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Stop the Goodreads Bullies

11 July 2012

From Stop the GR Bullies:

A GR bully is any member of Goodreads who engages in bullying behaviour.

. . . .

Note: writing an honest, critical review of a book is not considered bullying on this site.  Furthermore, we believe there is a difference between an honest, critical review and a bully review.  Example.  A critical review: “I didn’t care for the main character.  I couldn’t relate to her.  She lacked character depth and emotion …”  A bully review: “My dog shits better than this book! How could this horrible author write such a literary piece of shit?”  See the difference?

. . . .

These bullies are under the impression that any reaction to them is about critical reviews, using the argument that they have a right to express their opinions.  We are not here to fight against critical reviews.  That is not what our campaign is about.  It is about their bullying behaviour towards others which is becoming increasingly disturbing.  We are here to expose that.

Link to the rest at Stop the GR Bullies and thanks to Donna for the tip.

Passive Guy visits Goodreads every 12-18 months, mostly because he thinks it’s one of the worst-designed websites in existence, so he’s in no position to evaluate whether bullying behavior happens there or not.

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178 Comments to “Stop the Goodreads Bullies”

  1. PG, you are correct. The BEST that can be said for the design is that it is “quaint.” In reality, it is harder than it should be to navigate and lacks some options that seem like no-brainers.

    With that being said, I have had mostly positive experiences there. The people I have met on well run groups (like Creative Reviews) have been awesome. For the most part, my reviews there have been well thought out.

    Plus, the site gives readers the option to “friend’ each other or the authors of books they have read. That is another avenue that allows us to communicate directly with them on future projects. The only downside is that once you accept their friend request, their review shows up in the “Reviews by Friends” list and that looks a little suspicious to anyone not familiar with the site. “No wonder they gave it five stars, he/she is friends witht he author!”

    Goodreads is a great concept lacking in execution.

    Splitter

  2. I was bullied off Goodreads as an indie author. The bully reviewers on there are proud of the disgusting reviews they write. Now the same bullies from that site have followed me onto my personal writing blog, forcing me to privatise it.

    • Don’t privatize your blog. Disallow comments or add registration, and don’t allow them to register. Also, you can complain to their internet provider if they continue to harass you, because you should have their IP addresses.

      • ^Great advice. However, Goodreads has been asked (begged, pleaded) many times by authors for assistance. Those bullies mentioned in that blog organize, and many times they will “like” the really horrid reviews to the top of a book’s page, so it’s the first one an unsuspecting reader sees. GR has done nothing so far, and really don’t seem to want to. If you’ll notice, many of the negative reviews (even some of the over-the-top ones) do not have comments on them. But, once an author chooses to respond to even one, they are free game, and are then considered to “attack” reviewers…ALL reviewers. Not sure who made that rule, but it’s not a good one.

        • Jason Brook Jr.

          Quite true. Goodreads’ customers are readers, not writers. Hence, they DO NOT help writers – ever. It is not part of their business model. That’s why I avoid it and have a strong distaste of it.

          (Additionally, they are very heavy into offering writers ‘services’, but giving almost no support. It’s a scam for Goodreads to make money from us and I have a lot of hate for scammers.)

    • Anon – that’s terrible! I’m so sorry that happened to you!

      I hope you speak to the folks at this website. It might help you feel a sense of power in the situation to report it to sympathetic ears.

  3. The one thing I like about Goodreads is that I find the reviews to be better than those on Amazon. For example on Amazon you can find a book that has a bunch of 5 star reviews with a smattering of 4, 3, 2, and 1 star reviews. If you look at the reviews on Goodreads for the same book, you’ll find a lot more variety.

    I think the reason for this is that authors and publisher PR machines encourage people to post positive reviews on Amazon because it can help spur sales. The reviews on Goodreads mostly come from readers–those who really care about books and aren’t encouraged to write positive reviews to help sales.

  4. It surprises me how much GR tries to control, but never seems to want to deal with bullies.

    Pretty much anyone can tell the difference between critical and bully reviews. It would be helpful if they just shut down people who bully.

    I am currently doing a giveaway of Greed and I am hoping when they choose who will get the books, someone will look at the types of reviews people give.

    As to their site, I seem to have to fight my way through a maze to get anything done.

  5. This is going on everywhere. Rare is the educated writer that is not only well-read, but capable of comprehending what the term “critical review” means.

    I rcently saw on Lulu’s Facebook page a writer who could not log in to her account, and instead of handling it like an adult, she proceeded to spend the weekend attacking every comment by other writers, not only Lulu’s FB page but also on Twitter. Her language was what you can imagine.

    These types of people are not true writers, nor will they ever be declared “authors”. All they have is their friends bumping up their ratings. They will ultimately fail due to their lack of authenticity and void of integrity.

    As for Goodreads, it is not a platform for serious writers that possess common sense, professionalism and dedication to the craft of writing.

    • Karen, thanks for your comment here and for the shout out to Lulu. We do really appreciate your kind words. I manage our Facebook and Twitter accounts and remember the instance you discuss here. I do understand the frustration that this author felt while she was having login difficulties. I am glad she was able to reach us so that we were able to resolve the issue. I’m just sorry that other authors were dragged into the issue along the way.

    • Goodreads isn’t a platform; it’s a social network built around books. It’s whatever you, personally, choose to make of it. I use it pretty regularly, and I believe I possess both common sense and professionalism. I’m also dedicated to the craft of writing. My books have gotten a few reviews there, all of them honest and decent.

      I also review books and take that responsibility quite seriously. Overall, the reviews there are no better or worse than those on Amazon. People can and do leave nasty remarks, and one star ratings with no reason given. The quality of reviews, wherever they’re found, depends on the intelligence, literacy, and honesty of the reviewers.

      Bullies are everywhere. The best thing to do is stay as far away from them as you can.

  6. I’m not a fan of Goodreads as I write YA as well as my romance and it was the YA I was checking out and in the reviews all they did was scrap. Never mind the author getting a going over they were fist fighting with each other. I will have nothing to do with that.

  7. It isn’t so much the individual bully reviews, which are bad enough. It’s that they form gangs and roam through GR iike rabid animals, mocking, harrassing, terrorizing, and humiliating authors. They do it for amusement. They’re like Hell’s Angels without the Toys for Tots Christmas drive.

    Anon’s case isn’t the only one where the stalking has moved from GR out into other realms. If I’m ever pubbed you couldn’t PAY me enough to have an author page on GR. I post reviews on there for friends, but I get in and out as quickly as possible. (shuddering)

    • Wow. That’s horrifying! I had no idea. :(

      • Mira, go to the link PG provided. On the left are a series of blog posts that will tell you some of what is going on. This blog also is attempting to call out and identify the worst offenders.

        I think one way to get the point across to GR would be for authors to start boycotting the place. ALL authors. WHether you are self pubbed or trad pubbed, don’t allow your books on there.

        I’m curious how many sales are actually generated by a GR presence?

        • I am gobsmacked at your support for stalking and bullying. That is not outing and identifying it is an attempt at coercion and silencing.

  8. i gave up on goodreads as a credible site when i stared seing rude shalves such as “i rather stab my eye with a fork.” and reviews being posted talking about the writer instead of the book. so not helpful anmad to be honest a bit making me sick to my stomach at the behaviour

  9. I’ve not spent a whole load of time at GR, but the bits of excitement I’ve seen have been authors going after reviewers for critical reviews.

    Genuinely critical reviews, not ‘my dog can s*** out a better story than this’ reviews.

    Personally, as someone above stated, I like the fact that GR reviews tend to have a wider range than Amazon reviews. Provides a more balanced overview, if you check reviews to choose what you’re going to read next.

    • I’ve never had a bad experience on Goodreads. I’ve had negative reviews, but that’s because no book works for everyone and so obviously my books aren’t going to work for some people some of the time.

      Much of the “bullying” behaviour described on that rather appalling GRbullies site is either a simple negative review (sometimes one criticising poor portrayal of women, rape culture, etc) or Goodreads users responding to an author or someone else commenting on their review to tell them their opinion or personal response to a book is “wrong”. It’s very much an irony that a site claiming to be against bullying (GRbullies) is engaging in such extreme bullying behaviour, and it’s no surprise at all that the various legitimate anti-bullying sites requested that the site remove the logos they had used without permission.

      It’s an interesting question as to whether it’s a heinous thing to choose not to read a book because of the author’s behaviour (and to use a shelf as a reminder). The only author I put in this category is OSC, and so I don’t need a shelf to remember. :)

      I have a “Stephen King” standard for “review nastiness”. Basically: Has Stephen King in his various reviews been blunter/more dismissive than this review? Most of the time the answer is yes, but somehow people aren’t shaming King as a bully.

  10. The comments here are not making me want to expend much effort over Goodreads way. I joined it, LOATHE the interface, which is not intuitive at all, and spend far more time ignoring it. Really, how much can this site affect your sales? Are there indie authors who used Goodreads to great effect?

  11. I call it the Mean Girls site.
    I could go into detail but doesn’t that cover it?

    OTOH–Someone read one of my books 20+ years ago and posted a lovely review on Goodreads early this year. I connected with her and that was a blessing.

  12. Haven’t come across this type of behaviour, although I don’t doubt that it exists. I mainly use GR as a visual bookshelf, so I can keep track of my books.

  13. This is really going to ratchet up the drama. I need to make some popcorn.

  14. Sorry I implied I thought this was going to be amusing. I just looked at the site and I won’t be going back. Whatever happens on GR (and I rarely visit there) cannot be as bad as the efforts to identify and “out” the real names, employers, and addresses of people who write reviews that the owners of this site do not like.

    • Read some of the blog posts there and then tell me those people don’t deserve to be outed. For FUN, they psychologically torture and harrass people. Read the “farewell” from the author who will never write again because of the harrassment she endured at GR. It’s only a matter of time before someone kills themselves because of these bullies. And oh, won’t we all be eating popcorn, then.

      In every area of our lives, we have a moral obligation to stand up to bullies. This isn’t about critical reviews. It’s about some sick tickets getting their jollies by hounding people.

      • They don’t deserve to have their personal information outed. No one deserves that, unless it’s a criminal.

        • Jason Brook Jr.

          I don’t think that is the plan. Aren’t they going for usernames?

          • It’s not only the plan, it’s what they are already doing.

          • No, they’ve been posting their real life names (if they can’t find them, they keep looking), photos of the victim, their places of residence, and on at least one occasion, their place of employment and daily schedule, so people will know where they’ll be located at what time. Furthermore, they stalk their Twitters and Facebooks and use that information to mock and ridicule them for being unemployed, or drinking, as well as the ever-classy criticism of their parenting techniques.

            I think if they were just outing their usernames, everyone would just be laughing right now.

        • The authors (who have their real names and faces already out for everyone to see) don’t deserve for these people to accuse them of things they haven’t done (saying these authors attack “all” negative reviews, that they sick their fans on reviewers, etc.), or have their personal lives, family members, or motivations attacked.

          Those featured on the site have done (for months) what is being done to them, and worse. They attack the author with intent to keep them from making sales. It’s not just bullying. I’ve seen campaigns coordinated to get it out to as many people as possible for why they shouldn’t purchase the targeted author’s books. They perpetuate things that the authors aren’t actually doing, when this site is bringing to light what these people actually do.

          Does anyone really believe that the friends and family of the authors don’t come across the lies the GR bullies spread on the internet? I would be beyond humiliated.

          By the screen shots alone, the bullies actions are happening. I’m willing to bet if the bullies stopped lying and attacking authors, the site would stop telling the truth about them.

          I don’t understand feeling sympathy for them, when BY THEIR OWN ACTIONS, they clearly approve of this tactic.

