Belt faked ‘Dodgy Unions’ review?

Whenever there is fund raising on Whale Oil some of the endorsements look like promotional jack ups. They can do what they like on their own blog regardless of ethics or credibility.

But faking reviews on Amazon is a different story – and it appears that the suspiciously prompt review on Cameron Slater’s book was posted by Whale Oil moderator/banner/message controller Pete Belt. This is very dodgy.

The review was under the name of B Edwards:

Didn’t want to like it, but it is unique both in New Zealand politics and political books, and for that alone it needs to exist. Although Cam Slater’s personal distaste of unions is clear and provided as a rider from page 1, the actual content appears factual. The main take-away point for me is that Labour allow themselves to be controlled by the union movement but are actually getting very little in return. If the book achieves anything, I would hope it makes the Labour Party take note and change its direction in proportion.

Brian Edwards, Brent Edwards and Bryce Edwards all denied it was them.

As posted at The Standard – Dodgy reviews by Natwatch – someone did a bit of simple investigating on the ‘B Edwards’. Clicking  on the profile of ‘B Edwards’ profile and then on the Public Wish List (1) link:

dodgy3

‘Keep track of Pete Belt’s Wish Lists’ is a bit of a give-away.

Deceit on Whale Oil is one thing, but deceit on Amazon is a very poor look. Apart from the deceit Amazon states in their ‘Conditions of Use’ under REVIEWS, COMMENTS, COMMUNICATIONS, AND OTHER CONTENT:

You may not use a false e-mail address, impersonate any person or entity, or otherwise mislead as to the origin of a card or other content.

Fake reviews and self promotions are a major problem on sites like Amazon (Trip Advisor has also had major problems with fake reviews). It was recently reported that Amazon was trying hard to deal with fake reviews:

Computer says no: Amazon uses AI to combat fake reviews

Amazon is using artificial intelligence to combat fake product reviews and inflated star ratings.

It is employing a new AI machine-learning system that the online retailer built in-house to boost the prominence and weight of verified customer purchase reviews, those marked as helpful by other users and newer, more up-to-date critiques on its site.

Can you trust that five-star review?

That means marketers have taken to attempting to influence star ratings, especially in the initial stages of a product going on sale on any particular site. They post fake, inflationary reviews or pay users to do so on their behalf.

The practice known as “astroturfing” – fake grassroots campaigns – is widespread across a variety of sites and services. Amazon, as one of the world’s largest online retailers, is a significant target.

Belt may have achieved what he wanted – a lot of attention to Slater’s book on Amazon.

But it appears that he is trying to cover his tracks (too late, once outed online it’s out).  Since Belt was outed the reviewer name has been changed:

DodgyUnionsGotchaChanging a fake and misleading name to ‘GOTCHA!’ is as dumb as the fake review. If he had any sense he would take down the review, but sense is obviously in short supply with him.

The user (Belt) had previously posted one review in April 2013, and another two reviews yesterday which looks like a lame attempt to cover his intent.

Now Belt has blocked access to the identifying Wish List – “This customer has chosen to hide some activity” –  but too late.

This is a sad sideshow that won’t help credibility of Slater’s first book – and any promotion or review of the book or any of his subsequent (promised) books will be looked on with suspicion.

Spanish Bride, I know you will be checking this post – taking down the review and publicly acknowledging the stupidity and apologising may repair some of the damage. Otherwise this will hover over any Whale Oil related promotion. The Internet doesn’t forget.

And a side issue – why was ‘Dodgy reviews’ posted under the occasional ‘author’ NATWATCH at The Standard? It’s fairly well known that Slater is now like a fart in a National lift.

Lastly a bit of irony – The Daily Proverb on Whale Oil today:

Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.

Which B Edwards?

The first (and currently only) review of Cameron Slater’s book Dodgy Unions on Amazon:

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful

By B Edwards on October 11, 2015

Didn’t want to like it, but it is unique both in New Zealand politics and political books, and for that alone it needs to exist. Although Cam Slater’s personal distaste of unions is clear and provided as a rider from page 1, the actual content appears factual. The main take-away point for me is that Labour allow themselves to be controlled by the union movement but are actually getting very little in return. If the book achieves anything, I would hope it makes the Labour Party take note and change its direction in proportion.

This has raised some speculation on Twitter about which B Edwards.

Not moi!

Not me either.

Bryce Edwards hasn’t responded yet, but he hasn’t been on Twitter since 9th October.

UPDATE:

Bryce Edwards

Wtf! Definitely not me! It’s a conspiracy against us “B Edwards” people.