Skip to main content reviews are a farce.

Posted by monsonhaefel on November 16, 2003 at 11:43 AM PST

If you've been in the book writing game more than a week, then you are probably aware that some authors post fake reviews to their books and their competitors books. Its an ugly truth that is rarely spoken about.

When a book is sold on anyone can post a review about it whether they read it or not. All you need to do is create an account on Yahoo or HotMail and then create a new account with that e-mail address. You can be a Fred Smith, Barney Rubble, or anyone you want - you can even impersonate someone. doesn't seem to care. It's a prefect set up for fraud, and for people with no scruples it represents a simple way to pump up their own ratings while knocking down their competitors.

More recently, I've become aware that some individuals have gone a step further by posting fake five-star reviews on their own books using the names of famous people in our industry. If you think that's stupid, let me assure it happens. In fact, I found one book that had at least one (probably three) reviews impersonating well known figures in our industry. How do I know they were fakes? I asked the people I suspected were being impersonated. I myself was impersonated on in a slightly different manner.

A couple months ago I discovered two book recommendation lists that were posted under the name "Richard Monson-Haefel" on's Listmania page. One was called "Great Books on Web Services" and the other was "Books I wish I had Written". Both lists had one of my competitors book at the top, so that it became the icon for the list itself. I didn't post these lists, someone else impersonated me and posted them in some stupid attempt to influence readers - like people care what I like and don't like (why are you reading this anyway?). What really pissed me off was the fact that I was impersonated. There are only four people with the last name Monson-Haefel on this planet and that is my wife, two kids, and myself. Why so unique? My wife and I took each others names when we got married. She was a Haefel (a rare name) and I was a Monson. Monson-Haefel is a married name. That listmania posting under my name was intention fraud, and in many states its considered Identity Theft - a crime.

As a side note, James Gosling was also impersonated on Listmania

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