War Declared: Goodreads vs. BookLikes, Or how Goliath beats on David

Yesterday Goodreads threw the first punch, simultaneously insulting their users’ intelligence. They announced BookLikes was responsible for reviews deleted that were not targeted as part of their new policy. And yet, in Kara’s following comments, she admits there is also a bug deleting reviews.

(Click to see the thread in which these posts were made)

Here is a copy of the email (mentioned above):

From the perspective of a programmer:

“Technically possible, provided BL has been given authority by GR to alter or delete reviews – which seems unlikely. API access like this is typically read-only unless specifically directed otherwise by the user.

Upon taking a closer look at GR’s API, he found a list of functions it allows:

review.create — Add review.
review.edit — Edit a review.
reviews.list — Get the books on a members shelf.
review.recent_reviews — Recent reviews from all members..
review.show — Get a review.
review.show_by_user_and_book — Get a user’s review for a given book.
review.update — Update book reviews.

Note that the option to delete is not present.”

[Edit: That last line is true now. GR removed review.destroy when they realised what was happening, though it seems irresponsible that it was ever included in the first place.

(Click to see the thread in which these posts were made)]

The above has been echoed by a few other IT professionals, and I believe them. Their logic is undeniable. GR has suffered a multitude of bugs and corrupted and broken code recently. It’s not implausible that this is yet another failing of GR’s rickety IT set-up.

BookLikes responds with blindsided bewilderment – I can’t blame them. This came out of the blue and reeks of Goliath (GR) beating on David, or Dawid, in this case. A small European start-up with few resources and little recourse against the deep pockets of Amazon – GR’s owners.

Many Goodreaders and Booklikers have sided with BL, epitomized by Archer’s words:

Hmmm so the logic of this, to me anyway, reads thusly…

“All of our popular reviewers are going to booklikes because we royally fucked them. I have an idea, lets delete some of their shit and then blame booklikes and maybe they’ll forget we are censoring them and they’ll come back to us and love us again.”

“Fucking brilliant Steve, I fail to see any flaws in that idea whatsoever”

Contrary to GR’s assertion, many users (including this one) who’ve had their GR and BL accounts linked, haven’t had any reviews deleted. And those that have, either predated the controversial review deletion policy implemented on September 20th or haven’t created BL accounts.

[Edit: Evaine (mentioned in the first screenshot) left an illuminating comment on a reblog of my post describing her experience. She’d had no reviews deleteted, just 7 or 8 books, but she received this email from Kara:

We looked into this for you, and it turns out the review deletions you reported were made by the third party application, BookLikes, through our API. Our team is working to restore any reviews we can. This process could take several days.

We’ve attached a spreadsheet of the reviews that were deleted by the third-party service and when the delete requests came through to Goodreads. We’d suggest you wait on re-adding these reviews, as it may cause conflicts with the restored data later.

We have also contacted BookLikes to let them know about this issue. We have disabled their API access while we look into how they were using it, so the deletions should no longer be happening.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

Evaine responded clarifying it was books that were missing, which had since been restored so she needed no further adjustments to her account. Then she received this email:

To clarify, the spreadsheet attached contains the books that the BookLikes app requested be deleted from your Goodreads account. It’s possible that not all the deletion requests went through properly (which is why some are still on your shelves).

As mentioned earlier, we have turned off the app’s API access while we look into the deletions, so no further review deletions will occur on your account.

Evaine comments: “Still talking about reviews when I was talking about BOOKS. AND, the spreadsheet indicated about 90 books which is about the number of reviews I have written at GR since Day 1. So what I took from that was that GR thought that BL had requested that all my books with attached reviews be deleted.

And to top it off? I never got an advice on that thread that she’d replied to me. Now I have to go check that. PITA!!!”]

They need to get their house in order. Pronto.

Goodreads, we’re not stupid. We’re not buying the lies you’re peddling. That you believe we’re sheep to be led to the slaughter, is the ultimate insult. The punch you’ve thrown at one smaller than you is disgraceful and has been as effective as this kitty’s:

Jealousy is unbecoming of a supposedly professional media company with legitimate standing, now rapidly losing credibility.

Once I would’ve recommended GR to others without hesitation.

Today, I am ashamed of you.

Related posts:

  • Kaia’s Shenanigans
  • The Moonlight Library’s post – there’s a great conversation attached to this one.

13 thoughts on “War Declared: Goodreads vs. BookLikes, Or how Goliath beats on David

  1. Thanks for the write-up on the new events.

    A little correction. As far as I know, this is not entirely accurate:
    “Note that the option to delete is not present.”
    Actually, it was. There was a review.destroy in the GR API, and BL synchronization worked this way: when the user removed a book from their BL shelves, it was removed from GR as well.


    1. I ASSume they haven’t fixed it because they’re still transitioning the site onto Amazon servers and are busy integrating data and services so Amazon and GR accounts can be merged, and are frantically fixing the multiple bugs and broken features as a result, in case they inadvertently bring the site down.


  2. Reblogged this on A Plethora to Ponder and commented:
    This is actually pretty old, but I had no idea of the extent of Goodreads censorship (I’ve been using Goodreads for five years now…) until today when I tried to read a review that had popped up in my review stream but had been removed.


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