Thursday, August 20, 2015

On Having a Book Review Rejected by Amazon for Only God Knows What Reason

Amazon is a weird company.  Cut-throat and single-minded as any corporate villain out there, Amazon is not above gleefully driving its competitors out of business.  Too, the company continues to be criticized for its workplace conditions and overall attitude toward employees.  Many people have a love/hate relationship with the company that parallels the way most feel about Walmart. But despite all that, it has become the "go-to" place for people looking for user reviews of products they are considering for purchase.  Publishers, in particular, like to see their products reviewed on Amazon, and that's why I always post my book reviews to Amazon.

Every so often, one of my reviews is rejected until I "clean it up."  Amazon sends out a generic form letter via email when that happens and it's up to the reviewer to figure out what the "problem" is.  I remember once having a review rejected because I used a "profane" word.  Turns out that, though the word was actually part of the book title, it was not going to be accepted in the body of the review.  After about five edits and rejections, I finally figured that out.  Stupid as HELL (that would probably be enough to get this post rejected if it were a book review), Amazon, but I suppose that's what happens when some software program flags buzz-words for some human equally lacking in common sense to deal with.

Anyway, here's the review that was rejected this morning:

The New Orleans police department has long had the reputation of being one of the most corrupt in the United States.  If it is not actually the most corrupt department in the country, in the minds of most observers it is certainly always in the running for that title.  And in the wake of what happened on the Danziger Bridge six days after Hurricane Katrina struck the city in 2005, the NOPD proved that in their case public perception was fact because, sadly enough, the NOPD turned out to be a clear extension of the overall political corruption and ineptness that describes the history of New Orleans city government.

Hurricane Katrina struck a city without a clue.  Both New Orlean’s mayor and its police chief failed the city terribly by not having a solid plan in place for the aftermath of the hurricane.  In fact, as Ronnie Greene points out in Shots on the Bridge, those providing emergency services to the citizens of New Orleans after the storm were left largely on their own.  And this seems particularly true of a police department that failed to set up even a central meeting place/control point from which to coordinate its efforts to control crime during what turned out to be perhaps the most chaotic period in the city’s history.

The Danziger Bridge, only seven-tenths of a mile long, allows access between two New Orleans neighborhoods separated by the city’s Industrial Canal.  And going from one neighborhood to another is all that each of the victims of the police slaughter were doing on the morning they were unfortunate enough to cross paths with a bunch of adrenalin-fueled cops who completely misread the situation on the bridge.  The policemen believed that they were responding to a scene where an unknown number of snipers had shot at least one of their own.  They were anxious to get to the bridge before more policemen could be killed or injured – and when they got there they exited their vehicles with guns blazing.

Before the gunfire ended (and it did not end even when all the victims were helpless and on the ground), six people, traveling in opposite directions in two distinct groups, had been shot.  Two of them were dead: a middle-aged mentally challenged man who was chased off the bridge and killed while trying to understand what was happening around him, and a seventeen-year-old boy whose body was chewed up by the number of wounds it sustained.  One woman, whose arm was literally shot off, saw her daughter shot in the stomach and her husband suffer severe shrapnel-related head wounds.  All the victims were black and none of them had a weapon of any type on them.  Some of the cops were white; some were black.

Then the cover-up began, and the NOPD lived up to its embarrassing reputation as being one of the most corrupt police departments anywhere.  Read Ronnie Greene’s Shots on the Bridge for the rest of this tragic story – especially the way it was so consistently mishandled in the court system.  We can only hope that someone in the city of New Orleans learned something from the mistakes made in this case – and is now in a position to help ensure that nothing like this ever again happens there.

I know it's long and I don't expect you to read it again, but I am struggling to figure out why the Amazon Gods are frowning on me this time around.  Am I too opinionated about the NOPD (a truly inept and despicable police force...see I can't help myself, Amazon)?  I think the book backs up my opinion - and the rampant corruption of the NOPD is, in fact, the very subject of the book reviewed.

So...go to (insert profane word here), Amazon.  I don't need the frustration.  But one word of advice, Dear Amazon hypocrites: Perhaps you should clean up all the fake reviews you let slip through the system...they are obvious to the rest of us even if your stupid software program doesn't seem to get it.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is the form letter received from Amazon:
Thanks for submitting a customer review on Amazon. Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
We encourage you to revise your review and submit it again. A few common issues to keep in mind:
Product Image
~Ronnie Greene
4.3 out of 5 stars (13)
  • Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at
  • We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
  • Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
We welcome your honest opinion about products - positive or negative. We do not remove reviews because they are critical. We believe all helpful information can inform our customers’ buying decisions. If you have questions about the product or opinions that do not fit the review format, please feel free to use the Customer Discussions feature on the product page.
And this is part of what you get by clicking on their guidelines link:
What's not allowed
Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to share your opinions on products. While we appreciate your time and comments, we limit customer participation to one review per product and reserve the right to remove reviews that include any of the following: 

Objectionable material:
• Obscene or distasteful content 
• Profanity or spiteful remarks 
• Promotion of illegal or immoral conduct 

Promotional content:
• Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively 
• Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product) 
• Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package 
• Solicitations for helpful votes 
• For more information on what we consider promotional content, please see our Frequently Asked Questions

Inappropriate content:
• Other people's material (this includes excessive quoting) 
• Phone numbers, postal mailing addresses, and URLs external to 
• Videos with watermarks 
• Comments on other reviews visible on the page (because page visibility is subject to change without notice) 
• Foreign language content (unless there is a clear connection to the product) 

Off-topic information:
• Feedback on the seller, your shipment experience or the packaging (you can do that at and
• Details about availability or alternative ordering and shipping information 
• Feedback about typos or inaccuracies in our catalog or product description (instead, use the feedback form at the bottom of the product page). 

Perhaps they consider the review to be "spiteful."  Am I missing something?  If you see something in the review that you believe got me flagged, please do let me know because I'm obviously missing it.

Post #2,538


  1. I did not even know that Amazon screens the product reviews. I've never posted my book reviews on Amazon, but I do put them up on LibraryThing and although I don't buy books on Amazon I do, like a lot of people I assume, sometimes go there to read others' opinions on books I am considering.

    1. I'm under the distinct impression, Jeane, that Amazon uses a software program to pick up vulgarities and the like. Maybe other words that indicate extreme ire on the part of the reviewer - then I suppose someone live looks at them to see what the problem is. My gripe is that they send out a generic form letter leading to rather generic explanations that they link to. Why not be specific. I am not going to bother editing a review to please some anonymous guy at Amazon, much less a software program.

  2. Yes, it does sound like a program just mindlessly scanning for specific 'problematic' words. Really annoying, I can imagine!

    1. That's likely all it amounts to. If someone would just respond to questions when a rejection leaves me clueless, I would not mind. But, as is often the case, Amazon does not bother to do that.