There are, at the moment, two negative reviews for The Dark Knight Rises in the collection at Rotten Tomatoes, the website that collates professional reviews into a percentage-based approval rating.
Upset by these bad reviews, “fans of the film” have been so virulent in their torrents of trolling that comments have actually been disabled at the site.
There hasn’t been a fuss like this on Rotten Tomatoes since… maybe The Dark Knight, but probably ever.
And critic Eric Snider, a man who once lost a job over his questionable journalistic ethics, decided he was going to exploit this.
About 50% of reviews listed on Rotten Tomatoes are added to the system by the film critics themselves. Eric Snider had this power, so he decided to add a summary of his (fictional, negative) review of the film, and a link.
Except Snider hasn’t seen the film – according to Rotten Tomatoes, though he appears to say he has – and the link was simply redirecting all of the clicks to his own personal website, not to the site he was claiming.
Snider’s personal site has advertising on, so there was money, if perhaps just a little,up for grabs made from this “prank.”
Snider says that he was experimenting with the trolls. Some might say he was countertrolling.
Rotten Tomatoes have removed Snider from their weighting system, so now his reviews count for nothing, and announced that they are “probably” now going to move to a Facebook-based commenting system that removes, at least in theory, the anonymity of commenters.
All they’re asking is that their users recognise:
we’re trying to have fun here, so don’t be a dick.
And you can forget that well-worn free speech argument:
This is a business, and we have the right to refuse service to anyone we feel like.
Bleeding Cool’s own review of the film will be along on Thursday. It won’t be listed on Rotten Tomatoes. Shame.