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Old 09-22-2013, 11:18 AM   #61
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I barely know of the Goodreads website and that it allows users to comment about books. Prior to this notice I haven't visited the site.

But I have to say that regardless of how poorly users (reviewers and authors) were acting, the website did engage in what amounts to censorship by destroying comments without explicit notice of changes to their ToS and their enforcement of it.

Previously flagged content deemed to be questionable and/or offensive was (apparently) seldomly removed. So to start enforcing the ToS and removing this material without prior notice was disruptive to the users. Goodreads should have updated their ToS, announced the change - including mentioning previously flagged material was on the chopping block if not edited to comply with guidelines - and provided a deadline for when the rigorous enforcement of the ToS would begin.

That would have been fair.

If the user owns the copyright on the material and someone else comes by and destroys it, that isn't right. And while the user should have had a copy elsewhere we've all suffered catastrophic failures without back-ups.

Thus my statement that Goodreads has been censorious.

Yes it is Goodreads' website and yes, ultimately, things will be done Goodreads' way. Goodreads could have, and as a social media service it should have known that, anything but a graceful change was going to generate hostility, disruption and deserters.
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:38 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by Sil_liS View Post


Depends on your point of view. If authors feel insulted when their book is criticized...
Criticising books is fine, pitchforking writers (or anyone else) isn't. If someone doesn't like a writer's book, just review that and move on. There's no reason to seek out everything else they have written to leave more reviews, or compile hate pages about them.

A lot of them seem to be about the writer's own character rather than the books they wrote. That's even more useless from a reader's perspective.
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Old 09-22-2013, 02:15 PM   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meeera View Post
A particular set of authors has already doxxed at least one reviewer and published information on where she and her family hung out IRL and could be found.

That's the sort of behaviour some reviewers are sharing, in the hope that future potential readers might avoid interacting with or posting a negative review on books with authors who behave that way.
That's an awful thing and I do hope that Goodread's new policy enforcement encompasses the harassment by authors of reviewers, especially if that behavior is as common as you say.

In the conventional publishing world (where the soon-to-be famous are often selected from MFA programs at prestigious universities before they've even written a novel), the machinery of fame is set up to be unforgiving and most new authors learn quickly enough not to reply to reviewers at all lest they find themselves shut out of publications and even offices that would have welcomed them before. Publishing responses in which one picks apart a bad newspaper review can be an easy way to find oneself locked out of that paper in the future and branded as difficult by anyone who's aware of that activity.

More established writers might decide to respond occasionally, but their careers are already in place and, most of the time, they know it's better to let posterity answer perishable reviews.

Unfortunately, that lesson of enforced self-restraint isn't taught immediately and emphatically in the world of internet self-publishing. Still, wise writers learn to understand it early on.

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Originally Posted by meeera View Post
None of this is in any way comparable to a lynch mob. There's really no need to co-opt a violent racist past (or mostly-past) in order to talk about this sort of non-racist behaviour.
The idea of a lynch mob has a long history that includes but is in no way limited to acts of homicidal racism. It seems a tad literal to insist that a term which is often used metaphorically is always reducible to one sense of the literal meaning. It reminds me of this bit from Wodehouse:

Quote:
A: "Well, you know what they say: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."

B: "No, it isn't. It's usually the same color."
Consider standard definitions of the term lynch mob, which can encompass figurative and general use. The term has a long history of usage which doesn't equate "lynch-mob behavior" with racism at all, let alone putting anyone to death.

The Cambridge Dictionary:

Quote:
Lynch mob: a group of people who want to attack someone who they think has committed a serious crime.
Here are a few examples of the term lynch mob as used by journalists to describe something other than physical violence or murder by hanging -- but please don't think the political POV of any of these examples is pertinent to the discussion; I'm only using them as examples of common usage:

"Zimmerman coverage had lynch-mob feel"

"Journalism and the Lynch-Mob Mentality"

All of which means that (i) while your argument is well served when you differentiate between the behavior you feel is being targeted by Goodreads and that of a metaphorical lynch mob (as commonly referred to in journalism), (ii) your cause is not served by the suggestion that people who disagree with you are making specific comparisons between your internet behavior and the real-life crimes of homicidal racists.

