Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Intelligent Book Reviews

Amazon ranks the popularity of books with a one-star to five-star rating based on customer reviews. These customer reviews vary widely in quality. There is no easy way to accurately measure reviewer quality and incorporate that into a good summary statistic on the quality of a book.

I propose that Amazon should introduce a simple chart to give customers more information about the quality of reviews. Under my plan, book reviewers submit their SAT scores (or some other standardized measure of academic excellence) along with their review. Then the ratings are charted on a scatter plot. The vertical axis would represent the SAT score, and the horizontal axis would represent the customer's summary rating of the book quality. Charts with lots of dots in the upper right of the chart would reflect that smart customers gave the the book a high rating. Charts with lots of dots in the lower right would reflect that dumb customers gave the book a high rating. Then a prospective buyer could predict whether they would like the book by looking at the reviews provided by customers with a similar SAT score.

5 Comments:

Blogger Mama JJ said...

Now THAT is funny. Only problem is, I would be considered a dumb reviewer.

-JJ

10:55 AM  
Anonymous happypappy said...

"I" would misrepresent my SAT score.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous dr perfection said...

rather than SAT scores, I would go with whether or not they like arugula.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Rosanna said...

Perhaps reviewers should simply fill out the following analogy:

this book : [my best friend's SAT score] :: ________ : [my college GPA]

(assuming books can be assigned quantitative values as readily as the hurricane-in-a-cup that is human intelligence)

7:20 PM  
Blogger My Freakwentness said...

Well that's impressively clever, Rosanna, but don't you think that only a pretty select group of people is going to be capable of accurately filling out such a subtle analogy? I'm afraid the results could be entirely misleading :) In fact, I'm not sure that even I can fill out that analogy, and if I can't, than who possibly can (besides yourself, of course)?

7:34 AM  

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