51 Comments

Summary:

Goodreads has begun deleting book reviews that focus on a book’s author rather than on its content. Some users are crying censorship, but Goodreads will face more challenges like this as its membership grows.

goodreads will not read due to author

What makes for a proper book review? Reading-based social network Goodreads says reviews that focus on an author’s behavior, rather than a book’s content, don’t have a place on the site — and announced Friday that it is going to start automatically deleting those reviews.

The new guidelines are infuriating some users who say that some authors’ bad behavior online should be a factor in book purchases. And the entire episode highlights the challenges that Goodreads, which was acquired by Amazon earlier this year, faces as it adds users (CEO Otis Chandler recently announced the site has over 20 million members) and becomes more influential.

A ban on “the author is an a**hole” reviews

Goodreads wants book reviews to be focused on a book’s content, not on an author’s behavior online. Until now, it had moderated reviews that seemed too personal, but those reviews remained on members’ profiles. The site announced in a blog post Friday, however, that it “will now delete these entirely from the site. We will also delete shelves and lists of books on Goodreads that are focused on author behavior. If you have questions about why a review was removed, send an email to support@goodreads.com.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 11.01.51 AM

Goodreads added more info in an update:

“To clarify, we haven’t deleted any book reviews in regard to this issue. The key word here is ‘book’. The reviews that have been deleted – and that we don’t think have a place on Goodreads — are reviews like ‘the author is an a**hole and you shouldn’t read this book because of that’. In other words, they are reviews of the author’s behavior and not relevant to the book. We believe books should stand on their own merit, and it seems to us that’s the best thing for readers.”

A step back: Who’s bullying whom?

Wondering how “author behavior” has become such a divisive issue on Goodreads? Basically, the site is trying to respond to online bullying — in this case, readers bullying authors. And here, there are a number of parallels to the concerns about online bullying, threatening and intimidation that we’ve seen on forums like Twitter.

One story that got a lot of attention this summer, for instance, was that of 22-year-old Lauren Howard, a self-published author who saw that her book was being rated on Goodreads before she even released it. When she asked about this on a Goodreads message board, Goodreads users apparently got mad and started leaving vitriolic reviews of the book in retaliation. Salon cites Howard’s Tumblr, which Howard has since deleted:

“People started to rate 1-star to prove ‘we can rate whatever the hell we want.’ My book was added to shelves named ‘author should be sodomized’ and ‘should be raped in prison’ and other violent offensive things, all for asking a simple question as a newcomer to the website.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 10.58.54 AM

It’s hard to corroborate Howard’s story when she’s deleted her Tumblr (it’s not available in Google’s cache) and many of the Goodreads reviews and shelves allegedly devoted to bullying her have also been deleted. In addition, Howard backtracked on some of her statements.

“Author bullying” has been seen as a problem on the site for awhile. There’s a blog, “Stop the GR Bullies,” devoted to the issue, as well as two Change.org petitions that have garnered over 2,000 signatures combined. Yet “Stop the GR Bullies” has attracted plenty of criticism as well, with many arguing that the blog uses the same bullying tactics it claims to condemn, singles out individual reviewers and posts users’ personal information.

Porter Anderson has a good wrapup of the Howard saga here, and concludes, “The kind of hand-wringing intensity that has accompanied the Howard allegations and debates in recent days are a form of tacitly condoned bullying, in themselves. We are all bullied by hyperbole, rants, unstated bias, and ill-informed accusation.”

Users cry “censorship” and say Goodreads is condoning bad author behavior

Users have left over 2,000 comments on the blog post announcing Goodreads’ new policy. Many argue that an author’s online behavior is a valid reason for leaving a negative review of a book, and fear the reverse of the author-bullying scenario: That authors will now be able to harass readers (by spamming their Goodreads inboxes or by criticizing their negative reviews) with no recourse from Goodreads. Goodreads, meanwhile, stresses, “We do not tolerate authors attacking or harassing reviewers on the site…We are simply asking that you flag the content to staff’s attention rather than responding to inappropriate behavior in the review space. We will take it from there.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 10.59.34 AM

Users also don’t like that Goodreads is simply deleting reviews without warning users first. (Goodreads partially addressed this in a second update Monday morning, noting that users “with reviews or shelves created prior to September 21, 2013 that will be deleted under the revised policy will be sent a notification first and given time to decide what to do,” but reviews and shelves created after September 21 can be deleted without warning.)

