While 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.
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?