Dear Goodreads, Fuck you. I remember a time in my early days of reviewing books, which I did with enthusiasm and passion, where I came to your site to find books and like-minded individuals to discuss said books. I was new and uninformed, but found your site to be a wealth of information and lots of new stories to consume and ravage. You had listopias and giveaways and recommendations, and pretty much, I could waste hours on the site while I marked books to read and longed for new ones. Oh yeah, and I made friends, too. And then shit hit the fan last year, and yet, you patted my hand and told me, “it’s okay, wee little reader, we got this,” because you knew that caving to speshul snowflake authors (you know the kind – rabid about their books receiving bad reviews, and ready to argue why the reader is wrong) would alienate your most active user base. Stop the Goodreads Bullies happened. And still, you made them pretty much irrelevant, because you did not cave to their harassment or demands. I applauded you. But then…then you began hiding reviews you deemed unacceptable. And while that was a pretty shitty thing to do (because all reviews of a book, whether it is a user giving an account of why they will never buy that author’s work, or a user who is 5-starring a book yet to be released because they omgjustcan’twait, can be found legitimate), the community largely “got over it.” I put quotations around that, because we never really did. It still pisses us off. We’ve just accepted and moved on. (Notably, the fangirl anticipatory ratings and reviews for books not even read yet have NOT been deleted, because of course, those are almost always five stars. Hypocrites much?) My parents always taught me that I was not responsible for others’ actions, but I was responsible for my own reactions to them. I have lived by this my entire life. When I see a person or company doing something I do not like, I will not support them if it makes me angry enough. This goes for authors, too. If an author has conducted themselves in a way that I find inappropriate and shameful, I should be able to make a shelf called “when Hell freezes over” or “would rather die in a fire than read” or even simply “BBA.” I would also rather die in a fire than shop at WalMart, because I find the way they treat and pay their employees atrocious and wrong (and for the record, I’ve never been called a bully for that). Badly behaving authors are no different and I will not support them. That is my right, and you, dear Goodreads, only give credence and legitimacy to these poorly behaving people by punishing your most active user base. A couple of months ago, we received congratulatory emails that we were in the top 1%; how many one-percenters’ reviews and shelves have you deleted? While I have not received an email from you (yet) about my reviews or shelves, it sort of chaps my ass that I can’t keep a list of people to not buy products from anymore. Not to mention, many of these authors are people YOU have banned for inappropriate conduct and behavior. How much sense does this make?
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 review is subjective. I want to make note of why I will not support that author, including not reading their books. Like I mentioned before, I will not shop at WalMart, but based on your new site rules, I should let their prices stand on their own merit, and pay no mind to how they conduct their business.
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.
This IS censorship. You are telling your users how you think they should act and behave. I understand this is your site, but stifling the voices of your most active readers is, frankly, really dumb, because they garner attention and recognition for the books you are trying to promote. Because bad reviews and yes, BBA reviews, sell books, too. People might never have heard of Carroll Bryant if 1) he hadn’t acted like a fool and 2) people hadn’t talked about it (the very thing it seems he was aiming for, which he admitted in a later blog post).
Some people are perhaps interpreting this as you can’t discuss the author at all. This couldn’t be further from the case. The author is a part of the book and can certainly be discussed in relation to the book. But it has to be in a way that’s relevant to the book. Again, let’s judge books based on what’s inside them.
You are telling us not to discuss the author – UNLESS it is in a positive light. Unless you are going to remove all of the reviews that say “OMG I THIS AUTHOR IS SO KEWL,” you’ve effectively entered what I like to call the Haven of Hypocrisy. Because it sounds to me like you only want positive reviews and ratings that paint the author in a good light. You can’t eat your cake and have it, too. You used to be about the reader, and promoted a reader community. Somewhere along the way, our paths diverged, and you stuck your head so far up your own ass, you can see daylight through your teeth. I have to kindly ask if you are this stupid; we work for you for free. Without us, there is no you. No community exists without its community! Booklikes.com and LibraryThing are evilly twisting their hands right now in glee at your major fuck-up. Congratulations!