Among the comments:

“Goodreads is essentially rewarding poor author behavior by chilling regular member discussion about it. Is this not a social network? Is it not valid for people to look into an author when determining whether their books? Why would I want to support someone who thinks it OK to name and shame readers?” (link)

“I’m sure all of the authors who have harassed and bullied and badmouthed and stalked reviewers who’ve given them less than stellar reviews are very pleased with these changes.” (link)

“Shelves and reviews about author behavior may not be reviews of the work itself, but they are valid concerns for readers to want to take into account. Hiding them from the main book page makes a certain amount of sense, but deleting them entirely is a step, or leap, too far.” (link)

And some users think the new policy is evidence that Goodreads now values authors, publishers and advertising dollars over members. “This site used to be for the readers,” one wrote. “Now it seems like it’s moving closer to appease authors and your sponsors.”

Goodreads: Trying to set “an appropriate tone for a community site”

In the update to its original post, Goodreads writes:

“Someone used the word censorship to describe this. This is not censorship — this is setting an appropriate tone for a community site. We encourage members to review and shelve books in a way that makes sense for them, but reviews and shelves that focus primarily on author behavior do not belong on Goodreads…let’s judge books based on what’s inside them.”

Overall, it’s not surprising that Goodreads is experiencing growing pains. The site’s membership doubled in less than a year, and since Goodreads will be integrated into the new Kindle Paperwhite, we’re likely to see another surge in members soon.

A social network for readers may still count as a niche site, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have to grapple with the harassment, bullying and free speech issues that we’ve already seen on more general sites like Twitter and Reddit. And that means more tough decisions like the ban on author-centric reviews.

This story was updated on Monday afternoon with further information on the blog “Stop the GR Bullies.”

  1. A lot of artists are screwed up people trying to express things. Why should they be judged by anything other than their work? If you don’t like them, don’t read them. Goodreads is about books, not authors.

  2. I think that by selectively deleting reviews/shelves, the information on Goodreads becomes less trustworthy as a whole. The integrity of the whole site is devalued.

    1. Fake and false reviews is what devalues Goodreads. People who judge other peoples behavior in a book review devalues it even more. Can’t these people utilize their “freedom of speech” in a group rather than a book review? Why is it important for some people to make sure they tell the rest of the world that they think a particular author is an “A-hole” in a book review? Let’s not even forget the fact that “judge not lest thee be judged”.

      Just because you think someone is a jerk, doesn’t mean that they are. Someone else thinks they’re the cats meow. Personal opinions and libelous comments aimed at authors do not belong in book reviews. Book reviews are for books.

    2. But Goodreads was already untrustworthy. When members are allowed to 1-star or even 5-star books according to “interest in reading” rather than an actual opinion of the book, it completely skews the ratings for that book. Ratings that many readers rely on to purchase these books. Goodreads has traditionally allowed a reader/reviewer “free-for-all” when it came to rating/praising/trashing books and authors, by promoting itself as a social network. Now that GR algorithyms are integrated into the new Kindle, then the issue of false ratings (good and bad) effect the sales of the very books Amazon sells. This change is a business decision.

    3. But Goodreads was already untrustworthy. Goodreads policy of allowing members to rate a book according to interest in reading already skewed the integrity of the site as a source for relying on reviews. When members can 1-star or 5-star a book without reading it, then it changes the overall rating of that book. A rating that potential book buyers may rely on when making a purchasing decision. Since GR is now integrated into the new Kindle, falsely rated/starred/reviewed books would be accessible to new Kindle owners as a source information. That is why the new policy. Amazon has a financial interest in ensuring that the rating algorhythms are as accurate as possible to protect its interests.

      1. Sorry for the double post!

      2. Martha, this false rating system was designed from the beginning. I had STGRB post the first article linking all the evidence that Otis himself knew the false rating system would ultimately be the ‘golden egg’ of Goodreads in order to increase its value. This golden egg was the review database. He even stated it himself in the top two of the four reasons Goodreads was exploding with members was contributed directly to the, “Critical mass of book reviews.” Here’s the problem though, people keep mentioning the API but not many understand the big deal about it. I’m going to explain it. What most people don’t understand is that this API is the sole reason Goodreads became so big. It’s basically an application websites can download for free and use to link to Goodreads. Libraries all over the world and retailers to include Sony, Kobo, and many others were using it. They wanted this API because it linked to Goodreads REVIEW data base, so this data base needed to be HUGE in order to get big players like Sony to use it. That’s why Goodreads allowed this ‘open’ review system and encouraged it. Here’s the catch, in order to use this API, these websites had to ADVERTISE goodreads and provide links back their website on EVERY SINGLE book page. That’s billions of ads linking to a corrupt database. Does it make sense now why Goodreads wanted those reviews? To get their API all over the internet to keep growing and ultimately sell the website. What they did was illegal. FTC says so because you can’t use false information for advertising. They used everyone.

