What’s up with all the bogus Nook book reviews? It’s a kids’ play-by-post role-playing game!


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// November 11th, 2013 // Gaming News

The big book of Spam

Regular Barnes and Noble customers have certainly run across this “issue” before – bogus book reviews with bizarre book summaries in the comments section that leave you scratching your head – and we’re not talking about sock puppet reviews!  Spam such as this is common on many websites but Barnes and Noble’s book reviews take the cake and seem to be favorite fodder for these bizarre book reviews. Take this thread of comments for a Barnes and Noble book review:

Anonymous: A very depressed fireflower.

Anonymous: Me too.

Anonymous: Go to hey first result. I’m starting a clan vineclan. I’m Lienstar. You shall be my deputy. Please advertise or clan.

Anonymous: Morning.

Anonymous: Goodbye Kirar. I love you forver.

Or this one:

Anonymous1: Ready gavin?

Anonymous: She wants to live a life not talking to complete strangers and wants to meet real people…

Anonymous: Gavin, where are you?

Or this *long* rambling chain of book reviews (most of which were one-star reviews):

Anonymous: Lightclan @ ‘help me’ all res and Blueclan @ ‘blue clan’ all res.

Anonymous: Join Total Drama Nook at res 1-11!

Anonymous: fionpaw hahahaa.. Learn to spell.

Anonymous: Fiish

Anonymous: Yes, you may. Sapphireheart will be your mentor. Camp is at Warriors: Sunset!

Anonymous: She grinned and padded over to Fierceclaw. “Heyo! Im firewind!” (Bio up!)

Anonymous: Join treeclan. I am bannana star . Go away fruit kit.

Anonymous: We need more warriors FAST

Anonymous: Eveery ppostion is open !!!!!!!! Join the tribes by putting up post magicclan

Anonymous: Hi I am goldenstar leader of goldclan. We are a new clan and are looking for loyal and active warriors. We also need med cat, med cat apprentice, and deputy. Please go to kitty clan only result to join. Thank you. (The clan for all those who will be loyal.

Anonymous: I am Waterpaw!!!! THUNDER CLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MEMBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous: I will be sparklefire. Chat? Reply to sparkle fire.

Anonymous: I will join your clan. My name is BrightTalon

Anonymous: Davis,James,Chet,Ale(Alfredo),Ashton,Evan,Aidan,and some quitters!!! 4326589 is my phone number

Anonymous: You are stupid sexclan for real there is little kids like me on here i am11

Anonymous: Leave us alone.

Anonymous: At ancient res ten

Anonymous: Join Furyclan. EVIL CATS ONLY! PLEASE BE ACTIVE! Goto Pitch Black. Ask for Fireclaw.

Anonymous: Moonstream here. Don’t u forget, it is not 2 late 2 join Treeclan. Here is some backround. TreeClan is made up of Many forest hunters. We live in a glade of trees, highly protected from invaders. Our med cat is leafstream, and our leader is bubblestar. Join Treeclan For all the protection and mates you can get! Type to moonstream.=•)

Anonymous: Go to flame res one to read my story

Anonymous: Yor question is answered to sarclan is so rude and ps you are rude too. By mystical jackass that is named toxin

Anonymous: Im gritkit i want to join

Anonymous: Another kit appes out of the shadows and askes “are u ok?” Gives the kit a comforting lick.

Anonymous: Hello i need a name. Im from the shadow-clan im a black
she-cat with red flame resembling marks across each eye and fore paws. And my personality is sorta fiesty but kind in a certain way. Im a great warrior i just finished being an apprentice so thats why i need a new name. I reply to ;3

Anonymous: The clan is called Fierceclan. I am the leader and my name is Froststar. I am female. All things are open. P.S. i need a mate too…

To which this person added their comment *and* included a four-star review to boot!

You guys have got to stop this. You don’t even know if the person that your mating is a girl or a boy. BTW love this book and recommend it to anyone who wants to know if it is good enough.

As it turns out, these “reviews” are posts from players of play-by-post role-playing game (also known as PbP, sim or simming). Play-By-Post is a form of role playing that happens usually online, on forums, and is similar to acting, for you take on the roles of your characters during the game’s play. The major difference is that it is performed through writing (posting) rather than acting out. One popular game is WarriorCat (loosely related to Warriors, a series of books published by Harper Collins).

Players begin these play-by-post role-playing games by finding a role playing forum and a RPG (role play game, which are often based on non-game fiction books) that they want to join. The player then registers for the RPG and waits to see if they are accepted. Once accepted, they jump into the forums and catch up on the previous posts to see what’s going on. Finally, they join in and begin posting about what their characters are saying or doing.

During game play, players create their own characters and descriptions of events surrounding their game play. Results of interactive aspects of the game, such as player vs. player combat events, may be determined through chance rolls of dice which are provided to the player via some sort of randomizer (occasionally the players themselves work out the outcome of random events amongst themselves). Many games have a “gamemaster” who oversees the game and steps in to move things along when needed.

There are many formats available for game play. In addition to play-by-post, the culprit behind the gluttony of bogus Barnes and Noble reviews, players may participate in these RPG games via message-board role-playing, play-by-email, play-by-chat, play-by-internet (via web-based game software), play-by-wiki, play-by-blog, and even play-by-Google-documents. Strangely, I have not heard of “play-by-Twitter” or “play-by-Facebook” but perhaps that’s because their spam software is quick to ferret out garbage posts.

As evidenced by the multitude of complaining authors, Barnes and Noble appear to let many of these reviews sit for months before removing however, it does appear that in at least some cases they do remove the bogus reviews. Here for example is one play-by-post player expressing their frustration after B&N removed the RPG game-play post from a book review (we’ve corrected just enough of the spelling and grammar to make it readable).

YOU SUCK BARNES AND NOBLE!  RPING WAS MY FAV THING I THOUGHT ABOUT IT EVERYDAY AND YOU TOOK IT FROM ME!!!!!!  I’M NEVER BUYING ANYTHING FROM YOU AGAIN EVER!  WHY WOULD YOU TAKE IT FROM ME!  WHY WHY WHY!  ITS ALL I HAD!  ITS WHERE I FELT LIKE LIFE WAS GOOD BUT NOW NO!  ITS GONE CAUSE OF YOU!  IN REAL LIFE I’M BEAT UP, PICKED ON, CALLED NAMES BUT IN ROLEPLAY I HAD A GIRLFREIND.  I HAD ALL THAT NOW ITS GONE CAUSE OF YOU!

Looks like the kids are acting less like World of Warcraft players and more like 4chan members.  But hey, who says this Millennials generation of kids are not creative? The final question remaining is, “How bad is Barnes and Noble security that they cannot filter this sort of spam and until schools start blocking the Barnes and Noble website, what are they going to do about it?”

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