It turns out Amazon isn’t the only site with a problem with trolls infesting anonymous reviews.
Last night I received an email from a fanfic writer who was concerned over the anonymous guest reviewing function on Fanfiction.net. She wrote that a friend of hers had just received a guest review wishing her seven-year-old son dead, and included a list of many other obnoxious guest reviews she’d seen on stories. Just one example:
You deserve to be beat and killed also for writing shit like this obviously you are a cheating whore because people write what they know. Fucking scum like you deserves to rot in hell you trashy skank.
Up until 2012, Fanfiction.net gave writers the option to disable anonymous reviews altogether. But then they changed it so to remove that option. Now anonymous reviews can be either moderated or automatically accepted. If they are moderated, then they sit in a moderation inbox for 36 hours, after which point they are automatically accepted anyway. (And some writers are also annoyed that it’s not possible to post a response to anonymous reviews that do go through.)
The problem with this system is that it forces the authors to wade through those anonymous reviews if they don’t want them showing up on their stories. Regardless of whether the author deletes the reviews before they can be approved, that author still has to subject himself or herself to them, and not everyone has the kind of thick skin they need to be able to deal with that kind of abuse.
Nobody should have to deal with that kind of abuse, thick skin or not. And it’s sad that it seems to be coming more and more common. It’s in the same vein as the writer who received rape threats for criticizing a comic book cover. How obnoxious our culture has become.
We’ve seen time and again that some people use anonymity as a license to be as nasty as they possibly can. It would be great if Fanfiction.net could restore the ability for authors to block anonymous reviews altogether if they wanted. At the very least, the default for reviews after 36 hours should be rejection, not acceptance, so writers could ignore them altogether if they wanted. But given other obnoxious things Fanfiction.net has done, I’m probably not going to hold my breath.
I reached out to Fanfiction.net for comment, but they hadn’t responded by the time I posted this.