Similarly, if I use the phrase "found guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt" to describe a jury's decision, it doesn't actually mean there were no shadows in the courtroom when the verdict was being read.

Someone else cited the image of a mob of villagers with torches (perhaps going after Dr. Frankenstein). That's precisely the metaphorical scenario which journalists most often intend to imply.

My point was this:

Personal grudges are no reason to threaten someone else's livelihood en masse through insulting threads, comments and reviews any more than it is right for an author to harass a reviewer by posting personal and private information about their lives.

Goodreads has every reason not to tolerate either kind of behavior. If an author can be shown by the evidence to have harassed someone in the manner you've suggested, then the author should be banned from the site and members should insist on this. But it should be clear at this point that Goodreads isn't the place to warn others about "authors behaving badly" even if it seemed to be such a place in the past. It's sounds as though the site is in the process of being the book review and reader's site it was intended to be originally and nothing more community-political than that.

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 09-22-2013 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 09-22-2013, 03:31 PM   #64
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I'm puzzled by the expression 'author behaviour' - do they mean author's spamming groups? In which case, full power to GR.
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Old 09-22-2013, 04:24 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
Criticising books is fine, pitchforking writers (or anyone else) isn't. If someone doesn't like a writer's book, just review that and move on. There's no reason to seek out everything else they have written to leave more reviews, or compile hate pages about them.

A lot of them seem to be about the writer's own character rather than the books they wrote. That's even more useless from a reader's perspective.
You are missing a step here. After a bad review some authors went out of their way to seek out the reviewers in real life and because of that the reviewers decided to warn others about them on GR.

The measures taken by GR don't do anything to authors that decide to go after people who left negative book reviews but stop the reviewers from warning others about them.
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Old 09-22-2013, 05:26 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Sil_liS View Post
The measures taken by GR don't do anything to authors that decide to go after people who left negative book reviews but stop the reviewers from warning others about them.
That's just wrong. Members have always had the option to report any other member (which includes an author) who is being personally abusive toward them. That hasn't changed. And simply commenting on a negative review (or any review for that matter) by its creator--while definitely ill-advised--does not automatically qualify as bad behavior, as many people seem to believe.

There never was any inherent right to post reviews without fear of any sort of comment by its creator. Nor was there any inherent right (or indeed a need in my eyes) for members to form their own inhouse, watchdog-service charged with issuing a million, one-person, snap-judgments on what qualifies as "author behaving badly" for the purpose of "warning" all other users (through the use of ridiculously unwieldy, overly-accusatory, and largely irrelevant shelf titles).

Use the built-in private messaging feature if you think your friends need warned about someone ... or report abusive behavior to someone who has been charged with the authority to do something about it.
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:25 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
That's just wrong. Members have always had the option to report any other member (which includes an author) who is being personally abusive toward them. That hasn't changed. And simply commenting on a negative review (or any review for that matter) by its creator--while definitely ill-advised--does not automatically qualify as bad behavior, as many people seem to believe.

There never was any inherent right to post reviews without fear of any sort of comment by its creator. Nor was there any inherent right (or indeed a need in my eyes) for members to form their own inhouse, watchdog-service charged with issuing a million, one-person, snap-judgments on what qualifies as "author behaving badly" for the purpose of "warning" all other users (through the use of ridiculously unwieldy, overly-accusatory, and largely irrelevant shelf titles).

Use the built-in private messaging feature if you think your friends need warned about someone ... or report abusive behavior to someone who has been charged with the authority to do something about it.
This isn't about simply commenting on a negative review. And reporting an author has what consequences exactly?
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Old 09-22-2013, 07:10 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sil_liS View Post
And reporting an author has what consequences exactly?
I've never felt the need to report an author before. So you'd probably be better off asking someone who has. My point was that you seemed to be painting a picture where GoodReads authors are free to behave in any way they want with absolutely no repercussions ... and that a user's only means of protecting themselves from angry authors (or authors who espouse views they deem reprehensible) is to create shelf-titles that have nothing to do with the books they contain or to use book reviews to review people.

I don't find that to be an accurate picture at all.

