't see the difference between the three reviews, they all count as short but acceptable to me. The first is no different to the other two - and disliking or disagreeing with a review is not grounds for flagging it.

aug 9, 2007, 9:09 am

I've only ever flagged reviews which were c&p jobs from Amazon, Publishers Weekly and other sites. The reviews cited above, while misogynistic, still give the reviewer's opinion of the books in question. However, given the man's profile and website, I seriously doubt if he's ever actually read any of the books he's reviewed. He sounds like he'd be quite happy living with the Taliban.

aug 9, 2007, 9:37 am

He sounds like he desperately wants attention - which we are all giving him.

aug 9, 2007, 10:21 am

I sometimes copy and paste my LT reviews to amazon. Does that make them flaggable?

aug 9, 2007, 10:33 am

>12 Jenson_AKA_DL: No. Generally people mean copied and pasted reviews "by" You can have your own review in more than one place.

And damnit, I've been flagged! Granted, it's shorter than the rest of my reviews, but how much can you say about a book you read in a couple hours?

The vast majority of reviews I have flagged were for ToS violations - copyright issues only. I have flagged maybe three or four that were either prices or single letters (what is up with all these people having "n" or "r" in the review box?).

Redigerat: aug 9, 2007, 10:44 am

#12 No - IMHO they are your reviews you can paste them where you like.

BUT if its not obvious that they are your reviews in both places I would expect them to get flagged....if anyone realised. Linking would be obvious, copy and paste less so.

edit- too slow. What #13 said.

aug 9, 2007, 10:55 am

#13 - That's why I can't care whether one of my reviews is flagged or not. It seems totally random to me. I think that's a fine review. ;D

aug 9, 2007, 11:00 am

>15 amancine: I think I only care because I believe in The Rules. This is how we live in a society &tc. I can't tell you how many times crap reviews have made me wish for a thumbs-down feature, and how irritating I find it that we're too touchy-feely to have anything negative like that, but I swallow it and do nothing. I don't abuse the flagging feature - which I do think is useful to have if used properly.

aug 9, 2007, 11:01 am

#16 it is an odd flag because yours isn't even the shortest review there... we need an appeal process!

aug 9, 2007, 11:06 am


Seems a pretty good review - tells us a little about the books style and content and gives a value judgement. Isn't that what a review should do?

BTW - it may well be worth rewording it anyway as phrases such as "the below review" or anything else relating to position are nonsensical now as the reviews can be ordered.

aug 9, 2007, 11:14 am

>18 andyl: Agreed. In fact, I was looking for just such phrasing when I skimmed through all my reviews this morning, but the flag distracted me. I can't figure out why "the below review" itself didn't get flagged by the same user.

aug 9, 2007, 2:56 pm

#8: "... and disliking or disagreeing with a review is not grounds for flagging it."
Agreed. Which is why I flagged the review that says nothing at all about the book ... and didn't flag the other reviews which do say something about the book.

"The first is no different to the other two"
Read them again for content that reviews the book.

aug 9, 2007, 6:34 pm

I'm not sure how I feel on the whole "not a review" flagging thing. Yea, it's annoying if you're actually trying to figure out if you like a book and you find prices or single letters in place of intelligent commentary. However, I'm under the belief that each person's catalog is his own thing, and a review should be whatever they want it to be. As long as it's not offensive to other members who have access to it.

In message #2, for example, Lilithcat you show a review flagged for not being a review, yet in your own catalog you include a "review" of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz describing a re-binding job you did. Admittedly, I admire the fact that you keep up the dying art of book binding, but does this tell your reader anything about the content of the book? Not so much. According to your own rules, something like this belongs in comments.

Oh, and #5, I agree that the flagged review was an attack, but disagree with your reasoning: "By the use of the term "30 year old Norweign" I think this is quite a personal attack." The reviewer was trying to show that the writer did not live in the southern United States at the time of the novel, and therefore shouldn't claim any personal acquaintance with the setting. Attack was made on the author's review, not their cultural origins.

aug 11, 2007, 7:07 am

I just thought of flagging the review by miranda_d on this book as "not a review". Not because it isn't but because you can't read it. It's a link, and the blog it links to has been taken down (404 error).
I didn't flag, but what to do in such cases? Do we need a broken link flag/icon?

aug 11, 2007, 7:27 am

Do we need a broken link flag/icon?

A good idea, particularly if such a flag automatically generated an informational message to the poster, so that she could fix or remove the link.

aug 11, 2007, 8:12 am

>22 GirlFromIpanema:

That link is useless as a review, and so is certainly flaggable in my book. However, the user seems to still be active, having added a couple of books this month, so I have left a private message asking her to change the links or transcribe the reviews to LT.

