(Links are provided for Goodreads members, screencaps for those who no longer are or never were)
As you may or may not know, Goodreads recently instituted a change in policy concerning readers’ shelves and reviews (screencap). If they have anything at all to do with author behavior, they’re being deleted without warning. If you want a chance to change it before it gets taken from you? Tough shit, says Goodreads.
REASONS ON GOODREADS’ END:
They never intended to listen to their users in the first place about this policy change. If they were really open to what users had to say, it would not have been announced on a Friday afternoon and left to stew until everyone came back into the office Monday, during which time the issue turned into a maelstrom of angry readers. They would have announced it earlier in the week or waited until next week (which is now this week) if they really wanted to know what we thought of it and planned to take us into account.
They still have no plans to notify users before deleting their shelves and reviews. Kara Erickson, Goodreads Customer Care Director, says it was a mistake to delete them without warning (screencap) and everyone who had a shelf/review that violated the rules before Sept. 21st will be notified so they have a chance to change it before it is deleted. Reading between the lines makes it clear that all who do the same after that date will receive no notification prior to their content’s removal.
They have also yet to send out a message to the larger Goodreads community regarding this change in policy. The only place the policy has been announced by the site itself remains the original thread in the Feedback group.
They continue to ignore most concerns from both readers and authors. As of the time this post went live, the infamous announcement thread has 81 pages, which equates to over 4,000 posts from users on this issue. 4,000! Most of these responses are readers, but authors like Carolyn Crane (screencap), Jill Sorensen (screencap), and others have also expressed their opinions. There’s no counting how many authors spoke out against it on Twitter. I saw at least three, but I can’t remember who all of them are right now.
The only issues they address are minor ones. Issues I have seen addressed instead of the lack of warning, contradictory nature of Goodreads’ statement the site welcomes all manner of discussion while censoring its users with this new policy, and authors outright stating they don’t think this is a good idea either when the policy is clearly meant to court them include the fact someone’s five-star Harry Potter reviews disappeared (screencap 1) (screencap 2). Erickson has even responded to a comment that brings up the deeper consequences of the new policies and she misses the point completely (screencap).
They’re not even deleting shelves on the basis of their names anymore; they’re going off their own judgments based on who is on the shelf. This comment (screencap) includes an email (screencap of email) in which shelves named “icy-hex” and “taa” are deleted due to who is shelved on them. Erickson’s response is thus (screencap). This kind of policy where they’re reading our minds to figure out what the intent of our shelves is protects the BBAs. They know who these people are and how they treat readers, but Goodreads is now protecting them by making it near-impossible for readers on the site to communicate about how an author behaves. There are a lot of people who like to know that sort of stuff.
Their choice of “quote of the day” for September 23, 2013 (aka the Monday after the announcement) made it clear how they feel about users’ concerns and anger. (screencap) If this was scheduled for a long time and had nothing to do with the policy changes, someone lacked the brain cells to consider whether or not it would further inflame already-angry users who were left to stew on it all weekend and change it before it went live.
The policy will make it easier for authors to harass and target readers regardless of what they say about banning authors who do such things. If they really meant it, then why are readers being kept from warning each other of an author who will target them if they dare dislike their book? That was one very important use of the shelves Goodreads is now deleting en masse.
They want to hand reader-users bullshit and call it candy while handing author-users condescension-sweet candy. Take the post announcing the initial changes linked/screencapped above and compare it to what authors see (screencap) (close-up of author’s message) when they go to a negative review of their book now. Two very different tones for two very different groups and it’s clear who they care more about now even though both groups are getting bad deals.
REASONS ON MY END:
I don’t need it. I follow all the bloggers I love on Twitter and their own blogs. Lately, I’ve found more new blogger friends via Twitter than anywhere else, including Goodreads. I can get news of what new books are coming it by following Cover Snark (lots of cover reveals and I can look at more if I get curious), publisher catalogs (which I found 90% of my Winter 2014 want titles through when they came out last month), and simple talk on Twitter. With that kind of extensive network, I don’t need to rely on a site that is going to treat me like shit, especially when there’s a promising new site in the works! (More news on that in the future, hopefully.)
Besides, I have a new set-up of my own design for keeping up with releases between a print list of wanted books I keep updated and take to bookstores, a similar list I keep in a note-taking app for my browser (both are organized by month and then release date in a manner similar to my ARC list), and BookLikes. Goodreads is nice and all, but I know how to adapt.
Goodreads is bad for my mental health. I’ve been on Goodreads since October 2010. Nearly three years. For almost that entire time, I’ve had more followers on Goodreads than I have on my own blog (technically blogs because I’ve undergone a move and two name changes since I joined Goodreads) and this has caused me a lot of frustration and mental anguish. What, I’m good enough for them to follow my reviews but not good enough for them to follow my actual fucking blog for discussion posts and fun and shit? I wished so many times publishers considered my Goodreads numbers when I requested an ARC, but they never did and never do. They look at my blog, which had about 330 followers when I moved. The number of followers on Goodreads then? Over 700
And this is a problem few to none of my blogger friends deal with because their blog followings are so much larger.
It will be a joy to be leaving Goodreads and it’s going to save me so much time I would have spent on the site in the future. None of my content was deleted by them, but this was entirely by chance; on a whim, I removed my “will-not-read-due-to-author” shelf on Goodreads mere weeks ago and instead keep a list of Badly Behaving Authors in a note-taking app installed in my browser. I may not have been affected, but I am angry nonetheless because it affects my friends and has robbed me of a site that became an important part of my life over the course of three years.
Fuck you too, Goodreads. Good riddance.