          • Your skills at collecting and analyzing data are weak. But good news! You can hone them with practice as long as you accept that they need improvement. If you need some tips, just let me know.

            Attempting to educate people as to why supporting a manufacturer is supporting behavior you disapprove of is pretty standard in the consumer market. You seem to think that authors are a protected class of product manufacturer and I’m not sure why.

            • While I appreciate the humor in your underhanded compliment, I must disagree with your last sentence.

              I think everyone should be protected from bullying. I don’t like any of this. I think we can all agree that attacking Ford is different from attacking an author (aka a person).

            • No…? Ford is made up of people. Can you explain the difference to me, please?

              Also, let’s note: the ‘attacks’ are exclusively on books. Everything else is watchdog reporting of disapproved behavior and gossip with friends. Please keep that in mind with your explanation.

      • Where are these blog posts? I’m on GR, but I only go over every now and then to see if I have a new review, and then hope I can actually find it if I do. I get emails all the time from some group I joined a year ago and never participated in. :-/

      • You know, just today I swore to myself that I would no longer post comments on blogs unless I had some important information to add (which is rare). But I feel the need to point out that if you don’t read your reviews, you won’t have to feel the ugly sting of this kind of bullsh!t. I’m not being facetious. I never read reviews, partly for this reason. It’s just opening myself up to garbage that can’t possibly help my writing and is likely to hurt it. I really believe that reviews are unlikely to help a writer improve. Get some good first readers–they’re far more useful & won’t attack you.

        • Tori, I’m thinking I’m with you. I have a friend who will read the reviews for me. :-)

        • This website is not about reviews.

          “We are not here to fight against critical reviews. That is not what our campaign is about. It is about their bullying behaviour towards others which is becoming increasingly disturbing.”

          • My point, Sarah, is that if you don’t read reviews at all, you won’t come across the bullying b.s. fake reviews.

            • What we have here is the modern form of bear-baiting. And speaking as one who has moderated a forum of opinionated people, I never, ever want to take on a task of moderating anything as big and wild as Goodreads.

              The one thing I could see as useful is closing a thread to further comments where it’s devolved into personal attacks and it’s plain that’s what’s happened. But that means someone has to patrol or respond to complaints. Most of the librarians there are volunteers, and so this mission is likely to to be picked up by someone who has an agenda. I can’t see it ending any more happily than what’s already going on.

              Goodreads has already made it clear that they aren’t going to intervene in drive-by 1 reviews across entire genres or other mayhem, so what in other venues are known as flame wars aren’t going to stop. All you can do is not participate.

    • I totally agree, Arachne. I can’t believe the lengths people will go to this day and age to “out” people. It’s terrifying. This is why so many people are frightened of giving honest reviews (“I’d rather stab my eye with a fork”, though harsh and nonconstructive, is still honest). This is also why I absolutely refuse to tie things like my Facebook and Twitter and G+ to anything but direct family. People online can be mean, but I’d take simple text insults over scary/creepy personal information being “outted” any day of the week. Yikes!

      • I find it hard to believe that ‘I’d rather stab my eye with a fork’ is honest. How many people have actually stabbed their eyes with forks to make the comparison? It’s hyperbole at best; ‘deliberately insulting BS’ is how I would be inclined to describe it.

        • Have you ever tried to read 50 Shades? :P

          I meant it’s an honest reaction, sorry. That’s how they feel, hyperbolic and scathing as it may be. We review products all the time– and yeah, that’s what books are. They are products.

          I personally just wrote a Google review of my local pizza hut that went something like, “I’d rather puke into a toilet and scoop it out in a cupped palm than subject myself to this establishment’s excuse for pizza.” I won’t even go into the review I gave my local t-shirt printing company.

          They’re called ‘reviews’, not ‘mature and constructive comment inputs’. And this is the internet, not your local face-to-face bookshop. That’s what some people on the internet DO. This isn’t the first group of people ever to decide to ‘take a stand’ against it, and they won’t be the last, because douchey internet users are just a squishy adorable fact of life.

          • Ha ha ha, best comment I’ve seen in a long time, Chrisi (re: 50 Shades…).

          • Sorry, it’s not an honest reaction unless you really would rather stick a fork in your eye, eat out of a toilet, or what have you. It’s a deliberate attempt to insult and wound for the sake of getting revenge on a seller you don’t like.

            • You’re wrong. Hyperbole is an attempt to communicate emotion honestly and clearly. It is emotionally truthful, if not an expression of a literal plan. And hyperbole is what the internet runs on; it is the only language the majority of the internet understands.

              The idea of hyperbole in a review being ‘revenge on a seller (?)’ is ridiculous, since there is no evidence that any given seller (?) will read the review.

      • There is a huge difference between an “honest” review and the rants/hate blogs those featured are creating. It also goes beyond reviews, to attacking and provoking authors on Twitter, and “friending” authors on their Facebook pages with the intention of taking screen shots of anything they can twist and cry foul.

  15. Goodreads terrifies me. I’ll take nasty Amazon discussions any day.
    I use Goodreads for giveaways when I have extra books but otherwise I keep my distance. If I’ve been targeted, I don’t want to know about it. I don’t read any reviews. I don’t read comments. I’ve seen what happens to authors who are targeted and it ain’t pretty. People can be vicious.
    I doubt that was the intent of the founding mothers.

  16. I don’t know much about the GR “bullies” or whatever. I’ve written fanfiction for years, and am quite used to hearing harsh and nonconstructive criticism. Maybe that’s why these authors reaction just stun me. You are supposed to be professionals. I know better than most that having a handful of truly hateful reviewers is heartbreaking and frustrating. I’ve gotten death threats just for putting my writing online. Trust me, I feel that pain.

    But this reaction is crazy. Why on EARTH would you ever give attention to this kind of thing? That’s what they want–attention. They want to cause conflict. If you’ve chosen to make your work available like this, you open yourself up to that kind of absolute silliness. That’s just the nature of the world. If you seriously can’t handle that, why would you bother? There will always be someone who upsets you. You can’t go around fighting with them every single time. That’s just ridiculous. It makes everyone look ridiculous–yes, even you. And in the meantime, the people responsible are LOVING it. If you want to be a writer, criticism (yes even the douchey nonconstructive kind) is just part of the deal. You should probably reevaluate the thickness of your skin if seeing that kind of crit pushes you so far over the edge, you’d respond to it with something that isn’t “Thank you for sharing your opinion.” That’s what professionals, and mature, better people, do.

    That said, this stopthegrbullies website is absolutely disgusting. They are displaying every type of bullying behavior they claim to rally against. They’re encouraging harassment and divulging personal details of reviewers for “speech crimes” AKA Things I Don’t Want To Hear. They’re even worse than these “bullies”, because the “bullies” aren’t even getting book royalties at the end of the day. At the risk of sounding more like my mother than I’m particularly comfortable with, two wrongs really don’t make a right.

    I’m disappointed in my peers for stooping so low. Both sides look downright juvenile. But only stopthegrbullies.com looks downright dangerous.

    I’ve reported their website to GoDaddy, and though I don’t know their policies against harassment of this nature, I at least know copyright law protects the victims’ images of themselves from being posted without permission. I’m hoping something can be done. But I’m hoping above all the people involved come to their senses and see their behavior for the hypocrisy it is, and choose to be the better person.

    • Excellent post, Christi. I must say I’m somewhat taken aback by the negative comments about Goodreads because, as a social network, it’s whatever you want to make of it. I’ve been on GR for several years, currently have 1200 reviews posted, and have made some really wonderful friends. They are all, without exception, intelligent and thoughtful. But then, I friend only thoughtful and intelligent people who write thoughtful reviews and those are the ones from whom I receive notifications.

      In some of the discussion groups, I’ve seen silly comments, (anything related to food or religion guarantees excess) but it’s so easy to blow by them. Other social networks are the same: Facebook, Shelfari, whatever, including the comments section on article in the NYTimes. They can often be infuriating, but as they say, sticks and stones…

      As a rule I don’t review a book I don’t like preferring to just ignore it. But I also understand that tastes vary and there are some authors who, for whatever reason, published some of their own work. I don’t sneer at self-publication, but some of it is, frankly, not to my taste. I fear some authors show their work to friends and neighbors who oooh and ahhh over it, rather than show it to folks who can truly be critical. Then when some less than friendly individual writes a sarcastic review they get take it personally. On the other hand, I’ll often buy a book based on what most people might consider a negative review because of something the reviewer said.

      You’re right. Making the “bullies” a target when they should be ignored is playing right into their hands. Ironically, sometimes and kind of publicity is good publicity.

  17. I’ll say that I’m wholly against cyber-bullying in any form, but that blog is juvenile and melodramatic.

    • Dan,
      I couldn’t agree more. That’s the bullying everybody is getting all excited about? Authors should know enough not to respond to bad reviews, and the comments referred to sound like the nattering of a bunch of adolescents. And now we’re worried about someone committing suicide over something like that? Seriously?

    • I only clicked on the main link. Didn’t realize what they were doing.

      Yeah, it’s drama on both sides. Not worth my time, either one of them.

      I will say this, though, as a blogger with eleven years experience: This kind of crap goes on everywhere, all over the web, and in my experience, women are bullied more than men, and in far more disgusting ways. I happen to be one of those women that can make a grown man cry using only my words, but it’s not a pleasant experience. I have a troll who has stuck around for more than three years, and shows no sign of giving up yet.

      My advice: Don’t read your negative reviews.

      • Enjoyed your post. Great advice, and I’m sorry you’ve had to endure someone so … er … persistent.

  18. People on GR can give you a low rating without a reason why. Feels just like a cowardly drive-by shooting to me. And then there’s this underlying hostility that seems to be everywhere. I made the mistake of reading some discussions on a couple of my favorite writers the other day. Couldn’t believe the junk people were posting. Felt like I needed to bleach my brain afterwards. It seemed like it was more of a contest to see who could come up with the most idiotic and snarky things to say about the author’s work. They may have scored points with their GR friends, but I just see anger, jealousy, and a lot of folks who just NEVER WILL GET IT out for some kind of revenge. I’d never want to join a discussion there, not in a million years!

    • I’ve emailed GR about their rating situation because it SUCKS. There is absolutely no proof that a person who rates your book has read your book. I suggested to them that they allow authors to post a series of three questions that the rater would have to answer and get right about the book’s content before allowing an individual to rate a book, without writing a review. After all, they give you the ability to ask questions of (1) friend requests (2) requests to join a group, so why not rate my book???

      I brought their attention to abusive tactics with one rater who rated all the self-published books in the Phantom of the Opera genre one star and gave the one traditionally published book five stars. They did nothing about it. All of the 18 other stars were given in one day. The profile also included thousands of books with varying stars with no written reviews.

      • I don’t write many reviews, because I’m not a reviewer. I prefer to just rate what I read according to how much I liked it and move on.

      • Oh, is that where my Phanfic got the 1-star from? Though I think it had a review comment of “too short,” so… Yeah. Whatever. *shrug* I figure a Phanfan will look at it anyway, and no harm if they’re warned it’s short.

        • Couldn’t tell you, but I’ve seen reviews on Amazon complaining about a title being a short story, when the description states that it’s a novella of 30k + words.

          That made me scratch my head. ;)

      • Vicki, I have seen 1 star reviews for books that haven’t even been released yet. And there was no reason given why- just a 1 star.

        Some of these books were to be released 6 months into the future… It’s like the reviewers got a time machine. :)

        Sure, they could have gotten a review copy, but such Beta readers don’t leave 1 star reviews on GR with fake names, do they?