Redigerat: aug 11, 2007, 9:46 am

>21 llamagirl::

If I understood correctly, flagging as "not a review" doesn't hide the review, even when done by several people (unlike flagging for abuse of TOS). It simply moves the review at the bottom.

Even the reviews that get hidden (for TOS abuse) are still visible to the user who wrote them; they're only hidden in the "social" pages, and even there they can be seen by clicking on a link.

I think this is entirely reasonable. And I say this as a culprit: this morning I realized that I had written some stuff meant as a comment to myself in the "Review" field instead of the "Comment" field of a book ("I've read some of these stories elsewhere" on a collection of stories by Edgar Allan Poe that I had otherwise tagged as "unread" in my library). Since I don't display the Review field in my normal catalog view, I only caught it by chance as I was playing with layouts this morning -- and so I moved the text to the proper field. I may have done it elsewhere too: if another user flagging my review brought it to my attention, I would only be grateful :-)

aug 14, 2007, 8:06 am

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

aug 14, 2007, 8:40 am

>26 perodicticus: Only way is to go to your reviews page (from your profile) and select show all and scroll through fast, looking for red and blue. You can sort by votes here but it's not foolproof - if you have a flagged review with lots of thumbs up, it might not sort to the bottom. Anyway, you haven't got any.

aug 14, 2007, 10:29 am

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

aug 14, 2007, 11:04 am

Out of idle curiosity I just followed nperrin's advice (#27) and scrolled through all my own reviews. I suppose I should be grateful that only two were flagged. I then went and looked at all the reviews for these two books (The Hobbit and A brief history of time) and it seems that all the short reviews have been flagged. Yes, they're short, but most of them say something about the book and are in fact reviews.

I never really saw the point of the review-flagging feature (except for TOS violations), and it seems it is open to a lot of misunderstanding and misuse.

aug 14, 2007, 11:19 am

The Hobbit has some interesting examples: , ,

I think they are all blue flagworthy - not for being short, but for saying nothing about the book at all.

I've not done so yet, because there are other interpretations.
#29 nothing wrong with yours at all.

Your thoughts?

aug 14, 2007, 11:32 am

John -
I think there an issue of what a review is.
Let's look at two situations:

If I emailed you and asked for a review of a Brief History of Time and you sent me the review you wrote I wouldn't consider it a review in the standard book review sense like the NYT's has.

If I saw you on a train and asked what is a Brief History of Time and you gave me the review you wrote I would be pleased.

So it looks like there is contrast between a book review as a style of writing and a book review as a comment on the book. So does your review actually review and critique the book as the NYT would do, no. Is it an important, relevant and apt comment about the book which reveals something about the book, yes.

If people expect our reviews to be in the genera of the NYT reviews they are in the wrong place. I'm not a physicists (though I did read a Brief History of Time in high school) so I am not qualified to write a true review of it, I could comment on it and say, "BHOT is a heavy lay level primer on the basics of physics. While parts are accessible to the non-scientist it is a book best read under the guidance of a scientist. In the book Hawking's deals with only one equation (E=MC^2) in an attempt to maxim the accessibility of the book."
To do much else would be dishonest since I'm not qualified to say much else. In that sense the comment style review is more true to the average LTers interaction with the book because they don't have a science background.

So I think the word review makes some people assume NYT style review not a lay person's comments on a book.

aug 14, 2007, 11:38 am

I have never flagged a revew and am not likely to do so unless my name is brought up negatively in said review. It's not worth it to me to get worked up over some lines of code on my computer screen that are easy to ignore and scroll over. Even if there are 100+ reviews for one book, it's not difficult to tell at a glance which will interest me and which will not. The whole flagging BS has opened a HUGE can of worms and thus we have threads upon threads about it.

Who am I to judge what the catalog owner sees as valuable to them? Not all of my reviews are for other people and so what if they aren't. Others can just scroll over them and ignore them if they don't interest them. Whatever.

Redigerat: aug 14, 2007, 11:38 am

Thanks, reading_fox (#30). I agree with you on the examples you've cited, but I think there are other short reviews which have been flagged which do say something about the book, eg , , , .

As you say, there are other interpretations.

aug 14, 2007, 11:48 am

#32 - you do have a point. BUT there are other spaces for more personal opinions, such as the Comments field or Tags. Yes use LT as you find best, but some conformity on which field to use for what needs enforcing.

After all you could list all the book titles in the author field and leave the author field blank - because you don't care about the authors... but that would create a huge mess. Hopefully the analogy to reviews is clear.

aug 14, 2007, 12:09 pm

conformity...enforcing. Telling.

