Goodreads Modifies User Terms to Prevent Author Bullying, Reviewers Outraged
Sep
21

Goodreads Modifies User Terms to Prevent Author Bullying, Reviewers Outraged

By

goodreads

After the recent pivotal blowup of author bullying and harassment on book discovery website Goodreads, an issue that has apparently been ongoing but only within the last month received the global attention it now faces, leadership at the site made a startling announcement last night by finally stepping in and publishing guidelines that have been put into effect to prevent future conflict. The issue now is that reviewers have taken to the Goodreads announcement to voice their complaints over what they feel is censorship, criticizing Goodreads for not allowing them to continue with their negativity aimed at individuals, rather than books.

In an announcement HERE, Director of Customer Care “Kara” makes the announcement that author attacks will no longer be allowed on Goodreads. Users are welcomed and encouraged to continue posting their honest feelings about books, but remarks, shelves, and posts about authors themselves will be deleted. This is welcome news to groups like StopTheGRBullies.com and a host of other authors who emerged during this recent news to share not only their stories of bullying, but also screen shots to back them up.

Now, it’s the Goodreads community that is firing back at the website itself, claiming censorship and supporting the justification to target authors whom they believe are deserving of being ridiculed and threatened. The comments below Goodreads’ anti-bullying announcement are very telling of the type of behavior that was taking place, most of it aimed at authors.

For the authors’ part, Goodreads posted author guidelines earlier this year, warning them of the potential for backlash if authors–who have not all been the proverbial saints, to be sure, but have engaged in ugly diatribe and specifically called out by name reviewers who did not like their books–comment on reviews of their works.

Where authors were threatening a mass account cancellation to protest the bullying, many of the reader users who commented on the announcement are now threatening the same thing. And while much of this might seem like nothing more than petty playground behavior between children who honestly do not have a clear good guy or bad guy, keep in mind that several ebook retailers incorporate the Goodreads’ API into their sales pages, effectively posting book reviews that many in the Goodreads community knew to be false, and nothing more than an act of revenge against an author; real-world sales decisions have been made by consumers based on these reviews.

There is no clear answer as to what Goodreads should or should not do with this scenario. Authors have called for stricter guidelines concerning user behavior, and reviewers have rightfully rebutted that the site is for readers, not for authors. Hopefully some sense of common support for both parties can be reached before the site becomes obsolete.

Mercy Pilkington (1648 Posts)

is a Senior Editor for Good e-Reader. She is also the CEO and founder of Author Options, a hybrid publishing and consultancy company. Have a question? Send an email to info@authoroptions.com


  • Lyn Kaye

    Nothing in here about authors bullying reviewers, I see. One sided argument, and you’re just flavoring the story to make the reviewers out to be a gang of bullies.
    But I see that you’re an author, so I see that this is attempt to curry favor. Carry on.

  • Carroll Bryant

    I will be more impressed when Goodreads starts to delete author bashing
    reviews. I give those higher priority. Let’s face it, if author bashing
    book shelves are an issue, then why isn’t author bashing reviews an
    issue? See where I’m going with this?

    If calling an author an asshole is wrong for a book shelf then how is it
    not wrong for a book review? To me, it’s more of a priority to delete
    that as opposed to the book shelves.

    Then there is account deletion. Yesterday, in all the excitement of the
    “big” news, many have overlooked that three, count them, three member
    accounts (at least) that I know of were deleted by Goodreads staff. One
    account was of Mary Shelly, who saw her account get deleted after she
    made a comment on STGRB. A second account was deleted of a member who
    showed support for bullied authors. Her account name was “Sugar Sinn”.
    And finally, another member account was deleted when a girl flagged the
    reviews on my books that are bully reviews.

    Doesn’t sound like Goodreads is doing anything good to me. It sounds
    like Goodreads is still up to their same old crap. I would be really
    super-duper impressed if Goodreads actually started to delete the
    accounts of those who are in fact violating their ToS. You know, the
    ones leaving those author bashing reviews.Instead, the GR staff continues to pick and choose when, where and to whom they enforce their ToS.

    Goodreads isn’t really doing anything. It’s a dog and pony show. Smoke and mirrors. A public relations stunt from a website that could use the slightest uplifting story to try and counter balance
    all the negative ones preceding it.

  • paula louise shene

    I’m a reader, a reviewer, and a writer.I ended up being ‘bullied’ because I am a professional friend of another author.

    You hit the nail squarely when you said, this was more of a school yard tussle, if the bullying did not have far reaching financial repercussions. The off putting named shelving was that. Used by few internally on Goodreads, scorned by most. The change should be for the better as now a review should hold merit, in so much as it shall reflect the book. I look to reviews regarding story lines only after the blurb is not adequate, and now with previews within the book available I seldom rely on reviews in my buying decisions.

    I am not a celebrity follower. I listen to certain musicians for their sound. I buy certain artists renditions because they touch my senses. And, I read certain authors because of their style of writing. I don’t care if their home life is something I would not do, nor do I have the time to waste in anger because they wear their pants backwards or on their head. I don’t care. Deliver the goods – I will listen, I will look, I will read. Do not, I will not.

  • M.T. Dismuke

    Great article Mercy. However, the really BIG news in this article is not about Goodreads’ TOS, rather it’s the API you mentioned being full of false data. That API is used for advertising all over the internet from libraries to retailers which is in direct conflict with FTC rules. That means Goodreads is using false data to advertise its website, otherwise known as FRAUD. Amazon is about to use that same interface in their Paperwhite, that’s the real meat of the story. I know, because I discovered it a month ago.

  • Jesse

    You must be Lyn the Heartless:
    http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3196419-lyn-the-heartless

    The name says it all.

  • Jesse

    THIS!

  • M. Simm

    “Authors have called for stricter guidelines concerning user behavior, and reviewers have rightfully rebutted that the site is for readers, not for authors. ”

    Um, that seems to be news to Goodreads. They actively invite and pursue publishers and authors to come to Goodreads. For their interactions to the readers, for updating book information, giveaways, and for the money they bring in.

    The site is about BOOKS. That means readers and the people who produce them.

    ““We’re in the media business today. We’re in the business of helping authors and publishers market their books to readers. And that’s where we make our money. We sell book launch packages to authors and publishers and really help accelerate, build that early buzz that a book needs to succeed when it launches and accelerate that growth through ads on the site.”- Otis Chandler, founder of Goodreads” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgW1extNkyk

    Words from someone who actually OWNED the site until it was sold to Amazon. As in, filed the IRS paperwork. Their name on the ownership papers, who rented the servers and did the programming.

    We’ll see if Amazon changes this. Maybe Amazon doesn’t want publishers and authors on the website, or the money they bring. We’ll see.

  • Carrie

    Even if she is, her point is valid. Author bashing is wrong but reviewer bashing is just as bad if not worse. That sets the tone for all the other readers and leaves a terrible impression of the author. Bad reviews are a part of writing and publishing a book, if you can’t accept that either don’t write books or don’t read your reviews. I’m not saying call the author a giant idiot that should choke on his or her writing utensils – that is super excessive and not the least bit constructive. But, saying the book was so terrible its not worth the pages its written on, does not bash the author – just the book. That is acceptable and please don’t tell me you’ve never felt that way about a book, I’ve read some pretty terrible ones. The biggest issues I’ve seen are the shelving’s that the author needs to be raped or sodomized, those are gross and wrong and THAT needs to change asap.

  • Emily

    The bigger cause of outrage is not so much the change in guidelines but the deleting of reviews and shelves without prior notification. I know reviewers who spend hours on their posts. How would you feel to have your hard work deleted without warning?