        • What exactly is the problem with marking an unpublished book 1 star? Or rating a book and not giving a reason why? People are entitled to their opinions and Goodreads does not exist to sell books for authors but to allow readers to discuss and catalog books. Requiring people to prove they’ve read a book before rating it serves only the author’s ego. Requiring people to post reasons for their 1 star reviews– well, there’s Amazon for that, and otherwise keep in mind just how often 1-star reviews seem to make authors sad. Isn’t it kinder to not say anything? :-)

          • My question would be: Why would anyone want to review/rate a product they haven’t used (or in the case of books, read)?

            Or maybe a better question would be: How can you have an opinion on something you haven’t experienced/had experience with?

            Personally, I wouldn’t rate/review a restaurant I’ve never walked into, or a vacuum cleaner I’ve never purchased and used. So I wouldn’t rate/review a book I haven’t read or isn’t even out to be read yet.

            I honestly don’t get why anyone would. I suppose there are reasons that aren’t occurring to me, which is why I’m asking.

            • Consider the ‘rating’ as a list of books the reader has opinions on. Many people use Goodreads partially or even exclusively as a book list, with no interest in the social media aspects or the social review aspects. While you might not review a product you haven’t used, you almost certainly have participated in sorting a list of product brands into products you absolutely don’t want vs those you’re interested in trying out. People rate books they haven’t read (and sometimes add commentary to the rating) as a way of storing and maybe sharing why they are excited or unexcited by a product.

              For every book with 1 star assigned before publication, you’ll find 3 5-star ratings assigned before publication reflecting the reader’s enthusiasm. People don’t seem to complain nearly as much about the 5-star ratings for unreleased books, though.

          • I thought of something else to add, but ran out of time to add it to my previous comment.

            I’m just going to quote GoodReads here:

            “What is the Goodreads Author Program?
            The Goodreads Author Program is a completely free feature designed to help authors reach their target audience — passionate readers. **This is the perfect place for new and established authors to promote their books.**”

            “**Promote Your Books**
            Get the word out! Here are some of the promotional tools available on Goodreads:
            Sign up to advertise your book to up to the Goodreads Community—9,500,000 readers!…”

            “It’s best if your work is on a bookseller’s website, such as Amazon.com or BN.com, but we will accept any author who has published a book. This includes authors from other countries as well as authors who are self-published (such as through Barnes & Noble pubit! or services like Lulu).”

      • There are one star reviews of books that haven’t even been released with shelves like “bully author”, “will never read”, “would rather stab myself in the eye”, “a****** author”, “badly behaving author” … the list goes on.

        This is the type of thing GR should be more responsible about.

  19. Interesting. I just heard about the Stop the GR Bullies site today.

  20. And here’s an interesting take on STGRB from The Bawdy Book Blog: http://www.thebawdybookblog.com/posts/imo-bully-me-and-ill-bully-you-because-that-makes-it-right-logic-i-has-it/

    Hint: She’s not a fan.

  21. Get rid of the bullies and vigilantes on Amazon out to discredit self-published and small press authors. I actually find Goodreads kinder than the historical romance genre bullies on Amazon. Though I’ve had my share of hard reviews on GR, they are not quite as mean as the ALL CAP REVIEWS ON AMAZON OF “DON’T BUY SAVE YOUR MONEY” advice and other quaint little bully remarks that insult your intelligence.

    However, turn the light on bully authors, too. I hate to say it, but I have one professional author who runs around on Goodreads and gives thumbs up on all the one-star reviews for one of my books. Now that is sick.

    The system is broken…period.

  22. OMG – I’ve been hanging out on GR for months without the faintest clue this has been happening.

    I don’t have many reviews, so I seem to have been overlooked by those trolls.

    With a few of my friends, we’ve been having a perfectly fun time on Robust.

    • A word about “Trolling for Lulz” there are groups of sickos who decend upon various websites for the sport, yes I said sport, of harrassing others (trollbait) to get ‘BAWWWS.’ If you look up Encyclopedia Dramatica you will find out more.

      I was just in a simliar situation where someone ‘dropped docs’ on me. They found a tongue-in-cheek bio they felt was ammunition to defame my character. So they posted it and said all kinds of nasty things about me and my books. (This was on Face Book.)

      I posted a letter to my blog – which I suppose they saw since if you Google me you find my blog first. http://jordanscroft.blogspot.com/2012/06/trolls-and-other-annoying-things.html

      That was my only reaction – and that’s going to be my only reaction. There have been a high number of hits, so I’m pretty sure they got my message.

      While I can empathize with the author’s who are under fire, I can only shudder because someone started a website to feed the trolls. This could go on for MONTHS now – when usually they get bored quickly and move on.

      • I checked out your response, Kat. It is perfect.

      • Hi Kat it is perfect. Thank you for showing us a classy way to respond. I left a comment on your blog -sorry –I called you ‘Jordan’ by mistake.

        Anyway, your response shows them up for what they are. It’s beautiful.

      • PS I do have a question the bad comments they left on your facebook account: can you as the the owner erase them and also can you moderate comments before they are posted (as you can on blogger?). I don’t have facebook (or myspace or twitter or GR) but I am writing to publish on amazon and everybody I know says “you just must have a social network’ connection” so I might have to have those in the future and I am really dreading having to deal with trolls or ‘haters’ as my younger brother calls them. I just want to write .

        • They attacked me on a closed Facebook forum that mostly concerns itself with the politics of my old home town – Ashtabula Ohio.

          My novel ‘Swallow the Moon’ is set there – and they took offense to my deleting a few posts that flamed someone on yet another closed forum.

          It was all very small town, all very silly. It must have taken them hours to find the little bio.

          When I was informed of their ‘attack’ I hadn’t sold a copy of ‘Swallow the Moon’ in a couple of weeks. Sold 4 copies in a few days.

          If you are attacked on a forum, it will have a moderator – you can contact them. But I don’t recommend it. Ignore it and walk on by.

          • Oh that makes sense. Thank you –I always felt you have to respond but your way is much saner.

            PS I love Ohio! I have friends there and hope to visit (Im in Ontario)

            • Ohio is beautiful – that area has de-industrialized and is slowly(!) rebuilding it’s economy. Currently it’s a perfect setting for an Urban Fantasy – lots of Gothic atmosphere – dark country roads and covered bridges.

              Responding to Trolls feeds them. If you look at what they want – to p*** people off – then ANY reaction feeds them. It is difficult to remember that the Internet is Public and once posted forever searchable. I’ve let myself be baited a few times – but it always ends badly.

              Having been bullied in RL – I can say that a troll has yet to stab me in the leg with a pencil. So I don’t put bullies in the same category as trolls.

    • Me too – I’ve belonged for half a year and never heard a hint of this. The people I’ve met there have all been great, and I can follow discussions on C. S. Lewis, which makes me happy.

      Oh, and I’ve been able to find books that really wind people up and look over their reviews to see what they’re about; that’s enlightening. I’ve learned a lot from that.

      • And by “books that wind people up” I mean indie books that readers go love-happy over. It’s interesting what turns out popular (well, we all know that *cough 50 Shades cough*) and since the most unexpected storylines can unexpectedly spark mass joy, well, that’s something I wanna study and learn from.

  23. Wow, reading everyone’s comments, I have some mixed feelings about the site.

    I absolutely believe that cyber-bulling can happen. And it’s completely not okay. I think it’s wonderful that a group of people have organized to try to stop it, although their methods may be problematic. I think people have to be careful, because cyber-bulling can cut both ways. Seems alittle dangerous, too, in terms of possible accusations of slander (?) They may want to re-think their strategies.

    But this type of thing needs to be addressed, and I think the intent of those who started the SGB website was completely admirable.

    What bothers me most is that Goodreads allows the bullying. I can’t believe that there is no way Goodreads can control this type of thing. I also wonder if there is liablity on the part of Goodreads here.

    I think psychological damage, even a potential suicide over bullying, is possible. I’ve seen mobs on the internet that rival a witch-hunt at its worst. Writers can be sensitive folk, and public eviseration can be devastating. We also don’t know how old these authors are. Since it appears YA is where most of the bullying shows up, the writers being targeted may be young.

    If nothing else, I’m glad it’s being brought out into the light and into public scrutiny.

    • There is no liability on the part of Goodreads. Their terms are pretty specific that reviews and comments are defined as “user content,” and they further post the following:

      “Goodreads is not responsible for any public display or misuse of your User Content. You understand and acknowledge that you may be exposed to User Content that is inaccurate, offensive, indecent, or objectionable, and you agree that Goodreads shall not be liable for any damages you allege to incur as a result of such User Content. Goodreads may provide tools for you to remove some User Content, but does not guarantee that all or any User Content will be removable.”

      Use GR at your own risk, is pretty much what they are saying, though you agree not to do the following, which is definitely not being adhered to if you consider bullying “emotional distress” or “mental injury.”

      “You agree not to post User Content that: (i) may create a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to you, to any other person, or to any animal; (ii) may create a risk of any other loss or damage to any person or property; (iii) seeks to harm or exploit children by exposing them to inappropriate content, asking for personally identifiable details or otherwise; (iv) may constitute or contribute to a crime or tort; (v) contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable; (vi) contains any information or content that is illegal (including, without limitation, the disclosure of insider information under securities law or of another party’s trade secrets); or (vii) contains any information or content that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships; or (viii) contains any information or content that you know is not correct and current.”

      • Wow. Thanks for sharing this. It’s really interesting.

        I bet a smart lawyer could find a way around this. Imho, Goodreads is taking a risk not reeling it in. I could definitely be wrong about that, of course, but I bet it’s a matter of time before someone sues – either Goodreads or a bully.

    • Are you kidding me? You can only read negative reviews on Goodreads if you go looking for them. If you only have a negative experience when you explicitly go looking for it, how can it be bullying? I’ve seen authors enraged over extremely polite and legitimate criticism; where would Goodreads draw the line if they were going to police every post on the site?

      This entire debacle smacks of authors who are scapegoating their professional lack of success on the few readers they have, rather than trying to become better writers. Or, if they have tons of readers, then a few negative reviews, no matter how cruel, can not actually affect their careers and thus can not be bullying. In order for bullying to occur, you need to have not just criticism but also stalking (that is, invading the author’s personal space, which does not include publicly published material) and a position of power. A publisher can bully a writer. An agent can bully a writer. A reviewer can only express an opinion.

      • That’s not accurate. Those featured on STGRB have coordinated efforts to “like” a particular negative (and usually bordering or blatant bullying)to get it to the top of the pile. If you read the STGRB site, you’ll see a review that admits to deleting the old review, and re-adding it so it would be back at the top where she felt it should be.

        Those featured also go scouting for things to jump on, and then go back to alert the others, who also arrive to attack. That’s bullying.

        Did you see where author Courtney Milan congratulated author Jessica Park for making the New York Times, and GR Bully Ridley responded with, “Why are you being nice to that reviewer-harrassing a******?” Totally uncalled for. This is exactly what the site is reporting on. Do I agree with going so far as to report their whereabouts? No. Do I think it’s a good idea to take away the masks and usernames so the bullies don’t feel like they can be as cruel as they want without consequences? Nothing else has worked, and it can’t go on.

        If you haven’t seen the full spectrum of the bullying behavior, then you don’t understand the entire story. I don’t know who started the STGRB site, if it’s authors or non-authors, or both, but your last paragraph is purely speculation.

        I would really be interested to see how you would feel about your “no matter how cruel” comment if you were in the cross hairs of those featured on the site. If they sought you out on every social media site to provoke you, attack you, professionally AND personally? Your lifestyle? Your husband/wife? Your parenting? Your education? You would be just fine with it? You seem to have feelings about this, and you’re not even involved, so do you really believe that to be true? I don’t blame you for having feelings. I know I wouldn’t be able to just let it roll off my back and not care. I’m pretty sure writers have feelings, too.