        1. I suppose this will help. Here’s the link to the article. Several people worked on digging this information up and was handed over to STGRB to report on it: http://www.stopthegrbullies.com/2013/09/07/goodreads-review-fraud/ We have folders full of proof that wasn’t included in the article.

  3. I agree with Eve.
    I also think that goodreads just needs to decide what it’s trying to be and stick with it. Is it a professional review site for authors to promote their work on? Or is it a social networking site for book lovers? Originally, it insisted it was the latter, but right now I’m seeing something very different.

    1. Bruce Wayne needs to decide too, should he be Bruce or the Batman? His response was, “I can be both.” – And this may be what Goodreads is shooting for. It’s already stated in their ToS that posting comments that can potentially upset other members is strictly forbidden, but GR hasn’t been enforcing that part of their ToS. Until maybe now? And posting hurtful and libelous remarks aimed at certain individuals is wrong. Especially in a “book” review. Who cares if you think an author is misbehaving? That’s your opinion. You are certainly entitled to it, but that opens the door for others to now judge your behavior.

      I think what GR is trying to do is get the 10 year olds to stop with their belly-aching from both sides of the playground. That for authors, if someone attacks you through a review, flag it instead of confronting the reviewer. And to reviewers it says, if an author confronts you about a review, don’t respond to it, don’t go get your friends and start WWIII, just flag it and let GR handle it.

      That seems to be fair.

      1. I think goodreads has shown that it can’t be both. You know that you can sue if someone makes a statement about you that is libelous?

        1. Anonymous Attorney Emily Monday, September 23, 2013

          It is VERY DIFFICULT to win a libel case.

          * You can post an OPINION, and it is not libel. Opinions never are.

          * You can even post false information, and it is not libel. To be libel, the alleged information has to be defamatory. This means that the charge must be serious. Such as that X is a criminal or has AIDS. Simply saying that X was rude to me at a book signing, even if false, is not libel.

          * Furthermore, it’s okay to mistakenly post false information about a public figure (as top authors are). If you’re mistaken, it’s not libel unless one can prove that the poster had actual malice against the public figure.

          * Finally, to sue for libel, you must PROVE your damages (i.e., the amount of money you lost as a result of the posting). Can you PROVE that you lost $100,000 in book royalities? That readers would have turned you into a bestselling author, but for the libelous posting? In most cases, these internet posts, even if libelous, have close to ZERO damages. So even if you win, you’ll only collect a symbolic One Dollar. And you’ll end up paying your attorney $15,000 or so for that “victory.”

          (I’m a member of two state bars, BTW).

        2. Sure, everyone has 20 grand sitting around to retain a lawyer. And winning your case is never a sure thing. And if you do win, good luck collecting your judgement. The best solution is for people to just stop the hate. What does it say about a person who gossips about people online that they don’t even know? And what does it say about a person who has so many people they hate that they have to keep track of them on a book list? ….. Really? …. You HATE that many people?

          Time for someone to look in a mirror.

          It can be both. If an author complains about a review, flag it. Let GR deal with it. If a reviewer attacks an author in a book review, flag it, let GR deal with it.

          Readers and authors are nothing but products on Goodreads. You really buy into that crap Otis Chandler spills from his mouth that he started GR for book lovers because he loves books? ….. LMAO ….. He started GR to MAKE MONEY! He doesn’t give two craps about readers or authors.

