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Jaq D Hawkins

Some Musings

All's Quiet

An Update

February 20, 2016

Wow, it's been over a year since I've been able to carve out a spare five minutes to make a commentary on this blog.

I've finished a movie! Old Blood is ready to release and I'm working on a second trailer while an interested distributor in L.A. is having a look at it. There's no guarantee they'll go for it as they are collecting indie films from several people to decide what to put into their Winter catalogue, but I had planned self-distribution anyway and only sent them copies on request because after a good Internet stalk, I can see the benefit of working with a sales agent if it's the right one.

This should give the YouTube trolls plenty of fodder to amuse themselves with. I sometimes feel sorry for them, having nothing better to do that critisize the efforts of others when they don't have the courage or creativity to stretch themselves into realms where they might possibly fail.

There are some rough edges as a no budget amateur film is bound to have, but overall it's an accomplishment I'm quite proud of. If I can do this with no money, just think what I could do with a budget and professional technitians!

I still have one more movie to finish off, Graveyard Shift. However, I've learned a lot in these past few years of learning film editing and the key I need to deal with the T-shirt logo problem is now in my hands. I'm just getting the ball rolling on the Old Blood release first and tidying up admin and details.

On the literary front, much has calmed down. The majority of the misguided souls who let themselves get sucked into mob mentality have seen their error and settled into being perfectly nice, mature readers. Respect to them. The uber troll still has a rabid sniping group... with six members. That's it. Six people who get their joy in life by attacking others.

The uber troll herself has been making overtures to some of her past victims to clean up her paper trail a little. Apparently she's worked out that she did more damage to herself that to any of her targets and that her own books are just as vulnerable to the abuses of the system that she foisted on places like Goodreads. What goes around comes around.

She still stalks a few favourites and has a list for authors she believes are alternate pen names for people on her shit list. Of course the poor old dear keeps getting it wrong. Two authors who happen to use the same formatting service I do are on it along with someone who writes similar 'damaged woman/biker' stuff as Ms Trollie. I know she's falsely accused one of the former of being me, not sure about the others. It doesn't appear to affect them in any way and they haven't joined the author groups.

The author groups on Facebook have calmed down now that the nasties have been rendered ineffective. STGRB officially retired at one point, though they still have the occasional article. I don't keep up, but once in a while something gets shared in the author groups. There are people who still feel the need to keep an eye on troll central and to note the dodgy accounts that appear on Goodreads and immediately one star all the same books. Goodreads is letting it slip again but people know about them now and there are lists for the interested.

I've got some work done on my next books but the film has taken most of my time for a while now. I would take a break, but the people involved in the film projects have waited a long time to see the results and I feel I need to keep at it for them. Life would be easier if all I did was write! Yet there's a certain satisfaction in film too. It's just been a long learning curve since I got stuck doing the editing myself.

As far as I know my stalker, Ms Andrews, has no platform for her lies about me apart from her own blog, and that's just preaching to the choir. Istill find it flabberghasting that she could post our correspondence, where I clearly say I have no intention of taking any legal action against her, and in the same post tell people that I'm suing her and they're sheep enough to go off and react to that without seeing the disproof in front of their eyes.

Some people just like to hate and will grasp at anything to feed the need, like when Ms uber troll went through the friend list of an author and targeted everyone on it, most of whom were only networking with other authors and had no idea he would turn out to be mental.

It's a sad sickness. There's a good article about it here.

I guess they're right about ignoring them, activity has really plummetted as more authors have flipped their hair and moved on.

*Sigh*

February 6, 2015

Once upon a time on Goodreads, there was a user who made her reputation by reading books she had already decided to hate and shelved as 'Shitlist' because the authors name was put on someone's BBA list, and invariably rated them one star and tore apart the book in any way she could find, thereby earning herself a reputation for being a severely toxic troll.

One day, she decided to shred one of mine. I came across her status about reading it by accident and immediately thought, "It's my turn for a one-star scathing review." There was no question that the result would be the same as the others, regardless of the content of the book. You can't take a book off your 'Shitlist' shelf with intent to hate it and actually have any chance whatsoever of liking it. It doesn't take rocket science to work this one out.

