Saturday, August 24, 2013

A few words about cyberbullying

Goodreads doesn't allow it.


If you're reading horror stories about heinous threats on the website that hosts literally millions and millions of readers and thousands and thousands of authors, that's just what they are: stories.  Or, in words of one syllable, lies.  Just plain lies.

Goodreads is a wonderful place, full of fun and laughter and kindness and sarcasm and honesty (sometimes brutal honesty, but still honesty) and all kinds of different people with all kinds of different opinions.

I wish I had found Goodreads years ago, but I'm glad I've found it now.

Do I like everyone there?  No, I don't.  Do I agree with everyone there?  No, I don't.  You won't either.

Would you like the truth about what happened last week on Goodreads?  The truth as supported by actual evidence rather than shrieks and wails of people who adamantly claim they saw something but have no evidence to back up their claims?

Try going here to get some more information, complete with screen shots of what actually was posted on Goodreads.  Not satisfied?  Try this one

I'm one of the so-called "bullies" of Goodreads.  I'm a "bully" because I dare to tell the truth and some people just can't handle it.  The writing business isn't for sissies, and that hasn't changed since the days of the bone stylus on a tablet of soft clay. 

But the writing and reading business isn't for bullies either.  It's not for threats of physical harm, it's not for retaliating against people you don't agree with by publishing their private information, it's not for accusing people of crimes they never committed.  None of that is allowed on Goodreads, because that's really bullying.


  1. So you link to two notorious bullies and their blogs to prove a point? haha Okay.

    Let's see if you're fair enough to allow this link to show. It goes straight to bullying on goodreads as proof that it does happen there. And way too often. There has also been plenty of evidence to show it takes place. Here is that link.

    1. When I looked at the reviews of the linked book, all I saw were comments on the book, its content, the quality of the writing, and the author's behavior in response to those reviews.

      There were no threats to the author, no derogatory remarks about his race or sexual orientation, his age or physical appearance, his ethnicity, his socio-economic status, except in possible response to his own comments and actions.

      In other words, there was no bullying in those reviews. Was there snarkiness? Sure. Meanness? Maybe even some of that. But that's not bullying. And that's why Goodreads allowed the reviews and comments to remain.

      Did the comments perhaps hurt the sales of that book? Possibly. But the public is not obligated to like and/or buy any author's work. If the work in question had been read and liked by other readers, they would have given it rave reviews, told their friends about it, and made the author a lot of money.

      That didn't happen. Yes, there were friends of the author who gave him 5-star ratings, but that kind of support wasn't enough to overcome what other people saw as bad writing and bad behavior.

      Did the reviews and remarks hurt the author's feelings? Maybe. But that's one of the risks people take when they decide to publish their work. I took it. Mark Twain took it. Mary Shelley took it. Stephen King and J.K. Rowling and Courtney Milan and Jayne Ann Krentz and Fritz Lieber and Erle Stanley Gardner and Robert infinitum...they all took it. And survived.

      Again: If the remarks are directed at the book, they aren't bullying. No matter how harsh, no matter how painful, as long as the remarks are about aspects of the book -- its content, its artwork, its style, its genre, anything about the book itself -- they aren't bullying. They're just critical. Even if they're factually wrong, they're still not bullying.

      If the remarks are directed toward the author's public behavior in relation to the book, they are also fair game. The author chose to make his (or her) behavior public and therefore has to live with the reaction of his (or her) readers. And no, I don't exempt myself.

      Reviewers are, yes, in a different position, and especially on Goodreads. Goodreads was designed as a database of published works to be used by readers. For readers to find new books to read and discuss with other readers the books they've read, the ones they've liked and the ones they've hated. Authors have to be very careful where they walk and how they behave in that arena, because they aren't always welcome. The site isn't for them.

      When a writer writes a book, or a story, or a poem, she owns not only that book or story or poem but also the reaction to it, because it's hers and hers alone. Once she publishes that book or story or poem, she has to set it free and allow all of its readers to experience it in their own way. Their reaction will not be hers. They may hate it, they may love it as much as she did when she wrote it, but they will not ever own it the way she did.

      But while she can still claim ownership of her words and her reaction, she has no right to dictate how the readers will react. And if she tries to control them, she must be prepared for their refusal to be controlled.

      "Anonymous," you apparently haven't figured that out. I'm sorry for that, because one of the true joys of writing is letting those books and stories and poems, songs and plays and essays and blogposts and whatevers touch all those wonderful readers out there. Will every reader love every story and song? No, of course not. But by letting those words go free without our control, we let them find those who will love them and cherish them and share them and make them immortal.

      Whether you're Carroll Bryant or not, you'll probably never know that joy.

  2. You yourself said that if the comments address the book then it's not bullying. No real reviewer would comment on the author and yet, there are plenty of comments addressing the author and his behavior. What does an authors behavior have to do with a book? Nothing. Also, one commenter wished Carroll dead, Pulp Fiction style. I know Carroll and I know he couldn't care less about reviews that attack his work. Most of those reviews attack him. They accuse him of crimes he never did. They call him a racist. Almost all of the bad ratings and reviews are fake. Put there by people who never read the book. Put there merely to attack him and hurt his sales. That to me is bullying. The websites you link to are run by known bullies, especially the owner of .38 caliber. I also noticed your blog is listed on that other site as being a bully blog. Now I am beginning to see why.

    P.S. - Not Carroll. Not the other anon either.

  3. So what you're really all up in arms about are the reviews of Carroll Bryant's book.

    The bad reviews, whether of him or his book, couldn't hurt his sales. He didn't have any.

    Bryant was labeled a racist because he referred to one of his book's reviewers, who happens to be African American, as a "monkey." That is a racist comment and there's no defense for it. None.

    And I most certainly allowed that an author's actions in connection with the book are indeed fair game for comments by reviewers.

    To say that "no real reviewer" would address an author's actions at all is not an intelligent observation. Authors create their work in a context, and that context most certainly can affect their work. It can be, and indeed should be, addressed, if pertinent to the work, by a reviewer.

    Bryant made his behavior a public issue and tied it directly to the book(s). His behavior was *about* the book and so he in essence engaged in a public dialogue with *all* readers and potential readers. That behavior becomes part of the book's context.

    However, all that aside, the people who post on Goodreads aren't required to be whatever it is you think "real reviewers" should be. They are readers, and they are entitled by the Terms of Service on the site -- which is private property -- to express their opinions. They are entitled to be passionate, ignorant, wrong, flippant, and even insulting. It's part of the business.

    I understand that you simply cannot and will not accept this. I don't know why. 99.9% of authors have no problem with letting their readers read and enjoy and comment without interference. So what is it that you want? Guaranteed only 5-star reviews from people *you* think are qualified reviewers? What if your idea of qualified isn't the same as mine?

    Who made you God?