My Personal Thoughts on Goodreads (No, not that. Well, some of that.)

GrandpaI've probably complained about Goodreads before. I've had issue with Goodreads before all the shenanigans of this past week. There is no perfect product out there and if it's for free then the users have very little say in how it works. Obviously, we could all stop using Goodreads. That would seem to be an easy solution, but when you've been using a product like Goodreads for a long time and all your book friends use it too, it's hard to give it up.

Goodreads' new policy of deleting reviews "about the author and not the book" (or more accurately negative reviews) doesn't affect me. I don't post my reviews there. Well, actually I have 45 'reviews' there, several of them links to posts on Chrisbookarama, and some of them extremely useful one word reviews like "Creepy!" I was never a heavy user. There are some users who review exclusively on Goodreads, a dangerous practice in my opinion, and have learned the hard way that they have no control over their content. Twenty-one users (according to Goodreads) had reviews deleted. This is been distressing for them, no doubt. The only concern I have about all of this is the shelving issue, as in Goodreads plans to delete inappropriate user shelves. It went through my mind that they could misconstrue my RIP shelf. "Is she threatening these authors?" "I don't know, Bob. Let's delete it anyway."


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I haven't had any trouble with rating books over there. Probably because I do not read self-published books. Most of the problems I've seen are between reviewers and self-published authors. I'm sure most self-published authors are lovely people but there are some Sensitive Sallys out there. Possibly the problem is all those self-pub advice blogs on the internet telling them they need reviews on Goodreads to be a success! Plus how-to posts on all the ways to game the system (gross). It's not like they have a lot of other options out there though. Goodreads has sold itself as the place where authors need to be but reviewers aren't a controllable entity. The sensitive should stay far, far away. Let's face it, those reviews can get ugly.

Back to my own Goodreads issues, the site has gotten increasingly annoying about self-promotion over the last year or so. This includes both authors and reviewers. I have a very small group of 'friends' over there. These are people whose opinions I want to read. I want to see what they are reading or planning to read.

I have written right in my policy that I do not follow authors unless I have read and liked their books. This does not stop authors from trying to get me to 'friend' them and usually it's the same authors over and over again. My policy is if you've tried 3 times to friend me and I've ignored you every time, I block you. Either these authors haven't read my policy or they choose to ignore it. It's gotten to the point that I don't even have to click on their profile to know if they are an author:
  • They have 'author' in their email address. Duh.
  • They have Smug Author* photo. I don't begrudge anyone a Smug Author photo, they look great and professional, but they have several things in common: looking off into the distance possibly with a hand to the chin, slightly blurry, often black and white. I know these are authors right away.
  • They never, ever answer my ridiculous friend request question. It should be a requirement that you answer this.
  • They have 0 books in their catalogue. Or possibly one, which you just know is their own.
Nothing personal, authors, but I don't want your stuff in my timeline.

Now, reviewers can be just as bad at over-self-promotion. The Notifications! I keep thinking I've disabled them, but they keep appearing in my inbox. No, I do not want to visit your blog for your awesome giveaway of Book I Really Don't Care About. I don't like giveaways. "Gasp! What you don't like free books?!" Nope, I don't want to go through the whole business of entering a book draw for Book I Really Don't Care About. If it is Book I Care About, I will find a way to get it come hell or high water anyway. I also don't want to attend some event you're hosting in Some Place Far Away either. Why are you sending me this?!

As I said, I could just stop using it, but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages at this point. I have dusted off my Library Thing again. I haven't used it since 2010. It's not the same though (it's not pretty). I will make an effort to keep it up to date this time.

grumpychange

How about you? Do you care about the new policy? Is there something else on your mind about Goodreads? Are you using some other book cataloguing/social media site?

*This is a Bridget Jones reference. I'm not saying all authors are smug. Just those photos scream, "Look! I wrote a book!"

20 comments:

  1. I'm completely with you. What also kills me about authors trying to friend me is the ones that write in genres I don't read. I'm not saying those genres are bad--they're just not my thing. A quick look at my "read" list would show that I don't read those books. I only want to follow people who read similar books to me.

