September 23, 2013

Goodreads Review Policy Takes a Turn for the Worse


It has been brought to my attention by this post on Guinevere and Libertad Tomas' blog that Goodreads has just changed its review policy. You can read the full announcement here. But the most controversial point is the one I'm going to quote below:

**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. If you have questions about why a review was removed, send an email to (And to answer the obvious question: of course, it’s appropriate to talk about an author within the context of a review as it relates to the book. If it’s an autobiography, then clearly you might end up talking about their lives. And often it’s relevant to understand an author’s background and how it influenced the story or the setting.)

And they go on like this:

Someone used the word censorship to describe this. This is not censorship - this is setting an appropriate tone for a community site. We encourage members to review and shelve books in a way that makes sense for them, but reviews and shelves that focus primarily on author behavior do not belong on Goodreads.  

Now, this is some statement o_O.

Like I commented on G & L's post, I wasn't aware of the new policy, because - of course! - it's not like the folks at GR made any kind of public announcement about it. So thank you girls for posting about it! Now, personally, I don't have any shelf that can be deemed questionable, just because I'm not interested in making a list of book/authors I don't like, whatever the reason. I only use GR for shelving the books I've read or plan to read or think I might read. And - again, as I stated in my comment to G & L's post - I do agree that some people can be nasty just for the sake of it. But shelves like author-behaving-badly can be of invaluable help for the readers, because some of those authors are essentially treating their reviewers like trash, and now it will be more difficult to know who they are (though, of course, the blogging community won't let their crimes go unpunished). I understand that it's easy to label someone the way we think fit, even if she/he didn't really deserve that. But I'm too much of a free spirit to validate what is - essentially - censorship. Personally, if I read about a controversy between an author and her/his reviewers, I go and read every instance of it I can find (links are always provided) in order to form my own opinion about the matter. Sometimes the author has been too hastily called a name when it wasn't really the case. But most of the times, I think, this person deserved what came to her/him. I recently did erase an author from my TR list because of one of these controversies myself. And I seem to remember I found the original reference on GR - though I'm not positively sure.
Remember five months ago, when we all were speculating about the changes GR would have gone through after Amazon had taken it over? Well, I suppose this is the first massive one. And I don't like it at all, it goes without saying. Even if it doesn't affect me on a personal level. They can call it what they want - this is CENSORSHIP. Also, people have logged in to GR only to find that part of their shelves had vanished without a warning. They didn't even have the time of exporting their book lists.
Now, I suppose it only takes an angry author to have our reviews removed. Because don't be fooled - GR will always favour authors over readers from now on. Of course, there are other communities, like BookLikes (thanks to Guinevere & Libertad for the link) or Shelfari (but then again, the latter is another Amazon product, so I suppose it's not the best idea LOL). Maybe we should all seriously consider other options, though I personally dread the change, after all the time and hard work I have put into my GR account over the course of a whole year. (Though you can import your GR books and reviews on BL, it seems!). And who knows, those sites might be bought and distorted too, one day. But life is a perpetual change, isn't it?

So what do you think? Is any of you planning on leaving Goodreads anytime soon?



  1. We ourselves don't personally make shelves to attack authors. As far as reviews, since writing is an extension of one's self, perhaps it's why I mention authors in my reviews. I suppose I will just word it to "book did not move me" vs "the author did not move me" writing style wise.

    But it seems a bit extreme. I don't think people who troll or are author bashing make up the majority. So it does not seem far to make all pay for the mistakes of a few.

    Also, I've had an author watch my every move while reading his/her book.

  2. Author trolled for weeks telling both of us how wrong we were about it. Clearly their reviews were fake, because most readers would have caught all that was wrong with it. And she didn't even give it a star, she gave an honest review without tainting their precious star rating. And it wasnt our life mission to derail that authors career. We moved on, but they didn't for several weeks.

    Where is the discipline for that? Expect a booklikes follow Roberta :)

    1. I absolutely agree with you, and once more I'm speechless at how mean some authors can be. I can understand their concerns, but this doesn't allow them to harass people who have just been honest - not purposely wicked.

      I will have a look at BL - thanks for the offering, and if I sign up, I'll be sure to follow you too :).


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