One of the marks of an opinion which is not well-considered is that it merely parrots the opinion of someone else without seeking any new first-hand evidence themselves.

Such was my reaction to the article that appeared yesterday about my AI Lore books on a site called Mind Matters. After simply repeating what the author of the Futurism article wrote after reading one book which was a world-building “lore book” (not a novel), this author added:

Boucher’s online ratings are mediocre, and Adarlo notes that his most popular title was published in 2021, without the help of AI. Boucher also employs Midjourney to illustrate the novels. While clearly, it’s easier to use AI to generate text, the quality and storytelling are lacking.

I’ve seen enough responses to this coverage at this point to recognize when someone has formed an opinion without actually looking at, let alone reading any of the books.

I’m pretty clear-eyed and honest about what these books are; I can say with confidence that the quality and storytelling are not “lacking.” And the fact that 40% of all my sales come from repeat buyers proves this is not the case.

People seem quite confused about Gumroad’s rating system, which does not work like Amazon’s. You can not leave a review, you can only come back and leave 1-5 stars. Most of the books have no ratings. A few have one or two low-to-medium ratings. A few have higher ratings. And… that’s life?

Does it mean people hated the books? As a product manager, I don’t think that’s an assumption we can make without further proof. Instead, I think it probably means something more like: 1) people don’t know (or maybe care) that you can rate the books, and 2) once they’ve read the book, they don’t think to go back and put a rating.

Now, I don’t expect “normies” to understand the intricacies of user behaviors in product ecosystems like this and that’s fine. What it does tell me though, is displaying these ratings is giving off a false signal about book quality that doesn’t reflect actual buyer behavior toward them, which is heavily skewed towards repeat buying.

So, as a result of seeing people head down this blind alley of evaluation, I’m simply turning off ratings, so people don’t get caught up in it. It’s a stupid criticism: he didn’t get enough ratings (similar to: oh, well he didn’t make enough money). People have been brainwashed into thinking everything in life can be boiled down to “likes.”

I know this is a monumentally tall order, but if you’re curious about something: go check first-hand for yourself. Don’t rely on other people’s opinions to construct your own. That’s just lazy.

But then, maybe none of this is all that surprising when you consider the ultimate source of the site offering these views, one affiliated with Old Earth Creationism. They’ve obviously got it all figured out! (/s)