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Old 09-22-2013, 10:15 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
I've never felt the need to report an author before. So you'd probably be better off asking someone who has. My point was that you seemed to be painting a picture where GoodReads authors are free to behave in any way they want with absolutely no repercussions ... and that a user's only means of protecting themselves from angry authors (or authors who espouse views they deem reprehensible) is to create shelf-titles that have nothing to do with the books they contain or to use book reviews to review people.

I don't find that to be an accurate picture at all.
Then why did you bring up reporting as an argument?
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Old 09-22-2013, 10:39 PM   #70
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I'm somewhat confused by the Review Guidelines which are linked to in the announcement of the change in policy.
Quote:
We promise to always store your reviews on your profile and in your bookshelves and will never delete or modify them – except for certain extreme situations, which are described below. Your thoughts and your words are yours, and we promise you we will always respect that.
[...]
Goodreads reserves the right to remove a review at any time for any reason. It is at our sole discretion and no one else's, that we decide when a review is against our guidelines.
About reviews that are predominantly about an author’s behavior:
  • The guidelines:
    Quote:
    Reviews of the author. Mentioning the author in the context of a review is always acceptable, but reviews that are predominantly about an author’s behavior and not about the book may receive a lower priority.
  • The announcement:
    Quote:
    Delete content focused on author behavior. We have had a policy of removing reviews that were created primarily to talk about author behavior from the community book page. Once removed, these reviews would remain on the member’s profile. Starting today, we will now delete these entirely from the site. We will also delete shelves and lists of books on Goodreads that are focused on author behavior.
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Old 09-23-2013, 12:41 AM   #71
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I support the changes. The site should be about reviewing books not the writers. One can always search out the internet elsewhere or whatever if they feel the need to background writers.c

Also the title of this thread should be changed. This is not censorship. The purpose of the site remains unchanged. Reviewing books. These latest guidelines are more akin to pruning.

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Old 09-23-2013, 04:29 AM   #72
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Originally Posted by Sil_liS View Post
It looks the same to you because you are only looking at "fans" and "anti-fans" which operate under the same rules. But you are ignoring the authors themselves in this.
I'm sure it's not too difficult for you to insert authors into the "fans" or "anti-fans" side of the equation if you really think about it. I'm just not choosing to give them a privileged position in the particular argument that was being made at the time.
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Old 09-23-2013, 04:46 AM   #73
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What I haven't seen is any discussion on the fact that there has been NO change in the TOS for GR members to agree to, only an announcement. And that immediately after that announcement Reviews and Shelves were deleted with no warning, no time to comply with the new guidelines, nothing.
You must have missed the comments that stated concerns with exactly that. For example, I mentioned:

Quote:
I don't actually agree 100% with the Goodreads action and I think it is a bit much to make a pretty drastic change in policy like this that has such an immediate impact on users' personal cataloguing (a primary purpose of the site - at least for me).
I find it quite amazing after holding a fairly obvious policy that shelves are there for the user to catalogue as he/she chooses, that this should be changed and acted upon with no real notice period. It doesn't impact me personally because I never catalogue based on my perception of an author, but I can imagine how ticked off I'd be if my shelves were wiped out by a policy change I had no chance to prepare for.

I do have some sympathy for what I think Goodreads might be trying to achieve, but very little for how they have done it.
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Old 09-23-2013, 05:22 AM   #74
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I find it quite amazing after holding a fairly obvious policy that shelves are there for the user to catalogue as he/she chooses, that this should be changed and acted upon with no real notice period. It doesn't impact me personally because I never catalogue based on my perception of an author, but I can imagine how ticked off I'd be if my shelves were wiped out by a policy change I had no chance to prepare for.
Buried in a GR discussion group was the kicker: that apparently books placed on shelves that have since been deleted? Get moved into that reader's "Read" shelf.
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Old 09-23-2013, 05:24 AM   #75
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I'm sure it's not too difficult for you to insert authors into the "fans" or "anti-fans" side of the equation if you really think about it. I'm just not choosing to give them a privileged position in the particular argument that was being made at the time.
Since authors have different rules you can't just 'insert authors into the "fans" or "anti-fans" side of the equation'.
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