  4. This is more like death throes than growing pains. When all is said and done Goodreads is nothing more than a glorified forum. Like other forums when the trolls are allowed to rule the roost they fail and close. All the complaints blaming authors is a smoke screen for the stalker trolls who don’t even know what a book review is. They think a book review is a weapon to be used against writers destroy their reputations, careers, livelihood and dreams. They are reacting in a frenzied exodus at the thought they will have be limited to using book reviews to review book and not to destroy writers. The goodreads site has been dominated by a stalker troll gang and is in ruins. Add to that the fact the API they sell is a total fraud. The trolls are going through goodreads and leaving hundreds if not thousands of 1-star ratings because they are angry they will no longer be allowed to use reviews for personal attacks on authors. Aside from the 1-star, no-read attack reviews from the trolls they also have a list of top reviewers posted on the site. The top six reviewers are posting over 1200 reviews a week. That means each of these people are reading and reviewing almost 30 books a day. How is that even possible? As a result they are under investigation for fraud by the FTC. I know that many complaints about the fraudulent API have been filed. So Goodreads is not growing it is dying, going the route of myspace and other social media sites that failed due to troll infestations that were allowed to get out of hand.

    1. Spot on.
      I’ve used librarything before I’ve heard about goodreads.
      For me, it felt that one was about the users and their books as part of their libraries, and the other was about the books as products and authors as promotion tools. When I heard goodreads was owned by Amazon, it killed any hope I might have had for it, even if it’s the only one with a Calibre plugin.

      What’s this obsession with authors/artists personal lives anyway? I just like to read the books and listen to the music. Period. If I know any author names, it’s because I need to find more of their books.

  5. I think author behavior is a legitimate factor in determining whether I will support that author financially. I don’t agree with Orson Scott Card’s views on Marriage Equality, and I know he regularly donates to groups that oppose it. I don’t want to indirectly contribute to a cause I am diametrically opposed to. That’s one of the reasons I no longer eat at Chik-fil-a. It’s called voting with my wallet.

    I would prefer this kind of information be available to me before I chose to purchase a book *especially* if it’s a Self Published author, since I know most of the money will be going into their pockets. If they’ve acted in a manner I don’t want to reward, then I’d like to know. I want to know if the author is an a**hole before I buy their book. I can still find out with an easy google search if an author’s worth giving my money to, but these shelves and reviews make it easier for me to keep abreast of what’s going on.

    1. So let me see if I get this straight. If you see someone else, whom you may not know, saying in a book review that a particular author is a stalker, you’re just gonna take their word for it? ….. Okay. Good to know.

      And for the person who made the comment about the author in that book review, and for that book shelf they made calling the author a stalker as well, you telling me that reviewer needs to make that particular shelf to remind her that she hates that author? …. If a person has to make a list of all the people, author or not, that they hate, then what does that say about the person who made that “hate” list?

      I can’t even count on one hand how many people I hate, but that’s only because i don’t hate anyone.

      And if I ever were to hate someone, it wouldn’t be someone I have never met before in real life. It wouldn’t be someone I might have only heard about on the internet. That seems somewhat petty to me. And ridiculous.

      1. It’s my money. I get to decide how to spend it how I want. And you don’t get to question it. If I don’t want to give my money to certain people based on certain criteria, then that is my prerogative, and you get absolutely no say in the decision.

        But to answer your question, no, I don’t take their word for it. I use the review or shelf as a jumping off point, then I google the author and make my own decision. Like using Wikipedia for a research project. Then I make my decision whether that author has been judged unfairly.

        But that’s my opinion, and that’s how I do things. I don’t like to support people that I have decided are acting like an a**hole. You’re perfectly welcome to disagree with that as long as you respect that it is my right to do so. I’m not telling you how to spend your money; buy what you want. Just don’t tell me I’m wrong for expressing my opinion.

        1. You’re right, I don’t have any say about how you spend your money. So why then do you have the right to take money away from authors by attacking them in reviews for the sole purpose of trying to hurt an authors book sales? Let’s face it, that can be the only reason to attack an author in a BOOK review.

          You’re so full of crap. LOL Research the author on Wikipedia and other blogs. smh

        2. Nobody is denying you the freedom to express those opinions. But the book reviews aren’t the place for it. If you want to bash the author and warn others that you think he’s an asshole you’ve got plenty of other venues to do so. As long as you’re not using reviews of the books themselves for it.