  • Jesse

    Lyn the Heartless is in no position to talk about authors bullying reviewers. She’s on STGRB’s BBG list and i’ve seen her in tons of screenshots bullying authors. Sorry, but her comment holds no weight with me.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    You raise a great point, and I’ve worked hard to try to get both Amazon and Goodreads to explain how the API can be used in good conscience if they know the reviews are not all genuine. Goodreads openly states that they do not require readers to have even looked at the book in order to review it, yet these purchasing decisions are naively being made by customers who think the reviews were posted in good faith. So far, no one is willing to answer the question that I’ve raised countless times.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    As I stated in the article above:

    “For the authors’ part, Goodreads posted author guidelines earlier this
    year, warning them of the potential for backlash if authors–who have not
    all been the proverbial saints, to be sure, but have engaged in ugly
    diatribe and specifically called out by name reviewers who did not like
    their books–comment on reviews of their works.”

    “…much of this might seem like nothing more than petty playground behavior
    between children who honestly do not have a clear good guy or bad guy…”

  • Carrie

    Maybe I’m just naive but why would someone bully an author if not provoked first. STGRB takes everything out of proportion just like BBA activists do – both want to make their point. They’ve draw the proverbial line in the snow and are at war with each out. Fair warning – watch those snow balls, they really pack a punch. So, yes her point is still valid because I’ve seen authors lose there shit over constructive negative reviews. I’ve even had one blow up my MB because they demanded I take my negative review down. It happens, especially when anyone can hit publish on sub par work. Not to say their aren’t some truly exceptional books out there too.

  • M.T. Dismuke

    Emily, I completely understand your concern. Goodreads obviously bit the bullet on this one and took the linebacker approach. Instead of asking why they did it, ask yourself what they gained by doing it the way they did. Maybe they wanted to set an example of how strict and firm their new rules will be enforced. I know of some authors who got the boot asap after the TOS went up. They got dealt a raw hand just as some members did. Perhaps they did it the way they did in order to have the members clear themselves out, who knows. They’re a big company now that they are attached to Amazon, so don’t think they blindly ran in and did some off-the-wall tactic unknowingly. They had this planned and were fully aware of any consequences that came of it, be sure of that.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    According to their announcement, Goodreads will be deleting reviews as well as shelves. In fact, much of the complaints against Goodreads’ announcement were from reviewers whose reviews have already been deleted for their anti-author content, without any prior warning to the reviewer. I think this is going to end up being a situation much like Amazon faced with its reviews: yes, purchased and ill-gotten reviews were happening, but short of hiring a team of people to do nothing but monitor the reviews for validity, Amazon simply began deleting reviews that had IP addresses too closely linked to the authors’. It’s a tiny step, and possibly ineffective, but it was quite literally all they could do.

  • Carroll Bryant

    Yes, I agree, reviewer bashing is wrong too. However, maybe these particular reviewers wouldn’t get bashed if they stop bashing authors first in reviews and comment section of reviews. After all, isn’t the primary complaint that of authors “responding” to reviews?

    Then again, i don’t see reviewers who bash authors in “book” reviews to be real readers/reviewers. I see them as bullies. Real readers / reviewers do not bash authors in “book” reviews. They don’t shelve books with nasty names and personal attacks. Everything in a book review and its comment section should be aimed directly at the book and only the book. The characters, the plot, the writing. Saying that an author is a rapist is not reviewing a book. Expressing your personal opinion of an author in a book review isn’t what the book review process is all about. There are other places for that. Perhaps your own personal blog? Just one thought.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    Very good point. I’ve wondered how the drama surrounding bullying accusations may have impacted publishers’ decisions to purchase very expensive ad space for their authors’ books, but those are also sales figures that companies don’t readily give out.

  • M.T. Dismuke

    No answer is your answer Mercy. Fraud is a crime in the US.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    As a reviewer on Goodreads, yes, I would be upset to find my content just gone. But if there was anything in my review that was perceived as a threat against the author, as something libelous and potentially damaging to a career (which opens both me and Goodreads up to lawsuits), then the review should be deleted. I’ve posted comments and content online while I was angry or irritated, and it rarely goes well for anyone involved. With so many sites now “outing” so-called bullies, Goodreads may actually be doing some people a favor by deleting their comments…at least some of the ones I’ve seen. I doubt we’re close to the days when potential employers look at your Goodreads activity the way they currently look at new hires’ Facebook activity, but it’s possible to find ill-chosen words in a good internet search.

  • Carroll Bryant

    I felt terrible. because it happened to me when I got bullied. Over 750 poems I wrote on my GR writing page were deleted when the bullies got me banned. Don’t come looking for sympathy from me. Grow some tough skin. If you didn’t create those shelves in the first place, and attack authors, you wouldn’t have anything to worry about, now would you?

  • Mercy Pilkington

    And that is the point that I hopefully made in the article, that there are authors who not only rant but who enlist their legions of readers to counterattack a negative review. However, a negative review is about the book, and does not speculate about the author as a person or as an author.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    I do want to point out that there are reviewers who feel an author is NEVER allowed to speak about a review. That’s stupid. If you loved my book and I say, “thank you for reading and reviewing,” suddenly I can’t be trusted because I’m courting reviewers. If you hated it, and I say, “I’m so sorry my book disappointed you, but I appreciate you leaving feedback,” suddenly I’m a snarky bully who harasses reviewers. HOW? The purpose of a book discovery site is hopefully to engage in dialogue about books. If I left a review of a Stephen King novel and he thanked me for reading, I wouldn’t dream of telling the social media sphere that King is a jerk who goes after his reviewers. So why are (mostly) self-published authors open season? If I see a horrible review of a book that I personally loved and I choose to comment on that review to question why the reader hated it, how does that suddenly make the author at fault? Yet, authors have been blamed for “sicking” their friends on reviewers. This is all gone to the point of ridiculous, and I feel like Goodreads is taking the only possible steps they can. Otherwise, they risk people declaring them pointless.

  • Jesse

    On Goodreads, Authors get bullied just for being friends with the wrong person or for stating an opinion on an issue on their blogs. It’s not always about reviews. In fact, in the majority of cases I’ve seen, it has nothing to do with reviews. And everything I’ve seen on STGRB is not only backed up with links and screenshots, it’s fair. They don’t just defend bullied authors. They defend anyone who is bullied. Here are few examples of them defending reviewers against the people they call bullies:

    http://www.stopthegrbullies.com/2013/07/20/amazon-fora-trolls-harass-reviewer/

    http://www.stopthegrbullies.com/2013/08/18/linda-hilton-harasses-reviewer/

    http://www.stopthegrbullies.com/2013/07/27/stephanie-sinclair-humiliates-reviewer/

    http://www.stopthegrbullies.com/2013/02/06/authors-please-dont-do-this/

    http://www.stopthegrbullies.com/2013/09/10/the-attack-on-kriss-morton/

  • Melody Clark

    The site is for readers, however, competitive authors (under fake names), others with an economic interest in the promotion of specific authors over others, and people who just want to “best” someone else all pile on authors — and those reviews are used by READERS to make purchase decisions. The readers should know that very few genuine reviews, truly reflecting personal opinions, are posted on ANY title. For instance, one of novel received over fifty reviews even though it had only made perhaps 200 sales. There are novels that have sold millions of copies with two reviews. These are coordinated personal attacks by bully mob groups (they call themselves “network”) — they’re committing a crime akin to economic terrorism.

  • Emily

    None of my shelves or reviews were deleted. But I’m not selfish and I also care about how other people are treated. I believe that someone has the right to discuss poor author behaviour and say they’re refusing to read a book because the author attacked them or their friends. Would you honestly support the career of someone who’d attacked a friend of yours? By the way, I read about your story on STGRB and you were not bullied. You were called out for behaving inappropriately. Grow some tough skin.

  • Carroll Bryant

    Well, to date, they have only deleted one bully review off my books that i can see. Or maybe the girl herself took it down before GR could get to it. Meanwhile, there’s still a baker’s dozen that hasn’t been touched. You’ll excuse me if I don’t hold my breath. Seeing is always believing.

