GoodReadsaggedon, or, How Amazon Stole the Spirit of Goodreads

Posted September 23, 2013 by Kara in Imaginative Discussions, Lyn / 20 Comments

Discussion time!
Everyone is very aware of Goodreadsaggedon from Friday, September 20th, 2013.  If I were to be honest, I could say that I was disappointed that I didn’t follow my gut instinct when I read the message that Amazon had bought Goodreads.  I tried to brush it off and remain on the fence, when in my heart, I felt the very “footsteps of doom.”  
We’re now living out our own Lord of the Rings here, folks.  

Most of this content comes from a comment I left on a BookLikes post for one of my friends. 

My biggest issue from this entire event was the decision over shelving. We knew that comments about author behavior were struck out of reviews, hence they had to go in comments. That seemed fair.  The comment section was for discussion, and I could list out my reasons for the decision I made. But the shelves? That was downright tactical to make Goodreads more “author friendly.” Right up until September 20th, 2013, the shelves were never touched, never discussed, and always defended. The complete change in attitude really says that Goodreads is not focused on readers, but the machine that they have to feed – greed and selling power. I am highly disappointed. Goodreads’ main customer service rep did nothing but fuel the flames when she stated that Goodreads had now deemed that they are calling the shots. She’s treating these readers like spoiled little children who just won’t sit down and eat their meat. 

We want our pudding reviews.
It also bears mentioning that the deletion of material by others WITHOUT any warning was the final straw for many of those who wanted to rally behind Goodreads.  I don’t know who decided that clicking the delete button during opening on Friday morning was a step in the right direction, but I pity that fool.  I hope alcohol and lack of caffeine were the main culprits.  I joke, but underneath it all, it was a very poor choice that sent a clear message: “We’re cleaning house, and you are not welcome anymore. We went ahead and burned all of your stuff to let you know how we feel.”  But at least we got a thread where we could bitch into the void! Because that is how they care! Forget that they are not reading it! It is all about appearing that our voice matters. 

And what about the update mentioning that this was not censorship?  As I told one person, you can’t piss on my boots and tell me it’s raining.  You can’t say it is not something if you simply don’t like the word.  I suppose we could use the PC term “surprise silencing.” The whole censorship debate reminds me of the children I see running around a classroom. When they are reminded that they can’t run, the retort is “I’m hopping/skipping/shuffling/crawling! I’m not running!” I’m not squabbling over the term, Goodreads.  What you are doing is censoring.

But let’s look on the bright side! Now that we’re catering to authors, there is a large party happening right now, correct?
Even authors are offended. How can they ignore that? Authors are leaving the site as well – the very people that they are trying to coddle. The little message about bad reviews was even insulting to me, and I am just a reader. I would be pissed off if a message popped up automatically to tell me to “calm down and breathe.” I’d blow a godsdamn fuse over that message alone. And the very thing they are claiming will help sales, bad reviews, is unwelcome and forbidden on the site. Double standard right there. How can authors use a site if all of the readers are leaving? They might import Amazon reviews, but the smart authors understand what is happening.  Authors are people too, and no one likes to be force-fed a lie.

All jokes aside, I don’t appreciate the patronizing attitude I see towards readers and the authors. I am highly disappointed that the very thing we worried over when the big announcement came is now a reality.  Both sides are losing. My biggest hope is that the Kickstarter program comes into play and a new site is created. One that does not set out to be bought.

Here is my new BookLikes account.

Follow Kara on BookLikes as well.

20 responses to “GoodReadsaggedon, or, How Amazon Stole the Spirit of Goodreads

  1. There’s a Kickstarter project? Link? I liked BookLikes at first but the site is so glitchy and still lacking so many features… Sigh. Wish I could leave Goodreads entirely, but I don’t think I will *yet*.

    Great post though, really hit the nail on the head. This whole thing is still giving me a headache.

  2. I woke up Saturday morning my time to two emails from goodreads. One telling me a glut of my shelves had been deleted.the other telling me a glut of my reviews were gone because apparently I’d spoken about thy author in them at some point. I didn’t find out about he policy changes until 45 minutes after that and I was fucking fuming, scuse the curse but I was. My mind was made up then ad there. If the don’t give warning to allow for edits then I’m gone

    • Where is the announcement? Where is the e-mail to the users? This was underhanded and cowardly. It makes me very sad to see what they are going to do to the site.

  3. The thing is, with the shelves – I literally saw a GR user who still had a authors-behaving-badly shelf… so I don’t understand. Why did that one survive the purge but not the others? It’s not even just the “cool-authors” vs. BBA shelves; it’s targeting the popular reviewers who get the the most pageviews and have shelves that are more likely to be seen. I agree that Kara (the GR rep) wasn’t doing much to help the flames, but I am also unsure what else she could have done if that was the policy that Amazon had forced GR to assume, or that GR had willingly assumed.

