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sarahsar

Goodreads refugee (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1257768-sarah) exploring BookLikes. 

OFF-TOPIC: The Story of an Internet Revolt by G.R. Reader - G.R. Reader

Vote for Off-Topic as a write-in in the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Nonfiction and Best Debut Goodreads Author!

 

*****

On September 20, 2013, Goodreads “announced” a policy change with a single post in the Feedback forum. This post informed Goodreaders that certain reviews and shelf names were being deleted if they were deemed to comment on “author behavior.” Initially, they targeted only 21 users, inexplicably leaving alone similarly named shelves and equally harsh reviews from many other users. Even stranger and more ominous, many of the deletions were not of actual reviews, but of blank review space followed by comment threads, implying that it was discussion that was offensive, just as much as the rating of a book.

Those subject to the deletions were given no warning or chance to modify or save their content prior to deletion. The policy change was never announced to the Goodreads community at large. Instead it was buried in an elephantine thread in the Feedback forum (now numbering more than 6000 posts), seemingly with the hope that no one could actually read it all.

Deletions were later extended to reviews critical of the policy. Those reviews were classified as “potentially off-topic.” Other reviews, written to highlight the absurdity of the prohibition on discussion of author behavior when extended to its logical conclusion, were also deleted. Again, either due to incompetence or some obscure intent, the deletions were arbitrary, with some reviews removed while others that committed the same violations were allowed to stand. 

Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt is the story of these events, told by Goodreaders in their own words. It is an epic tale - informative, irreverent, snarky, witty, analytical, heartfelt, and heartbreaking. The sampling of reviewers whose work is included here is not monolithic. These reviewers read authors and genres across a wide spectrum and have responded to the controversy in their own individual ways. The theme that seems to unite them is a belief that a community for readers and book lovers that stifles discussion and squashes dissent is an oxymoron. 

Reducing book reviews to inoffensive but generic marketing blurbs takes away their value. People who want to engage with books in creative, intellectually stimulating ways will not stick around to stare dumbly at advertising copy. Books will always be more than “products” to passionate readers. Trivializing them as such takes the heart out of Goodreads. All that will be left behind is an echo chamber of spambots blasting blurbs at each other, with no one left to listen.

Off-Topic is available as a pdf from Lulu for $0.99.

Or download here for free (legal due to how the licensing for the contributions was set up).

 

Disclaimer: I was a contributor to this book.