  • Emily

    Threat? I agree. Libel? I agree. Potentially damaging to a career? Huh? You mean like a negative review? Then no one should be able to say anything but nice things? Yeah… right. Besides, a lot of members have had shelves deleted called “due to author”. That is not a threat, nor is it libelous. It’s a person’s reason for choosing not to read a book.

  • Carroll Bryant

    Yeah, but when i was a member, these new guidelines were not in place. And speaking for myself, the attack on me and my subsequent banning had nothing at all to do with my behavior towards reviewers. At that time, i didn’t really have any bad reviews. Only after my attack did they appear. My attack and banning was the result of “personal, private” issues that was of no business to anyone else. (Not even goodreads) The people who attacked me were basically sent by one disgruntled girl. It then got way out of hand with all the libelous accusations that followed. Essentially, i got banned from GR for being bullied. And for emails I allegedly wrote, which still haven’t been proven that i even wrote them. But even if I did, how is that anybody’s business? Better yet, how is that Goodreads business?

    The mystery continues unsolved to this day.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    No, a negative review that is based on genuinely reading a book and sticks to the matter of the writing is perfectly fine. The one-star reviews of books that are not even published yet are definitely harmful to an author’s career because consumers who go to an outside ebook retailer to pre-order or purchase the book will see those ratings and reviews and not be aware of the current sad state of ugliness between authors and reviewers.

  • Carroll Bryant

    In the words of Sheldon Cooper, “Bazinga!”

  • Carrie

    I think it seems that it’s mostly self-published authors receiving backlash because they depend more so on the reader. They also, don’t have to worry about their publisher with it’s incessant Mommy-ing. Most traditionally published authors are told never to respond to reviews, good or bad. They don’t have to worry about promoting books and have busy schedules to adhere to. Selfies don’t have any of that. They make their own deadlines and if they want to get their books out there, they have to contact blogs, run giveaways or advertise all on their own. Therein lies the inherent problem, when the selfies depend so much on the readers, they are more connected to them. I’ve seen this point made multiple times, self-published authors just don’t know the rejection that a traditionally published author has faced. And so, they have never had their precious baby be rejected, because of this selfies tend to be very thin-skinned. Now, this isn’t always the case for everyone. Some people just can’t handle criticism and others just don’t care. Goodreads should support free speech, mean is mean, but it’s not being a bully. Bullying is trying to impose your will on someone or hurting them. You can’t bully an inanimate object which is why the review should be book related only. Though authors commenting on any review just kinda rubs me the wrong way. That’s like saying, hey I know this review is for me and I’m watching you.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    You are well within your rights to say, “I refuse to buy your product (and a book IS a product) because of who you are and how you’ve behaved.” I refuse to give my money to certain companies because of their stances on marriage equality, healthcare for their employees, and more.

    But I think the issue remains that consumers who are not members of Goodreads are being influenced by these reviews and that Goodreads allows reviews on books that the reviewer has never seen, let alone read. If a reader or reviewer has a problem with an author’s behavior, that’s what the person’s blog or Facebook post is for. Rarely do consumer Google an author’s name and decide to buy a book based on blog posts about the author as a person (unless they’ve done something so heinous that it makes news headlines, of course, which has happened). Book reviews should be about the books, which is what Goodreads has essentially said with these new guidelines.

  • Emily

    No disrespect, but that’s your opinion. When someone purchases a book, they don’t just buy the author’s words, they buy a product. So they could easily argue the relevancy of reviewing the cover, the font-size, etc. Furthermore, as a reader, I would want to be warned before I spent any money on the book of an author who was racist/sexist/homophobic and/or known for attacking the readers. I like to give my opinion about books on GR so I don’t want to have to worry that an author will be breathing down my neck if I write something negative. These ARE actually important things for a lot of people. Maybe they’re not to you, but that seems kinda selfish and egotistical to think only your opinion is valid, don’t you think?

  • Emily

    You see, this a big problem I have. I’ve been on GR for a few years and I’ve met so many great people through the site (including my current business partner) but this whole professional review thing is very new. When I started on the site, the “review” space was for book lovers to write their thoughts and express themselves, maybe rant or joke, often post funny (and irrelevant) pictures. It was sold to members as a social networking site for book lovers, not a book promotion site for professionals. People weren’t obligated to write anything even relating to the book, they could post a picture of their cat if they wanted. And it was funny. It created friendships. Now GR has gotten bigger because we – the amateur book lovers who gave our opinions – made the site more and more popular. And suddenly, GR has decided to essentially make their site another Amazon. I miss the community that brought me so much happiness and helped me to make so many friends from all over the world. I’m devastated to see what GR has become. But I guess it all comes down to the same old evil: money.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    If Good e-Reader thought only my opinion was valid, the editor-in-chief would close the article to comments. We welcome discussion on this topic and any other that we report, but I’m noticing something interesting taking place in the comments of this piece. I reported the fact that Goodreads has changed its terms, a decision that was made by their company following articles about the bullying from such sites as Salon and The Examiner, in addition to this site. But it is starting to feel as though–much like authors whose books are maliciously reviewed–I’m the one who is not entitled to an opinion on the very subject I covered. This thread has a number of remarks that undermine me for having an opinion. My work reporting the subject was completed when I factually reported the terms of service, AND when I acknowledged that neither the authors nor the reviewers are wholly blameless. However, it does begin to feel as though–again, like the authors–I’m expected to post my work for the internet to deride, and not have an opinion of my own.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    That is absolutely true, and I have personally witnessed authors rallying the troops in their private Facebook groups, asking friends to go to a review and respond on their behalf. I do think those authors are the exception. But the issue keeps coming back to the fiasco with Lauren Howard’s book. I’ve seen the screenshots, and neither side was without blame. That was simply a case of people being human beings who have emotions. But as an entity that takes advertising dollars from publishers and who puts the reviews on ebook retail platforms, Goodreads has some measure of responsibility to ensure that their site is trustworthy.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    At the risk of assigning blame, I’m 90% tempted to agree with you. And Goodreads certainly doesn’t hold a candle to popular “internet troll” sites like YouTube or Yahoo!. Twitter is far from safe, with the recent racist ugliness hurled at the reigning Miss America. I do have to say that, money aside, I feel like Goodreads fell victim to what so many other sites did, which is the anonymity that breeds venom. Users can hide behind their screen names, which of course leads to fake accounts, trolls, and now websites that “out” authors and reviewers! It’s gotten ridiculous, and whether or not we feel that Goodreads has taken the best course of action in handling the issue, at least they are now doing SOMETHING.

  • Mary Shelly

    Sorry not any more, Mercy. While everyone is all a tither over lists goodreads has quietly made any comment of any kind by an author spam. They specifically say that even “thank you” is a bannable offense.

    Don’t spam. Do not contact (via comments/messages/friend requests) all or most of the people who add your book or a related work. You should also avoid tactics like thanking everyone who has added your book. Do not send unwanted messages or friend requests. While well intentioned, these kinds of behaviors will result in people flagging you as a spammer, and we will have to take action.

    Not one list has been removed with any of Rick Carufel’s books on them. In fact Miranda Koryluk went through and gave every one of his books a 1-star today so the rating on his books have all gone down. All the trolls profile pages are hidden. The site is worse than ever now authors are prevented from saying a word. Even Ripley’s tirade at the start of Kara’s thread was probably a lie. The only lists that have been removed are those the list owners took down. This is all smoke and mirrors apparently a scam by Goodreads to try and placate Amazon but in reality the situation has just gotten worse for authors.

