Sunday, January 14, 2018

Commentary and Interview: Robert David Steele, top Amazon reviewer, just asked Jeff Bezos to remove his reviews. Why?

Story by Joseph Ford Cotto

Why would one of Amazon's top reviewers, having had more than 2500 of his reviews posted on the website, ask that they be removed? Robert David Steele explains in this email to Jeff Bezos.

From: Robert Steele <[Address withheld]>
Date: Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 4:01 PM
Subject: Complaint about Amazon Reviews, Intent to Delete 2,500 Reviews
To: [Jeff Bezos; address withheld], "Pistole, Stacey" <[Address withheld]> 
Mr. Bezos,
I am the top Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reading in 98 categories, with over 2,500 reviews, 500 of which have been deleted over time despite being among the top three reviews for any given book.
I have watched in dismay as your Amazon Reviews have systematically lost all integrity.
Before your staff, perhaps unbeknownst to you, started pimping the entire system, I was not only the top Amazon reviewer, but reviewer #25 across the entire system including all the crap reviews for software and other products.

The following have occurred since I started reviewing on 4 April 2000:

01 The top reviews are no longer carried over from one edition to another, depriving your customers of world-class reviews that have stood the test of time.

02 "Verified purchases" are now featured meaning that top reviewers who buy books at stores or get them from the authors themselves are buried.  Have you bother to look at the pernicious effect of this seriously stupid decision?

03 Reviews are now being refused for being "politically incorrect." I just had reviews of Trumped by David Stockman and When Wikileaks Met Google by Juliian Assange refused.  You can see the two refused reviews at the links below.

I have had it. I am giving you until 12 January to fix your reviews system to eliminate verified purchase and restore top ranked reviews to the forefront, and to modify your Review Guidelines so that my reviews of Trumped and When WikiLeaks Met Google are immediately published.

If you fail to fix your system, I will delete all of my reviews on or about 14 January 2017, and announce why I have done so.

I have still not had a proper staff response to my long-standing suggestion that you make Amazon the hub of the World Brain. The silly shit you are doing with CIA and the military commands is just that -- silly shit.  You can watch your own movie of my 2007 capstone briefing (standing room only, three times what IBM and Microsoft drew) at the below URL.

You are a genius and Amazon is potentially important as the hub of the World Brain, but not in its present form.  It its present form it is part of #GoogleGestapo and doing evil on the margins that you should be deeply concerned about.

I am available to talk to you via skype or cell by appointment.  I would even come see you at my expense if you want to have a Nobel Peace Prize level discussion about the future of Amazon as something other than a shipping hub that sells bytes.

Very respectfully,
Robert Steele

After Steele made me aware of his email, and requested that it be released to the public, I posed the following question. He asked that it be known that his reviews are still available on his blog, which was linked to above. 

Joseph Ford Cotto: How has Amazon sacrificed its integrity insofar as book reviews are concerned?

Robert David Steele: Take a look at the top reviews for Fire & Fury, the top book of the day.  Here is the link.

Look at how "Verified Purchase" books are ranked above non-verified purchases.  Now look at the idiocy of some of the one liner reviews on the first screen, some of which have over 3,000 votes from like-minded idiots.  It's gotten to the point that Amazon is deleting top reviews to make way for younger reviewers.  In my specific case:

1.) They have deleted 500 of my original 2,500 reviews.

2.) They rank verified purchase one liner reviews above non-verified purchase deep reviews.

3.)  They do not carry the best reviews forward from one edition to the next.

4.) They refuse to publish strong substantive reviews that include the word Zionism or are otherwise politically incorrect -- Amazon has become a censor. 

Editor's note: On Thursday, January 18, Steele asked that an update he wrote be published. It is as follows: After two additional emails and two calls with a very junior person without a clue, I established that Jeff Bezos has refused to intervene to restore integrity to the Amazon review system.  All of the flaws will remain.  I requested that Amazon do a mass delete of all of my reviews without exception, and they complied.  Henceforth my reviews will only be available at where they can be accessed by category, something else Amazon has refused to make possible for over a decade.


Joseph Ford Cotto, 1st Baron Cotto, GCCCR is the editor-in-chief of The San Francisco Review of Books. In the past, he covered current events and style for The Washington Times's Communities section, where he interviewed personalities ranging from Fmr. Ambassador John Bolton to Dionne Warwick. Cotto was also a writer for Blogcritics Magazine and Yahoo's contributor network, among other publications. In 2014, H.M. King Kigeli V of Rwanda bestowed a hereditary knighthood upon him, which was followed by a barony the next year.

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