Hence the dilemma. Do I join in and shamelessly solicit reviews or do I keep a dignified silence and watch the blog slide down the rankings?
I'm reminded of the first few months of the Del Rey Online Writer's Workshop. It was an excellent and extremely popular workshop for SF and fantasy writers. Members would submit their short stories or chapters from novels and other members would review, comment and rate. And Del Rey thought it would be fun to allow users to list submissions in order of review rating.
That option lasted about a month.
A group of 'boy authors' decided that, being 'the next big thing,' their submission had to be top. And if that meant creating thirteen user names for themselves and reviewing their own work then let it be so. And having all the submissions ranked in order of merit let them know exactly who the competition was. Cue all out war.
LegoDude couldn't believe it. His groundbreaking exploration of elven teen angst was only at number three. He'd logged in under thirteen different user names. He'd twisted the arms of friends and relatives, he'd bribed and cajoled but...
That Cyberego was still at number one. Solid fives across the board, twenty-nine reviews. And it was crap. Seven thousand words about a dead man talking to himself in a dark cupboard. Seven thousand words! And that was only part one!
Only one thing to do. Sabotage. So on logs LegoDude thirteen times using all his thirteen user names. And savages the Cyberego's seminal piece. Ones across the board. This is crap. This gives crap a bad name. If I were a lawyer I'd advise crap to sue!
The dead man in a dark cupboard tumbles down the charts. Then hits back. LegoDude's elven angst gets a dozen savage reviews. Call that angst? Your protagonist is not even dead! And everyone knows robots can't kill. Haven't you heard of Newton's Third Law of Robotics!
LegoDude is incandescent. Of course he knew about Newton's laws. Even the one with the apples. That was the whole point of the story! The elf's life sucked so much even a robot tried to kill him!
Back on line goes LegoDude, this time logging in as IsaacFrigginNewton and savaging Cyberego's pathetic tome. I am SO glad I'm dead otherwise I'd have to write another law banning your crappy crap. You have no world building, no dialogue and no plot. Just crap. Seven thousand words of it!
Cyberego screams down the ether: It's literature! It's not supposed to have a plot!
And then all out war - like LegoDude's face after a surfeit of chocolate - breaks out. Everyone joins in. Reviews are either all fives or all ones. The only winner is Nasty McNasty's military SF classic, Die, You Purple Reptily Things, Die! a graphic blood-spattered two and a half thousand words where everyone gets killed, including the narrator - unexpectedly cut off mid-sentence by a booby-trapped semi-colon.
(on re-reading the above, I think I may have slightly exaggerated the great DROWW flame war. But then this is humour. It's not supposed to be accurate!)
I hesitate to post the Guardian Abroad review page after the above. But my right instep has just whacked me in the shins. So, here it is. And if I see LegoDude or Cyberego...