        Think about the last time someone said something really hurtful and cruel to you. How did you react? Did you shrug your shoulders and say, “They’re right. I suck. I’m going to be a better person because of what they said.”? Now, imagine you’re an author, and many people know your name, and that was a very public statement. Your right to feel hurt about anything that is said about you, in your words, “no matter how cruel”, is suddenly denied … just because you wrote a book.

        Does that sound right to you?

        Keep in mind, I’m not talking about honest or critical reviews. I’m not even talking about negative reviews. What I’ve seen from those featured on the site is nasty, over-the-top badgering of authors. Over, and over, and over, and they change their target every few weeks. No one, no matter their choice of career, should be expected to endure that kind of bullying.

        I’m not sure why this isn’t a more popular response. Maybe it’s because not everyone here is truly aware of all the goings on. It worries me that so many are so quick to take the side of bullies.

        Who said authors can’t respond to nasty comments, anyway? Authors wrote a book, yes, and it’s out for all to see and criticize. But didn’t reviews also write something public? Why does this not fall under the same rules? Of course, there is a level of professionalism to maintain, but if an author simply tries to explain their motivation for writing the book, or asks someone not to speak about them so cruel, why does that make them free game?

        • Whoa. I didn’t realize how long that was. My apologies.

        • Okay then, you’ve finally addressed me directly! Let’s talk!

          You say: ‘coordinated efforts to like a particular review’.
          I see. You’re wrong– people ‘like’ those reviews because they either find them entertaining or they agree with the sentiment expressed. But your claim is interesting because it suggests that those reviews would only get that number of likes as a result of conspiracy– that it would not otherwise be possible.

          Those featured read author blogs and discussions, and do indeed report on misbehavior related to their status as an author. This is standard watchdog behavior, not bullying.

          Revealing names and locations of critics is an ancient tactic used to silence criticism. It creates martyrs. The StGRB site would have a bit more credibility if it wasn’t anonymous. Note: there’s a difference between pseudonymous and anonymous, and the reviewers in question are pseudonymous, not anonymous.

          The idea that cruel criticism should be punished is… weird and oppressive.

          I have watched the reviewers in question for months and months. I’ve tracked down their reviews and read comment threads and linked blog posts. My last paragraph– I don’t know what part of it you consider speculation. That a few cruel reviews can’t hurt a writer’s career? Well, it’s based on observed evidence of book sales. That there are authors scapegoating? Yes– that’s what the phrase ‘smacks of’ means. It feels like that. Authors have behaved badly, without question; I was speculating on the reason.

          I would love to be in the cross-hairs of those featured on the site. It would expose my books to their many, many followers, most of whom tend to an independent mindset, some of whom would pick up my book for themselves even if the reviewers hated it. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t seek me out on every media site, because I understand the rules of acceptable author behavior. If they did, cool! We could probably have a conversation. As I said, I’ve read their posts and comment threads extensively, and they’re responsive and flexible in their opinions when they meet with a responsive and flexible author.

          I have feelings about this because I dislike hypocrisy, I dislike genuine bullying, and I dislike people warping the meaning of words to support their own weak thinking and insecurities. Writers do have feelings but being a public figure means drawing a sharp distinction between public and personal behavior. I know a lot of writers don’t like that, but it’s a fact of life. Pretty much everything I say publicly on the internet is subjected to my own ‘public figure’ analysis. And there are a lot of things I don’t say, because they would be inappropriate. Once you grasp the concept of a public and a private life, the rest isn’t hard.

          The last time somebody said something hurtful and cruel to me… um, yes? I did say, “I suck, but I’m going to try to get better.” That’s such an odd question.

          Nobody’s right to feel hurt is being denied. It’s people’s right to respond to that hurt in flamingly aggressive public ways. And they can still do even that, it’s just that it has consequences that may include people deciding not to buy their product. When somebody on the internet hurt my feelings, I ranted to my famiy. I had a drink with my friends. Then I went back to the internet, analyzed what they’d said, figured out whether it was something I needed to change, and moved on.

          Really, it’s simple. What kind of behavior is acceptable when applied to a product manufacturer or a retail outlet? That behavior is also acceptable when applied to authors, who are product manufacturers and sometimes also retail outlets.

          It’s funny, you mention ‘nasty over-the-top badgering of authors’ and then ‘they change their target every few weeks’. This is pretty much the opposite of ‘badgering’ or ‘stalking’ or ‘bullying’. And they change their target every few weeks because they don’t actually care about the authors very much, other than as product vendors. What they care about are books. They change their target because they move onto new books that they read, discuss, investigate and have opinions on.

          No one, no matter their choice of career, should be expected to endure that kind of attention? What about politicians? What about CEOs of major corporations? What about other celebrities? What about extremely popular writers? What about celebrity writers? Nasty criticism is a fact of life for public figures.

          Most people in this thread have been supporting StGRB; there have only been a few dedicated individuals defending the reviewers.

          And finally, you come to ‘but why can’t authors respond to reviews’, and the answer is ‘they can, but it may affect their sales’. It might improve them! It might decrease them! It really depends on the situation. That’s the thing: what you’re really asking is ‘why can’t authors behave badly as authors without it being linked to their book?’ and ‘why is it behaving badly when authors comment on reviews’ but you’re also suggesting that a book is so linked to an author’s self-image that cruel criticism of it is an unfairly destructive experience for the author. Is the book equivalent to the author? Is the author equivalent to the person? Perhaps you think it should be, but generations of publishing etiquette is weighing against you. Writers have been outraged by criticism since publishing began and some of them have behaved badly, and some of those people are famous. So writers can do what they want, just like reviewers. They just may be opening themselves up to a fight they don’t want to have, with people who have spent a lot of time training their fighting skills.

          Let’s make that clear: unlike the StGRB site, the reviewers aren’t trying to stop writers from doing whatever the heck they want. They’re not (usually) saying STOP WRITING! They’re certainly not saying STOP WRITING OR PUNISHMENT WILL APPEAR IN YOUR OFFLINE LIFE. They’re saying, “This author has behaved badly and I’m not going to buy the book and here’s why.”

          On the other hand, StGRB does want the reviewers to start censoring themselves, and the only possible goal of exposing their offline life is to threaten them into submission. Yes, both sides are providing consequences to perceived bad behavior, but the reviewers are limiting the consequences to the arena the bad behavior appeared in, which is appropriate. The SrGRB is reaching outside the arena of bad behavior to punish and silence.

          (It makes them free game because posting anything on the internet makes you free game, especially if you’re legally an adult. And because most reviewers don’t like to have the author looking over their shoulder. Author do, of course, on sites like Goodreads but the etiquette is to pretend you don’t, because the goal is to provide the most positive experience you can to your readers so you sell more books. Presumably.)

  24. You know something. I wrote a comment, not much of a comment really, but the moment I hit submit I realised.

    I’m staying out of this. I’m not picking sides when I don’t have the information, or the inclination to dig that information out.

  25. I have seen that website and I really don’t approve of posting people’s personal information like that. It automatically puts my sympathies with the reviewers they are attacking – because it’s just so wrong.

    I don’t know the full details – but Goodreads author guidelines are pretty clear:

    “Things not to do (or ways to get blocked from Goodreads quickly):
    •Question or otherwise argue with people who have given your work a bad review or low rating. Use member feedback as a way to learn how to improve your work, not as grounds for expressing your frustration.
    •Engage (via comments/messages/friending) everybody who has read your work or related work. This will result in someone flagging you as a spammer, and your message thresholds will be lowered. If you are flagged enough times (currently 3) your profile will be evaluated for deletion.”

    In the first couple of examples they linked on that site of what they categorise as bullying – it seemed to have been set off by the author in question ignoring those guidelines.

    I would imagine that most authors would be fine if they keep to the guidelines, don’t spam the message boards, and don’t use sock-puppets. (N.B. – that’s ‘fine’ as in not setting off a mob – not ‘fine’ as in not getting negative reviews. Everyone gets negative reviews!)

    Some people might get picked on anyway, in that case it’s best to ignore it. If people see that someone has one starred all of your books, they’d have to ask themselves why that person kept reading them & would come to their own conclusions.

    Even if you don’t add your books to Goodreads, that doesn’t stop someone else from doing so. You don’t even have to be a Goodreads Librarian to add a book (though you have more control over the details if you are one.) So, if someone wanted to have a go at your books, they could do it without your permission anyway.

    As I see it, being on Goodreads is a way for me to discover new books as a reader. As a writer, it’s for readers to discover which books I like if they happen to be curious. I know I’m always a bit dissapointed if I like an author’s work, they’re on Goodreads, but they have hardly any books on their shelves.

    I agree that their forum system is majorly clunky and hard to follow, which is why I don’t use it. It’s easy to add books to your shelves though, and I for one find that their recommendations are much more accurate than Amazon’s when it comes to my taste in books.

    In short, I think you’d be losing out if you stayed away from Goodreads out of fear. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter – but I’d hate to see new authors scared away from Goodreads by stories like this. I’ve been a member since last August and I’ve been oblivious to anything going on until this website link started doing the rounds!

    • I’ve been a member of Goodreads for about 2 1/2 years, with at least one published book on the site for the past 2 years. This is the first time I’ve heard of anything like this too, and, as co-founder of Past Times Books, I am in regular touch with 37 other authors, who don’t appear to have had any major problems either–I’ve been a Goodreads librarian for a couple of months now, so it’s likely that I’m the first person they’d turn to if any of them had experienced this kind of thing (not that there’s much I could do to help.) I’m not saying it doesn’t happen…just that it isn’t as endemic as one would think from these comments.
      I have received a rather mean-spirited review on one of my books, but so what? It’s a rather controversial book.
      I’m not a particularly dedicated fan of Goodreads, but it seems to me this is being blown way out of proportion.

  26. The STGRB site seems to feature one author who is well-know for tag-teaming her BFF (she’s even done it here http://www.thepassivevoice.com/06/2012/how-amazon-saved-my-life/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThePassiveVoice+%28The+Passive+Voice%29).

    She then criticises customers who give her BFF low reviews:

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R3O2K45B887339/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1461085977&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=#wasThisHelpful
    or
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R2AVCW0J8PR0MK/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B004W9BYR8&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=#wasThisHelpful
    and argues with her own reviews:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R1Z0JKL0SBZCSJ/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1466401885&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=#wasThisHelpful

    (Perhaps PG can give us an opinion on when a YA book isn’t YA).

    So who is the bully and who is the victim? Or are they all bullies? Because they can’t all be victims.

  27. Wow have I missed a lot. I haven’t been on Goodreads in probably a year, maybe more? Sounds like it’s unleashed some unholy group of twerps with nothing better to do?

  28. Trying to drag people’s real life into online arguments has never been acceptable. I was a lot more incautious about revealing my real life until I ran into someone who had a problem with me on a newsgroup and called my employers to tell them that I managed a site that reviewed lesbian written and themed books. Fell rather flat because we were a very gay friendly group. But that taught me to keep my online life and RL as far apart as possible.

    Anyone trying to shut up reviewers by messing with their lives like that gets no respect from me. I hope that the reviewers stand up to this effort to silence them.

    • Trying to drag people’s real life into online arguments has never been acceptable.

      I don’t know about that at all. Maybe if people were taught that online IS part of real life, more of them would grow up and learn some bloody manners on the Internet.

  29. Sorry I didn’t post sooner, but I was too busy banging my head against the wall.

    I’m going to try not to shout so I will just ask you to imagine the following sentence is written not in italics, but in all caps with about ten screamers at the end:

    Goodreads is not a site for authors to promote their (expletive deleted) books.

    It’s a site for readers. And it’s a social networking site, with all that entails — including childish behavior.

    A review is a conversation between the reviewer and his or her readers. If it ain’t legally actionable, it’s none of our business. Writers have no place in that conversation.

