Can we trust contributed reviews?

Vendor-site Reviewers Continue to Mislead Us!

by Conrad Weisert
June 7, 2015
© Information Disciplines, Inc.

This article may be circulated freely as long as the copyright notice is included.

"This is the book to have!"

"Very practical, great examples."

"This is one reference book I'm keeping within arm's length . ."

"This book is worth its weight in gold."

"Best book on C# algorithms and tricks ever."

Five years ago we noted that Amazon reviews of technical and professional books tend to be heavily biased toward the positive, often awarding five-star raves to utterly worthless books. That's hardly surprising. Many of those reviews are posted by well-meaning naïve readers, and others by friends of the author. Readers who rely on those reviews often regret wasting their money.

I've recently been looking for a suitable textbook on object-oriented programming in C#. I checked one out of the library, and then found the above comments in another Amazon five-star rave. But while the 2010 book contains a few bits of useful wisdom, on the whole it's surely one of the most misleading and potentially damaging books on computer programming that I've seen since this awful one fifteen years ago. It continually undermines or ignores the object paradigm, it presents mutually conflicting examples, and it contains some just plain errors.

Indeed, the book is so bad that I'm not going to review it here or even identify the author. I just hope to find some decent C# textbooks soon. Meanwhile, don't take rave reviews on book-vendor sites seriously.

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Last modified June 7, 2015