"First, allow me to describe my own experiences in the “Top Reviewers” forum on Amazon.
“Wow”, is the first word that comes to mind. The forum is very similar to school. I was welcomed by almost everyone but, naturally, as with anyone new, some were suspicious of my motives and tried to expose me as some spy for the other side.
After a while, they spoke freely and openly about their online reviewing experiences and for that I am truly grateful.
Many had only pleasant feedback from their reviews and felt that anonymity didn’t matter. Others felt they have been singled out for either supporting a particular author’s work or disparaging one.
Some are afraid that like comic book super-heroes, if they unmask, they will put themselves and their families in danger from cyber-attacks, real-life stalkers and fanatical supporters of certain authors bombarding them day and night.
Others are afraid their personal preferences of different books, such as erotica, and certain items (firearms) that they review, if they went public, might present a skewed view of their personal life to their friends, family and co-workers. Understandable.
Yet others feel a name shouldn’t matter and their words are what counts.
As for a secret undercurrent or gang of bullies that prey on certain authors and posters like a “brotherhood of evil reviewers”, looking to destroy any and all who disagree with them or that they just don’t like, in the 24 hours I spent on the forum, I saw only a few.
These people constantly down-vote comments from opposing posters and try to overwhelm anyone who appears weak and unwilling to engage.
As I said before, the forum is a lot like a classroom run by a disinterested substitute and a principal that just doesn’t care.
Basically, I was left with the feeling that a lot of these anonymous posters are paranoid, but like someone once told me, “are you really paranoid if someone is constantly watching you?”. And, as we all know, online someone is always watching you."