Thursday, February 18, 2010

At last, vindication!

More than two years ago, as readers long in the tooth may recall, I wrote about a preposterous new book, Quest for Middle-earth, by Dirk Vander Ploeg. As I wrote in the original post, I reviewed the book (or as much of it as I could stomach) for — this was back when I spent more time doing that; I have since pretty much given up writing Amazon reviews (in part, because of this experience). But no more than a month after posting my Amazon review, it had been taken down. I wrote about that here at Lingwë also. In the same post, I riffed, perhaps too mean-spiritedly, on a laughable interview with DVP. The answers were laughable, I should say, not the interview; it turned out that the interview itself was prompted by my Amazon review! The most telling admission to come out of the interview was that Mr. Vander Ploeg “studied communications in college, both journalism and marketing, but majored in marketing as there was more money to be made.” His motives couldn’t have been more plain.

I complained again on Lingwë that the Amazon review had not been reinstated (in one of my worst-written posts; it makes me wince to read it again), even after Amazon representatives claimed it had been. I wasted more time than I care to admit going back and forth with Amazon on this. In the end, they claimed the review was not in keeping with their standards. Specifically, they said it was removed “because your comments in large part focused on authors and their intentions, rather than reviewing the item itself. Our guidelines do not allow discussions that criticize authors/artists or their intentions […].” Nonsense. Just browse Amazon at random, and you’ll find plenty of reviews that do both but weren’t removed. And as I wrote on Lingwë back in 2007, my review was only removed from the product page; you could actually still find it on Amazon, if you knew where to look.

Now I had just about forgotten all of this, so imagine my surprise when Google alerted me this afternoon to this web page. Apparently, Mr. Vander Ploeg has achieved the distinction of making UFO Watchdog’s Hall of Shame, “a list of those we deem are not advancing the field of UFO research. Some are frauds. Some are delusional. Some are just nuts!” Some, I daresay, are all three. Surprise, surprise: the good folks at UFO Watchdog quote my Amazon review: “It had to happen eventually — that the Da Vinci Code, Nostradamus, Celestine Prophecy, Mayan Calendar, extraterrestrial, mock-religious, mock-scientific movement would infect Middle-earth and seek to capitalize shamelessly on the success and popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien.” Indeed!

So, taking a look at the product page for Quest for Middle-earth, I now find that my review has been silently reinstated. Silently, because no one from Amazon ever notified me (and this, after a chain of emails lasting more than two years). I have no way of even knowing when they restored it. Well, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth! And now you know what to do if one of your reviews is ever suppressed: simply make a lot of noise, carp and grouse for over two years, and you’ll wear ’em down, I reckon. At least, that’s what I did.


  1. Yeah, but you still don't have the 'honor' of have Dirk Vander Ploeg himself comment in response to your review, like I do. ;) And I won't ask why it is that Google alerted you to a UFO watchdog hall-of-shame webpage. ;)

  2. Yeah, but you still don’t have the ‘honor’ of have Dirk Vander Ploeg himself comment in response to your review, like I do. ;)

    True, true. That distinction is all yours. He might have responded to mine if it hadn’t been censored so early on. But perhaps he wouldn’t have. I think I came across much more aggressively than you did. Of course, you were trying to walk a fine line of expressing a real caveat lector without arousing Amazon’s prejudicial ire.

    And I won’t ask why it is that Google alerted you to a UFO watchdog hall-of-shame webpage. ;)

    Come on, can’t you guess? I’m counting down to 2012 with the rest of the tin-hat militia. I have to keep up with the latest bullsh—, er, developments. ;)

  3. Er, Blogger lost my italics tags, so it’s harder to tell at a glance whose text is whose. And it’s throwing an error when I try to delete the comment to replace it with a corrected one. Sorry about that. :P

  4. Apparently, Mr. Vander Ploeg has achieved the distinction of making UFO Watchdog’s Hall of Shame

    Now THAT is vindication! Congrats on getting your review reinstated. :)


  6. Hobbit Freak, I’m going to allow your link since it’s at least relevant — unlike the “term paper spam” I have been getting lately (and which I summarily delete). But in future, I’d appreciate it if your comments added something useful to the conversation. If they do, I don’t mind your sharing a link at all. If they don’t, I’ll probably delete them going forward.

  7. Having recently started following your blog, I read this whole.. saga today.

    One thing I notice in the interview is that Mr. vander Ploeg said fans would "gain knowledge of what [Tolkien] was thinking" by reading his book, but also states that he believes something Tolkien denied (that the Ring of the Nibelings influenced him). How can he claim to understand Tolkien's mind and motives if he disbelieves a clear statement?

    And yes, triumph! that even the UFO people don't want him.

    ~Estel Talroval

  8. Thanks, Estel, and welcome to Lingwë! Mr. vander Ploeg’s claims are patently ridiculous, of course. I don’t know why such obvious garbage got my dander up so much; I suppose it’s that it offends me to think he’s spreading such lunatic theories while making money off the Tolkien name! I hope he’s not made much.