  • Carrie

    Just that first link alone only shows snippets of conversations and hops around to different ones. Number 2 may have been over the top but I see the other person’s point of view too. If you just let anybody proofread your book, then it’ll end up on a pirating site or worse. Not to mention, why would you let someone proofread your work if they don’t use correct grammar when they offer their services. Three is a headache, seriously why did I just read through ALL that, I have a headache now. The author in 4 went over the top and the reviewer was penalized for it. Even if she made a false statement, it’s a review. Her review. She can say whatever see wants and I’d like to see what the false statement was exactly, because even though the review might have been harsh, what I saw wasn’t directed at the author. And 5 was about a reviewer being harassed – which is what BBA is about. Like I said, both groups are so far on the ends of the spectrum, to them there is no such thing as middle ground. You just validated that point.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    If you or any other Goodreads users are able to shed more light on that, I would love to reach out again to Goodreads and Amazon. When my first article on the bullying appeared, I contacted Amazon first to get some sense of what they planned to do in order to address the allegations of “author abuse,” given that Amazon has made quite a good profit on self-published authors. They immediately passed me on to one of Goodreads co-founders, who refused to answer any of the questions (keeping in mind that Good e-Reader’s only questions pertained to the use of the API by outside retailers…if people want to be ugly, we cannot stop them, but we questioned whether or not allowing what GR knew to be falsified reviews to appear on other sites amounted to poor business practice). Instead, the contact at GR simply stated that we needed to do a better job investigating the people who commented on that original article, and did not answer.

  • Emily

    I don’t understand why you (and all these authors) seem to claim you’re under attack simply because someone questions what you said. Perhaps it was unintentional, but your original post seemed to favour the authors from the very first line when you say “author bullying and harassment”, assuming that the allegations are correct (in most cases, they’re not) and also ignoring the bullying of reviewers by authors who were displeased with a negative review. My first comment was on the situation in general and it was you who first replied to me – please don’t act like I set out to attack you. I did question your comment about “perfectly fine” reviews because this is evidently something everyone defines differently and I’m not sure any of us is in a position to decide how other people should review. And that’s basically my whole point.

  • Rick Carufel

    I too was banned for being attacked. I have a question here that I feel needs to be asked? Is there any proof that any book reviews have been pulled? I know lists have dissappeared but it is still unclear if goodreads pulled them or the list owners did. I feel a whole lot of this is based on believing comments made by the trolls. Are we really that stupid to believe comments made by trolls on goodreads?

  • Mercy Pilkington

    I didn’t state that I was under attack for my opinion, but I did point out that I have had my integrity called into question for even writing this article, let alone for expressing my opinion. I cover news, and whether we all agree or disagree on how Goodreads approaches the issue, it is newsworthy that Goodreads is taking some measure of action on the issue.

    Following the initial article about the Goodreads bullying, we were inundated with screenshots from people on both sides of the issue, and I did state that there is no one who is blameless on the matter. All along, Good e-Reader’s position has been that everyone is entitled to post their opinions on Goodreads, but that the API should not be available to outside retailers; their customers are seeing influential content when they have not chosen to accept the Goodreads TOS and therefore do not know that some of the reviews they are seeing are completely falsified. That is the site’s opinion and my own opinion.

  • Barbara W.

    Unless the review in question is of a textbook, there is no place for the author to insert themselves and “correct” the reviewer. A review is an opinion and therefore cannot be wrong. The reviewer’s perspective may not match the author’s but it’s never an attack or an error on the part of the reader. On the contrary, perhaps the author failed in their attempt to convey the material properly.

    Please see Ben Aaronovitch’s appearance at The Book Smuggler as exhibit A.

  • Concerned Reader

    You have attacked reviewers. Calling them troll for giving your essay a 1 star because they didn’t agree with you. An opinion piece for an opinion. The funniest thing is that you did the same thing that you attacked reviewers for. You gave Stephen Kong’s Guns essay a 1 star because you didn’t agree with him.you talked about him being badly misguided and informed and even wrote a rebuttal called Stephen King Don’t know shit. Guess that makes you a troll as well or does that not count because you are an “author”?

  • Lyn Kaye

    I didn’t make it for you, Jesse. I could not care LESS about what you think about me. Yes, that is me, you found my profile.

    Carrie, I don’t know you, but I have a TON of respect for you for pointing out all of these facts. I have been bullied by authors. I have been targeted for trying to help out those who have been victims.

  • Rick Carufel

    Actually I never attacked reviewers. When a personal attack is posted as review it is in fact not a review and the poster is not a reviewer, but a troll. Only trolls fail to make that distinction. Trolls don’t know what a book review is, they think it’s a weapon to be used to attack an author, not a critique of a book.

  • Rick Carufel

    Check this out Mercy, this as far as I’m concerned is absolute proof of fraudulent reviews and the fact that GR compiles a list is proof they are aware of this. Just go to the top reviewers page on GR and all the proof you need of fraud is there. maybe if you make a few prints and show them around you may get some response.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    I would have to mostly agree with you, but I have seen authors who–probably in a fit of exasperation–pointed out glaring errors in reviews of their books. I have a review (that I did not respond to…the reviewer obviously was someone who a) had not read my book and b) was ignorant enough to post a review anyway) in which someone calls me horrible names for the way I described treating my autistic son in my non-fiction book. The problem is, I don’t have a son. In fact, even if the reviewer had not gotten past the introduction, she would still have learned that I wrote the book because I couldn’t find anything about raising a daughter with autism.

    So, my quite serious question is: would it be wrong for me to reply to that comment and say, “I’m sorry that my book confused you, but I don’t have a son.” WHY should I have to take the higher ground and NOT make that statement? That review and its low star rating are now permanently etched on my sales page. The reviewer was wrong, but I’m supposed to not speak up?

    As for simply thanking a reviewer, I’ve also seen horrible backlash for authors who simply say, “I appreciate you reading and leaving a review.” Why? What was the harm in that statement? Best-selling author Elle Lothlorien wrote an excellent piece for Digital Book World’s blog describing how she does exactly that. Her books are her product, but if her product was shoes and her customers commented online that they were dissatisfied with her shoes, would they not expect some kind of acknowledgment from her as the shoe manufacturer? Why should books be treated any differently?

  • Carroll Bryant

    I appreciate the reference, but I have my own reference. In my book, “Last Flight Out”, the age of the girl is 15 turns 16 in the book. The “reviewer” says the girl is 12. That is incorrect. It’s not the opinion of the reviewer that the character is 12, it’s inaccurate, and could play a part as to anyone who reads that “review” would think not to buy a book where the two romantic characters are 28 and 12 when it’s really 28 and 16. The reviewer is WRONG. It’s also not a “perspective” either. And yes, it was an attack. The ‘reviewer” obviously never read the book or … purposely is misleading people to make the book sound like child porn or to try and make it come off as disgusting. There’s absolutely no way that could be a failed attempt on my part to convey the material properly. The ages are clearly stated in the book.

    But, if I were still a member of Goodreads, and went into that review to clarify that the girl in the story is not 12, but 16, is that an attack? …. No! The “reviewer” is wrong, and I should have every right to jump in and correct that reviewer so that others wouldn’t think that the girl was 12 and be disgusted by the relationship or think i wrote something closer related to child porn.

    I consider this “exibit A”.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    Interestingly, Goodreads’ position on the issue is that they never require the ratings or reviews to be genuine. Truthfully, they pointed out the slippery slope. How much of a book does an author have to read in order to review it, and how would they prove it? By stating that reviewers don’t have to read the book in order to shelve, rate, or review, they are admitting that there is simply no way to control reviewers’ behavior. It’s an honor system. My concern is for ebook consumer who don’t know that, but who make their decisions based on the information provided to their favorite retailers or libraries by the Goodreads API.

  • Rick Carufel
  • Carroll Bryant

    You left out the part where the ‘reviewers” doc dropped Mr. Carufel’s home address and phone number in “reviews” on Amazon Forum Boards, Facebook, and Twitter. (Just to name a few)

    I thought I would remind you.

