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Monday, September 23, 2013

Changes to Goodreads Policies

The last year has featured quite a few dustups on Goodreads, whereby reviewers tussled with authors over reviews. Some of these incidents involved authors who were overly sensitive, and some of them involve reviewers who were downright vindictive. As with every other corner of the human experience, misbehavior has been varied and creative.

As a result, some authors and Goodreads users signed a petition, hoping to get Goodreads to police its review space. And Goodreads listened. You can read Goodreads announcement here.

In short, Goodreads has said they'll police (delete) reviews which are not about the book. If a so-called review is a critique of the author's words or actions, the review will be deleted. (Example: *one star* "Don't buy this author's books, because she argued with my review.")

Likewise, "bookshelves" (really tags) devoted to author behavior will be deleted. (Example: authors-who-criticize-reviewers will no longer be allowed as a bookshelf.)

Some authors have received this news with great joy, and some Goodreads users are feeling cranky. Evidence: there are currently 1,991 comments beneath Goodreads' new statement. Some of the comments read like this:
"Will probably be deleting my Goodreads account now if I cannot use my shelves the way I wish. And to think that I have contributed almost 700 reviews to the site. They will be going with me. This is censorship, and it is wrong."
And some is more supportive:
"To be fair, they are cracking down on authors behavior too... did anyone read the new author guidelines? ANY author responses to negative reviews will bring their account under review and even excessive responses to positive reviews will be deemed "spam" and put under review too. Seems like they are just trying to enforce a truce on both ends and frankly, both sides have behaved appallingly at times. (No doubt, I'll get attacked for saying that now)."
Authors, when in doubt, review the published author guidelines. However you feel about the changes, it really isn't so hard to stay on the right side of the law.

Sarah Pinneo
is a novelist, food writer and book publicity specialist. Her most recent book is Julia’s Child. Follow her on twitter at @SarahPinneo.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing this. It seems like the policy definitely needed to be changed given the bad behavior of both reviewers and bloggers.

Sarah P said...

True. There was some bad author behavior, too, though!

Unknown said...

"This is censorship . . ." Haha! Censorship on a website by the website owners, with no government telling them to do so, deleting only content which is detracting from their goal . . . if that's censorship I'm a penguin.

Rosie said...

This is a tough one. Goodreads is essentially a readers's site, not an authors' site. But authors who find themselves the target of "reviews" which are simply an excuse for someone to get personal have much more to lose--such as possible income and a good name--than a reader who's upset about a deleted bookshelf.

Sarah P said...

Laura--great point. Whatever we contribute to GR is never really ours. When we forget that, we pay the price.

Excellent point, Rosie. The stakes are not even.