Most notably, albeit quietly, I was ranked as high has 59. I was even, in some circles, kind of famous for street cred I earned (more Googling for you). Now, I rank near 1,100. Take a look. At some point in 2008, Amazon restructured their ranking system which reduced the impact of my earlier reviews and I slowly lost ground.
Meanwhile, a machine of corruption regarding reviewing has kicked in. If say, you are an unscrupulous reviewing, you might take payola from a desperate self-published author, or you might trade reviews as you publish your book. a little quid pro quo. There are more scams than I have time or inclination to describe.
This week, Amazon announced a new upgrade (hopefully) to their ranking system. Again, the freshness of the review is a factor. What else? How many votes a product gets. Those two factors already exist, but they have adjusted them further, enough so as to make an announcement.
Whatever the actual algorithm is, I don't know. But I hope it reduces fraud in all its forms. It is hard to do since this is all AI stuff, not human mind reading (impossible, but it would help).
I'm hopeful. But realistic.
Here's the letter:
We want to thank you for your contributions to Amazon’s customer reviews. The product reviews you provide help customers make more informed purchasing decisions.
Starting today, Amazon is enhancing the customer reviews system, adding a few changes we hope will help make product feedback even more useful to customers. The enhanced system will use a machine-learned model to give more weight to newer, more helpful reviews from Amazoncustomers. The system will continue to learn which reviews are most helpful to customers and improve the experience over time. This change will present itself in two ways:
- Star rating: A product’s overall star rating will now consider factors including the age of a review, helpful votes by customers, and whether reviews are from verified purchasers.
- Review ranking: Similar machine-learned factors will help determine a review’s ranking in the list of reviews.
Our goal is to help customers make even more informed purchasing decisions.
Amazon Customer Reviews Team
Business Directory (mostly churches so far)
Am I the only one? I don't think so.
I keep a running list of sentences, paragraphs and ideas that I might want to use later. I mean my stuff, not quotes and things.
It is no help that inspiration happens at inconvenient times. You know what I'm saying, right? A good idea is, as you know. a terrible thing to waste.
It is pretty simple. I keep it easily accessible in the cloud, able to be edited from any device (except Kindle, unfortunately). I use Google Docs. It is a basic, numbered list. Some items might have 500 words, and others might have just a few words.
Once I use an item, I delete lest I accidentally use it a second time. How awkward would be if a reader was reading something of mine and thought, "Great line. Where have I read that before?"
There's nothing complicated about Google Docs. It functions much like Microsoft Word. Word is ultimately more sophisticated and has its place in a writer's life, but mostly, I use Docs. It is free, and I can even write with it on my Android.
If you have a Gmail account, you already have a Google account. Take a look at Google Drive. It is somewhere between DropBox and Microsoft Office.
Similarly, when an idea gets big enough, it gets its own file. Nothing may come of it, but it is always there, like Ahab's white whale, beckoning me.
Happy birthday to the Lord of Lords, to the King of Kings, to the One we adore, to the Ancient One, to the Ageless One, to the One who was in the beginning and will always be, to the Savior of souls, to the Forgiver of Men and of Women, to the One who knows us and who will never forget us, to the Painter of clouds, to the Composer of wind songs, to the Sculptor of mountains, to the Poet of love, to Him who is coming back soon, to the Child once born of Mary, to Him, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah and Victor, Redeemer and Friend.
Whew! I wondered if somehow this blog had offended Kim Jong Un, hence the drop in traffic.
I've known this song for 35 years. It, along with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, was one of my first favorite songs. I don't know when I first heard it, but it has always haunted me. First, it occasionally popped up on the radio, then I bought the cassette, and now, listen to a digital version off a playlist.
Of course it haunted me. A guy becomes so fascinated with space travel, or intoxicated by it, that he decides to disconnect from Ground Control, and fly freely. He knows the implications of this choice are eventually dire. He's left the Earth and isn't coming back. He sends a message back to his wife that he loves her.
Chris Hadfield -- he's a real live astronaut -- took a different take on the song. In fact, he recorded actually in space. Real space, not just high up in a special plane. Take a look, listen to the rewritten lyrics.
It seems the Peet's Coffee & Tea people bought the Caribou company. Most of the Caribou stores will close, if not already. Some will be converted into Peet's, others, like mine, will be vacated, to eventually house some other, unrelated business. Mine is among those closed for good.
The place had been dwindling. Employees left in droves -- old timers were replaced by people who rotated in and out. The hours were reduced too. I could not longer work late there. It became fast food, so to speak.
A Peet's will open up nearby in another old Caribou in downtown Wheaton, IL. The coffee, I expect, will be better. It can't help but be. Caribou was improving, but was still stuck in the old-school cafe method of not roasting and delivering the same day. This meant the coffee was often stale.
I went because of the atmosphere and people. When I wanted better coffee, I bought from Intelligentsia or I Have a Bean. The people though, were wonderful.
There was Mike, the piano teacher. I talked metaphysical authors with him. And Dave the computer guy. He explained Bitcoin to me. Plus, a myriad of fellow writers, and a group of Russian guys who played dominoes. I didn't know the Russian guys, but I looked forward to the others.
Sooner or later, I met with every friend who lives locally there. Now, I need a new place. Peet's won't do -- that former Caribou is too small and too for any decent conversation. I have other cafes that do much better, like River City Roasters, and the recently open Café K'Tizo.
Oh sure, there are places like Starbucks, and I suppose I wind up there. But where will the others be?
Sooner or later, someplace will settle in as "the place," but for now, I'm wandering.
I never met Sandy, but originally used his site as a guide as I developed my own. I took mine a different direction, but applied a great many of the things he used.
I have speechwriter.net redirect to AmericanSpeechwriter.com. I invited you to check it out. You might enjoy the classic speeches. I've included text, video and audio whenever possible.
Have a great day!
Man, he was good. The world just got a little less funny today. Age 63.
My official Facebook page. Books, ideas, literature, art, tall tales, short tales and cattails. See the ordinary in an extraordinary way. Fans of Twain, Kipling, Thurber will find this a friendly place. From the quirky to the funny to the unbelievable. Family-friendly. We talk about classic children's literature, what makes good horror, the integration of the arts. I occasionally offer free stuff, announce speaking engagements and literary performances.
My Pinterest page. This leans heavily on the craft of speech writing and speech delivery, but I post fascinating discussions on creativity as well, like a two-hour interview with Robert Downey, Jr.
My Instagram photos. Here I am in pure play mode. While I'm only using my smartphone, and I'm entirely untrained as a photographer, I'm always on the lookout for interesting ways of seeing the ordinary. Whether an unusual angle, funky lighting, or a a strange juxtaposition of some commonplace items, you're bound to see something fun. The bananas are there.
My Twitter page. Here, it is a mix of everything in bite-size gulps. The fullness of my interests flows through, from chess to jazz to running to coffee.
My LinkedIn profile. Want to connect professionally? Head on over and find my profile. I'm all business there. You'll see my email address which will help you connect. I'm especially interested in connecting with others in the communications industry. Then, after we connect, message me an introduction.
How to Have a Brilliant Slideshow (Or Not)
My recent article on LinkedIn looks at whether or not using a PowerPoint slideshow is a good idea. If so, why? Please check it out, and leave a comment. I love reading what others think.
Slideshows have long been a part of public speaking. More often than not, the speaker spends hours dwelling on every jot and tittle. Some of that is good and healthy. The speaker refines his or her message, trying to say clearly and persuasively whatever brings them to the podium. Mostly, though, the speaker is stuck sorting through templates, font choices and figuring out what to say on each slide. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we need to remember what's of primary importance. Read more.