Sure there are other fields, but I hardly think that enforcing conformity is the answer when the offense is so minimal.

aug 14, 2007, 12:31 pm

I actually prefer reading shorter reviews. Tell me what you want to say, and get it over with; don't blather on. But maybe that's just me.

Newbie question #1: Is there any way to unflag a review I accidentally flagged?

Newbie question #2: If a review has been flagged, is there any way of telling what was wrong with it?

aug 14, 2007, 12:45 pm

Oldie answer #1: No, but you might try emailing abby at She could probably remove it.

Oldie answer #2: Also, no.

It would be nice if the answer were "yes" to both, as it is when we flag author pictures.

aug 14, 2007, 12:53 pm


Flagging for TOS violations is obviously a good thing. If you are abusing the system why should the community let you get away with it. It could potentially harm the rest of us.

Flagging for 'not a review' is more contentious. However if people followed the rules (both reviews and flagging) it wouldn't be a problem. No review, however short or elliptical should be tagged.

As for the offence of non-reviews being minimal surely it will end up being another tragedy of the commons? Maybe one non-review causes minimal offence but what about five? What about a dozen? Remember you only get 6 reviews on the default book page. Non-reviews being flagged and pushed to the bottom is of massive benefit to the community.

aug 14, 2007, 1:17 pm

TOS violations could harm us. Maybe. If anyone noticed and if anyone cared enough to take the time to do something about it. It's more of an ethical thing at this point if I understand things correctly. If a review is uncredited, I can't see the harm until the writer/publisher tells that person to stop. Has anyone been told to cease and desist yet? That would be interesting to know.

Occasionally I am tempted to use non-original reviews because they succinctly say my exact thoughts on the books. Instead of that, I re-word it or cite it. I wonder if that would violate things in a mad flagger's eyes.

aug 14, 2007, 1:58 pm

If a review is uncredited, I can't see the harm until the writer/publisher tells that person to stop.

There is far more harm in using someone else's review uncredited than in using it with credit! After all, if you don't credit it, people will think it is yours. That's just wrong.

aug 14, 2007, 2:00 pm

I realize that it is wrong, however, until someone notices, cares & tells the person to stop doing it, it will be very difficult to police. How people have this much time on their hands is amazing to me.

Redigerat: aug 14, 2007, 2:06 pm

I am now coming down firmly on the side of getting rid of the blue flags.

I have just looked at the first few pages of "books owned by Lilithcat and reviewed by others", sorted by flagged, and I am, frankly, appalled. The vast majority of the blue flags are for reviews that are short, but nevertheless are clearly expressions of the reader's opinion of the work. This is wrong and unfair.

Redigerat: aug 17, 2007, 3:18 pm

I've just translated the info text for flagging, and found this library: . It is a church library (volunteer librarians). They have around 900 books catalogued, with ca. 260 reviews. As far as I can see (from style of writing, starting/ending with quotation marks, and cross-checking with amazon) a lot if not all of them are copied from product descriptions at Is this a copyright problem as well (and thus a violation of TOS)? I wouldn't start flagging them, rather drop them a message, and warning them of the problem.

aug 19, 2007, 12:44 pm

#38 I agree with you. When one book gets a number of reviews that are either abuse of TOS or non reviews how much use are those reviews to anybody?
Take S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders as an example.
The review that tops the list actually appears to be flaggable for both offences, it is not only cut and pasted from audiofile but is a review of some other book. The second review is a review of the audiobook cut and pasted from audiofile. At the top of the second page there is a review that contains a C&P review from Amazon AND a C&P of the exact same audiofile review that appeared on page one. Further down page two there is a review that is a C&P article from USA Today about the movie of the book.
The Outsiders only has 20 reviews in total so skipping through the C&Ps and non reviews is easy but what if a book has hundreds of reviews and a third of them are flag worthy? How many of these flaggable posts do you want to wade through?

sep 9, 2007, 9:33 pm

Call me a meanie, but it is section marked 'review', when there is also a section marked 'comments'.
I have actually sent a pm to a few people, politely pointing out when they used the review section for another purposes, and asked if there was any way I could help them out. Some were cool about it, some got antsy, most ignored me.

Here is a good example of what I would flag:

But I also flag things such as this:
or this:

They are not a review. And before everyone goes all 'but I want to use LT my way, how dare you tell me how to use it' reviews are a public feature. Heck, there is a section on the Zeitgiest for prolific reviewers. So if you end up there for non-reviews, what does that say? And also, some of us actually use the review function to read reviews by other people - this is a public site after all. So no, I do not want to have to scroll through non-reviews just to find a review.

There endeth the rant.