Goodreads “Harassment” Question

I’m not filling you in on the issue, because if you’ve missed it, you’re better off.  All I have is one question: Might the source of this nonsense, instead of being financial, be as simple as an instance of, “I have the right to never feel bad about anything, and if I feel bad, someone has Done Something”? Could that be all it is?

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18 thoughts on “Goodreads “Harassment” Question”

  1. I do have the right not to feel bad about anything. Feeling is a state of mine, and there are no Thought Police. So, by controlling my own mind, I can feel or not feel whatever I choose.

    If I happen to lack sufficient ability to control my own mind, that’s my problem, not somebody else’s fault.

    (The same way, I have the right to run a 4-minute mile. The ability, not so much.)

  2. Man, I wish you hadn’t mentioned the financial part, because now I’m curious. Damn you, Steve Brust!

    Hmm. Someone could really play games with their readers by alluding to things that don’t exist on the internet.

    All I know about Goodreads is there’s a subset of fans who make youtube commenters look like saints.

  3. By the financial part, I just meant, if you get negative reviews and ratings, it will (presumably) have a bad effect on sales.

  4. Ah. It looks like it’s in regard to their controversial notion that book reviews should be about books rather than about what you heard someone say about authors who are actually Satan’s willing tools.

  5. Glad I missed it. To answer your question, though: yes! I think what you’re describing is a kind of psychological projection problem, which I had never heard of until I Googled “meaning of life” some 14 years ago now. Lost track of that site, but in essence it answered “why are people insane with anger?” with a simple: Because, psychological projection!

    I really haven’t found a better answer than that, not for want of trying. It’s “take the log out of your own eye before you can see the speck in someone else’s.” It’s “when you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back to you.” People don’t tend to like this explanation, simple as it is, because it also answers the question “why am _I_ insane with anger?” (Sometimes. On very rare occasions. One hopes.) Same reasons those nutjobs are! Secret shame, repression, projection, and projective identification.

    Wish I could find the original site… but a quick Google search turns up this quick primer on projection:

  6. “Now look what you’ve made me do!” I wasted over an hour on the Internet trying to find the original, which was dead and had to be reanimated via Wayback Machine:

    And, turns out, is very thin broth compared to this meaty Daily Kos piece the search turned up:

  7. The DailyKos piece that Brian linked to had a nice three-point summation of what I’ve seen so often on the internet:

    “Healthy anger comes and goes quickly, but many people are enraged more or less all the time. It’s a hell of drug, but they need to get their fix several times a day. As I said above, they need three forms of anger in a more or less continuous rotation:
    1) They need to be angry at someone
    2) They need someone to be angry at them
    3) They need an audience of people to be angry with them.
    Not everyone will be their codependent soul-mate, but they can manipulate family members, coworkers, and even complete strangers into playing these roles by using projective identification. “

  8. I may’ve found the publicity that got Goodreads to change their policy:

    As for anger on the web, I always thought I was a happy guy. My biggest clue I wasn’t should’ve come from the first episode of Justified:

    Raylan: I guess I never thought of myself as an angry man.
    Winona: Honestly, you’re the angriest man I’ve ever known.

    Which may have inspired one of my favorite lines in The Avengers:

    Banner: That’s my secret, Cap: I’m always angry.

    The internet is full of Hulks.

  9. Speaking as a Brust fan as well as GR participant:

    I understand that there are people that behave poorly.GR has a terms of service that already addresses that. As a ‘best reviewer’ who has never written a personally attacking review (in the sense of attacking the author’s person), I do object to the unilateral removal by Goodreads of bookshelf names and reviews that occurred without first notifying the poster (and on a Friday afternoon, no less). Imagine. Censorship at it’s finest–we’re only going to remove very negative, personally directed Negative Reviews–but we’ll leave the happy-clappy ones that are from sock poppet accounts. Bookshelf names are for the reviewer, and for those interested in that person’s reviews. According to thread posters, some of the shelves were criticizing, but not violent. Removal of negative reviews and shelves smacks of Amazon’s influence of connecting negative to sales volume.

    People like to say that a book should be reviewed “on it’s own,” but many others feel that context means a great deal. Thus, I’m not interested in purchasing books that may go to support causes I oppose. The flip side is that I’m more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to people whose politics I respect (such as yourself).

    Furthermore, as a reader, I think I’m intelligent enough to winnow out hate-mongering reviewers and usually take their incoherent one-star reviews with a grain of salt.

  10. thebookgator, it’s called Goodreads, not Badreads, so focusing on the good rather than the bad seems appropriate. And it’s not censorship to decide what’s appropriate at your site, or rather, it’s only censorship in the very broadest sense that an editorial board has the power to censor.

    I confess, having seen good people slandered at Goodreads by people who abused the system, I have little sympathy for people who are upset that Goodreads no longer tolerates shelving systems like ‘author should be sodomized’ and ‘should be raped in prison’.

    I do agree it would be nice to have a way to identify and delete sockpuppetry.

  11. Will, I’m not saying there isn’t a problem or that it is not the site’s right to deal with it. But there’s a number of larger issues in the way it was rolled-out and the interpretation of the policy that I would think writers would appreciate. Your links showed one side of the issue, and that’s why I felt the need to comment. Thanks for inspiring me to blog about it.

  12. “Unicorns and rainbows” made me grin. People will find work-arounds; the one good thing I can say about censorship in the last century is it gave us some great blues euphemisms.

    But I checked one of the books you’d filed there and saw that categories like “scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel” and “defends-indefensible” still exist, so I don’t think GR is being very harsh in how it’s making the call of what’s commenting on the book and what’s commenting on the author.

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