Friday, July 30, 2004

Amazon's name game: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) reports that has begun encouraging its customers to use their real names on reviews, replacing a much-criticized system that nurtured flame wars and allowed authors to anonymously praise their own books. The online retailer began the initiative, called "Real Names," late last month:

"'Real' in this case is relative. There's still a loophole for people not quite ready to fully stand by their opinions -- they can choose to use a pen name. Either way, the reviewer must be registered with Amazon with a credit card or through a record of their purchase history. The change should cut down on reviewers posting opinions under multiple names.

"For years it's been widely believed that the anonymity of Amazon's reviews have led to such abuses as authors lauding their own books, or rival authors trashing another writer's work. Those suspicions turned out to be founded last year when Amazon's Canadian site accidentally revealed the real names of some reviewers who'd posted their opinions anonymously -- including several well-known authors."