    That said, I’ll add a couple of other observations:

    1.) Telling a cyber-bully to use “approved” language doesn’t change the behavior, it only masks it. Heck, it gives these people legitimacy. When a reader sees an insulting and rude review, he or she knows exactly what’s going on — and probably only reads the thing for entertainment value. On the other hand, when a nasty minded person cloaks his or her review in acceptable language, it’s a lot less obvious to the final reader what’s going on.

    2.) The controversy these people stir up is likely good for the long term findability of your book. Seriously. Two examples:

    Example #1 –

    Back before Amazon clamped down on the authors on the Amazon communities, I happened to run afoul of a Queen Bee in the Romance area (prime territory for cyber bullies). I don’t write romance, and I wasn’t even disagreeing with her, but I didn’t agree enthusiastically enough. So she and her minions went after me. Not to the extent that they went after others, but just a brief fierce flamewar that calmed down quickly.

    Now, in the course of the conversation I did say, once, that I didn’t write romance, and I only had one book obliquely related, so I was there speaking as a reader. I didn’t even mention the book by name.

    Two weeks later, I get a personal message from Amazon’s KDP team. “Congratulations on your Most Popular Indie Book status.” I opened that email eagerly and found they were congratulating me on that same book — a book which had not sold a single copy in over a month.

    I was given the phone number of a specific person in the KDP outreach program, and told the guy about the books lack of popularity, and he went and checked his data….

    All the negative activity by the queen bee and her cronies had registered on the popularity algorithm. My book was “hot” because it was being talked about and visited, and that meant the book was getting some play in the featured titles. If that book had been a romance, I probably would have seen some great sales out of it.

    (But I did get to have a long conversation with someone at Amazon who knew how the algorithms worked, so I got a LOT out of it.)

    Example #2 –

    New York Times story about a guy who built his whole successful business on the value of really bad reviews. This guy set up a drop ship site for selling cheap glasses on the internet, and didn’t do well. He also didn’t do a good job of running the business… until he started seriously pissing off customers.

    He discovered that when an angry customer started running around and spreading nasty, terrible reviews of his business around the internet, his sales went up. So he started intentionally pissing people off, and his sales skyrocketed!

    Why? It was just like my book — all the people talking about it caused his business to register as “hot” and “interesting” in every algorithm out there on the internet. He was a constantly trending topic, and so anyone who did a search on “cheap eye glasses” would find his business to be the top hit on every search anywhere.

    These are not unique examples. An engineer at Squidoo told me that their algorithm for “likes” or rankings or whatever they do, considers ALL activity to be a vote for popularity. That is, if a bunch of people are motivated to down vote a page, that means the page must have a lot of interest.

    The fact is, this odd wrinkle in how most algorithms work is not a mistake: it’s intentional. That’s because the algorithm makers (like Google) know that if you p*** somebody off that bad, you’re doing something interesting. Odds are people will be interested in it.

    It’s also very hard to fake. The guy with the eye glass business was in an exhausting cycle, and was ready to pack it in. Most of the time, it’s just short term.

    So just make sure they spell your name right, and don’t sweat it.

    • Great post. I liked it so much, I looked you up on Goodreads and bought a couple of your books on Amazon. (The Man Who Did Too Much (A Starling and Marquette Myster) and Have Gun, Will Play (A Mick and Casey Mystery) No kidding. I had never heard of you. I look forward to reading your stuff.

      • Well, thank you Eric! That’s a nice perk up for the Dog Days of Summer (when sales are slow).

        Actually, I’m thinking of copying that out to polish up and post on my blog. I think it’s something writers need to hear. A nasty review hurts, we imagine it having way more negative power than it does.

        • I agree with you – the power of the review is in the mind of the book-author.

          Getting 1 and 2 star reviews is just part of the game. And really, you’re no one until SOMEONE doesn’t like your book. It’s like a badge of honor, or an initiation ritual.

    • Camille, that falls in with the old theatrical thinking of “Any publicity is good publicity – you only worry when they STOP talking about you”. Not that I’m going to rush right out and start ticking people off. I don’t have the temperment for it and am more the “I’ll ignore them and maybe they’ll go away” type.

      The only real draw back to less than stellar reviews on Goodreads is the fact that several of the eBook retailers link to those for the eBook reviews. Consequently, negative issues from Goodreads can affect an author out on a retail site which. Personally, I really wish they wouldn’t link since I don’t think Goodreads is any better (or worse) that Librarything or a dozen others so I don’t see why those reviews should be used outside of the Goodreads community.

    • “Goodreads is not a site for authors to promote their (expletive deleted) books.”

      I don’t believe that’s strictly true. GR does offer authors the opportunities to advertise and to do giveaways. Those are promotional things. Authors can add their blogs, or blog directly onsite. That’s a promotional item too, since a lot of authors are going to blog about what they’re writing/releasing/interviews & guest posts – that’s all promotional as well.

      • Actually, Camille, while I agree that Goodreads is primarily for readers, it’s not exclusively for readers. Goodreads actively encourages authors to participate and have a program specifically for them. In GR’s own words, “The Goodreads Author Program is a completely free feature designed to help authors reach their target audience — passionate readers. This is the perfect place for new and established authors to promote their books.”

        It is not the perfect place for many authors because there is a band of thugs roaming around attacking. Recently a friend of mine (an author) blogged about how helpful reviews are to authors and reminded readers of that. She was attacked viciously by several of the bullies identified on StGRB. She attempted to reason and clarify and was further villified, because now she was “trying to cover up.” If it had stayed there, fine. People have a right to express their opinions, even stupid ones. But these bullies took it to GR and flooded her book with 1 star reviews and placed her book on shelves titled “you-sir-are-an-asshat,” or “will-never-read-b/c-of-author,” and “avoid-author.” THose are not opinions on the quality of the writing or reviews. They’re harassment, plain and simple.

        This same author has a 2 star review from someone who didn’t like the book and stated why. WONDERFUL! That’s fine. That’s honest. And it’s helpful to other readers who may have the same issues and can therefore avoid this book and move on to something they will like. That’s what reviews are for. To direct likeminded people to or away from products.
        I, for one, am happy that there is a group of people who have called attention to the viciousness of a mob. They really do travel in packs and attack without provacation and they don’t play fair. They have no problem tracking authors down–an easy thing to do since we’re so accessible these days–across as many platforms and venues as they can find while, themselves, staying completely anonymous.

        So for those that are being outted. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll re-think their slash-rape-burn approach and stick to reviewing books based on the merits.

        • Donna:

          The ends do not justify the means.

          Just because a thing occurs that is unpleasant or illegal or simply reprehensible does not mean there’s a free pass for any and all reactions to that. The law, both civil and criminal is very clear on that point.

          It’s one thing to call attention to bad behavior and quite another do do what this group is doing.

          I don’t see why tracking down authors is wrong but it’s not wrong to track down reviewers as the GR bullies group is doing.

          Your concluding paragraph is one I find highly objectionable. That sort of logic is used to oppress ALL our freedoms.

          I find the hate speech of the KKK to be beyond the pale but I have no right to retaliate against them for it. I can, however, freely speak my mind about what they say.

          The GR bullies group has every right to speak out against speech they don’t like. They are well within their rights to object to what the believe these reviewers are doing. What they should not do, and what should never be condoned, is taking action to designed to suppress that speech.

          I hope you said those words in anger and without thinking through the implications and contradictions in your position.

          • I said “outed,” not tracked down. Please don’t put words in my, er, comment. I said I hoped they would re-think their approach and leave constructive reviews. I still hope that. I do not wish them physical harm in any way. Thank you for having me clarify that.

            I also don’t believe that the StGRBers are hoping that crazed authors will start troll-hunting in real life, but I think I understand why they posted names and such. Anonymity is what causes mobs. Personally, I would like the StGRBers to post as themselves as well because it would increase their accountability as well. So, we probably agree there.

            Your argument about it being wrong to track down one group but not the other does indeed work both ways. (And by track down, I mean by cyber-means.) Of course, GR bullies can speak out against speech they don’t like, but so can StGRB. There have been author actions that have sickened me, too, but that’s not what this article was addressing so I didn’t speak to that.

            And, for the record, I do not object to them (bullies)speaking out. I object to the maliciousness with which they do so, and to the lengths that they will go to cyber-track an author across many sites, often because the author dared to exercise his/her free right to speech by commenting on the bullies review. There is a prevailing mentality on GR that holds that the authors need to sit back and shut up, even to the point of refraining from making *factual* corrections to errors in the reviews of their own books. Really? I’ve even seen the bullies go ballistic when other readers disagree with them. Where’s the freedom in that?

            Maybe it’s my background. I’ve worked with sex offenders and the gleefulness of the bullies as they blitz an author reminds me very much of sexual predators, specifically Anger-Excitation types. Joy in others’ pain and misery sickens me and, yes, I worry about that line being crossed on the StGRB site. I admit to a personal element as well, because I’ve seen one of my good friends attacked in this fashion just because she she wrote a blog post asking readers to review. What is so incindiary about that? They swarmed her. She tried to clarify and they accused her of hypocrisy. She apologized and they called her a liar. They alerted other fellow bullies, and set off across multiple soc nets to further tear her down. And they took their “fight” to her book, which had nothing to do with the argument, and they rigged the GR system to trash her work.

            People–readers, fellow reviewers, and authors–do not feel safe on GR. It’s not like some isolated flame wars that crop up in every soc net. These attacks are far more devestating and far-reaching. I do believe GR should do something. Something as simple as: reviews should be reviews. If you read the book and hate it, by all means say so. Bonus points if you say why, because that will be helpful to other readers. If you haven’t read the book, and instead are just in a pissing match with the author, how is that a book review?

            • Aaaaand, now I’ve been attacked on GR for comments I left here. I’m not surprised. It does prove my point that authors are not allowed to express ourselves ANYWHERE without fear of retaliation.

            • Man (or woman) up. So your words draw consequences. So what? Now all of Ridley’s readers know your book exists, and you can bet not all of them agree with her.

              Honestly, this ‘retaliation’ is a marker not to buy the book and some gossip. It’s so minor as to be forgettable, unless you pick at it and inflame it into a raging sore.

  30. what about us readers? we cant read reviews now because we should avoid them so we dont have to see the nasty reviews? how doea it help me decide if i want to read a book if the review only talks about how they peraonally hate the author for personal reasons based on eventa that when i look into them never really happened the way theae mean childre. are portaying things. no offense to the au th ors, but i selfishly gonna say that its ignorant towards readers. some of ghe reviews if you can call them that made me phyaically ill to read the author can ignore th em all they want but its pointless if readers have to ignore them too i read reviews to see if i might like a book but i do that less now because some of the reviews are plain useless with norhing but petty jabs at the authors who wrote the book no offense but i dobt give a camn about your opinion on an author you DONT even know no one is perfect but the real appalling behavior comes from thede so called reviewers its middle school behavior. they actually make posts to all vote for ea VJ others meaningless reviews too so i have to wade through irrelevant bullllll just to get to a legit review of any kind . sick of this selfish selfimportant reviewing behavior these drama girls need to get over themselves and get a life so they can stop drowning out other readers enjoyment of the site also some of these ladies are authors themselves! trying to take out the competition maybe what petty bs

    • Let me get this straight—and keep in mind, given the… unique way this comment was written, that will take me a moment.

      Because these reviewers, anonymous people on the internet, boycott a book, you feel somehow entitled to know their place of Real Life employment so that you may in fact boycott that as well. Their places of employment. Where people employ them. People who have nothing to do with their employees’ opinions, let alone what they decide to do with their free time, LET ALONE what they decide to do on the internet in the privacy of their own home, also in their free time. This is what you’re saying (I think).

      So that if you see this total stranger in RL you’ll “know” not to “trust them”.

