I've posted about fiver.com before. It's that web site where people will do basically anything for five bucks.I have read that you can hire them to write book reviews for you on Amazon (some actually do read the books from what I've heard) in order to boost your sales. While I've never done anything like this, and never will do anything like this, I do think it's an interesting thing to know...that all reviews might not be reliable. Anyone could argue that the person who left the review actually read the book. The problem is how do we know the person really liked the book, and for that matter how to we know the person really did read the book. You can blame that on living all my life in either the NY area or the Philadelphia area. We aren't the most trusting people. And the Internet is a breeding ground for all things questionable.
And now I see bloggers can actually hire people to comment on their blogs:
I will comment on your blog posts in any way that you want as long as the limit will be 200 words. You could have 10 comments in 20 words or whatsoever. The comments that you will get won't appear spammy and they will certainly be related to the topic of your blog post. I will also cater to those who are looking to boost their forum's posts.
So what this seems to be saying is the person offering this blog comment service will not only be leaving questionable comments, but they will also be sockpuppeting on your comment thread. It's not the first time I've seen sockpuppeting, but it's the first time I've ever seen anyone admit to it without a hint of shame. It's not something I've ever thought of doing, not in the seven years I've been blogging. And now I'm starting to wonder if people actually do things like this on blogs.
Unfortunately, this all leads back to one basic rule of the Internet: never trust anything you read unless there is a reliable source willing to back it up because the chances are it's false. I allow anonymous comments here on this blog because I do think there are times when people need to comment anonymously for various reasons. Some of my past posts on book pirating are good examples. The reasons for anonymity in some cases are valid. But I also have comment moderation on at all times, if you notice, and there's a reason for that. I've had everything from nasty comments to death threats. And while I can take those things fairly well (I'm a very strong person) I would rather not subject my readers to things like that.
So if you're interested in taking sockpuppeting to new levels you can check out fiver. I'm not linking for two reasons: one, I'm not going to help promote anyone who does this. Two, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to read a comment thread again without wondering whether or not the blogger did something like this. And that's sad.
But until there are rules for things like this on the Internet, and I'm including Amazon and all web sites with all products where people leave personal opinions that can't be backed up, it's hard to take anything seriously anymore. Just imagine how nice life would be if we knew, for certain, that every single review/comment we ever saw on Amazon or any web site could be backed by a name and an identity. Or if every single comment we saw on a blog comment thread was legit and could be backed up with a name and identity. But then I also wonder how many comments and reviews would magically disappear from the Internet never to be seen again. I could be wrong. But it would be interesting to find out.
Tomorrow I'll post something about web sites where I do think reviews and comments can be trusted...at least trusted more in the sense that they look real.