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.

Smarmy and fake is hard to shake

I’m posting this reluctantly but I think it needs to be said.

David Cunliffe has a major image problem. I’ve heard that in private he comes across very well, but his public persona (or personas) are crippling him politically. Especially amongst women.

Unfortunately this comment from ‘bmk’ at Public Address is a common impression of David Cunliffe.

The most depressing this about this whole episode was only tangentially related. My partner only follows politics very casually until close to the election when she decides (last couple of times for Labour). Anyway as we don’t normally watch much tv we were for once watching tv and she saw Cunliffe on late-night tv being interviewed about the Jones departure; she was highly unimpressed.

She asked me who this ‘smarmy prick’ was and why on earth they made him leader. She said he continually had a fake smile and sounded smug, fake and smarmy.

She also commented on his dress (something I never really notice) – saying that he was probably trying for casual since it was late night tv but instead it came across as 70s sleaze. She says she still hates Key but couldn’t vote for such a smarmy fake.

While this is simply one person’s opinion I have heard similar from others. Particularly the smarmy and fake thing. My concern is that he makes this impression on those who only have a passing interest in politics. At the time the Labour leadership was being contested I supported Cunliffe; I now wish I hadn’t. But I really don’t know who would have done a better job – certainly not Jones.

I have heard Cunliffe talk intelligently before but I think he needs some good media training to drop the smarmy, fake look he projects. Possibly smile less and sounding less convinced of his own cleverness (even if he is that clever).

Will Cunliffe or his advisers listen to this? Can they do anything about it? Or do they think what they are doing is the right approach?

Polls show Labour is shedding support – particularly amongst women.

The latest Herald/Digipoll has Cunliffe polling lower than Shearer ever was in ‘preferred PM’.

Party poll results for Labour (compared to December 2013):

  • Total 29.5% (down 5.9)
  • Male 27.2% (down 5.5)
  • Female 31.5% (down 6.6)
  • Auckland 26.7% (down 9.9)
  • Rest of NZ 31% (down 3.7)

Labour usually gets more female support but that is coming down significantly.

Preferred PM for Cunliffe:

  • Total 11.1% (down 5.4)
  • Male 12.3% (down 5.3)
  • Female 10.1% (down 4.8)

Female support for Labour is higher than male support (31.5 to 26.7), but females rate Cunliffe lower as preferred PM than males (10.1 to 12.3) – Source.

First impressions matter a lot in politics, many people see little beyond first impressions until they take more of an interest during an election campaign.

‘Smarmy’ and ‘fake’ are impressions that are gaining ground and won’t be easy to shake off, but if Cunliffe wants to reverse Labour’s failing fortunes it’s something he has to address. If he can.

Q+A: Parata and Cunliffe comparison

Questions are being asked about who David Cunliffe is, what he stands for, if he is authentic or not. Duncan Garner asked Is David Cunliffe a fake?

I’m starting to wonder just who Cunliffe is. What does he stand for? Is he anti-business or pro-business? Does he care about the poor? Or hang out with the rich? My big question really is this: Who is the real David Cunliffe?

Is he a fake?

Cunliffe was interviewed on the first TVNZ Q+A of the year yesterday: David Cunliffe goes on the Defence (13:32)

He was defensive, he was contradictory, he was apologetic, and he tried some practiced lines.It was difficult to judge what he was.

It was always going to be hard to look good after an awful week. Cunliffe has a lot of work to do (much of it repair work) to appear confident and capable.

Q+A also interviewed Education Minister Hekia Parata: Boost for at-risk students (11:47)

This was an interesting comparison. When Parata took on the education portfolio she struggled. She had some very poor interviews and struggled with question from the opposition in Parliament. Her responses were at times baffling.

National always battles with Labour leading education groups, and Parata had serious problems with class size policy, Christchurch schools and Novopay. John Key took the responsibility for Novopay off her but persevered with Parata in the portfolio.

In yesterday’s interview Parata looked on top of her portfolio. She sounded assured and showed she had a good grasp of education issues and proposals. She somes adeptly avoided answering questions, but gave good clear responses to others.

Parata looked good. Cunliffe looked like he was struggling.

There are two significant differences. One is complexity, Parata has one portfolio to deal with, Cunliffe has to try and be on top of all the major policy areas.

The other is time. Parata has had two years to learn and improve. She has shown she can do that. Cunliffe has been Labour leader for six months.

Cunliffe’s problem is he doesn’t have time. The election will be in about six months. Labour is struggling in the polls now. They should be building towards the campaign and instead they look dysfunctional. Cunliffe is responsible for that – he seems to be not getting the support he should have from all his caucus colleagues, but Labour’s fortunes rest with him.

Cunliffe could look at how much Parata has improved and hope he achieves the same sort of improvement. But he has to do a lot more in a short time.

What he has to achieve would be challenging for the best politician and for the best leader. So far Cunliffe has not proven he is either. It currently looks like he is not up to it.

Ironically Cunliffe has to make a massive transformation so he doesn’t look fake and fumbling.