To G's chagrin, I wrote a blog post predicting the inevitable scathing one-star review. She went ballistic, wrote half the review about herself. What could I do but laugh?

She did actually find something legitimate to work with; misuse of pronouns. After three editors going through the manuscript, you would think one of them would have said something... This was all fixed of course when I went through all my books for re-editing in 2013.

However, G also wrote a lot of her signature phrases that were effectively meaningless complaints or intentional refusal to understand. She's known for it. To add a new dimension to the saga, she wrote a post on my blog that might have opened a discussion. It was sufficiently genuine sounding that I was tempted to approve it and have the discussion, but in those days there was no such thing as a one-on-one discussion with anyone from that group. I deleted the message to save myself hours of deleting the attack drone messages that would have derailed the conversation.

Then, miracle of miracles, G and all her scathing reviews were deleted from Goodreads at the beginning of what would be a long history of deleting accounts on both sides of the fence, including a lot of innocent bystanders who had the audacity to like or dislike the wrong books. It's still going on. Like a review of my book or write one yourself and you risk having your account deleted, especially if you live in the UK. Most of us have dynamic IP's you see, it's standard with BT, the biggest provider in the country. Therefore, according to GR logic, any GR user who lives in the UK and likes one of my books must be a sock puppet, right?

Anyway, G went off to Booklikes and started reading books she liked again. Yay! She obviously felt better about herself and I gained a level of respect for her. A real loser would have copied all the crap reviews over to BL to be a shit, but she moved on with her life and read the sort of stuff she likes. All was forgiven and I even decided I sort of liked her. Getting thrown out of the uber troll's group when she refused to spend her life reading books she would hate just to troll was a good thing for her, even more so than for those she was targeting.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that she's reading the same book of mine again. Guess what? I'm predicting a scathing one star review on Booklikes. She's already pulling out things to try to twist into something to object to. Yes, misogyny in 1%. Since she's read the book before, she knows the character displaying it has some pretty nasty personality flaws and we don't like him. Acting like a shit in the first scene sets the tone for the character. Do you read books with no bad guys?

She's also gone back to spreading misinformation to make me look like a BBA. No G, I didn't put down what you read. I pointed out that it's different than what I wrote. I wrote Dance of the Goblins for the kind of Fantasy reader who reads Zelazny, Aspirin, Weis & Hickman, McCaffrey, etc. There is nothing wrong with Buffy or your graphic novels, but they are not the same readership. I don't write YA, I don't write graphic novels. Apart from Game of Thrones which you apparently didn't continue, your reading list told me you probably didn't read my sort of Fantasy. That is not a judgement, that's an observation. Why try to make it something other than what it is?

In my books the monsters might do something bad. Some of the bad people do too. Even some of the good people aren't always perfect.

By all means, read what you like, enjoy it, find more of it and be satisfied with what you find. You have my best wishes. Go ahead and write your scathing one star review, but don't read a book you've decided to hate in advance and expect to be taken seriously or respected. You were never going to like my book. Don't pretend that it's a problem with the phrases. Those 5 star reviews on Amazon are genuine. They came from Fantasy readers, the sort who read the sort of Fantasy I write. They expect the monsters and bad people to do things they wouldn't personally approve of.

You're more intelligent than that, G. Yet after a crisis of self-worth, you're backsliding into the behaviour that makes that sort of thing happen. I stood up for you and stopped people name calling, at least in the author groups. I think my comments squelched a lot of it in STGRB as well, though I have no real influence on what happens there. Must I lose the respect and sympathy I formed for you? Are certain parties right, that once a shit, always a shit?

Since your 'review' is premeditated, don't expect a reaction. It's meaningless. Just you dumping your lack of self-worth on random strangers that you can lie about online. Doing it once showed your ugly side. Ugliness is not in features, it's in actions. Doing it twice tells me you belong back in Mirangela's camp for losers. Good luck with that.

I hope something makes you happy someday. Whether you deserve it or not is immaterial. I'm generous enough to feel sorry for a soul in pain.

 

POSTSCRIPT:

G, Since you've read the book, you know that a certain character is from a psychic species. Consent was clear. There's a big difference between bondage and rape. But of course you knew that.