    Also? Authors who only have their own books on their page, and give them all 5 stars. Urgh.

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    1. That is the worst about Goodreads! I don't think giving your own book 5 stars should be allowed.

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  2. I'm a lighter user so I find that many of the issues don't affect me. I pretty much accept everyone who requests my friendship, but I also rarely check my inbox so I don't care if I get spammed. I don't post my reviews, only keep track of what I'm reading in more of a cataloging capacity. Isn't Goodreads owned by Amazon? I've seen BookLikes used as a replacement for Goodreads, but I think they're also owned by Amazon. Ugh.

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    1. Yes, Amazon owns Goodreads now. I think that's part of the problem.

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  3. I migrated over to LibraryThing when Amazon bought Goodreads. I've never been affected by the kerfuffles over there because the only 'reviews' I post are links to my blog. I've kept things current on my Goodreads account because I'm part of the 75 books group but I'll only stay there until the end of the year to finish out things with the group,

    It's taken me a while to get familiar with LibraryThing but the more I use it the more I like it. I particularly like that the book data is mine to edit for my account and someone else changing info or a cover doesn't change my data.

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    1. One of these days I'll just have to bite the bullet and leave myself.

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  4. Where are you and Suzi at LT? I keep threads in the ROOT group (Read Our Own Books) and Orange January/July. I'm in other groups as well, but I don't post a ton. Say hi!

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  5. I don't use Good Reads much - in fact I just updated it this year because I like the bar that keeps track of your reading goal! which I'm behind in, as usual...I think I'm on Library Thing also, though haven't used it in years. I have a little journal I hand write all the books I've read into, which I love. And an electronic catalogue to try to keep track of the books I own.

    I don't like all the authors seeking me out and being told that if I like one book, I should like all these others over here....really, I can make my own mind up. I can't give any answers for the kerfluffle since I rarely go onto Good Reads - I do like checking into what my friends are reading on there, too. I even dislike getting the email about people updating their accounts. grr.

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    1. I like that little counter, although it stresses me out most of the time!

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  6. I was surprised only 21 users were affected by the new review policy--apparently I follow most of them (surprise surprise). I started getting disillusioned by GR last year. I don't even rate books on there anymore, but I do like the reading updates feature and keeping track of books.

    The thing that really bugs me about the whole thing is that users started those shelves & reviews as a way of moderating the out of control author spam that goes on. So their solution is to punish the people who are doing the job they SHOULD be doing? Whatever.

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    1. I read a blog post (I wish I had the link) where the writer analysed the data of the deleted material and found that many were of the same author. It seemed very personal. You got to wonder if Goodreads were just trying to appease certain authors.

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  7. Seriously, LibraryThing is just awesome. I've been using them since 2006 and only recent tried GoodReads. I immediately got bombed by authors asking to friend connections and promotional messages. I am not a fan. I use LT to catalogue all my books. Love it.

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  8. I've never been any of them. I got into book blogging before I'd even heard of Goodreads or LibraryThing, and I've been happy enough with that community. I don't judge anyone for using them, just not for me. And from your description, I don't think I'll bother.

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    1. I like to make lists so I do like those sites. Not everyone is like me though. ;)

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  9. Ha ha ha! Love this post :D I want a Smug Author Photo! I'm not an author...I just want a photo like that ;)

    Seriously though, you bring up all sorts of great points. I've tried Library Thing but it hasn't worked for me.

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    1. Me too! Just a photo of me looking off into the distance thinking literary thoughts.

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  10. Until Care threatened to defriend me for nonusage, I hadn't updated my currently reading since 2009. For some reason I can't be bothered with Goodreads. I am really curious about your ridiculous friend question though!

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  11. I too hate the author requests! I feel like they don't understand what the word "friend" means because if I don't know who you are, then you are not my friend. Also - why would friending me make you more successful on GoodReads? This is also a beef I have with authors on Twitter. No, I am not going to follow YOU just because you silently follow ME. That adds nothing to my life.

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