    “It also bears mentioning that the deletion of material by others WITHOUT any warning was the final straw for many of those who wanted to rally behind Goodreads. I don’t know who decided that clicking the delete button during opening on Friday morning was a step in the right direction, but I pity that fool.” THE WORST. Like, they didn’t even that announcement of the new policy up for longer than an hour before I’d seen people talking about how their shelves and reviews had been deleted. If you’re not going to email them beforehand, at least give them a DAY to PREPARE. I check the site pretty often, I admit, but that doesn’t mean everyone does, and they should’ve had their chance to back up their reviews.

    Lol at the not censorship comment. Yeah, the author thing seems extra extra cautious too. Are they not readers too? Can they not browse the site as a regular user would? *shrug* Even importing Amazon reviews isn’t the same.

    “All jokes aside, I don’t appreciate the patronizing attitude I see towards readers and the authors.” <– Honestly, I think the worst is that I’d seen some from bloggers themselves about the whole situation.

    What is this kickstarter you speak of?

    • I still had my author is a bully, not in the lifetime, and word vomit shelf when I left. So they were targeting the big users, and that is very very sad.

      I can’t believe the continued cowardice I continue to hear from the site. Shutting down feedback threads when they have questions. The idiotic pictures when people are still needing answers. The lies, the accusations, and the LACK OF A SITE ANNOUNCEMENT.

      GR is dead to me.

  4. It’s funny … after I read this, I thought about the time when I didn’t know about Goodreads and usually went to Amazon for reviews before buying books. Usually, I ended up with TERRIBLE books. Maybe this is because of the lack of honesty? I think it’s terrible what Goodreads is doing … I’m slowly trying to figure out BookLikes. Might still use Goodreads for certain things, but will migrate to something else in the future … Goodreads is for READERS. I just don’t get why they had to do what they did.

    Great post!

    • I feel that Amazon reviews are VERY insincere. There are honest ones, yes, but I think that a majority of them are pity reviews or bought. My book selection became much better when I used GR instead of Amazon.

      What a pity.

  5. MJ

    I’m pretty sure there’s some funky script or direct targeting at play which explains why some people have had their shelves deleted and some have not. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but there was a five star review of Harry Potter removed no explanation whatsoever and they’re also targeting P2P shelves. As for Booklikes, I’m optimistically hoping it gets easier to use once they get their server in check but I’m not holding my breath.

    • I read about that, and I am just bewildered that anything they pleased is now censored. It pains me to see what they did to the site literally overnight, and that they have honestly no concerns about people leaving.

  6. Great post, Lyn. I’m still so lost about what exactly to do. I think I’ll be taking my cataloging offline, and I’ll be using GR for its book data only. Until another website has as strong a book database as GR, I’m pretty much backed into a corner with that.

    Goodreads is going to go the way of Amazon – authors will be taking over and NO ONE will take the reviews on GR seriously anymore. Eventually, I’m afraid they’ll be removing star ratings with no text reviews all together. They’re diluting their own pot – if only hugs-and-marshmallows-and-rainbows reviews are left, there’s no more context for these reviews, and no one will believe them anymore. In short: Goodreads made a joke of itself. What’s next? The removal of profanity?

    Hopefully they’ll start to feel the blow in their wallets.

    I made my own post about it here. Hopefully we can get more and more people talking about this.

    • I can understand, Bekka. These are troubling times, and I feel honestly like a hobby refugee. I hope that there is some good news in the future and that we can all find a new home. I have found that tough decisions brings out the best, and we’re sticking together, all of us, to get over this.

      GR is on the path to drive profit instead of user content. I cannot believe that they were such cowards. If this is what they wanted, they should have given some advance notice, and made an official announcement. I hope they like catering to the people who can no longer use the site.

  7. Great post. I kind of went ahead and announced on my blog that I’ve decided to cease posting my reviews on Goodreads. I strongly condemn the recent events that have happened. It’s just sad that this had to happen. GR and I were getting along just fine, too!

  8. I never got that “calm down and breathe” message sent to authors, and I clicked on some of my bad reviews just to see if it would come up…maybe it only comes up for new reviews, the first time you click on them?

    Anyway, this whole thing makes my head hurt.

    • I never had my shelves removed. Odd how everyone was treated different, eh?

      It makes mine hurt as well. Heart aches, but I hope we have something new and awesome in the future. 🙂

  9. I’m still going to briefly use Goodreads, but I don’t think I’ll continue to post full reviews and the like. I’ll probably just rate and do a one or two sentence review that links to my blog. If I can ever figure out BookLikes, I’ll be trying it, because GR NEEDS to feel a hurting in member numbers after this BS. Ugh. They can call it what they want, but it IS censorship.

    Great post, Lyn!

    • It is very depressing to see how they don’t give a damn about the members leaving, and calling some reviewers liars. Ignoring the voices confirms that they signed off on us a long time ago.

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