      With that kind of attitude, how do you ever do anything on the internet? Have you been to YouTube, like, ever? Because if every single douche of a troll had their personal information and employment history “outed” so that the video-makers and their fans could “boycott” them and “not trust” them, then the economy would be truly screwed, and a lot of people on this planet would… not be. Like, ever.

      You have a close personal friend who has been a douche on YouTube. I can pretty much guarantee it. It’s statistically inevitable.

  31. and seriously the authors having their names draged through the mud are public too so why not make public which reviewers are dragging them through it. authors write books reviewers write reviews. both wrote if your info is public then people can get it if anything the au th ors have more to be afraid of than these bullies do. im glad to see tbeir faces so i can get an idea what kind of persob does this girls who are sad high s hool is over and they arent divas of the mean girl squad of high school anymore or ugly house wives who nees to drag othera down to feel better about th eir miserable existance. would i punch them in the face if i ever saw then, no, but if they want to boycot writers who write books why cant i decide to boycot the places they qork.bb or the producta they sell for thwir job? im glad to know if u see them in real life that i can know not to trust them.

    • Authors publish books to get paid. Reviewers review books to share their opinions of the product they paid for. Reviews are a gift. No one is required to give one. No one has to leave a review. No one has to do anything. And yet, without reviews, book sales would plummet. You seem to forget that out of all the reviews ever, only a relatively small percentage of those are both scathing and nonconstructive.

      So if you’re telling me by giving my opinion on a product I paid for, even if I’m completely kind about it, somehow opens me up for cyber-stalking, then I sincerely hope I never have the extreme displeasure of purchasing your book. That’s a gift you obviously don’t deserve.

    • You kind of make the opposite point than you intend here:

      To paraphrase what you said: What kind of person does this? Sad pathetic people.

      So not anybody worth bothering with.

      But that means that those who retaliate by doing the same thing become… sad, pathetic people.

      Don’t do that to yourself. Those people aren’t paying rent on your head (and every second you spend on them is free life-space you give them) so don’t waste time and effort on them.

      • I’m going to repeat Sarah’s point:

        “This website is not about reviews.

        “We are not here to fight against critical reviews. That is not what our campaign is about. It is about their bullying behaviour towards others which is becoming increasingly disturbing.””

        I disagree with you, Camille. Only by drawing attention to this kind of behavior the way they are, will it be stopped. No one has ever stopped a bully by being silent.

        • And the people highlighted on that blog are NOT bullies. Some of them aren’t nice, sure. A couple of them seem rather juvenile, okay. Calling them a bully is hyperbolic at best, complete melodrama at worst. The authors or reviewers they’ve offended can walk away from the computer any time they see fit, and be perfectly fine. They can scroll down or close their browsers and be done with it.

          STGRB aren’t revolutionaries. They aren’t saving the internet from trolls or making GR a better place for you and me.

          What this STGRB website is doing is gleefully forcing RL consequences onto reviewers because Someone Is Wrong On The Internet. THAT is bullying. Lots of people are wrong on the internet. Tons of people are douches. Sometimes people follow us around to BE douches. That’s a troll, not a bully, and quite frankly, the casual and careless use of the word ‘bully’ in situations like these abuses the impact of the term for the sake of garnering instant pity, and it’s downright offensive to people everywhere who experience REAL bullying at the hands truly hateful people.

          People talking smack about you on a forum or in your comments section isn’t going to harm you in any way. People posting where you’ll be a 4:30pm on a Thursday after a malicious attack on your character to an audience of butthurt people congregating for that exact purpose CAN harm you.

          Please, stop trying to make the two comparable.

        • I don’t care what their mission statement is. They’re a bunch of juvenile knuckleheads who hide behind Disney characters, and they’re engaging in far more disturbing behavior than what they’re supposedly fighting against.

          Also, As Iola pointed out, some of them even seem to be bullies themselves, as defined by their own criteria.

          That site is embarrassing.

        • Dawn, I was responding specifically to what “blog happy” said about retaliating in kind. That just makes you every bit as pathetic is as the people who do this stuff.

          But I will respond to you, because I think what these writer vigilantes are doing is worse. It escalates. It isn’t about standing up to a bully. You aren’t punching the bully in the nose. You really think that all this strum and drang actually stops the behavior? Seriously? It FEEDS the behavior. It doesn’t do a darned thing.

          Except, frankly, create a new set of bullies out of the retaliation crew. Because the fact is, most of these people being counter-attacked ARE NOT BULLIES.

          Sure there are real bullies out there – stalkers, for instance — but that is not the same thing, and the cure for them is something very different. Defining a bad review does not define the problem in any way. It’s not bullying to just write a nasty review.

          Stalking and gang behavior — real bullying — isn’t helped by forming a rival gang. It’s only helped by gathering evidence (with NO counter bad behavior to cloud the legal issue) and getting the person booted off the site.

          And if the site doesn’t consider the behavior bad… well, it’s probably because most people aren’t complaining and don’t agree with you about those reviews.

          Nobody every stopped a bully by throwing a hissy fit. You only stop a bully by not letting them distract you.

          • Camille – I agree with you nearly 100% of the time, but ignoring a bully will not make him go away.
            I’m not specifically referring to the go-get-the-GR-bullies-group. Two of my children were bullied. Had I ignored the situation it could have gotten far worse than it did.
            Yes I threw a major and very appropriate hissy fit when two 6th grade bullies deliberately broke my son’s ankle (5th grade). I made sure the police were called and demanded that the boys be suspended for the remainder of the year. The principal wanted to call it a boyish prank.
            By the way – my son is in college now, one of the boys involved is in prison, the other was shot and killed during a home robbery.
            My youngest daughter was bullied in the third grade because of her weight – even by her teacher. The taunting and the bullying were… I can’t describe how bad things got.
            When the principal refused to intervene I pulled my daughter from the school. Over the next few years, she grew tall, landed a modeling contract, graduated at the top of her class, was admitted to a very elite college and has a great future ahead of her.
            But those two of my three kids were targeted– on the other hand, my middle child would have beat the crap out of anyone who bullied her. She’s a tough kid, the other two are sweet natured.
            Adults are just as capable of targeting other adults. It’s especially easy via the internet because you can remain anonymous.
            I avoid all internet snark. It disgusts me. The thing is, a good review is boring. A nasty-a**, obscene, snarky review gets lots of reads. It’s its own reward. A self-perpetuating cycle. I can’t tell you how many review sites and book blogs I’ve stopped reading, not only because of the blogger’s attitude, but because of his or her minions or the shambling hordes of bullies. They’re like mindless zombies.
            So while I may not attend to what the bully has to say, the bully is still bullying somebody.

            • Julia: read the post by Jane George further down.

              Your example of children being bullied is very relevant here: and it’s the main reason why I think it is extremely important not to allow this hyperbole to stand.

              The kind of bullying children deal with — and yes, those of us in hostile work situations and domestic violence situations — is not at ALL comparable to what is going on on Goodreads.

              The only equivalent I see here to real bullying is that this STGRB group are trying to force their will on others — which is what real bullies do. The reviewers aren’t doing that.

    • I think the people above me have said pretty much what I wanted to say in response to your comment (which, just fyi, would be much friendlier on the eyes if you’d added punctuation and proper capitalization).

      I just thought I needed to add, especially for the benefit of people who are unfamiliar to Goodreads, that the “information” posted on the anti-GR-“bullies” page, is largely misinformed and hyperbolic.

      I have never actually read a review (specifically written by those “outed” by the anti-bullies page) where the reviewer, in your words, “only talks about how they personally hate the author for personal reasons based on events”.

      There are instances they “shelve” books based on an author’s behaviour — the most recent incident I remember being Keira Cass’s agent calling a reviewer a “bitch” for posting a very mild and actually reasonable three-star review of her book. It was the agent’s behaviour that incited people to put “The Selection” in a “will-not-read” shelf. But these reviewers the blog accuses of being “bullies”, as well as other reviews I’ve come across, do not even give a rating to such books. They may make comments on what the author/agent has done, but that is a risk you take when you become a public figure and commit to such behaviour.

  32. Heinleins rules:

    1. You must write
    2. You must finish what you write
    3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order
    4. You must put your work on the market
    5. You must keep your work on the market until it is sold.

    Nothing in there about rule 6: “6. You must make sure everyone likes your writing” (Or you will be a complete failure).

    You know, people not liking what you do is a cost of business. Nothing more, and nothing less. The better you become at writing the larger the number of people who will dislike what you do. When you start off, only your mother and teacher doesn’t like your writing (although they lie to you), by the time you become a really great writer Stephen King and entire University departments hate what you do.

  33. Here is the thing about that website, Stopthegrbullies:
    One, all it does is slander. It calls Kat Kennedy a drunken, unemployed BAD mother… Wow. That will make your point.

    The other thing about that site is that they say all this stuff, but they don’t show any actual EXAMPLES of the reviews.

    And honestly, authors, (yes I am one who has gotten actual one star reviews) if you go to goodreads expecting great reviews and professional behavior, you are in the WRONG PLACE!!! It’s a bunch of introvert readers with no social skills talking about books. LOL

    Book reviewers are hobbyists, not professionals. They don’t like being attacked over their reviews and yes that makes them defensive and just as likely to “gang” together as you say, to protect each other. They don’t get paid AND they pay for your books. Grow up. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    • Excellent comment, Kate. And just like someone further up the page said, GR isn’t a site for authors. It’s a site for readers. Let them have their safe space to discuss books. It’s not there for the purpose of promotion. You have blogs and websites for that, where you can just block people if they p*** you off. Problem solved.

    • I keep seeing the same argument on each side:

      “The site is bullying.”

      “The GR gang is bullying.”

      “If authors can’t take it, they should stop writing.”

      “If the reviewers can’t take it, they should stop reviewing.”

      THIS –> “Book reviewers are hobbyists, not professionals. They don’t like being attacked over their reviews and yes that makes them defensive and just as likely to “gang” together as you say, to protect each other. They don’t get paid AND they pay for your books. Grow up. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

      Can also be applied to the GR Bullies. Just replace “reviewers” with “writers”.

      None of it should be going on, but the real conversation should be (IMO) that the reviews and behaviors of those featured on the site are NOT the average review. I see it as bullying. Under the label of a “review”, though, they can say what they want.

      I will never understand that logic.

  34. Ok. Tag. My turn.

    Forgetting this website, which seems to be dodgy, as many have discovered, my position is this: If you talk smack on the Internet, don’t be surprised if someone comes knocking. The Internet is dangerous for a reason. Their are psychos just waiting to come over and do bad things. If these people are really talking it up and getting antsy then they need to rein it in. Nobody seems to get that this anonymous thing isn’t that anymore – people can and will find you. Hence, poo throwing monkeys who don’t read your books, but review them as trash anyway, are taking their turn at the Russian roulette wheel of doom.

    That said, faculating the badness is not cool – not even close to ok. If I go back to this site and look again from the eyes of those above, I see type 1 authors (“I’m pissed because I was hurt.”) going vigilante. That game is dangerous and then some. Then again, I also see type 2 authors (“I’m just too tough for this, man.”) and type 3 authors (“I’m tough and everyone should do as I do and believe as I do”) playing for keeps in this post. However, talk is cheap. Talk feels good, but doesn’t always change anything. Should we take action? I don’t know. I’m not that invested in this.

    I do have a strategy for viewing this review thing though:

    If you get a sucky review, deal with it however you want. Flame, accept, burn in hell, never write again, option XXX, whatever. Everyone is different. Everyone sees feedback, criticism and personal attacks differently. Check Christi up there. She’s pushing way out of the gray side, but she’s not wrong. On the other hand, neither is mr/mrs lack of punctuation or a half dozen different posters above. These are all different ways of dealing with this issue and reviews are no different. Respect others choices. That’s all you can do.