          Otherwise it’s like going to play soccer and then in the middle of the match grabbing the ball in your hands and throwing it into the net. Other players will complain about it and you can’t really defend yourself that they’re trying to limit your freedom. If you want to throw balls go play handball, not screw everybody else’s soccer match

    2. What’s hard to understand, Goodreads book review space is for: A) Recipes B) What You Had For Lunch C) Book Reviews or D) Advertising Car Insurance

      Times up, the answer is *drum roll* E Talk Shit About Authors! Just kidding. See how ridiculous this argument is? It would be no different than somebody commenting on this blog post about how much they hate Laura’s hair color (Not saying anyone does). You with me? It servers no purpose, it’s rude, unproductive, and as a reader myself, I find it OFFENSIVE just as most everyone else with a rational mind does. My guess is, Laura would delete a comment like and rightfully so.

      Let’s look at it another way. Do you want to meet the cow before you eat the beef? Do you want to know what color it’s crap is? Did you want pictures of it? Guess what, it doesn’t matter and nobody cares. We just want to know if tastes great. Based off your reasoning, we all have the right to know where you work so we can decide whether or not to purchase your goods because maybe we don’t like your point of view. See how idiotic that sounds? It’s NO different that what your stating, ZERO. Get a clue.

      1. Actually, no, I’m not with you. I’m not making an argument. I’m not trying to convince anyone, I’m just offering my viewpoint and how I decide to spend my money. I don’t really care if you think it’s idiotic; the point is it’s not your decision. It’s mine. It doesn’t have to make sense to you, and you don’t have to like it. You just have to respect that it’s my decision to make.

        My reasons to buy or not buy a product don’t have to make sense to anyone but me. I’m not accountable to anyone here, and especially not you.

        And yes, there are indeed things I want to know about that cow before I decide to financially support the business selling the steak. Was it treated humanely? Was it fed grass or corn? Was it abused in any way? So there are more things than just how it tastes that affect my decision. Same thing here.

        To give a non-author example, I think Axl Rose is an a**hole, so I won’t buy Guns n Roses CDs. I don’t care how much “Sweet Child of Mine” rocks; I refuse to line his pockets, even a little bit.

        What’s hard to understand is why you’re being so hostile. I like being an informed consumer and don’t like to make purchases in a vacuum. That’s my decision to make, and you’ll just have to accept that.

        1. Spend your money however you please based off whatever factors you wish, but you keep talking about what you want. You keep sidestepping the topic about using book review space for other content that is not allowed. You agree with breaking terms of service and abusing content given freely to you by Goodreads in order to spam books with unrelated nonsense? Goodreads review space is for BOOKS. They said so. It is in their TOS, and it’s always been that way. People were abusing it and got busted and ruined it for everyone else. Blame them. There are other website for what you want and you have your private space to talk about it. Bottom line, Book Review is not cryptic code meaning talk about whatever the hell you want. It’s pretty straight forward.

          1. Read this: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/347197-why-gr-s-new-review-rules-are-censorship?chapter=1

            It’s a great post about how talking about authors is completely relevant in book reviews.

          2. It’s their site, and they can make the rules and enforce them however they want. I like having certain information available to me. That’s what I’m saying. No more; no less. I… don’t really know why you’re getting so riled up about this.

        2. This isn’t about how you spend your money, Jonas, it’s about how you attack authors on a personal basis in book reviews.

          Personally, and honestly, if you’re a bully, or a supporter of a bully, I don;t want your money. I don’t want bad people buying my book. I don’t want Jonas buying my book because she is a bad person. Evil to the core. A bully.

          So I forbid you to buy my book, Jonas.

          Thanks.

    3. But obviously that information is available to you. Until this article, I had no idea that GR existed, but I knew all about Card and Chik fil a. A book review site should review books, not authors. That kind of information is available elsewhere from more reliable sources.

  6. Laura Hazard Owen Monday, September 23, 2013

    I’ve read a few posts and tweets that suggest Goodreads has to decide whether it’s for authors or for readers. What do you guys think of this idea? Do you think the site can serve both groups? Or do you think that’s impossible and that review/commenting policies must favor one side or the other? I think Goodreads is trying to strike a balance between the two groups, but this is clearly a hard task.

    1. I firmly believe that Goodreads can serve both groups. Although I think it was underhanded on Goodreads part to delete reviews without warning (after all, it must take hours to find and insert some of those GIFs) it is a step in the right direction to finally implement some stricter guidelines for both authors and reviewers. The biggest issue is that Goodreads has acted more like an indulgent parent amused over the shennanigans of it’s offspring. GR has allowed and encouraged bad behavior for years and now that it’s time to crack down, GR members are (rightly) outraged at the new rules were imposed without warning and worse of all poorly explained. Hopefully, the changes will eventually allow GR to live up to the site that it always had the potential to be, instead of the joke that it has been.

