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"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

GoodReads Bullying Controversy

GoodReads is my favorite social network/ book blogging website at the moment...And as someone who enjoys and fully supports the freedom of speech, I'd like to weigh in on an issue that's been pissing me off. Bullying on GoodReads. I see people making mountains out of molehills; author's claiming readers are bullies, readers claiming authors a bullies, and readers at each others' throats in general.

One complaint on GR, is that people are marking books they've never read with negative ratings... Often these are books that haven't been released, only the cover and summary to tell people the story's coming, and occasionally while the ARCs are floating around. People call this bullying. My problem with this claim is that there are other readers, marking books they haven't read, marking books that haven't been released, with 5 star ratings! So here we have two groups of people who think they can predict the future, but only one of these groups of people is actually in the wrong? How does that work? Why is it okay to predict you'll love a book and not okay to predict you'll hate a book?

I've never marked books I haven't read, because I use GR to keep track of what I am reading and what I have actually read, but let's be serious... We've all been to the bookstore, picked up a book, looked at the cover, read the summary, and thought, "That doesn't sound like something I'm going to enjoy..." And put the book down. How is this really any different? Is it that these people are more public about it? Sites like Twitter, FB, and even GR, have made it mainstream to take private thoughts and make them public...Just because we disagree with an opinion doesn't make it bullying.

A second complaint, is that someone took the time to read a book, then left a negative review... Again, why are we surprised? In this digital age, no one keeps opinions to themselves anymore. Personally, if I spend money on a book, I reserve the right to review it anyway I damn well want... I don't often leave books negative reviews, but when I do, they're pretty specific as to what I did like, what I didn't like and why. Just because a review is negative, doesn't make the review a bullying attempt...That's what GR is for, leaving opinions on books. Some opinions are going to be favorable and some are not. Why does everyone need to be in agreement that all books, everywhere, are fantastic? The reality is, some of them aren't fantastic, some of them are drivel that weren't worth the time of life spent. And if people have a right to leave positive reviews they also have the right to leave negative ones.

That isn't to say, there are no bullies on GoodReads. I'm just saying that the ability to predict a books rating, or comments voicing a readers distaste for a certain book aren't enough to qualify.

Bully -- A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.
Bullying -- To treat in an overbearing or intimidating manner. To force one's way aggressively or by intimidation.

Does the reviewer get personal? Does this person insult the author by name calling, making insinuations/accusations of a personal nature, does this person threaten the author? Does this person have a history of going out of their way to leave ridiculously hateful reviews? Then yes, that person probably is a bully, and it is indeed a travesty that their IP Addy, hasn't been banned, and their hurtful comments scrubbed off of GR.

But don't just attack someone because they have an opinion you'd don't like. Don't intimidate them into leaving more pleasant reviews, or chase them off the site. The moment you accuse someone of being a bully who isn't a bully, you make yourself into the thing you hate. And really, isn't there enough drama in the world already?

(Feel free to give your opinion on the topic)

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