    Be yourself, take it how you want, but remember everyone is different. And that is very cool indeed.

    Peace. From the Gray Zone.

    • Can I tag 2?

      I think what the world has lost in the rise of social networking is ‘courtesy’. We seem to lose the ability to be polite and think about how we phrase things when we are staring at a bunch of pixels. It’s an oddity of human nature that when we are free of certain rules we act like savages towards one another. I think in this case, both sides have been found lacking.

      — Side Note —
      In real life we lack the same qualities; however, it is often hidden under a facade of cultural and legal rules. We all have a monster of the kind that tears babies to shreds and ruins the lives of the infirm and weak that is snapping at the cage bars trying to come out and play. That insane clown relishes the taste of pain and thrives on the hurt it causes. IT is the monster. That beast comes out when we are threatened, afraid, happy, sad, molested, drunk, harrassed and a huge variety of other positive and negative emotions. Everyone of us has let the monster out of the cage once and we remember its face very clearly. We then vow to keep it locked away and the only thing that makes it possible is courtesy (not caring, that is different. I hate certain people IRL, but I avoid them or treat them with courtesy. That holds the dark one inside where she belongs.) At the end of the day, trolls need to be rehabilitated. They need courtesy or polite avoidance from others, so they can learn to give it themselves.

      Humans are ugly beasts and gorgeous angels, all at the same time.

  35. After reading a lot of these comments, I’ve discovered that if I feel insulted by something you say/do to me online, it’s okay for me to post as much personal info about you as I can find. Photos, work address, home address, business hours, photos of kids or pets, phone number …

    Good to know. You’d better be nice. :D

  36. I’m reluctant to add to this discussion, however in a fit of bored procrastination I went and looked up one outed offender’s reviews on GR just to see what the fuss was about. This particular reviewer runs a book blog. Here’s a snippet from Kat Kennedy’s one-star review of Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare:

    “Without any doubt, in my not-so-professional opinion, this book is a little, flaccid dick waving free in the breeze of literature trying its very bestest to hardened up and bugger us all in the a**

    My advice: don’t let it.”

    I don’t see bullying here. I see deliberate cultivation of a vulgar and incendiary online personality. This is nothing that John Waters didn’t cover in his book Shock Value. It’s also not much different from the purposefully outrageous verbal stylings of the former Miss Snark or the current Chuck Wendig.

    If a book reviewer chooses to be the Howard Stern of book bloggers, that’s their choice. No one is being forced to read it. I got bored with the internet snarkfest quite a while ago, so I mostly choose not to read such writings. I got sucked in here. My bad, lol.

    This STGRB blog’s worst offense, IMO, is that it lacks both intelligence and insight. What a stupid tack to take if the end-goal is to promote online civility.

    Should GoodReads step in and investigate if an author reports harassment? I think so. I also think actual occurrences of harassment are rare. When Patrick Brown of GR came to speak at our local RWA, he was asked about what an author can do about nasty reviews, in particular down-starring that occurs before a book is even released, and he replied that GoodReads is very hands off and does not wish to police its members.

    I participate (VERY lightly) in GoodReads, mostly as a reader. Because, as a reader, I don’t wish to feel authorial presence. Social media has enabled authors to connect with readers, and it can be a wonderful thing. But readers need their space.

  37. Brava! hitting the nail on the head.

    You conclusion is the real gist of it, though:

    “Readers need their space.”

    That includes space to be an a** if you want.

    • I don’t think it’s that simple, Camille. It’s obviously not that simple or else we wouldn’t be seeing all of this drama over Goodreads. The complication comes in when you consider the fact that most authors are readers and there are a lot of them on Goodreads. That’s usually how they become authors in the first place. I just don’t think it’s as cut and dried as you think.

      • Actually it is that simple.

        Just because we are throwing around the term “writer” and “reader” doesn’t mean we don’t understand that people can be both. This isn’t just a publishing issue or an issue of warring groups.

        Readers don’t have a right to interfere with their fellow readers’ conversations either. And this is true beyond the territory of publishing.

        This is childish. We’re not in high school. We’re in the real world. We don’t get to control other people beyond what is codified in law. You don’t get to hurt the mean girls back, you get to walk away from them. (And frankly, the mean girls aren’t the ones acting like it’s in high school, it’s those who are trying to be the hall monitors of the internet.)

        The reason we are talking about writers as if they are a separate group is because writers have a particular incentive to intervene. It feels personal to the writer — “it soiled my book!” The writer also, because she is interested in what people think about her book, has a natural inclination to stick her nose in where it’s going to get bent out of shape.

        But people have a right to have their bitchy little conversations in peace. Just like writers have the right to complain about it.

        • “But people have a right to have their bitchy little conversations in peace. Just like writers have the right to complain about it.”

          I think that’s where the problem comes in. I’ve been on the discussion threads there and just sat back and watched. Their bitchy conversations are anything but peaceful. They even fight amongst themselves, the readers, I mean.

          • It’s fine to disagree – I’m okay with not convincing you.

            But I must explain that when I said “in peace” I meant without outside interference. The problem here is not that people disagree, or fight or flame. The problem comes in trying to put a stop to it — trying to enforce a code of conduct. (I’m saying “you” here in the larger metaphorical sense – meaning all of us.)

            If it’s your site — that is, you own it — you get to decide what legal activities can go on there. You don’t get to decide for Goodreads what sort of behavior they consider acceptable. If they choose to let things go on that bother you, you’re free to leave.

            At the same time, you’ve got a right to criticize people all you want. As long as you stay within the rules of the site owner, and stay within the law.

            • I agree with Sarah. They don’t stay within the rules of the site owner and GR does nothing about it. These girls don’t just have bitchy conversations. They create an environment that is downright hostile and toxic.

        • Sorry, I still don’t agree with you but that’s okay.

          • Camille – re Jane’s post. I agree and disagree all at the same time. If readers can be bitchy, authors can be bitchy. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander and both groups will have to accept the consequences. I can’t see any positive coming from either side engaging in these cat fights.
            If GR was a space ONLY for readers I’d feel differently, but GR encourages authors to participate and be involved as well.

            I also agree with Dawn – the discussions often degenerate into pure poison – all of which I personally avoid like the plague. I do not engage, ever, and in fact, barely use the site.
            I have noticed the following – Amazon will remove troll comments, racist comments, sexist comments, comments filled with slurs and profanity, comments insulting someone’s religion or sexual orientation. It seems as if GR lets them ride. Thus the site is not, well, let me put it this way… I feel welcome to express my opinion on this site, The Passive Voice. If I disagree with someone I don’t worry he or she will saddle up and come after me with a posse, hell bent on vengeance. I don’t feel safe participating at GR.

  38. Sarah

    I have to say sorry also because I do agree with Dawn.

    But that’s fine and as we Canadians always say: ‘we can agree to disagree and still be friends, now pass the beer eh.’ (its the Canadian way doncha know!)

    I have found Goodreads staff support nonexistent if you are a writer bringing an issue that clearly violates their own terms of usage (via a few writer friends who are on the site–one is a Romance writer). At least Amazon looks into violations and is known to do stuff about it. For example if you attack an author for say his race (as Ive seen done) and not the book Amazon will delete the comment. Goodreads staff aren’t known for deleting anything. Now some have told me they have done so in the past and thats great but I won’t be joining Goodreads myself.

    • Cicero, you are right about that! They won’t listen at all if you’re a writer. That is why I never joined.

      Also, I think maybe you misunderstood Sarah. She was agreeing with me and disagreeing with Camille.

  39. oops I think I meant I agree with Dawn and Sarah and not Camille —excuse me I need my afternoon coffee!

    On any account I love that the people on PG are always talking and even disagreeing in a pretty decent way. You all state your position in clear and articulate fashion, focusing on the topics –it’s a very refreshing change from some other boards/forums I won’t mention here.

  40. If Goodreads says:

    “You agree not to post User Content that: (i) may create a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, ***emotional distress***, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to you, to any other person, or to any animal; …..contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, ***abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing***, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, ***harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable***…”

    Then comments of that nature are not defensible on the site, whether they are from readers or writers. These comments are not acceptable per Goodreads policy.

    Goodreads should not allow them. They make it quite clear this is their policy. If they are not policing their posters, there is potential libility here, a good lawyer could argue a case, and Goodreads is being really dumb.

    It is also possible that the posters themselves, if they ignore the policy of Goodreads, are also personally liable and could potentially be sued in a civil suit for harrassment.

    it’s a matter of time before internet bullying gets to the courts. This is very dangerous for posters who could be labeled as harrassing because there is written evidence of the harrassment.

    If I were reviewing someone else’s work, I would be very, very careful. I would not want to be the test case for internet bullying.

    • I can’t stress this enough, so I’m going to repeat it:

      “This is very dangerous for posters who could be labeled as harrassing because there is written evidence of the harrassment”.

      Documented evidence of multiple harrassing posts could be very damaging in court.

      I would be careful.

    • Being a glutton for punishment, but also believing in not taking anyone’s word for anything, I checked out ALL the posts on the STGRB site. (There appear to be only 4 GR people that concern them: Kat, Ridley, Shannon and Lucy.) The majority of posts they cite as evidence of harassment and bullying are in fact twitter posts so I fail to see how GR could use its policy to stop what’s said on Twitter or on anyone’s personal site. Very little of the offending material they cited occurred on GR itself. Most of what concerns them occurred off-site.

      I checked out most of the “offending reviews” and frankly don’t see what the fuss is about. Yes, a few reviewers did not like the book; yes they gave the books a bad review; yes they were often vehement in their dislike and put the books on humorously named shelves. So what. In one case cited by SRGRB the book in question had a rating average of 4.2 with 20,000+ ratings. What in the world is this author upset about?

      There is a group of GR reviewers who very much dislike authors coming on GR to shill their books and unfortunately there are many who do (I’m not one who dislikes this practice, but nevertheless it does irritate those who do and is more likely to make them hostile.)

      One example of an attack cited by STGRB is that on James Austen but when you click on their link his GR author’s page, supposedly under vicious attack shows no such thing. If they meant his personal web page and Twitter account, again, nothing GR could do anyway. The link they supply is to his GR author’s page and it’s completely ignored. (“A bully named Ridley began harassing James on Goodreads, leaving nasty comments on his author page and on his Twitter account, accusing him of insanity and calling him a “headcase.”) Then they use as “evidence” comments Shannon made to Ridley on her personal profile page – hardly evidence of anything and mostly they discuss something that occurred off GR.) The evidence against Kat is equally specious. The GR posts cited are conversations between GR friends and not anything posted to an author’s review or presence on GR.

      Thanks to new technologies, it has become very easy for anyone to publish a book. Many of these authors are really good and wonderful finds. Others, not so, but, I fear, have deluded themselves, thanks to the kind comments of neighbors and relatives, into thinking they might be the new JK Rowland. Then when they get some criticism they fall to pieces and feel they must strike back. (Note that the Harry Potter series has its share of really negative reviews – tastes vary.)

      I suggest you follow the trail STGRB supplies and make up your own mind, but for my money, most of what they object to doesn’t even occur on GR and some of what does is from private conversations (albeit publicly displayed) between GR friends that they really must have had to look very hard to find. In my opinion, the STGRB reaction is vastly out of proportion, self-centered, and their own evidence unpersuasive.

      • Thanks, Dawn. I like what you’ve said here too. :)

        Eric,

        first, I should state I am not a lawyer, so this is just my understanding of the law and I could be wrong.

        But I believe that if someone brought suit against someone else for cyber-bullying, it’s not going to matter where that cyber-bullying took place.

        In fact, moving out from Goodreads to Twitter could be considered stalking behavior and further the accusation of harrassment.

