Goodreads: Cause, Effect, Explosion

goodreadsWhile surfing the interwebs for some book reviewing advice along with how to use Goodreads to my reviewing advantage, I came across quite a few articles about “Author Bullying.”  So, like a curious little creature, I investigated.  I can’t find the exact, original article I ran across, but here’s one almost identical.

Curious about the change, I went to check out the policy change for myself.  After reading about the author bullying, I was very supportive of this change.  But then I read the comments.  So that brings me to the following:


Needless to say, I’m pretty sure the policy change was partially due to Lauren Howard’s case.  She was bullied by Goodreads readers even though her book had yet to be published. While her case is the one we hear the most about, I have no doubt that other authors have also felt bullied.  And, just so it’s clear, by bullied I mean directly threatened and/or harassed, and not just had a bad, critical review.

Readers feel that they have the power to bring a book to justice or to raise it in praise on Goodreads.  That’s the kind of community I’d expect from a site full of wonderful readers.  But, when it goes too far, well, it goes too far.



So in September, Goodreads changed its reviewer policy.  Now here’s the part that’s got a lot of people in a tizzy.delete content


Readers are claiming that this new policy is censorship, and that Goodreads is taking away a reader’s right to rate an author poorly based on said author’s attitude.  I can’t disagree there.  There’s an author that I purposefully avoid because of what she had said at a book signing I attended.  But, again, there is a very fine line between advising against reading an author’s work because they are jerks (though, isn’t Stephen King kind of an ass?  We still read his novels) and rating them poorly out of spite.

So like most sites on this issue, they rather not walk the fine line, and instead, they give a big blanket rule.  Whether your shelves or reviews were really harassment toward the author or not, they’re gone.

Now whether or not this is going to create the reverse effect, where Authors bully Reviewers, such as the STGRB, is to be seen.  Granted the STGRB is nothing but a bully harassing another bully, and was started before the Goodreads policy change.

I think that if Goodreads is going to enforce their new policy, there is no doubt in my mind that they are going to make sure to keep their authors in check.  I’m sure the new policy was their way of trying to fight an on-going issue, and they meant no harm to their members.  Goodreads is still a baby in terms of its existence on the interwebs, and having just been bought by Amazon, I’m sure this isn’t the first of the many changes to come.

So, do you think that Goodreads is really censoring its members?  Do you think authors are going to start bullying/harassing their reviewers more?


8 thoughts on “Goodreads: Cause, Effect, Explosion

  1. I don’t think that people should give harsh critics to a person’s life if you have never meet them. But also at the same time if you are published or in the public eye that comes with a price. For instance, I really want to read James Frey’s books only because I have watched his talk show pieces and seen other stuff that he has said and he seems like an ass. But I want to read his stuff to see he is all what he says he is. Anyways that was a rant, but I agree that readers and/or authors should not attack people’s character. They should instead focus on the work they publish.

    • I think that’s what they were going for. On the policy page, they state that they just want reviewers to focus on whats IN a book instead of the author. They want to be the force that handles unruly authors and the such. I don’t think Goodreads really deserves the backlash that some people are giving it.

      Then again, I haven’t had my reviews or shelves affected by the new policy.

  2. I’d agree that they don’t deserve the backlash. An author’s only obligation to me is to write a good book. I really don’t care if an author is a horrible person outside of that. I don’t feel that I have the moral high ground to discount somebody based on their personal decisions.

    I think the flip side of this is often important. There some truly horrendous books written by respected activists and horrendous books by people with some tough background. These often get a pass based on author struggle and I’ve always thought that was total crap.

    If the work is good, it’s good. If it’s bad, it’s bad. It should be left to that.

  3. It seems perfectly acceptable to me. Books shouldn’t be rated AT ALL based on an author’s personality or life habits. It’s a book, judge it based on the book itself. People do the same thing with movies and music, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it has never been a policy I agreed with. Let the book speak for itself.

  4. I don’t think the personal life of an author should have a strong impact on the review given. I believe that all reviewers should critique a book based solely on that books material. However, I think there are times that maybe an author’s personal life might infringe upon the book. Though like Bre said, I believe that there is no reason for either the author, or reviewer, to drag out someone’s personal business or harass them.

  5. I don’t know too much about GOODREADS, but I assume somebodys panties got in a knot. People have the right to review, critique, criticize, or whatever. This is the industry of getting known. A review is better than no review if you ask me.

  6. Sometimes I just thing many people are too immature to give a good, quality comments like adults. People are vicious online, that’s nothing new, so I agree with this to a point. Honestly, this solution does feel al little like censorship but authors need protection too. This seems like something that will just require human judgement on the part of the site. It can be daunting to consider monitoring every flagged comment but plenty of sites come close already. This may be a case where they will just need to give people warnings and guidelines and maybe even three strike rules to deter them from being jerks.

  7. Wow! I had no idea! I just started up my goodreads, but I’ve seen this kind of conduct on blog sites. It’s definitely a strange place to be in for goodreads, considering they’re between a rock and a hard place with an issue like this. I agree that harsh critique’s of an author’s life is unnecessary on a book website.

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