Taking censorship to a new level…
(1) Reviews are being deleted for being “potentially off-topic” – code for “being critical of GR”:
Let’s add another thing to the list of mind reading that GR is doing. They already sent me an email telling me a list of my reviews they would delete for being about the author. I changed all of them to a generic message that there should be a review there but it’s been censored by GR because reader’s minds are just too fragile to handle anything that is not strictly about the book.
Now, by my definition, that is not about the author. Yet, I just got an email from GR that they were deleted. Ahhhh, the double standards are awesome aren’t they?
….and my review of Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship got deleted without prior warning. My review on censorship WAS actually censored. Nice work GoodReads.
Here’s a screenshot of the email and the text of Ruby’s review.
He’s the 15th “Most Popular Reviewer” in the world on GR. He received an email notifying him that the following reviews had been deleted: “All Flesh is Grass”, “The 5th Wave”, “The Void”, “Moomins Cookbook”, and my personal favourite “An Uncommon Whore”. [screenshot of the text of his reviews]
(2) Reviews deleted for being “non-original content” despite permission given from original reviewers:
mark monday’s deletions prompted “The Hydra” reaction, a response detailed by Manny in his now deleted review of a book of the same name (8th “Most Popular Reviewer” on GR). If a review is deleted on censorship grounds, then other members have permission from that reviewer to repost that review:
In the shower just now, I suddenly had a Eureka moment. The aspect of this current censorship war that’s been upsetting us most is the feeling of powerlessless. Goodreads can arbitrarily change the rules on us, and they hardly even bother to respond when we complain. But we are not powerless. There are twenty million of us, and only a few dozen of them. We just need to get a little more organized, and we can easily resist.
So here’s one concrete way to do it, based on the legend of Hercules. You will recall that Hercules had a difficult time against the Lernean Hydra; every time he cut off one of its heads, ten more grew back. We can do the same thing if we adopt the following plan:
1. Back up all your reviews, so that you have a copy of everything you have posted.
2. If you think that one of your reviews has been unreasonably deleted by Goodreads, repost it with an image of the Hydra at the top.
3. If you see someone else posting a Hydra review, make a copy of it and post it yourself.
We can improve this basic scheme with a little thought; for example, it would be better to have a place where we keep HTML marked-up source of reviews, so that they can immediately be reposted with the same formatting, and we need a plan for duplicating deleted shelves. But we can sort that out later. Without getting too bogged down in the details, I’m sure you see what will happen. The net result of Goodreads unreasonably deleting a review will be that it immediately comes back in many different places.
People who know their Greek mythology will be aware that Hercules did in fact defeat the Hydra, and Goodreads can use the same method if they dare; they can close down the account of anyone who participates in the scheme. That will work, but I am not sure that anything less drastic will be effective. I think Goodreads will be reluctant to escalate to this level. A large proportion of the most active reviewers are now part of the protest movement, and they would be losing much of the content that makes the site valuable. Even more to the point, the media have already started to get interested (maybe you saw the article in the Washington Post). They would love the story, and it would create a mountain of bad publicity for Goodreads and Amazon.
I’d say the odds are heavily in our favor. Why don’t we try it? I promise now to respond to any Hydra calls.
[Edit: Apparently Manny’s review was the most popular review of the week and therefore was receiving publicity as such. GR’s problem was too many eyeballs were seeing it? Embarrassing them? Screenshot of web cache of the review.]
Alfaniel reposted two reviews and less than two hours later they were deleted. [Alfaniel’s BL post]
Ceridwen is now accepting messages and emails from anyone who’s had reviews deleted, not just the first 21.
If you’re just joining us, here’s a quick summary of GR’s self-destruction so far:
First, out of the blue they deleted shelves and reviews by 21 reviewers consisting of comments about author behaviour without notifying them or providing a copy of the text, which they said was unrecoverable once deleted.
After major uproar from members, they began to send notifications of deletion of reviews and shelves with a copy of the text attached. And somehow managed to return the text of reviews deleted to the first 21 members. After that change they ignored further protests from users.
Goodreads shamefully declared war on BookLikes, blaming them for someone stupidly including the ability to delete reviews by outside organisations and a glitch in GR’s IT network that was randomly deleting added books and reviews from accounts.
And now the above.
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