Saturday, September 21, 2013

Change in Policy at Goodreads

Hi folks,

I was thrilled to hear about the change in policy over at Goodreads, which includes taking down offensive shelving names and removing posts that abuse authors and try to bully them into no longer participating in the site. As the first line in the Goodreads author guidelines reads:

"Goodreads is a place for all kinds of booklovers, and that includes authors." 

After the fallout earlier this summer, I heard from and about so many people who had been attacked for breaking the bullies' self-created "authors behaving badly" code, which included such "offenses" as:
  • Asking questions about the review policies (in a forum, not even in a review)
  • Correcting huge factual errors in negative reviews of books by other authors (e.g., "Is it really fair to call this 'blatant plagiarism' if this book was written *before* the other book?")
  • Posting a review if the reviewer knows the author of the book

To clarify, a scathing review of the BOOK is appropriate, e.g.:

"This was a poorly written, amateurish piece of drivel, filled with flat characters and fake-sounding dialogue. By the end of the story, I was seriously rooting for everyone to die." 

(By the way, this is how I feel about Godzilla. Remember that movie? Gods, that sucked. Matthew Broderick, if you are somehow reading this, know that I loved you in Ferris Bueller).

As an author, reading a review like that is hard. But that's the kind of review authors need that oft-mentioned "thick skin" to handle, and it's NOT appropriate for an author to even flag that kind of review. Suck it up and move on. I know it hurts, but seriously, let it go.

However, an attack on the AUTHOR of the book is different, and Goodreads has updated their review policy to list these types of attacks as violations of their terms of use ( A large number of these attacks have been documented by the people over at Stop the Goodreads Bullies ( I've found their posts to be factually accurate and well-documented (there have been some complaints about their tactics, but I wasn't able to find any evidence of them posting the personal information of any bullies), and Nathan Bransford mentioned them when he posted about this topic earlier this month (

He was then attacked by the bullies. *sigh*

However, I suspect that having such a well-respected and high-profile person stand up for civility is one of the main reasons that Goodreads (and Amazon) finally took action to save the tone of their site. I'm relieved that this abusive behavior is no longer being tolerated, because up until the bullying thing this summer I had unconditional LOVE for Goodreads! And now I'm looking forward to going back and enjoying it again.

For a different opinion, please take a look at Jennifer L. Armentrout's post about the Goodreads policy change (

See? See how two people can have completely different takes on something and still be able to interact without insulting each other? Intelligent, informed people can reach different opinions on things--and I'm still going to read every d@%# thing she ever writes. :)