    You’re welcome.

  • Carroll Bryant

    But how do you really know an author is a racist, a sexist or homophobic? just because someone told you? Things such as that are “open to interpretation” or “opinion” and neither carry any significant weight. The point is, what if those accusations are not true? What if the author really wasn’t a racist? Case in point, I have called a racist and yet, anyone who knows me (in real life) knows this isn’t true. Maybe the person who started that rumor just didn’t like me. Maybe it was started by my ex-wife. (Not really, I’m never been married, just using it as example)

    I have also been accused of being a pedophile, yet I never been arrested for pedophilia nor even accused of it by authorities. There is no evidence anywhere to show that I am a pedophile. yet this is something you’re okay with? … if so, perhaps one day someone will say that about you and then you will feel the impact of somebody’s hateful lies. Then we’ll see how you like it.

    You’re trying to prove a point with speculation and here-say. Opinions have always been, are, and always will be subjected to interpretation. My point being; if you can’t prove it, then why even say it? Are you going to buy a house one day, move in, and after three years you discover the guy who built it was a racist and then suddenly, move out because of it? … Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Same thing goes for a book. Even if an author was a racist, buying his or her book, reading it, liking it, doesn’t mean you are a racist too or support racists, nor does it mean you support the author’s personal views. That’s like saying, “I’m a republican, the author is a democrat, that must mean he supports abortion. The author endorses murder. I must tell the world about it.” …. Chillax. It’s just a book.

    People accused the late Michael Jackson of being a pedophile. Even if he were, I still listen to and like his music. It wouldn’t mean that I condone or endorse his behavior. And seeing how he was never convicted, I have to use my intelligence to tell me that he wasn’t a pedophile. Or do you live by the rule of thumb that if someone says it, it must be true?

    Think about it. Negatively reviewing a book is fine. You have every right as a reader. Negatively judging another human being based purely on “speculation”, “here-say” and or “rumor” or someone’s “opinion” is a whole different ball-game. Especially when you use that “opinion” to intentionally seek out damages to the author by trying to hurt their book sales or lively-hood. What if I went to your job and told your boss that you were a racist? Even if you were, would it be fair for me to do that? What if your boss believed me and fired you? Now your income is affected. Would that still be fair? What if I was a co-worker of yours and told our boss you sucked at your job? And he fired you! Am i still a good person for letting people know that you are a racist and a piss poor employee?

  • Concerned Reader

    No reminding needed since I’ve never heard of this but did this happen before or after Mr. Carousel insulted his readers? Was Mr. Carufel being rude in retaliation or something? He called his readers reviews attack reviews by gun grabbers filled with lies and insults??? The author replied within 24 hours of the review being posted. To me, it seems like he was the aggressor in the examples I’ve seen. His review and rebuttal essay of Stephen Kings work was no different then the reviews I saw.
    If one of those reviewers did post any personal information like that…then that’s messed up and I’m sorry that happened. I hope it was reported and something was actually done.
    I’m not sure what that had to do with being rude to readers/reviewers because It does not change the fact that he was rude to reviewers. Did it ever occur to you that some people may not leave reviews because of the way the author presents himself on those reviews?

  • Carroll Bryant

    How was I behaving inappropriately? What did I do? I wasn’t bothering anyone. Not one shred of evidence has ever been presented that shows I was acting inappropriately. That was just “somebody’s” opinion. What was i being called out for?

    Tough skin? Do you even know me? No. yet here you are judging me, someone you know nothing about. Thanks for showing everyone what a bully is. I appreciate it.

    But while we’re on the subject of tough skin. (You brought it up) maybe you could grow some tough skin yourself and just accept the changes taking place on Goodreads and stop crying about it.

    You’re arguing that authors are too soft skinnned to take a bad review yet, you whine about others commenting about how you review.

    Was that statement fair to say?

  • Carroll Bryant

    As long as those thoughts are not libelous accusations thrown at other human beings then it still can be that kind of site. But why is it so important to you Emily, and your friends, to make sure the rest of the world knows that you hate someone you never even met for reasons that can’t even be proven? I don’t get it. What is that you gain from gossip that hurts others emotionally, financially, mentally? What Emily? What do you and your friends gain by calling someone a racist? Even if it were true? Why have you decided to carry the burden to make sure that everyone in the world knows that you hate someone and think they’re a racist? What’s the point? Why is it so important to you and your friends to make sure somebody never sells another book again in their life thanks to your gossip and hate?

  • Concerned Reader

    I had to look up what you were talking about. Now I’m confused as to what this review from Jan/Feb 2013 on Amazon has to do with what happened recently. Not all people who write reviews are connected so the comment had no bearing on why I said. He attacked reviewers on Amazon for no reason other then he didn’t like their review and they didn’t like his opinion. Yes the reviews mentioned the author but how can they not in an essay based on the authors opinion? Could the reviewers he attacked been nicer? Yes but so could he have in his review, his essay title, etc. Oh and he had no reason to insult them and call them names. No reason at all.

    But, regardless of him attacking a couple reviewers on Amazon…he did not deserve his public information posted online. 2 wrongs do not make a right

  • Concerned reader
  • Carroll Bryant

    Even if he was rude, couldn’t you just hit the ignore button? Why is it so important to you people to have to put down your opinions of someone in a book review? Why can’t you just go to your friends in private and talk about him? Why throw it out there for the whole world to read? To hurt his book sales?

    Enough said.

  • Carroll Bryant

    I have an idea, Emily. Since you seem to think it’s okay to talk about your opinions regarding authors in book reviews, would it then be okay if I found out your last name and for me to go to my blog and share with the world that you’re a prostitute and pregnant with your fathers child? And even if it was my opinion, would it be okay to express it like I know it’s a fact? Would your skin be tough enough to take it? Or would you throw a little fit and start defending yourself? Would it anger you? Hurt you in any way? Because what i am getting from you is, that it’s okay to talk about authors on a personal level and express your opinion or share with the world that someone you don’t know is a racist or whatever, and since it;s okay for you to do it, then i am assuming it would be okay for me to say things about you, true or not. Is that what I’m hearing from you? because if so, i can find out your last name and I could go to my blog and express myself at your expense and according to you, you wouldn’t have a problem with it. It would be perfectly okay.

    Is this what you’re saying?

  • concerned reader

    Now you are making no sense. The review did not express their opinions of the author…it stated their opinion of his writing and the opinion he wrote his essay on. The review I linked to said nothing about the author as a person. Yet he attacked them and called them insulting names and whatnot. And his reasoning for calling them names were for the same thing he did to another authors opinionated essay. What do you not understand about that? He wasn’t rude to me and I have not reviewed his work – I don’t review anything – so I’m not sure why I should hit ignore..I just thought it was interesting that you said you’ve never seen an author attack a reviewer whereas I have.

    Why is it Ok for an author to put down his opinion of a reader on that person’s review? Why couldn’t he just hit ignore? Do you not see the double standard you just presented?

    I don’t think it’s Ok to talk about about anybody just for shits and giggles. Reviewers are wrong when they do it and authors are wrong when they do it. Both authors and reviewers are guilty of being assholes. It was wrong, IMO, for the author to attack the reviewer, in the review I linked to, just as it is wrong if the author was attacked/mistreated by others for this example. Like I said 2 wrongs do not make a right.

  • Emma Paul

    So why can’t the person just skip over the book ? Why do they need to put up a reminder if they have no intention of reading the book? The answer is they can just skip the book and they don’t have to shelve books they have no intention of reading.

    Emily, I understand your frustration. Please understand mine. I was attacked by people who felt I had no right to question why another author was being called a “fucking attention whore” that’s why I’ve been harassed my book page has been decimated. I went from an average of 3.90 star rating to 2.67 in 20 minutes. Because I dared to say I felt some shelves where inappropriate and I needed to report them to GR staff, who did nothing to help me. NO review was involved, I Never attack or respond negatively to reviews, NEVER. And here I am. And I am traditionally published, by a very successful publisher who has supported me through this whole nightmare. What’s been done to me and others like me is a wrong. And I shouldn’t have to take that level of abuse. If you only knew the hell they put me through.

