Blue flags - a bad idea which should be dropped

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Blue flags - a bad idea which should be dropped

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1nwhyte Primeira Mensagem
Jan 20, 2008, 2:06 pm

Looking through my reviews I found to my alarm that seven of them have been flagged as "not a review". I had no idea that this system was in operation, and no idea until I checked that my reviews had been flagged in this way; in addition, I would defend each of the flagged reviews as being very definitely a review - one of them is actually pretty substantial:

Actually *is* a review!

http://www.librarything.com/work/3093889/reviews/840956
http://www.librarything.com/work/11862/reviews/411717
http://www.librarything.com/work/115367/reviews/114931

Links to a review on my site or my blog!

http://www.librarything.com/work/4041453/reviews/114842
http://www.librarything.com/work/3116747/reviews/425710
http://www.librarything.com/work/3396/reviews/2191976
http://www.librarything.com/work/1386651/reviews/100281

It seems to me that the blue flagging system adds no value whatsoever to LibraryThing; the fact that you aren't told when your review has been flagged and that there is no apparent way of unflagging incorrectly flagged reviews makes it even worse. It shouold simply be scrapped.

2lilithcat
Jan 20, 2008, 2:43 pm

The fact that some people misuse flagging does not seem to me to be a reason to eliminate it. But I do think people should be told when a review is flagged, and that there should be an "unflagging" possibility. And certainly the reviews you've linked to here should not have been flagged.

However, I disagree that there is no point to the blue flags. I've seen too many "reviews" that consisted of "to be read" or "$5.49". Those clearly are not reviews, but I wouldn't want to red flag them as they also are clearly not TOS violations.

3nwhyte
Jan 20, 2008, 2:55 pm

I think I disagree on the substantive point: if people want to post stupid stuff they should be allowed to. Take it up with them via their user profiles if you like; but setting flags which they are never told about doesn't seem to me to be a sensible incentive for them to use the reviews system as you think they should.

As it is this system has led to my reviews being flagged without me being told, and no apparent way for me to get them unflagged. You can see why I am not impressed with the system.

4philosojerk
Jan 20, 2008, 2:59 pm

if people want to post stupid stuff they should be allowed to.

That's just it, they shouldn't be. If people "want to post stupid stuff," then they should do so in one of the fields that is limited to their own catalogs - i.e. the "comments" field, or else use tags. Reviews are posted on the social information field - and when I go to look at the reviews for a book, I want to see reviews, not the "stupid stuff" people "want to post."

5lilithcat
Jan 20, 2008, 3:17 pm

> 3

setting flags which they are never told about doesn't seem to me to be a sensible incentive for them to use the reviews system as you think they should.

Well, it's not as I think they should, but as the site intends. But, again, I think the problem could be alleviated, at least in part, if people were notified.

I agree with philosojerk that things such as I mentioned belong in the "comments" field, which is specific to one's catalogue, rather than in a field which will be displayed on the work's Main Page.

6maggie1944
Jan 20, 2008, 3:24 pm

I need to weigh in on the question of whether people should be "allowed to post stupid stuff" like prices, or TBR, in the review field.

If I do something stupid I generally appreciate someone tactfully letting me know so I can stop acting ignorant. Of course, people are allowed to do stupid stuff....we all make some mistakes.

7hailelib
Jan 20, 2008, 3:36 pm

The effect of the blue flag is just to move the review further down in the list in hope that the 'stupid stuff' will be mostly at the bottom.

8nwhyte
Jan 20, 2008, 3:41 pm

maggie1944 6: I completely agree; and the blue flagging system actually disincentivises that kind of dialogue, which is one of the reasons it should be scrapped.

hailelib 7: So what? It's not actually having that effect if legitimate reviews are being blue-flagged and can't be unflagged.

9HelloAnnie
Editado: Fev 27, 2008, 10:56 am

I agree with #4. If someone wants to post "stupid stuff", the review is not the place to do it. Why not post that in your own comments or private comments field? Why subject the rest of us to your review of "awesome!". How does that help any of us?

I personally like the blue flags and flag things I feel are not reviews.

I would also like to say that while I know it isn't against the TOS to just post your blog link, I wish it were. Why not cut and paste your review here? Why force us to read your blog? Can't you get viewership any other way? Personally, I refuse to click on the links and just don't read the reviews.

And to me, one sentence does not a review make.

10lilithcat
Fev 27, 2008, 11:04 am

while I know it isn't against the TOS to just post your blog link, I wish it were. Why not cut and paste your review here?

One reason is that it is often much simpler to post the link. If you are one of those people who uses a lot of HTML in your blog post (italics, bold, underlining, links) you must, if you want that in your LT review as well, go to your blog's "edit" page, copy all that, come back to LT and paste it all and hope that it takes.

So much simpler to copy and paste the link!

11HelloAnnie
Fev 27, 2008, 11:06 am

I can see that, but honestly it just seems like a way for people to drum up traffic for their blog. Talking about this in other threads, I know I'm not the only one who won't click on that little link!

