So, the whole Goodreads thing …

There has been a lot of ink used – and keyboards pounded – over the recent events on Goodreads. If you, my reader, have been lucky enough to have missed it, here’s a bit of a rundown. The powers that be decided to alter their policies and terms of service, delete any content they deemed violated the updated policies, and announced all of this here, on the GR Feedback Group. Problem number one: out of some 10-20 million users (a wide spread because who knows how many are actually active), the Feedback group has, last time I checked (when the kerfuffle was younger), about 16,000 members. Which means that the announcement reached something like 1.5-2.5% of its users. Word spread – entirely because of actions by outraged users, not through anything Goodreads has done in the slightest.

Problem number two: the initial deletions (to, they claim, 21 users), were done without warning, only an email to the user saying “too late to kiss your reviews/shelves goodbye, they’re already gone”. For those who did not have these reviews saved anywhere else, that meant they were gone for good. After they realized how incendiary this was, there came an addition to the post; “Anyone else with reviews or shelves created prior to September 21, 2013 that will be deleted under the revised policy will be sent a notification first and given time to decide what to do.” However, this has proved to be untrue; reviews have continued to disappear, with only a notification after the fact.

If I can find the posts that give summaries of all the events, I’ll add them; the thread I linked to above has (*checks*) 5211 comments on it, and it’s only fun to read if you have a wide masochistic streak. It’s remarkable to see how many times “deleted user” shows up. There is a great blog post by author Nenia Campbell, and a summing-up thread on the Goodreads group created for those either moving or considering a move to Booklikes.com, and that is over here. For the record, I’m http://stewartry.booklikes.com/ and still settling in. I think I like it, but I have friends who aren’t moving, and authors that I follow, and I probably won’t be deleting my GR account. Yet.

I’m not even going to get into the related issue of the STGRB site, because it’s nauseating, but suffice to say all of this seems to stem from some delicate flowers of authors who took negative reviews of their books to be personal attacks on them, and have responded in kind, often threateningly. They’re sick, and there’s a list of them here which I was glad to see. I wouldn’t want any of these people to receive a moment of my reading time or a penny of my money, even by accident.

Anyway. I’ve seen comments like “this situation doesn’t directly affect me, so I don’t care”. Well, the government shutdown doesn’t directly affect me (yet), and I care about that. It does directly affect friends of mine, and I damn well care about that. And it is, as they say, the principle of the thing: it’s fundamentally wrong, it was handled exceptionally badly by Goodreads, and to let it all go unchallenged is to tacitly accept and approve of it. I’m not doing much on the challenging end, as home life is stressful at the moment and I just can’t manage it. What I can do, and am about to begin doing, is this: I will, starting today, be going through every review I have ever posted on Goodreads, duplicating it on Booklikes, and then deleting the review from GR, replacing it with links to Booklikes and this blog along with an explanation of what it’s all about (Alfie). To quote myself, “It may not affect the situation here – but in good conscience I can’t do anything less.” To quote someone much more wise and erudite, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

ETA: here is an excellent summary of events; thank you, SusannaG!

and my favorite title:

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4 Responses to So, the whole Goodreads thing …

  1. calmgrove says:

    Gradually weaning myself off Goodreads though not for these reasons, which reveal worrying developments. By the way, I have quite a bit of time of Edmund Burke who, even though I don’t agree with all his politics, was right about the triumph of evil. Also he was, for some considerable time, an MP for Bristol where I lived — his statue in the city centre is very familiar to me.

  2. stewartry says:

    I’m slowing removing my reviews from GR, but I have friends who don’t plan to leave, so… I just refuse to act as a librarian and will post links instead of actual reviews. It’s sad.

    Say hello to Mr. Burke for me!

  3. Thank you for explaining to me what the deal is regarding Goodreads. I’ve mostly been using it to keep track of the amount of books that I’ve read throughout the year. I don’t do a lot of reviews and when I do, try to keep them civil.

    This is batshit crazy! You would think that author would be used to getting criticism, both good and bad. Everyone gets feedback in their chosen profession. It’s the way in which you deal with it that’s most important.

  4. stewartry says:

    I’m not saying the reviewers have been angels in this situation – I know they’ve stirred the pot and done their part to keep things crazy – but as far as I know there haven’t been any reviewers who have stalked writers or threatened them. Whereas some of these “stop the goodreads bullies” psychos have done both. Someone has made public a screenshot of an email sent by one of them that had “serial killer” written all over it”, and it ended with “your days are numbered”. Of course, given the writing ability of some of these morons, they might not have known how strong a threat that actually is, but … it’s nauseating. Goodreads has actually banned several of them – yet this whole situation is centered around mostly their books. http://soapboxing.net/2013/10/by-the-numbers-an-analysis-of-the-reviews-deleted-in-the-goodreads-policy-change.html

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