Amazon is stupid

Ever try Amazon’s recommendations? It looks at crap you’ve bought or viewed and tries to come up with similar items to list for you there. The recommendations are almost, but not quite, universally pointless and silly.

For instance, I may spend a painful amount of money on a new Canon lens for my camera. To someone even passingly familiar with cameras you could infer a few things from that.

  1. I own a Canon camera body.
  2. I own several Canon lenses.
  3. I, now, own the specific lens that was just purchased.
  4. Photography is an interest.

But what does it recommend? A Nikon lens (incompatible with my assumed Canon camera body). Another Canon lens of similar specifications (for instance, a refurb copy of the lens I just purchased). Smaller cameras of a different type that are useless to me with my big lens over here. Or for the time last year when I bought that new camera body. It decided immediately that I’d want to also purchase three other Canon camera bodies that I’d just passed up on to pick the one I did, as well as two Nikons, and several smaller point-and-shoot cameras. WTF?

You get the same sort of crap with video games. I do not own any version of Playstation, and never have. But if I buy an XBox360 game, it invariably offers games not only for the Playstation 3, but copies of the same game for the PS3. Do a lot of people buy a game on multiple systems? Are those people idiots?

Slightly more useful is the ‘well people who bought X also bought Y, so would you like Y to go with your X?’ thing. But I say only slightly, because people buy strange crap together. In complete seriousness, I purchased a cast iron skillet a few years back. This instant, in my recommendations, listed as a result of that purchase, it suggests… a car alarm. Right.

The thing is, I wouldn’t mind if said recommendations were actually useful. It’s a helpful concept, just a crappy execution. It lets you say that you’re not interested in one product, but that’s just one individual version of one listing of one item. I’m a Canon user so for the time being I won’t be shelling out for a Nikon… why can’t I block the whole brand? Or wide swaths of items that don’t relate to me, like PS3 games, or point and shoot cameras? I mean I know that won’t help in all cases, there will always be junk in there. But at least it’d cut down on the truly pointless crap.

It’s a genuine pain in the ass to manage all that garbage otherwise.