    2. Laura, that was a well-rounded neutral post. As for Goodreads, it’s for everyone. They marketed it that way for years now. The problem is they didn’t enforce their TOS and let these stalker/bully groups get out of hand. Sure there was some authors along the way that got out of line, but Goodreads always dealt with them harshly and got rid of them. The problem is, they didn’t do anything about the bullies who were harassing the authors until now, so it’s not surprising they are having a tantrum about it. Sadly enough, half the so called bully ‘reviewers’ on goodreads who are complaining are Authors themselves on either sock accounts or regular accounts. Try to wrap your head around that one. If they enforce their new changes it will be a better site for everyone and authors will begin spending money again to advertise with them. Not to mention all the negative press they have received over the past few months might actually clear up. Now we just need Amazon to axe a few of the top-dogs who let it get out of control the way it did.

    3. I think it can be done but GR has to enforce the rules fairly. The simple solution is, if a reviewer gets mad at an author for commenting about their review, instead of attacking the author and getting your friends to join you in doing it, flag the response and let GR handle it. The same goes for authors if they stumble on a review that attacks the author. Instead of commenting to the reviewer, flag the content and let GR deal with it.

      But again, here is the key thing …. GR has to enforce the rules fairly! And there lies the problem that we have right now. Goodreads does not enforce their ToS fairly. And not just with this bully issue either. They also failed to monitor sexual role play groups and allowed adults and minors to engage in illegal activities.

      A website is only as good as their enforcement of the rules allows. If you neglect to be fair and balanced, you get over-run by people who think it is their job to inform the book reading population that author Joe Blow is an idiot. Or worse, claim he is a rapist or pedophile when it’s not true. The only reason to attack an author in any way in a review is to try and hurt their book sales.

      Going by that – I suppose it’s okay to walk into a taco bell where the girl who cut me off on the road moments earlier works and tell her boss about it and for good measure, tell her boss that I saw her snorting white powder right before she clocked in. That will teach her to cut me off again. The bitch.

      Get the picture?

    4. Well, Goodreads is supposed to be a site for Readers. Readers who are also reviewers, authors, or librarians. Readers are readers..it’s supposed to be for readers.

  7. Fangs 4 the Fantasy Monday, September 23, 2013

    Oh yeah another site that didn’t bother to research STGRB before endorsing them. I do wish there were actual journalists still around

    And presenting “bullying” without actually giving examples (especially since this “bullying” charge is levelled at any negative review) or are those shelves really supposed to count as “bullying”? Because, given the young people committing suicide over bullying, appropriating that term deeply offensive

    And you’ve failed to consider how Goodreads new policy also stops things like talking about Orson Scott Card’s homophobia as part of whether to buy a book or not.

    1. Who cares if Orson Scott Card is a homophobic? It’s not your job to tell the world about it. Even if it were true. And it doesn’t belong in a book review. Only a person with an ax to grind would give a crap about OSC being a homophobic. And only a bully with an ax to grind would mention it in a BOOK review. And only whack job would want to know if he was. People say they don’t want to spend their money on a book written by homophobic author and they don’t have to. But if you find someone who already owns it and borrow it, or go to the library, you could read it for free and not have to give any of “your” money to support the homophobic writer. And best of all, you could finally write an “honest” review about the BOOK instead of a fake one.

      As for STGRB? I researched them. They are doing nothing but reporting attacks by bullies. I have not seen any wrong doing on their part. They never doc dropped anyone as the bullies claim and there has never been any evidence to support that claim. All STGRB does is report on what the bullies are doing. The bullies are upset because STGRB presents the bullies actions to the world and the world sees the truth about who the real bad people are. because good people wouldn’t rate a book one star if they didn’t read the book. Good people don’t judge authors in book reviews. Good people don’t go around judging others period. And STGRB has plenty of evidence of bullying going on over at GR.

      Here is something interesting: If I mention the word “bully” without naming names and you respond angrily, what does that tell you? …… Why would you assume I am talking about you? …. Why so defensive? …. Not you personally but people in general in other articles on other sites have responded angrily when I mention “the bullies”. I find it amusing that they assume I am talking about them. A guilty conscience is hard to hide.

