September 14, 2004

Rob Neyer makes a boo-boo: To continue the theme of ill-considered reactions, Neyer gets angry at a book, flinging it across the room and dissing the book anonymously on Amazon. Then he gets outed. Another perspective.

posted by rocketman to culture at 10:16 AM - 11 comments

Seems like Neyer's getting a bum deal here. The anonymous review was dumb, doubly so because Amazon just recently put in a bunch of controls to stop the kind of problem he's complaining about, but Neyer is a geek and his explanation of why he didn't use his own name makes sense to me. If Peter Gammons shows up on Amazon.com saying a baseball book is crap, it's going to hurt sales. As someone who was/ is a struggling writer, Neyer's conscience wrestling makes sense. Thanks for a great post.

posted by yerfatma at 11:13 AM on September 14, 2004

BTF's thread on the topic, with comments by Neyer himself.

posted by mbd1 at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2004

I thought it was quite fair to do it the way Rob did. He wanted to say something, but didn't want to kill the book entirely based on who he was - making it a vendetta scenario. Makes sense to me.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:00 PM on September 14, 2004

Neyer compiles and crunches baseball numbers into a myriad of Sabremetric stats (and a few he made up) and wrotes about them. All day, every day. He probably knows Excel functions Bill G. has never heard of. He is a geek to the extreme (in a good way). Social graces may not be his strong suit. That said I have to go with yerfatma, Rob explained his logic for the psuedonym and right or wrong, it seems plausible. I can even buy the "I don't know why I reacted that way" bit, as we have all been there. "Visceral" is often difficult to put into words. The Rocky Mountain News blurb, on its surface, just seems like a local hack trying to out a known individual. I would not be shocked if any or all of the following were true: he had ties to Kettmann , he was one of the positive reviews on Amazon, had beef with ESPN, had beef with Neyer. To sum...Rob's a geek, something got to him, he reacted unwisely, Ringolsby either attacking a name or helping a buddy (possibly both); Amazon review system is hosed and useless. Shake well and blow all out of proportion.

posted by pivo at 01:04 PM on September 14, 2004

I don't buy Neyer's explanation. To me it seems like he's trying to shift the focus from his poor behavior to the problems with Amazon's review system. The language he uses calls to mind somebody trying to maneuver out of looking like a moron. Actually, I buy Neyer's explanation to the extent he says "I don't know why I reacted that way." But he should just be a big man and say he screwed up. I mean, read these two paragraphs: The real story here isnít that Rob Neyer hated a book that bears little resemblance to a book that he wrote four years ago. The real story isnít that Rob Neyer wrote a nasty book review, initially under an assumed name, that would have been mostly ignored and quickly forgotten. No, the real story is that if somebody writes a negative review and somebody else doesn't like it, Amazon will kill it. The real story is that Steve Kettmann wrote a crummy book, and in response his friends and family are flooding the Internet with ridiculously generic reviews that are designed to fool the public. Shame on my colleague Ken Davidoff for helping them, and shame on Amazon for letting them get away with it. Jesus Rob, grow up. Sometimes life isn't fair.

posted by rocketman at 01:12 PM on September 14, 2004

I don't buy Neyer's explanation. Honestly, I think it comes down to what pivo said much better than I. He's a geek and one of the common traits among geeks is a lack of social grace, choosing to make a point over honoring decorum. It makes sense if you're the same way, but it doesn't make it any better.

posted by yerfatma at 01:31 PM on September 14, 2004

Well, I think it's obvious he's intent on making his point. We agree on that.

posted by rocketman at 02:09 PM on September 14, 2004

I really think that I would have reacted similarly to Neyer in the same situation. And how frustrating it is when a foolish mistake, made without thinking, begins its journey down the slippery slope, as this apparently did in Neyer's mind. Once found out, he probably felt he had his reputation to protect, so he made desperate attempts to nip it in the bud... although with maybe a smidge too much anger. He may have been wrong to have made the post initially, and I think he agrees with that, but at least he tried to protect the author somewhat by making his review appear to have been written by an ordinary Joe. The whole story's kind of sad, because after reading the "real" reviews, I figure the author isn't going to be selling many books - and those that read it anyway may already have a negative opinion formed.

posted by sixpacker at 03:25 PM on September 14, 2004

Yeah, I'm still confused as to what he did wrong. Posting anonymously to Amazon? He doesn't benefit from the anonymity; if he wanted to make an impression, he would have put his name with the review. Everyone else can post to Amazon however they want. Why is Neyer held to some strange standard? The only explanation I can see is because his job bothers the hell out of traditional print journalists.

posted by yerfatma at 05:15 PM on September 14, 2004

The whole story's kind of sad, because after reading the "real" reviews, I figure the author isn't going to be selling many books - and those that read it anyway may already have a negative opinion formed. Exactly; but does anyone really put their faith in Amazon's Reviews? The book should sink or swim on its own merit, not on the word of his holiness Rob Neyer. And now I was personally offended. For one thing, somebody -- Kettmann, or somebody close to him -- was shitting all over what I wrote, orchestrating a campaign of disinformation in direct response to my honest and considered opinion. In other words: He shit on me shitting on him.

posted by lilnemo at 05:28 PM on September 14, 2004

The book should sink or swim on its own merit, not on the word of his holiness Rob Neyer. Which, I think, was Neyer's point. </mediating>

posted by yerfatma at 07:14 PM on September 14, 2004

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