Ha

February 28, 2014

Seems that Rivka didn't like being named, even on an obscure troll wars blog. I've now joined the ranks of the authors who have been deleted from Goodreads for trumped up reasons. People clicking like on my good reviews? Really? Not against ToS.

Guess this means I don't have to be careful about speaking my mind diplomatically then. As the saying goes, "It's only a risk until it happens."

The trouble is, now they've proven the point. The one star review from 2009 is pinned to the top again, and get this.

A fairly recent troll rated it two years before the book was added to the site. Good trick. There's no doubt now that there is a rotten apple in admin. The question is, is it only one? Goodreads, you really need to clean house.

In real terms, it makes absolutely no difference. I've had no time to really participate on the site for quite a while. There was one group I liked and I was starting to post, but I didn't have time for their monthly read this month so they'll probably never notice my absence, apart from the mod who was on my friends list.

It's all such silly nonsense. How can people dedicate their lives to looking for ways to 'get at' people they don't even know? I can't even be bothered to copy my HONEST REVIEW of Angela's book over to the US Amazon, where I do regularly post reviews. I choose not to wallow in negativity.

Oh and someone tell Miranda, Carol didn't 5-star any books she didn't read.

For one of her worst tormentors to contact the site about her death is a whole new level of tacky. She has family, and it would have been appropriate for *them* to contact any site where she was involved as an author. This move makes Miranda the lowest of low grade scum.

Don't worry Angela, I'll have some screenshots for you from the private group when I've got permissions and time to post. Unlike you I don't spend my life on this and have other things to do. I'm not the one who is obsessed. Look in the mirror woman, cracks and all. It's rather pitiful what you're doing to yourself.

Happy people don't stalk other people and try to find ways to annoy them. You could free yourself from all that hatred, if you wanted to.

Slow Progress

February 25, 2014

Those who pay attention may have noted that things seem to be happening, albeit slowly, at Goodreads. They still send kiss-off replies to complaints, but they deleted accounts of a couple of the most toxic trolls and I've noted something on how ratings are counted that suggests that they may have taken one of my ideas on board, or thought of it indepently themselves. Let's just say that once someone is identified as abusing the system, it's a small matter to exclude their ratings from averages.

Meanwhile customer service said outright in an email to an author that creating accounts for the purpose of inflating or deflating ratings is against their ToS. The author is sending them a small list of the known sock puppets that do exactly this. It won't be the first time that these fake accounts have been flagged, but it isn't hard to see what they are so if they refuse to delete them now, we know that there really is a rat in the central admin. I just wonder which one of the socks belongs to Rivka.

I've started participating on GR again, as I'm in a group I like there. Whether I start submitting records for my new releases again will depend on their response to this sock puppet report. There is no point in adding books, only to have them bombarded with half a dozen one-star ratings before the entry has been there a day.

Amazon, are you paying attention?

Most of the authors who have been subjected to the troll gang at GR would like to see the site function as it was meant to. The one exception has made himself ineffective with his ranting and lunacy. The hate group has taken up residence at Booklikes and the site has become regarded like a ringfenced zombie plague city, a place to be avoided. It is also falling apart, as anyone who suggests doing anything like going back to reading books they enjoy gets thrown out. Poor Angela, she'll be all alone with Miranda and the sock puppets soon. Some of her socks are already filling the empty spaces.

The recent suicide of Charlotte Dawson will put lawmaker attention on the issue now. I would not wish such an end for anyone, especially after seeing how close a friend of mine came to being that headline. It's a sad thing in this world that children have to get hit by cars before new crossings are put on roads and news stories like this are the only thing that makes lawmakers take a problem seriously. Ms Dawson was an anti-cyberbullying advocate and her friends are continuing her campaign.  http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/charlotte-dawson-death-friends-launch-charlottes-law-petition-20140224-33bc9.html

Perhaps her legacy will be the changes that are needed. RIP Charlotte. My sympathy to her family and friends. Though I didn't know her, seeing how close my friend came to being that headline brings it too close to home. It's time to speak out vehemently, before this does happen to someone else.