  • Carroll Bryant

    I didn’t mean you specifically, just bullies in general when i talk about them and their need to make reference of author behavior in reviews. But I’ll be honest, I can’t speak intelligently on other people’s arguments. How do I know if the reviewer and author didn’t have some kind of history? And yes, I think both sides do carry responsibility. The bullies would never admit that. But one of my points in other posts was, why is it that if a reviewer has a problem with an author regarding a review, the reviewer goes and gets their friends to join in and attack the author? Why can’t it just be something between two people? But every time I see a situation break out between two people, author and reviewer, it;s the reviewer’s friends who join in and gang up on the author when it’s none of their effing business to begin with.

    If I see two people verbally hashing it out online, friend or not, I wouldn’t jump into it. It’s between them. I won’t even take sides with my real life friends. I tell them two to work it out. It’s none of my business. Just as it is none of your business if a friend of yours and myself were hashing it out over a review. But if you and others start jumping in, and ganging up on me, and my books, how is that acceptable behavior? Yet, that is what happened to me. Some girl whom I blocked got angry and started a bunch of rumors and lies and got her friends to “come after me”. And the shit piled up after that. I was called a pedophile despite the fact that the girl in question was freaking 18. And that’s what these bullies do, they lie. Plain and simple. And they gang up on authors. That is documented fact.

    It’s one thing to argue over a review regardless of who “swung” first, but there is some kind of perverted need for these other people who have absolutely nothing at all to do with the spat to jump into it. Then, start spreading lies about the author. Then they start posting fake 1 stars on their books. Then they seemingly go onto someone else. It’s a trend. And that type of behavior is unacceptable. It is the “mod” mentality of it all that sends these situations into chaos. There’s no need for it. Just like there is no need for anyone to put themselves into my personal and private business with another consenting adult. Even if that other consenting adult rallied up her friends to attack me. They should have told her, “It’s between you and him. Work it out yourself.” – There was no need for any of them to get involved. No need to attack me and no need to hold me accountable for my “so called” behavior. Who the hell made them the behavior police?

    But you’re right … 2 wrongs don’t make a right …. but in my case, I did nothing wrong. I was minding my own business. I didn’t attack anyone. I didn’t invade anyone’s space. I never left a bad or angry comment to anybody on Goodreads. All I did was block a girl from emailing me. And write an article on my personal blog. And i was attacked and banned from GR for it.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I fail to see why this even an issue. Its the internet, trolls are everywhere, people get emotional and do stuff they wish they could take back. If i ever wrote a book, i’d just hire a PR agency to market it for me, and not even bother with fan interaction on review sites. It seems like on goodreads everyone is just so combative one way or the other.

  • Carroll Bryant

    This is going to be my final comment on this post. So here it goes:

    Any dispute between an author and a reviewer is between that author and that reviewer. It’s nobody elses concern. It doesn’t matter who’s right, or who’s wrong. And anyone who sticks their nose into it is wrong right there because it’s not any of anyone elses business. Period! If you get involved with it, you’re a bully. Same goes if an author gathers up their friends and they get into it.

    Even if the reviewer isn’t tough skinned enough to deal with the author one on one and goes crying to their BBA group members on GR and says, “I just got bullied by an author over my review.” – The adult thing to do is to tell that reviewer friend of yours, “That’s none of my business. It’s between you and the author. grow some tough skin and deal with it. Block them. report them to GR. Ignore them. But it’s your problem, so you deal with it. It doesn’t concern me.”

    Just as it was with me and Jude. We were two consenting adults. Our relationship never was, isn’t now, and never will be anyone elses business. yet all of you (especially Emily here) who says anything about it, you’re wrong right there because you don’t have a right to say anything about my personal relationships with any other adult. Period! Because, and I can’t stress this enough, but it is none of your business.

    Things get to the point they are now because people (grown adults) seem to think that when their friend gets into it with someone else (an author), even if that someone else (author) is in the wrong, that it is their business too when in truth, it is not.

    Disputes between two people are between those two people and no one else. And the best way to tell if you’re a bully, or in the wrong, is if you take it upon yourself to get yourself involved with that dispute. Even if your friend asks you to get involved, the adult thing to say is, “No. It’s between you two.”

    So if you get yourself involved, if you stick your nose into other people’s business, and disputes, and you knowingly, willingly, rate a book you never read, and or write a harsh review and trash that author in a book review simply because you took it upon yourself to get involved in a dispute that you never had a right to get involved with in the first place, then you’re in the wrong, and you are probably a bully.

    Chew on that.

  • Jesse

    It’s pretty clear which side you’re on, Carrie. It’s obvious you’re not exactly sitting on the fence, viewing things from an objective viewpoint. If you were, you would never have made that statement.

  • Heath

    WRONG! Reviewers made factual errors in reviews ALL THE TIME. Sorry, Barbara, but that has nothing to do with opinions. Ben had every right to correct Ana.

  • Mary Shelly

    The bottom line is there is a gang of serial cyber-stalkers who are sociopaths. Their logic is that the victim is always to blame. They are intent on destroying as many authors as they can. They have ruined GR and the Amazon Forums. Goodreads shelters, defends and protects this gang as does Amazon. The GR trolls have been seeking to completely silence authors and GR has done just that. No matter what happens there is one thing for certain that won’t happen. GR will never remove the millions of fraudulent reviews. It is those reviews that generate the income for the site through their fraudulent API.
    Just look at this page and explain how these people are capable of doing that many legitimate reviews: http://www.goodreads.com/user/top_reviewers

    Clearly this is fraud and the fact that GR compiles a list of these fake reviewers, and acknowledges their top fake reviewers show they are fully aware that hundreds of phony reviews are added to their site every week. GR is corrupt from the top down and the site needs to be closed by the FTC.

  • Carrie

    I am, consider me Switzerland. But keep in mind, you gave me links to only STGRB and not BBA. I’d be happy to turn there crap around too. (I have no doubt it works both ways.) But, to call a spade a spade, it’s pretty clear which side you’re on.

  • Barbara W.

    Ben didn’t simply correct Ana. Ben *argued* with Ana. Repeatedly and in multiple forums with multiple bloggers. He made people so uncomfortable that any potential point he wanted to initially make was nullified by his subsequent harassment (and it was harassment).

    Please don’t yell.

  • Barbara W.

    I wouldn’t completely disagree with your situation either, Mercy. In a non-fiction setting, it’s more important that both the reviewer and the author pay attention to detail (the onus shifts depending on a biography/general non-fiction situation, I’d submit).

    As for your question – I honestly can’t say given the information I have. I don’t know why the reviewer would have gone off on you just based on misunderstanding the son/daughter issue. Was the rant based on the reviewer’s mistake or was it based on what you felt was their overall misinterpretation (just putting aside for a moment that you didn’t think they read the book) of the material? If you put “daughter” in place of “son” in each place in their review and you could walk away from it, would that change how you felt about commenting or was it the tone and how angry it made you in general that had you focusing on that one obvious mistake? I don’t have the answer.

    I know it’s been said in other places, so if I’m repeating something you’ve heard, forgive me. It addresses a bit of your question above and a bit about what Elle said. Like it or not, there’s a power imbalance between authors and readers. Even if we don’t like your books, you’re different than us. Imagine a group of friends, gathered in the corner of a library chatting about a book one of them found and is encouraging the others to check out. All of a sudden the author walks into their circle and says something, whether it’s thanks, you’re an idiot, buy it, don’t borrow it…you get the idea. Conversation is going to stop and I guarantee you, more than one person is going to walk out thinking they’re not going to pick up that author’s book. Right or wrong, they’ve been made uncomfortable.