        A side point, this is also true if people are posting under multiple names. IP addresses are trackable, regardless of the name people use.

        And if people are bullying multiple targets, those targets could get together and file action together.

        In addition, any case against a cyber-bully will not come down to a “he said-she said” kind of a thing. It’s all documented.

        In writing.

        This is why I think cyber-bullies are being very foolish, in terms of their own self-protection. They are setting themselves up for a possible disaster down the road. What is on the internet does not disappear.

        Lastly, in terms of Goodreads, I also want to point out that if an author’s work is posted to Goodreads without their permission, the author has not agreed to the “post at your own risk” provision set out by Goodreads.

        • This is actually a question for PG – My books have been posted on Goodreads by readers. I have never posted a book for review nor have I asked surrogates to post my books. So therefore have I somehow agreed to post at my own risk?

          • The question is probably whether the posting of your books is fair use under copyright law or not, Julia. A book reviewer can write about your book and a newspaper can publish the review without your knowledge or consent, for example.

        • My post addressed two issues from your earlier post: 1) GR responsibility; and 2) STGRB characterization of “cyber-bullying.

          My point, in summary was 1) that GR cannot be responsible for policing what occurs off their site, i.e. on twitter or an author’s personal page; and 2) that STGRB does not make a persuasive case for the existence of “cyber-bullying.” Note that that definition is self-defined and legally we don’t permit self-definition of criminal behavior.

          From a legal standpoint, given Supreme Court decisions with regard to hate speech where the “hater” in fact confronts the “victim” in person (Terminiello v. Chicago (1949), Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), National Socialist Party v. Skokie (1977, R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul and most recently Snyder v. Phelps (2011), among many others) I doubt the flimsy case you propose would go anywhere.

          Julia: It’s my understanding that only rarely does a GR librarian (and only someone with librarian privileges can do that) post a book to Goodreads. The all come from public databases.

          • Eric, when you say public databases, do you mean Amazon?

            • The books on Goodreads are in fact not drawn from Amazon at all, after a data licensing kerfuffle. They come from the Library of Congress and other sources. Individual users can also add books they own, because it is at its heart a book management site. The comments about posting at your own risk refer to posting personal content such as blogs and reviews, not public content such as published novels. Books are a product and can be freely discussed; they are considered separately entities from the authors who write them (although clearly not by the writers sometimes).

          • I meant to include these two references. The first is a list of state cyberbullying statutes and the second a really good article on the need for cyber-bullying laws. Note these laws have very specific definitions. For example, Illinois states: A person commits cyberstalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful justification, on at least 2 separate occasions, harasses another person through the use of electronic communication and:
            (1) at any time transmits a threat of immediate or

            future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint and the threat is directed towards that person or a family member of that person; or
            (2) places that person or a family member of that

            person in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint; or
            (3) at any time knowingly solicits the commission of

            an act by any person which would be a violation of this Code directed towards that person or a family member of that person.”

            I don’t believe the problems cited meet these standards.

            http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/telecom/cyberstalking-and-cyberharassment-laws.aspx

            http://www.vanderbiltlawreview.org/articles/2010/05/King-Constitutionality-of-Cyberbullying-Laws-63-Vand.-L.-Rev.-845-2010.pdf

            • The ‘bodily harm’ point there seems key. Hurt feelings derived from audience disapproval don’t seem to apply.

          • Eric, incidents of hate speech and harrassment/stalking/bullying are different things. The law upholds the rights of people who are harrassed and stalked.

            As for State cyber-bullying laws, this is very early in the game. First, this may not be a State issue. Right now, harrassment is goverened by State Law in the U.S., but since people may not even live in the same Country, or the same State, it will be interesting where jurisdiction will fall.

            In terms of how States define harrassment, some include annoying and alarming people.

            The legal definitions of bullying are much broader.

            My point is that cyber-bullying is just now being taken up in the courts. We don’t know what the end result will be and what legal sanctions will eventually occur.

            Regardless, I was talking about a CIVIL suit, not a criminal one. Which brings up an additional point, even if it isn’t against the law, don’t assume someone won’t sue you for it. Think about whether you have the resources to deal with a lawsuit that someone brings because they found a lawyer interested in making you a test case, or a lawyer who will file for anyone who gives them a flat fee.

            Do you have the money to hire a lawyer to defend yourself?

            My point: Don’t be dumb. Do not leave a trail all over the internet where you are harrassing, intimidating, annoying, stalking and targeting people. Do not leave a trail of these actions that will never disappear.

            And don’t assume that because you may be able to argue with me on this thread, that what I am saying isn’t something you should be concerned about. Talking to me on this thread, and arguing with a lawyer in court are very different things. Again, do you have enough money for a lawyer? Is a lawsuit, valid or not, something you want to deal with?

            If you don’t, be aware that if you engage in anything that could be defined as harrassment or bullying, you are taking a definite risk.

            • This is absolutely ridiculous.

              Yes, frivolous lawsuits can be filed– about almost anything, including an attempt to defend your own copyright (to reference a case making its way around the internet right now).

              Allowing fear of a ludicrous event to govern one’s actions is, well, silly. But it does seem, Mira, like you should be taking your own advice if you consider the possibility of being sued for a negative opinion so very dangerous. Threatening dire consequences for exercising non-intrusive protected freedoms seems an awful lot like the definition of ‘bullying’ most of this thread seems to prefer.

      • Eric– thank you for writing up what any disinterested moderate observer of these reviewers can see.

        There is a serious misapprehension of the concept of bullying here and on that hate site. Being mean isn’t bullying; bullying requires power and stalking behavior as well as unkind remarks. These reviewers are mean, that’s it. And they limit their meanness to people they believe are unqualified for their jobs based on either their writing skill or their public relations skills. And when an author proves them wrong, they are delighted to be proven wrong. I have watched this happen.

        They treat authors like product manufacturers instead of people, which is, honestly, eminently reasonable as long as it stays within the bounds it usually does– book discussions and personal conversations with their friends, unless the manufacturer stalks and bullies them or invites personal discussion.

        The real problem seems to be that the people who consider this bullying want everybody to be polite and kind– but a society without at least a few people who serve as brutal critics stagnates and decays under the weight of its lies.

  41. I see the primary value in STGRB tempest as one word:

    Schadenfreude.

    And yes, this is the most intelligent, respectful and level-headed community on the internet – bar none.

    • Have to agree with that last line.

      I (pretty much :) ) stayed out of this because I figured it would go ballistic inside fifty posts, I was wrong.

      Good on the lot of you.

  42. Anon and no I'm not Vanity

    I’m posting this as anonymous for the simple reason that I am a coward. And I am horrified. And frankly, intimidated. And I don’t like feeling that way.

    So, the reviewers claim the right to write any sort of review they want. Fair enough. I completely agree. However, in this thread on GR abut Ms. White book, would someone please be so kind as to point out the ‘review’ part, and explain to me how it is beneficial to me as a reader? http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/367787528

    All I can see is that she was stalked outside of GR and pilloried for having an opinion. Not for anything she said in response to a review, not for anything she said on GR at all, but for daring to have a personal opinion outside of GR. How is that not bullying? The goal of the bully is to silence the percieved opposition. To “win” by brow beating others into submission. It’s easy enough to simply say “stay away from Goodreads”. Clearly, that is not enough. Authors are expected to be silent in all the world or suffer the consequences. And the real losers are the readers looking for legitimate information on whether or not they might enjoy a book (frankly, I don’t give a rat’s patoot about the author or their opinions–I’m simply looking for what that site purports to offer – a good read.)

    • You misunderstand the concept of stalking.

      Also, I regularly get mail on a list I’ve joined that informs me of misehavior of certain large corporations. I and the list maintainer do not get services or products from these corporations. Certainly you would not argue that this kind of information sharing is inappropriate and wrong, would you?

      Posting information about a vendor’s misbehavior is not bullying or an attempt to silence. It IS an attempt to use market power to encourage behavior the buying public thinks is more appropriate. Consumers do this all the time. This is not different.

    • Actually, I have to throw in one more thing. The ‘goal of the bully is to silence perceived opposition’?

      Let’s consider that. First of all, that’s not true. Bullies pick on people who provide no opposition. For decades ‘bullying’ has meant the strong preying on the weak and defenseless for no reason beyond enjoyment. This is still true.

      The weak (or at best the equal) criticizing the position and opinions of a public figure in a public venue using no more than words and citing sources for their criticism isn’t bullying. At worst, it’s politics.

      Second of all, even if bullying is ‘trying to silence the opposition’ the only people who have done that are authors (who are facing opposition in the form of public criticism) and that hate site. The reviewers are not saying ‘you must not say such drivel'; they’re saying ‘you say such drivel in public that I will not buy your product’. The difference is key.

  43. There’s a subtext in all of this aggression against nasty reviewers and I wonder if people are aware of it.

    Since bullying is picking on the weak and defenseless, it is implied that writers are weak and defenseless. Since the bullying in question is limited to book reviews and critiques on an author’s behavior as an author– it is limited to words about other words– I am left believing that in the realm of crafting words, the reviewer is more skilled.

    Basically, every complaint of being bullied by a reviewer from an author comes off sounding like ‘I do not know how to use words very well. That reviewer is better at my job than I am. Wah.’

    Food for thought, perhaps.

  44. Chrysoula:

    You said: “But it does seem, Mira, like you should be taking your own advice if you consider the possibility of being sued for a negative opinion so very dangerous”

    I didn’t say people could sue for a negative opinion, although I suppose they could. My concern is they could be sued for perrceived harrassment, stalking and bullying.

    But if you’re not harrassing, stalking or otherwise targeting other authors, and it’s clear from your posts that you don’t believe either you or other people are doing that, then you are right. My points would not apply and are ‘silly’.

  45. KT Babs, we aren’t talking about reviews. We are talking about the hostile environment your friends have created on the Goodreads discussion boards where people, readers and authors, don’t feel safe to comment or disagree without being followed to their own personal blogs and harassed.

  46. Please don’t bring that environment over here. The Passive Voice is for courteous and respectful discussion.

  47. Except the reviewers being profiled pretty much keep to reviews on Goodreads or on their review blogs, and do not ever engage authors unless authors engage them first.

  48. Hmmm. Don’t feel safe? Sounds a bit hyperbolic since the solution is very simple. Don’t frequent GR. As far as being followed to your own blog and being harassed, that’s very easy to control, you can moderate all comments on most of the blogging software I’m familiar with. Yes, there are some very impolite people out there, however in my experience on GR where I have posted over 1200 reviews (feel free to look me up eric_w Welch), and have several hundred friends, all of them have been interesting and friendly. I do screen friends, easy to do. As far as what KT said, that’s certainly very mild if vehement. Hardly unsafe.

    Anyone is welcome to say whatever they want about my reviews which I write for my fellow readers – not for authors. That being said I don’t review books I don’t like, but I can certainly understand ratings without reviews. After seeing 50 reviews there is very little to add but a rating provides a reflection of the reader’s feelings about the book. No harm in that. If I don’t like what someone has written, it’s very easy to ignore them.

    I refereed soccer for many years and we referees had a very useful mantra for avoiding conflict: “Never get into a pissing match with a skunk.” Works every time.

  49. No disrespect Dawn, but I’ve been reviewing for years and I’ve seen many times where reviewers have been ganged up on by authors and their rabid fan minions. Where’s the safe atmosphere in that? I’ve thought twice myself about posting a review because I just didn’t want the hassle of being dumped on.

    There are snarky, mean spirited reviewers for sure, but a lot of authors aren’t angels either and I’ve seen “bullying” tactics from them as well.

    This isn’t a one sided story where one group is always the alleged victim.

  50. That’s not what I’ve seen.

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