Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bullshit petitions

I don't like web petitions too much. They seem to be the Web 2.0 equivalent of chain-mail and I'm not sure if they are at all effective. But mostly I don't like them because people usually sign them without verifying anything - petitiononline.com makes it all too easy.

This petition popped into my mailbox yesterday. 10,000+ people are complaining to Amazon.com that they unfairly put a Washingtonpost.com review which criticized Jimmy Carter's book Peace, not Apartheid on the book's Amazon.com page.

It didn't quite smell right to me. I did a quick search on Amazon.com's website (via Google) and I found that:
1. Amazon.com has recently started putting washingtonpost.com book reviews for many other books
2. Those reviews are more opinionated than Publisher's Weekly's or Kirkus's
3. They are longer than the others usually

There didn't seem to be any malicious intent on Amazon.com's part (the Washingtonpost.com review has since been swapped out from the book's page) and it seemed like the whole petition was bogus. I emailed the guy who'd forwarded the petition to me and gave him the evidence. He agreed too.

Moral of the story: Careful with them petitions.

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