Social reading site Goodreads recently infuriated some users when it announced it will delete reviews that focus on an author’s behavior rather than on the contents of a book. Goodreads, which Amazon acquired earlier this year, has said the policy change is necessary for maintaining a civil community on the site, but on Wednesday it apologized to some users whose reviews were deleted and said it will send them the text of those reviews for their “personal records.”
One user who received such an email posted it in full on BookLikes, a competing site that has seen an influx of users who switched over after boycotting Goodreads due to its new policy. The email said that “we should have notified you and provided you with a copy of your content when we deleted the reviews/shelves” and added:
“We’ve discussed this in more detail with our engineers, and while the reviews have been completely deleted from the database, it turns out we can retrieve the content through back-up servers. We will email it to you for your personal records as soon as the import completes in a week or two. Please note though, the content that violated our guidelines cannot be re-posted on Goodreads.”
Goodreads also posted a clarifying FAQ on its website and noted that, going forward, “If we determine that something does not fit within our guidelines, we will send the member the content of the review or shelf for his or her personal records and delete it from the site.”
As I wrote last week, the incident is probably a normal part of Goodreads’ growing pains as it transitions from being a niche site into something larger. While it still seems as if allowing private reviews and shelves would be helpful, sending users the text of their deleted reviews is a good start — though it may not be enough for the disgruntled users who’ve already left the site.