header photo

Jaq D Hawkins

Some Musings

Let's wait and see...

September 26, 2013

On September 20, 2013, Goodreads announced to the Feedback Forum (where they know all the trolls hang out) that they had deleted the BBA Listopia and several derogatory shelves. They also said that their new policy was that they would not allow such shelves and trolling lists.

Hurray! Better late than never. Letting the trolls run rampant for over a year has done untold damage to the site and many readers as well as authors have been spending their time elsewhere. The situation had escalated to sociopath level, with some of the hard core trolls following their targets onto Twitter, Facebook, the authors' own blogs... anywhere they could harrass them.

Finally, one of the worst of them, a third rate Romance author who writes as Angela Horn, Bijou Hunter and Dakota Shepherd, got her account deleted after her activities had crossed well into the territory of criminal stalking. Then this announcement came.

People are speculating as to whether Amazon may be behind the apparent change after the buyout. After all, they are in the business of selling books and it doesn't do sales any good to have book pages vandalised and playground level trolling rife on a site. There is no point in trying to sell advertising packages to authors who are increasingly deciding not to list their books on Goodreads because the trolls will quickly slap several one star ratings onto any new submission, though they will never read the books.

Many of the authors targeted by these trolls have done nothing more than express on their own blogs that this sort of behaviour is wrong. Some of Angela's targets were just on a targeted author's friend list. So much for the freedom of speech that the trolls cry out for when their sheves are deleted!

So, what comes next? Many of the trolls tried setting up accounts at another book site, only to be told that they weren't wanted there.

 

I've heard many are moving to LibraryThing, but that site has already deleted accounts for abusing the tagging system and has been warned of the probably influx. They won't be given free reign there either.

Some of the more rabid types have begun a carpet bombing campaign, hitting hundreds of books on Goodreads as well as Amazon and even all editions of the same books with one star ratings.

 

The above poster had rated 102 books in two days when this screenshot was taken, including all three editions of one of mine which was reported several days ago. She is still on Goodreads and the number had risen to 150 last time someone looked.

So, the question is, how much is Goodreads going to do about outright abuse and vandalism of the site?

Anyone who has ever used the Internet can see that the only answer is to delete accounts in response to this kind of childish behaviour. Delete the account and the fake ratings go, along with faked reviews, which some of this group make a lot of effort to write about books they usually haven't read.

Medical research is finding that trolling at this level is addictive for certain personality types. It is not going to stop without severe measures.

http://www.addictiontreatmentmagazine.com/addiction-news/when-bullying-stops-psychosis-ends-study-finds/

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/new-study-shows-bullies-watch-suffering-article-1.335872

This is not about reviews, this is about pure trolling.

Logic tells me that there is no point in deleting the shelves and lists and then allowing the knee-jerk vandalism to run riot, but Goodreads hasn't always shown logic in their response to complaints about the trolls. It isn't just authors complaining, genuine readers want a positive spirit in the place they catalogue their books and talk to their friends.

I'm taking a wait and see position. I've advised authors to resist responding to the one star carpet bombing with 5 star retaliations because apart from the fact that all books would be 3 stars with an equal-sided war going on, we're better than that and our efforts should be towards helping the apparent clean-up by reporting these actions where appropriate.

The question is, will the reports be acted on? Or was deleting lists the extent of a failed effort that would leave all sides dissatisfied?

I have a new book out. I haven't listed it on Goodreads. If these troll accounts get banned, I may start to feel that Goodreads can be a place for grown-ups to share and talk about books again. Until then, it's just wait and see.

Go Back

Comment