12lilithcat
Fev 27, 2008, 11:13 am

it just seems like a way for people to drum up traffic for their blog

Do people really care about that? I know that when I do reviews, here or on my LiveJournal, I don't even think about the number of people who see them. Of course, maybe I'm weird. (Many people think so!)

13JulesJones
Fev 27, 2008, 3:00 pm

One of the reasons that I was posting just links to my LiveJournal post for some of my reviews was exactly as lillithcat said. I was going through my LJ and collecting reviews I'd already done, and it was a lot easier to copy the link than to copy the details of the review. I've since gone through and copied the full review for most of them (not least because some idiot decided that the way to write their review of a book was to go to my link, copy much of my text, and paste it in as a review with one sentence of their own added).

14Carnophile
Editado: Mar 21, 2008, 7:48 pm

I like the "not a review" flag, but occasionally people go nuts with it. Abusus non tollit usum.

I think this is due to a difference in what people mean by a review. To me "This book rocks!" is a review for the purposes of LT (I don't write reviews like that, but I accept them as LT-appropriate reviews). However, it's plain that some people think of a review as "something that an English teacher would accept as a homework assignment" or "something that might appear in Kirkus Reviews." To me this is a wrong address: A certain degree of substance is required in an English class homework assignment, given the purposes of such assignments. In contrast, Net fora like LT are for people to express their opinions about books (music, video games, politicians, whatever). Holding one to the standards of the other is a mistake, like rebuking a hamburger for not teaching you anything about physics, or rebuking a physics professor for not cooking you a satisfying meal. Physics and meals are both good, but everything in its proper time and place.

Later: I just discovered the green flag! Cool!

15lorax
Mar 21, 2008, 8:38 pm

I think the reason some people object to reviews of the nature of "This book rocks" is not because they want an English-teacher-style homework assignment (reviews that read like book reports, with a summary, seriously annoy me) but because things of that nature don't serve the purpose of a review: to allow the reader to determine whether they want to read the book. Unless I know your tastes, the fact that you liked or hated a book does absolutely nothing to tell me that -- it's a rating in words rather than numbers, not a review. This doesn't demand much length, just a little bit about WHY you liked it. "I loved the characters". "The prose was beautiful". "A page-turner with a good plot". SOMETHING. That said, I don't blue-flag reviews just for being useless -- there are enough far more egregious violations and I'd hate to see the very useful blue flag vanish because people got annoyed that they had dozens of "I liked this book" "reviews" flagged.

16Carnophile
Mar 22, 2008, 9:34 am

I don't blue-flag reviews just for being useless -- there are enough far more egregious violations and I'd hate to see the very useful blue flag vanish because people got annoyed...

Indeed. I also think it's valuable to have a forum where people can just jawbone w/o editing themselves (much). If you can't blather pointlessly on the Net, where can you blather pointlessly?!

17BGP
Editado: Nov 19, 2009, 11:14 pm

In less than 12 hours, ten percent of my reviews were blue-flagged. Ultimately, I'm not concerned about that end of the business, for all four of the reviews in question equal or surpass the famous--nay, notorious--Spalding "No" (I must admit that I am not an impartial party when it comes to that matter, as I was the first LTer to give that review the "thumbs up"--I love a thorough review as much as the next man, but, every now and then, one wins points for brevity).

At the same time, it is a little disheartening to find that a practical tool for reminding people to leave their notes in, say, the "comments" column may be the new venue for passive-aggressive trolling. Ugh.

But then... Such is web-based life. Even here.

18reading_fox
Nov 20, 2009, 5:46 am

I've just checked and you're thoroughly unflagged again now - not my doing; I'd probably have left the one on "drivel", as I was one of the first to flag Tim's "NO"! I like a short review as much as the next person, but there are limits, and just an opinion is clearly indicated by stars.

"At the same time, it is a little disheartening to find that a practical tool for reminding people to leave their notes in, say, the "comments" column may be the new venue for passive-aggressive trolling. Ugh"

??

19BGP
Nov 20, 2009, 8:46 am

>18 reading_fox: "you're thoroughly unflagged again now"

Ah, that's good to see! Thank you, anonymous blue- and green-flaggers!

"...there are limits, and just an opinion is clearly indicated by stars."

Maybe. That said, if I was going to replace that review with a symbol of any sort, it would have to be the glowering face of Charles Mingus or, perhaps, the cold, impassive stare of Miles Davis. A simple one or 1/2 star, all by its little lonesome? That just wouldn't do.

"??"

To explain: given that all four appeared at once (and the concomitant fact that no one had ever blue-flagged me before), I was writing with the working assumption that I had managed to rile up what I would define as a passive-aggressive troll (the type that will knowingly abuse the system to "punish" or "get at" you, without directly engaging you). Of course, it could have been a coincidence. If situations like this remain a rare case, it doesn't really matter. But if it starts happening to everyone who writes a negative review now and then, well, then it will get old, and quick.