    When it happens online, it’s like that old Faberge commercial with Heather Locklear. One friend tells their friend, who tells their friend, who tells their friend, and so on. It’s not limited to reviewers, but since we’re on the reacting end of the author/reader relationship, it’s simply the way it is.

    I’m sorry for being so wordy. There’s just too much to say. Thank you for letting me go on and on. :)

  • Heath

    Was I yelling? I don’t think so. And no, he didn’t argue with her. He corrected her mistakes. There’s a big difference.

  • Christine

    “Imagine a group of friends, gathered in the corner of a library chatting about a book one of them found and is encouraging the others to check out. All of a sudden the author walks into their circle and says something, whether it’s thanks, you’re an idiot, buy it, don’t borrow it…you get the idea. Conversation is going to stop and I guarantee you, more than one person is going to walk out thinking they’re not going to pick up that author’s book. Right or wrong, they’ve been made uncomfortable.”

    Or they’re so awed that an author would actually thank them or even take time to say hi, that they leave the bookstore wanting to tell all their friends and buy all the author’s books. It’s all a matter of perspective, Barbara, and a matter of respect. Author haters will leave the store like you said. Normal book-lovers who have respect for other people and for authors will not. They’ll be delighted.

  • John

    1) It’d be nice if you provided the link to that screenshot so everyone could see it in context. 2) Even without the screen, it’s a pretty safe bet that they were being sarcastic- as I’m sure you knew- so even mentioning it does more to hurt than help your argument.

    Diligence, remember?

  • John

    Isn’t the whole point of a review to let others know about your experience, to “influence” people with your opinion? If I have a problem with an author’s behavior on GR, why should I have to leave GR to talk about it? You’re contradicting yourself: why should anyone have to go off to Google an author when they’re already on a booksite trying to find out about them? That’s what the shelves and links are for. Why shouldn’t you be informed about their behavior while deciding to purchase their book… or did I just answer my own question?

  • concerned reader

    I hate it when comments get deleted. Especially when the comments were benign. I don’t see the reasoning behind deleting Mr. Carufels comment.

    Also, I have commented a few times and it worked fine. But then, I spend a few minutes responding to Mr. Bryant in which I agreed with him, thanked him for his discussion, apologized if I offended Mr. Carufel, as well as other things and its still awaiting moderation.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    I think in the case of the current issue, it’s not so much actual documented author behavior as it is allegations and name calling. You’re right, if news came out that a certain author had political views that would prevent me from supporting him, or had engaged in a behavior that was criminal or reprehensible BUT HAD BEEN VERIFIED, I would want to know. In the case of this whole situation with Goodreads, though, it is one person who makes a claim that an author has behaved inappropriately, and the author–who may or may not even have engaged in any inappropriate behavior–has no recourse.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    Not too wordy at all! You raise excellent points, especially in terms of how the group of friends perceived an interaction with the author. But taking that same situation and applying it to the state of so-called bullying, it amounts to more like this: the friends are affected by an author’s behavior, so one of them buys national ad space to tell readers across the country that the author deserves to be raped in jail (as one of the infamous Goodreads shelves was labelled). That’s no longer about a book, and it’s no longer even about that one author’s behavior in one incident. It’s now a judgment on the author as a living creature and it has a global reach, even to people who were not affected by the interaction with the author. Goodreads is simply giving its users a fair warning that behavior like that won’t be tolerated on its site. Is it censorship? Possibly. But the site belongs to Goodreads (and ultimately Amazon). They’re within their rights to say that users can post whatever they want to, but that they are free to delete anything they feel does not add to book discussion.

  • Barbara W.

    I love authors. I’d stay, shake hands, maybe exchange a hug or two, then leave feeling extremely uneasy about the encounter. I’ve purchased every single book by a particular author since she started writing in the late 1990s and while I was doing some minor venting/fan-girling with a friend on Twitter about her newest book, the author herself tweeted directly to me that she was glad I’d read the book and was having fun talking about it. Was it cool to “talk” to her? Hell, yeah! Did my friend and I keep talking? No way. Because from that point on, it felt like she was looking over my shoulder and I was worried about offending her or feeling like I couldn’t *not* like her characters any more.

    Your perspective isn’t mine, Christine. I can love an author and not be comfortable with them in my discussion (unless invited). I see what you did there with your “normal book-lovers” comment, but I’m not taking your bait.

  • Carrie

    The caps constitute as yelling. Even if they are only to emphasize certain words, the correct way to do that is to make the words bold. If their is no bold option, then post a disclaimer at the bottom. Otherwise people will assume you are yelling.

  • Barbara W.

    I can’t disagree, Mercy. Goodreads (and Amazon) are privately-held companies and get to make their rules. :) I suppose patrolling a creative community is like nailing Jell-o to the wall sometimes.

    I beg you though, investigate the “raped in jail” shelf name situation. That’s not what the shelf was called either literally or even figuratively. It was a play on a quote from a book and referred to book/reviewer action that she wished to be avoided (to be crude). Ms. Howard herself withdrew her original claims about the shelf names (there are blog posts with screenshots out there).

    Anyway, I very much appreciate the conversation! This weekend has given everyone a lot to think about.

  • Carrie

    Did she say verbatim “the girl is 12″ or “the girl is like 12″ because their is a difference. I can understand your frustration and your point, but even if the reviewer is factually wrong – to them maybe there is no difference between 12 and 16. Both are inappropriate ages for someone of 28 to be with (and illegal.) Maybe that reviewer has been abused by someone much older than him or her, and that’s why they wrote what they did. You don’t know but either way whether everything in a review is accurate or not, it’s what that person felt about your book and like it or not you can’t change or influence that. I don’t know the circumstances or the reviewer’s motives but even if it is a personal attack, and even though you wrote the book – it’s not really your place to correct them. If you want to clarify for other readers so they aren’t influenced by that reviewer, then put a disclaimer after your blurb. I know when I look at unfamiliar books, I read the blurb and then scan through 5 then 1 star reviews.

    I’m not saying this to be snarky, some things don’t translate well over text but how would you feel if someone told you how to write your books. (I realize you may be a traditionally published author. So, you might actually have someone telling you how to write your books but still, I bet it pisses you off.) Reviews are as every bit considered copyrighted material as published books are. I’m not saying they are the equivalent of books, but once that person posts their review false or accurate, it’s theirs.

    Now there are good and badly written reviews out there, just like there are good and badly written books. People, or at least those with a shred of common sense should be able to tell the two apart. (Especially if it’s a rant or someone deliberately trying to bash the author’s work.) If they can’t, then they’re not the people you want reading your books anyway.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    It certainly has, and “nailing Jell-o to the wall” is no my favorite term for a futile effort! Hopefully, this type of open, respectful discussion among people on both sides of the issue will carry over into future book discussions as well.

  • John

    No, it’s not. Right off the bat I can give think of two examples of authors stalking reviewers- Lloyd Lofthouse and Rick Carufel aka Mary Shelly- damned by their own words. Except now they can’t be on Goodreads, which only leaves more potential victims at their mercy. And it’s tragic and ironic that the impetus behind all of this- the Lauren Howard episode- is unquestionably a pack of lies, yet look what’s happened.

  • Emily

    Saying you refuse to read a book because the author has been spotted attacking other reviewers isn’t abusive, though. Saying you refuse to read a book by Orson Scott Card because he’s homophobic isn’t abusive either. I hate how easily the terms “bullying” and “abuse” are being thrown around here, when I know people who have genuinely had to deal with harassment on a daily basis, not just a few negative opinions of themselves. The truth is that these new policies are not going to change GR members’ minds about the authors and make everyone get along. I’ve seen people responding to the new rules by simply rating the books 1 star, instead of shelving it with a blank rating on “due to author” shelves like before. And, as much as I would have hated it before, it seems like GR members have no choice – how else can they express themselves on the matter?