 

Bad Business

November 8, 2013

Well, it seems that Goodreads has chosen to continue to be an unreliable source for ratings and reviews. Cleaning up the lists and shelves was a good start, but apart from deleting accounts for a couple of the trolls, that's it. Vandals are left to freely carpetbomb the site with fake one-star reviews, though they keep a sharp eye out for fake 5-star reviews and will still delete authors who are seen to have fans or colleagues attempting to balance the negative fake ratings.

How to please none of the people none of the time. The trolls have even released a rather ridiculous booklet to rant about the curtailment of their ability to troll. Ironically, that makes all the contributors into authors and therefore by their own rules, they shouldn't comment on book pages anymore. Excuse me while I laugh at the irony.

The site will continue to thrive because the vast majority of users see the errant children for what they are and ignore them, participating in groups and such as the site was meant to be for, but the vandalism also continues and the attacks on new authors have become openly nasty. Anyone who relies on reviews and ratings on Internet sites or vendors are subject to being misled by skewed feeds and direct attempts to mislead readers one way or the other.

All I can suggest to readers is that they completely ignore customer reviews, on any site. Read a sample of the book and decide for yourself. Even legitimate reviews are the opinion of someone you don't know. I don't want recommendations from the thousands of people who loved Twilight myself.

People need to think for themselves and not rely on the input of total strangers online. You don't know who they are and you may not like the same things. From what I can see, most of the vandalism is coming from people with the reading level of a 12-year-old anyway. They don't tend to like books that are 'too complicated' or that include higher concepts. The worst of them are pretty much limited to Young Adult and Erotic Romance reading and think of Buffy when you mention Fantasy genre.

I wash my hands of it all. Avid readers have always sought out the good books. The efforts of vandals do little more than draw attention to books we might not have heard of otherwise. I've found a few good ones from the derogatory lists that continue on Goodreads. I'm beginning to look at those lists as good recommendation lists, a source for material above the reading level of the average troll.

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.

One Soul Saved

I actually got an apology from someone after responding to some trolling comments.

It was gratifying not because of any sense of scoring points, but more in a sense that it restores my faith that there are perfectly reasonable people out there who can be shown that what has become common Internet practice actually just makes them look stupid. In this case, it was a YouTube troll joining in a chorus of regular trolls to tell me to "stop wasting my time" with filmmaking.

Now, what's wrong with that phrase?

For starters, what I do with my time is my own business and no one else's, but that wasn't the point I made. Various people have made comments about how much money I spend as I work on my creative projects without having any actual information to draw from as well as about the time spent and of course my weight. All of the above are meant to put me on the defensive. It's all quite rude and demeaning to the trolls themselves, showing an ugly side of human nature.

My weight of course has no effect whatsoever on either writing or filmmaking. It also changes and the video they're going on is from 2007 when it was up rather high. Making fat comments at someone who is no longer fat indicates a purile mentality at best, although thinking of it the comments would be just as infantile if directed at someone who was still fat. How anyone expects to be taken seriously when they descend to that level I can't imagine.

What I did point out to the person in question was that in fact none of my filmmaking efforts were wasted because of the fun I had doing them and the lessons learned in the process. I've spent far more money at amusement parks and other entertainments and still couldn't reach the amount of enjoyment that I've had in the past few years in production of the films I now have in edit. I've also learned a thing or two from experience over four years of active production. They say it takes seven years to master a skill. While I don't imagine myself as a master filmmaker by any stretch, I've certainly gained skills since 2007 from practice and yes, mistakes. It's part of the learning process. No master filmmaker made a blockbuster on their first day on set.

The video these people are judging by was exactly that, my first day in charge of a set, ever, making a one-day no-budget shoot with all volunteer help apart from the prosthetics people. According to troll central, I should have been able to churn out something Lord of the Rings quality in that one day and everything I ever do shall be judged by the result of a single day shoot. What a bunch of wankers.

Anyway, having calmly pointed out the fact that I had enjoyed every minute of my experiences and had learned much from them, the poster deleted his negative comments and posted an apology. I ignored another troll who had posted in the meantime, telling me that replying to people would 'make me look bad' and 'give them a bad impression of me' (he speaks for all trolls everywhere and anyone else who posts? Really?) and simply said no hard feelings to the person who apologised, thinking better of him.

