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Writers This is a long article, but it's really interesting. This is the first time I've seen someone come forward with actual real details of fake reviews (you hear stories, but this article provides data). I was surprised to discover how profitable these fake review sites are. So, um, if you any of you need some reviews, let me know and I'll forward you my PayPal information. I'm joking... but wow. That's a lot of money.

Here's the article:
Michael Cooney's profile photoGustavo Eulalio's profile photoV C Willow's profile photoMarjolein Caniels's profile photo
I always find it depressing when someone is making a crapton of money doing something I could do, but would never, ever, consider doing because I have these pesky morals.
Moral... they get you every time.
I read this the other day, and I find it troubling. More power to the guy for seeing the profit in creating empty, relentlessly positive reviews, but I still think this is really, really immoral. I've done a few reviews of poetry books for journals (unpaid...of course, I mean it does count as a minor academic publication, so I am getting something out of it), and my rule is I don't review books I don't like. This person not only reviews books he doesn't like, he pretends to like everything. Even books one likes can be looked at with a critical eye. He just spews nonsense for a paycheck, which wouldn't be an issue if his nonsense weren't affecting the sales of authors who didn't stoop to "paid positives" and relied only on the strength of their writing. This guy is a parasite.  
This issue strikes me as even more troubling and dishonest than the tendency for authors to blindly trade "likes" on Amazon.
You are welcome +Ben Guilfoy - the main culprit on amazon seems to be Mainik Dhar. Followed by a bunch of other names, but he writes in my genre and it annoys me to see "people who read your book also read...." 
Not surprising, but crazy. I suppose people will do anything for money
Interesting that the guy is now selling RV's and is trying to make an honest business, after his non-honest one totally bombed.

Interesting sense of karma with that one.

I try to be honest with my reviews, but I also know how much it hurt author's to have negative reviews.  So I always act like I'm critiquing on my reviews, instead of writing hate.

"If the author had done X and Y, I would have loved Z so much more... but as stands, I can't stand Z, because of W."

I look at it this way:  I would rather read honest reviews of my own work - but I would also want them to be constructive.  If I chose to self-publish, I would probably pull it from the market if it had too many negative reviews and rework it according to what people say.

I was wondering if I should start a "If you like the review I gave you on my page, please consider donating me some money - coffee isn't free."  Or something like that.

I never want to charge for money, but if someone really loved my review (if they had a good novel, and I raved about it), then I don't see why I shouldn't make a dollar or two, if the author feels so inclined - but I don't see myself ever saying, "If I review you, I will invoice you."
sweet, most of my stuff is 1 star, which puts me on the map
I have around 4 stars for most of my stuff, but it's people from G+ mostly, so I don't have much to complain about. 
I kind of admire the guy .... would have never thought of making money from fake reviews! Guess my brain isn't wired the same way!
The problem is (and I'm not saying in anyway that this doesn't happen) that the article provides no proof or evidence of the scale or frequency of this kind of paid for positive reviews. In writing the article it opens up all honest writers to be tarred with the same brush and it's simply the Daily Mail style of journalism. Taking a minority, in the extreme example, cite a few case studies and make it seem like an epidemic blighting self publishing. Now don't get me wrong, people who pay for reviews are inherently incompetent. If they feel the need to pay for reviews then they obviously feel that their work is either a)Not good enough to receive sufficient genuine positive reviews or B) are simply lazy asses who are happy to cheat themselves, and other writers by cheating the system. By does the article real back up their claims or show any evidence that this happens frequently. The truth is that this kind of BS always comes back and bites you on the ass in the end. As for the article, I wouldn't put much trust in the validity of the article or the scale of the problem until I had seen some real evidence (rather than supposition, suggestion and insinuation) that this is even something that happens enough to break a sweat over.

The problem is, that in the end it will loose credibility for all self published and indie authors because most people will just happily sip down this kind of poor journalism as it spoon feeds them cynicism, snark and fear.
that is assuming that people actually read it to begin with.
Which we obviously have (and judging by the volume of comments others have) since we are commenting on it
You raise a good point. It certainly puts all online retailers in a tough spot because there's no good way to combat this. So far, I think Amazon's approach that lists when people have actually purchased the item is probably the best way to combat it so far.
There's also the system of being able to report suspect reviews, but I imagine they get so many of those a day and that sometimes it's difficult or impossible to prove without going through a whole lot of effort that there will always be a huge backlog of them.
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