  • Emily

    I wouldn’t trust just anyone to tell me the truth but I don’t consider the advice of my friends speculation or lies.

    I agree that the actions of a book’s character are not evidence of the author sharing similar views. A great example is September Girls by Bennett Madison, in my opinion. However, we’re not talking about what’s in the book – or we weren’t as far as I knew – but talking about author behaviour. I wouldn’t say Margaret Atwood was sexist for writing a book about a society where women are slaves. But I would say an author is a bigot if, completely outside of the book they have written, they make bigoted or offensive remarks. And I don’t need to rely on hearsay for a lot of it, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Goodreads is a public forum, I can read the author attacks myself.

  • Emily

    Your reply is evidence enough in itself.

  • Emily

    The moderators didn’t post my original reply for some reason. But my answer is: yes. Yes, please go do that. Because I can then report you to the police for libel. Where you also should be reporting any libelous claims about yourself.

  • Christine

    But according to your philosophy and the philosophy of your friends, Barbara ~Andrew Loves Me~ (yes I’ve seen you on the GR thread complaining about the new policy with your friends) authors need to have a tough skin, so you should feel comfortable around them to say whatever you want. The fact is that Goodreads is a place for both authors and readers and everyone can see what you write on a public forum or in a review which is a publication on a book page. Everyone. Even authors. So maybe you should either not be there on the site if you feel so uncomfortable around authors OR you should watch what you say while you’re there. If you can’t say something to someone’s face, then maybe you shouldn’t say it?

    Just a bit of advice.

  • Heath

    Oh yeah, what rulebook did that come from?

    My caps are for emphasis. NOT yelling. Got it?

  • Christine

    And, Barbara ~Andrew Loves Me~, I loooove all those phony one-star flybys you just put on 100 books yesterday:
    http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4333248

    Or are they real? Did you actually read 100 books in one day? In fact, I think I counted over 100 on your bookshelf that you added on September 22. That’s some pretty fast reading. You do understand that these phony ratings are passing through GR’s API to millions of other readers who believe that they were placed on those books in good faith, don’t you? Oh, but wait, that’s why you did it, isn’t it? Silly me. Tricks are for kids. And I guess sometimes for adults like you who behave like children when they don’t get their way.

  • Sick Of This Crap

    Carroll, with all due respect, you are one of the main instigators of this entire situation and are not better than the arrogant misfits who operate STGRB. It is totally alright for you and your sock puppets to release PERSONAL information pertaining to anyone who rated your crap less than 2 stars. We have the right to not like stuff we read. We have a right to call out an author as an misogynist misguided morons for writing stuff that demeans and belittles people. It’s the nature of the business that NOT EVERYONE will like what you read. Grow thicker skin and move along. All you are doing is further instigating a fight between the sides. Cool your jets dude!

  • SickofThisCrap

    Oh Mary, get over yourself and move on already. Once again, like Carroll you are purposefully antagonistic without true facts. Apparently, according to you, it is okay to be messaged by the author and her sock puppets. It is okay for her sock puppets to release personal information and call them at home threatening them with retaliation and personal harm. The only fraud here appears to be your choice to lie your way back into the limelight. Honest reviewers really do read and review 300 or more books a year. You and STGRB are a bunch of trolls who have attempted to ruin people’s lives for having the CHOICE not to like your writing. It’s the nature of the best. Anyone who receives a 3 star or lower should humbled that people actually took the time to read your book. Not attacked for silly shelfs like author acting badly.

  • Carroll Bryant

    I instigated this? And how did I exactly do that? By minding my own business? By staying in my own space? By writing on my personal blog? How did I instigate anything? Did I instigate you to comment here at me? Did I instigate you to lie? Because I don’t have any sock puppets. I don’t release personal information and neither does STGRB. You can’t prove that I have. I have said many times I don’t give a crap if people don’t like my books, they’re just books. And FYI, I never got a review under three stars until after you and your friends attacked me that July day in 2012 and got me banned all because I blocked some girl from emailing me. You can say anything you want to about my book, even if you didn’t read it, I don’t care. But calling me a racist and rapist is not a book review is it? I suggest you grow thicker skin where the new GR rules enforcement is concerned and stop your crying over it. If you need to keep a list of all the people you hate then what does that say about you? Who the hell are you and your friends to judge others in the first place? Let alone in a book review that is supposed to be about the book.

    My jets are cooled. Yours however appears not to be. You didn’t have to comment did you? You see, when I said “this was the last time I was going to comment on this post”, you bullies come here antagonizing with lies under fake names like cowards that you are. And FYI, none of my books belittles anyone. And even if they did, they’re just fictional stories and characters, grow thicker skin. And a clue. You are instigating things by coming here and lying …. and under a fake name to boot.

    Yes, you have the right not to like everything you read. You do not have the right to libel people in book reviews. This is not about reviews or ratings good or bad, this about your comment, lies and senseless attacks and accusations without proof. In your own comment you accuse me of being a misogynist and you don’t even know me. You probably haven’t even read any of my books. I don’t think any of you bullies have read any of my books because you all say you aren’t going to read them plus all of your reviews center around me on a personal basis or only the first chapters of my books that are available for free reading on Amazon.

    See someone about your anger issues. Seriously. I hope you get help for that. I honestly do. You and your friends have way too much anger and hate in your hearts and that is sad. Life can be fun if you give it a chance. It really can.

  • Carroll Bryant

    That made absolutely no sense what so ever. The “evidence” you speak of isn’t even “evidence”. LOL It’s my opinion. …………. smh.

  • Carrie

    It’s common online knowledge, especially when everything is written. Otherwise, their is no way to properly distinguish tone. People can guess or assume, but without online etiquette you just come of snarky and rude. Unless THAT* was your intent.

    *caps used for emphasis.

  • Rick Carufel

    This is a typical troll attack, with the usual insults and lies. Of all the accusations made by the stalker troll culture they have not presented one shred of evidence to substantiate their claims. STSRB, Carroll Bryant and myself have published hundreds of Screen Shots to verify our claims.

  • Rick Carufel

    This is a typical troll attack, with the usual insults and lies. Of all the accusations made by the stalker troll culture they have not presented one shred of evidence to substantiate their claims. STSRB, Carroll Bryant and myself have published hundreds of Screen Shots to verify our claims. Yet for all their allegation not a single SS has been posted to verify their lies.

  • Rick Carufel

    Authors bullying reviewers is a myth. If a person makes
    a post as a review that has nothing to do with the book but demeans and
    insults the author, it is not a book review, it is a personal attack
    and the poster is not a reviewer but a troll. Only trolls pretend
    that attacks are reviews and trolls are reviewers. The rest of us can
    tell the difference.

  • Fiona Thomas

    As a publisher, and one that publishes topics that Amazon clearly does not like (they have kicked off around 75 of our books due to going against their “content guidelines”), I have forewarned our authors about going to Goodreads. For the last little while, we had encouraged them to sign up, post books, get reviews, hold contests, place ads, etc. But now, with the Amazon taking over Goodreads and the whole mess with trolls, we’re telling them to stay far, far away.

  • Tess

    I found Goodreads to have WORSE trolling than sites such as Youtube. I have a youtube account and I used to have a Goodreads account but by comparing how long it took goodreads to deal with a problem and how long it took youtube, youtube was much more efficient and swift to deal with cyber bullying. Also, there are a lot of younger, immature kids who don’t have jobs and live with their parents and the only thing better for them to do is make hard working adults lives a lot harder by trolling our every comment when all we want to do is have a say about a book we enjoyed. Youtubers are a lot LESS snobberish that Goodreads goers are. I’m going to stick with Youtube thank-you because Goodreads, you’ve lost me for good and you’ll regret it one day.