You have to wonder why there are so many people on the Internet who will go to a lot of trouble to try to dump their own negativity on anyone who does anything creative. I understand they are afraid to take a chance themselves and lack the imagination to try to make something work without creating extreme financial risks, but you see it a lot all over the Internet. The people that shout at me in all caps that I have no talent although they've never read one of my books or seen one of my films do the same to others regularly. It is pure trolling. The opinions of these people are based on their own inner assumptions and nothing else and are therefore easily dismissed as just noise.

Occasionally someone will be a bit more polite and just say I should not put myself into debt for filmmaking. Like the others, they assume. I've never put myself into debt for the filmmaking. I've spent a little money to feed the cast and crew (I'm a great cook and can feed the hordes cheaply and well), as well as buying just a little fabric for costumes and the occasional prop. Nothing had to be horribly expensive for the level of filmmaking I've been working on these past few years. Knowing actors who have bits of their own costuming around helps of course, and being lucky has produced some unlikely props on loan as well as some brilliant locations.

People who live their lives vicariously through television appear to be most given to this brain-dead version of trolling. Those who have interesting things to do with their lives wouldn't have the time. It seems to frustrate the real die-hards that I dismiss them out of hand, but what else can one do? It isn't "ego" to ignore an idiot.
If not one single person ever pays to go see one of my films, I will still have spent the time well, learning new skills and enjoying every minute of it. Some of the things that have happened on set have had me laughing for weeks afterwards. You just can't buy that kind of entertainment. As for the notorious video, I've never told the full story of that day on set. I'm going to post the story on my film blog which is at http://jaqdhawkins.blog.com and mirrored at http://services.eveningnews24.co.uk/FORUMS/EVENINGNEWS24/CS/blogs/dance_of_the_goblins/default.aspx

That too was a very fun day, despite all the obstacles and things that never go right on a first time.

Will Otis Chandler Let Goodreads Fail?

It has become common knowledge that some of the trolls bringing down the reputation of Goodreads are 'Librarians' and 'Superlibrarians'. These are the people who fix metadata and other information on book pages. However, there are a lot of Librarians and Superlibrarians who are not part of the BBA trolling group.

So, while perfectly legitimate users are getting their profiles deleted for nothing more than writing a good review of one of my books, why are these people not only not banned, but not stripped of their privileged status and powers? What is Otis thinking?

I think the time for Goodreads to clean up its pages is fast going past. More information is popping up all over the Internet about the abominable situation with trolling on the site and the inexplicable refusal of the site management to do anything to curtail it. I'm thinking of joining the army of authors who are refusing to add new releases to the site, knowing that they'll only be trolled. Before I make that decision permanent, I'm trying a couple of experiments to see if there is any hope for the site. No I won't detail them here. The trolls will have to work it out for themselves. I will soon know how high up in management they go though.

It's such a shame that a well-designed site is effectively dooming itself to become nothing more than  a bad joke in social networking history. It would take so little to save it.

Musings

Occasionally I may like to pontificate on random subject which are not on topic for my author blog http://indiewritenet.com/jaqdhawkins/ or my filmmaking blog http://jaqdhawkins.blog.com

I've started a personal blog for some of these posts, but his space is reserved for longer rants er, musings. ;)

Will Goodreads go the way of MySpace forums?

It was brought to my attention recently that people using communal computers are having their profiles deleted on Goodreads. I often use the computers at the education establisment where I work when I'm on my breaks. The computers in the teaching room don't have the blocks on sites like Facebook and webmail that our desk computers have.

This means that the same IP address will appear on the registrations of rather a lot of people, as we have students go through there constantly and they come from far and wide. It came to my attention when a couple of other staff members found their profiles deleted without explanation. Then I overheard a group of students discussing a similar phenomenon.

My guess is that the increasing trolling problem on the site is causing some measures to be taken to cut down on such things as duplicate IP's, but that means that anyone using a family or housemate shared computer, a library computer, a college computer or an Internet cafe will appear on the same IP as everyone else who uses that source.

Oh dear Goodreads...you have such potential. But people are getting pissed off with being deleted and going elsewhere.