After huge criticism for review bombing, Amazon’s Goodreads has decided to work with users to help combat the issue. Review Bombing is a practice in which users protest a book or author by swamping the book with negative comments and a one-star rating. So, it is a major threat to authors.
According to the platform, they have limited the number of reviews and ratings on a book and look out for unusual activity. The company is also removing ratings and reviews while violating its guidelines.
On October 30, Goodreads officials posted a message that will reiterate the website’s policy to prohibit reviews and comments that “harass readers or authors or attempt to artificially deflate or inflate the overall rating of books.”
In response to the policy changes, PEN America issued the following comment from CEO Suzanne Nossel:
“We are gratified that Goodreads has taken steps to implement one of the crucial recommendations in our recent Booklash report, aimed at preventing reviewers who may not even have read a book from waging online campaigns to sink it. As a prominent platform for book discovery, Goodreads has an obligation to defend the freedom to read and prevent practices on its platform that detract from reasoned literary discourse and pave the way for books to be disappeared before their authors and ideas even get a hearing.”
The Booklash report urged Goodreads to implement new measures to ensure reviewers have read the books before posting reviews on them. The report also emphasized the need for new protocols to prevent things like “review-bombing.”
Goodreads’ message comes after the June incident when author Elizabeth Gilbert suspended the release of her new novel The Snow Forest due to review bombing from Ukrainians and pro-Ukrainians claiming that the book would “romanticize” Russia. Now, the book is listed on Gilbert’s author page at Penguin Random House with no clue of its release date.
Expressing concern over Gilbert’s decision, Nossel said:
“As a prominent platform for book discovery, Goodreads has an obligation to defend the freedom to read and prevent practices on its platform that detract from reasoned literary discourse and pave the way for books to be disappeared before their authors and ideas even get a hearing.”
Goodreads still lets users review and rate books before it has been published. Former publishing professional and Amazon employee Kristi Coulter told the Washington Post:
“Goodreads is designed so you don’t have to buy a product to review a book. That makes it ripe for abuse.”