      1. >>Who cares if Orson Scott Card is a homophobic? It’s not your job to tell the world about it. Even if it were true. And it doesn’t belong in a book review. Only a person with an ax to grind would give a crap about OSC being a homophobic. And only a bully with an ax to grind would mention it in a BOOK review.

        Card himself has openly stated that he thinks homosexuality should be criminalized, so the fact that he’s a homophobe is not in doubt. And given that Card has written books like “Hamlet’s Father,” where he re-writes Shakespeare’s Hamlet to make it all about the evils of gay rape, I submit that it *is* relevant. His homophobia is directly reflected in the content of some of his books.

        Likewise, if I were posting a review of that H.P. Lovecraft story where the narrator’s cat is named after a racial slur, Lovecraft’s racism would be directly relevant.

        The author might be ‘dead,’ but their biases and beliefs and backgrounds/personal experiences still inform their writing. (For a more positive example: if I were reviewing Kathy Reichs’ crime/thriller series about a forensic anthropologist, the fact that Reichs herself was trained as a forensic anthropologist would be relevant).

        1. Yes! Writers influence their writing directly. Therefore it is relevant to the content of a book.

          1. Totally!! Totally agree!

  8. Remember the word “flaming”. There were sites on the internet (back in the day) where all you did was trash talk one another. That started spreading to early social networks. I once belong to a gardening site, but eventually quit because it turned into cliques and sides were taken and bullies emerged. It was junior high school again and then Lord of the Flies.

    Anyone who subscribes to their local online newspaper sees the ‘pack’ behavior in the comments sections.But, even the newspapers have comment standards and ban certain readers.

    So, it’s no surprise that the sharks have migrated to GR. I support GR in censoring comments that are disruptive to a critical review of a book. I suppose, however one can integrate the author into the review? How, for instance, can you not include F. Scott
    Fitzgerald and Zelda’s lives into Fitzgerald’s novels?

  9. I’ve seen a lot of instances on goodreads in the past (and I’ve been a member for years now) where authors behaved unprofessionally simply bc someone didn’t like their book. Not because they were “attacked” but because a reader had something negative to say about their writing/plot/characters, etc. I have seen authors throw tantrums over reviews simply because they were negative. On the same token, I believe that aspects of the author’a life or behavior do have influence on a reader. We can’t honestly say that Alice in Wonderland wasn’t influenced by Lewis Carrol’s use of LSD. That’s based on fact. If I review a book negatively and the author responds negatively because they get their feelings hurt, it’s going to leave a bad taste in my mouth for anything said author does after the fact. I don’t think readers should be allowed to post things like “I hope that author does in a fire” but they should be able to voice their opinion if they have had a bad experience with that person, as I have seen happen in several online forums. Maybe it shouldn’t be the only basis for a book review, but the reviews on Goodreads aren’t “professional” reviews. They’re mostly readers opinions on novels. It’s going to be hard to find the balance for the site if, as previously stayed, the ToS aren’t imposed fairly on both sides.

    1. Are you claiming that it is a fact that Lewis Carroll wrote “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” while under the influence of LSD? If so, you are promulgating false information.

      Here are the facts: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was published in 1865; Lewis Carroll died in 1898; LSD was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938.

      Therefore, your statement is incorrect. We can honestly say that “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” wasn’t influenced by Lewis Carroll’s use of LSD.

      No evidence has been found that linked Carroll to recreational drug use. However, he may have been under the influence of Laudanum, a tincture of opium, as in Carroll’s time the use of laudanum was widespread. (http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/carroll/aiwl5.html)

  10. Everyone keeps arguing sides, like children fighting on a playground. I think it’s sad, truly sad that people are filled with so much hate and anger. I was taught not to speak negatively of others, but I guess that was just me and maybe three other people. If you don’t like something, why can’t you just say “I didn’t like it”? Why do people have to wish you were killed or raped over it? Seriously, what is wrong with people?

    I don’t think readers should be hatefully bashing and threatening authors and I don’t think author should be hatefully bashing and threatening readers. I’m so sick of this argument. All this is, is one child whining about how the another hit harder than he did in an ongoing fight. I’m ashamed to be associated with readers, authors, and people in general. What has happened to humanity?

    1. Toi, I ask myself your last question all the time. It really makes me wonder where we’re headed.

Comments have been disabled for this post