Over the past couple of days it has become apparent that the folks running GoodReads are hiding some book reviews. While this initially sounds really really bad, it seems to be an effort to help their members “play nice”. It’s the classic story of a few bad apples ruining it for everyone else. I’m not going to link specifically to all the posts, forums, blogs, etc. that spawned all of this, as I don’t want to join the flame wars, but I do think it’s important that we all know what and how GoodReads is changing.
The impetus for the changes in policy has to do with GoodReads allowing both authors and readers to be active on the site. Authors get blogs. Readers don’t. Readers can leave reviews. Author’s can’t (but they can have secondary “personal” accounts to do reviews with, but that’s another issue). So what’s been happening with a few passionate (and not so mature) authors is:
1. A reader pans a book on GoodReads, gives it a one star rating and maybe adds it to their “Readers to Avoid” shelf.
2. The author stumbles upon this and blogs about the negative review on their GoodReads blog, often making observations of the reviewer’s “lack of a brain”.
3. The author’s fans see this post and flock to the reviewer’s profile spewing forth bad stuff.
4. The reviewer’s friends start reviewing the author and the author’s fans’ activities (rather than reviewing the books), and things escalate.
5. The reviewer and a couple of friends get fed up and quit using GoodReads.
So what GoodReads has started doing is letting users know that their review has been hidden, if it doesn’t meet GoodReads criteria of a book review. So now, if you bash an author for their stance on importing bananas from Brazil, your review will show on your profile page and in your shelves, but not on the curated community book page, because your ‘review’ had nothing to do with the book. Also, your GoodReads friends will be able to see it, but that’s it.
This seems to ‘kind of’ fix the problem as it removes the match strike that sets these immature authors and fans off. But there is really nothing to stop these bad apples from harassing readers. I am not sure if more changes are on the way or not. We’ll have to see how all of this evolves.
I dabble on GoodReads (if you want to say ‘hi’ please do, it’s always fun chatting with other readers). But I check in on LibraryThing every day, so come join the fun over there if you haven’t already.