When I grew up, "critic" was a job. Someone had to have some level of experience to land it. Critics worked at newspapers and magazines. They even had their own TV shows.
We knew we could trust them because, out of all of the people in the world, they were chosen to be reviewers. Whether it was true or not, there was a feeling that they had an expertise in movies, books, or whatever else they might be critiquing.
Then came the Internet. The only credential required to review something was a username and password. Goodreads, Amazon, your own blog...doesn't matter. You're officially a reviewer. Congratulations.
You can say anything you want and it's out there. Forever. Add a few fun GIFs to your review on Goodreads and other users will vote you up until you're on top. You now reign as a supreme reviewer because you can post things like this:
These reviewers could have their own agendas. Perhaps they want free books. Or maybe they want attention. Many of them, though, simply want to warn the world about bad books and become a respected authority--the person everyone comes to for good books to read.
And I fully respect those people. I'm just concerned that we seemed to have lost the filter. When I look through reviews now, I don't know if it's a family member of the author, the author's worst enemy, someone wanting to get attention, or someone who legitimately wants to leave an objective review of a author's work.
How do you feel about reviewers and critics? Do you read reviews before you read a book?