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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
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Some Quick Thoughts About That Site

Honestly, this fell under “if you don’t like something, don’t give it any attention” with a side of “other people are writing about it, nothing to add” categories of blog topics, until, well, a certain post was made at a certain high visibility website.

Cryptic enough?

Let’s put it this way: if on the off chance yesterday you read a post at the Huffington Post about GoodReads and bullying and reviewers, here is as quick a primer as I can put together without becoming tl;dr.

As Foz Meadows explained several days ago in Bullying and GoodReads: ”Little more than a week ago, a website aimed at naming and shaming so-called Goodreads ‘bullies’ suddenly appeared online – called, appropriately enough, Stop the GR Bullies. Run by four concerned ‘readers and bloggers’ writing anonymously under the handles Athena, Peter Pan, Johnny Be Good and Stitch, the site thus far seems bent on punishing the creators of snide, snarky and negative book reviews by posting their handles, real names, locations and photos in one place, together with a warning about their supposed ‘level of toxicity’ and some (ironically) snide, snarky and negative commentary about them as people.” Click through to read this post, and other related posts; I removed the link to the website, but you can click to it through the linked post.

Many bloggers and authors spoke up against this sharing of information as well as the logic behind it. See, for example, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: “Whenever I see someone react with outrage and pity for an author who received a harsh review here or anywhere, my reaction is always confusion and disappointment. When I read someone react with fury and pitchforks about a negative review, questioning the reviewers intelligence and biological makeup, I am completely baffled. We’re still angry that readers are honest about what they think about books? WHY? I’d rather honesty than false admiration and condescension.”

As I said, a lot of smart people saying smart things, so nothing left for me to say, with a side of me not wanting to give that website more traffic or attention.

But then. Then, yesterday, the Huffington Post put up a post by the still-anonymous person/people behind that website, and, well, especially from the way it was up at first, it looked like an endorsement. If you end up going there to look (and I’m not linking to click bait), the original post did not have the disclaimer you now see at the top. Foz Meadows contacted HP and her response was up at the end of the day: Stop the GR Bullies: A Response. I recommend reading it, because it explains the issues with the website in question as well as links to other posts on the matter.

Remember how the website in question posted personal information? Well, apparently, they’ve revised those posts. However, many bloggers saved screencaps; Gossamer Obsessions lays out the changes that were made. On the one hand, good; on the other, this was apparently done without notation of editing/clarification and the bloggers behind the website are responding with a sort of “these are not the droids you’re looking for” about the whole matter. (Please, click through to the post; it’s best read in full context).

To me, the bottom line is: sharing the real-life information about people is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Only two more quick points. This arose, apparently, from some people not liking what was said about books and authors at GoodReads. (Hence the Stop the GR Bullies.) Without getting into a tl;dr myself about the right of people to like and not like books and to talk about the books they like and don’t like, either in the real world or online, here’s what I want to add to that:

If you don’t like a review, don’t read it. If you don’t like how an individual reviews books, stop reading those reviews. If you’re the author, the sad but true fact is “don’t engage, keep it private to trusted friends.” If you’re a reader, then use your own GoodReads account or what have you to share your own opinion of the book.

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Maureen E says:
  2. Maureen E says:

    Argh, HTML fail, sorry.

    Also, I see that the blogger I linked to is taking a break from blogging because she feels upset about it, which makes me feel slightly bad about linking. Online etiquette has so many grey areas.

  3. Sarah Moon says:

    “If you don’t like a review, don’t read it. If you don’t like how an individual reviews books, stop reading those reviews. If you’re the author, the sad but true fact is “don’t engage, keep it private to trusted friends.” If you’re a reader, then use your own GoodReads account or what have you to share your own opinion of the book.”

    Yes, yes, yes! There are a number of review styles that I just don’t care for, and so I do not read reviews by the people who review in that style. It’s really that easy. I am baffled that this has become a “thing” and that it’s escalated to the point of that ridiculous website and the absurdly stupid things that the owners of that website have posted. I just don’t know what to say…

  4. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Maureen, agreed re Huff Po. I imagine if someone wanted their past posts not read/ linked to, they would take them down, so that the link is Ok etiquette wise.

    Sarah, I think there are some good conversations to be had about reviewing, and posting about books, and online book culture, but that website doesn’t contribute to that conversation at all.

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