A bit of background:
There has been constant tension between authors and readers on sites such as GoodReads. There have been some epic battles when authors react unprofessionally to negative reviews. Authors must, for their own sanity if nothing else, remember that reviews are for readers–this is one conversation where an author has no place.
Via the always cool Smart Bitches, I found out that some people have started a new site, called Stop the GoodReads bullies¹. Going by the content so far, by bullies they mean outspoken readers. The irony of the subheader, “Take a stand against bullying,” is overwhelming when reading the posts–which is rather repellent and bitter. (Note: snark, you are doing it wrong.)
And while I suspect that the people behind the site are actually butthurt authors, hey, free speech and all that: I don’t like what they have to say, I actually think they are cowardly assholes, but they have the same right to express their disgusting views as I do.
The problem arises not when these people decrying the bullying tactics of reviewers, both on GoodReads and twitter (see all the screen captures) indulge in bullying themselves. See above: free speech.
The problem is when they post real names and locations and pictures of people who have not volunteered that information themselves–all the while hiding behind their own right to anonymity–while accusing these reviewers of all sorts of vile behaviour.² These reviewers are not public figures, they do have a right to expect some privacy.
Are the people behind StGRB doing something illegal? I don’t know–and I would guess that that would depend heavily on their own local legislation. But what they are doing is pretty unconscionable.
So let me call it as I see it: I believe the people behind Stop the GoodReads bullies are cowards and assholes. If any harm befalls any of the people they have chosen to highlight, it will be in their conscience–and with any luck, they’ll face real life consequences from endangering people they disagree with.
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Further reading (hint: these are authors–some of them quite successful. Perhaps a few assholes should take the hint, yes?)
Stacia Kane‘s heartfelt post on the issue–quote worthy bits:
You are not Taking A Brave Stand when you “out” people on the internet, no matter how rude or nasty you may think that person has been. You are not Exposing Their Crimes At Great Risk To Yourself. You are not a Miraculous Crusader For The Rights Of Others. You are not Karen Silkwood. You’re not even Woodward & Bernstein. You’re just an asshole with no perspective, to be honest.
And you should be fucking ashamed of yourself.
The answer is not to create a website so full of vile slime and attacks, a website that deliberately tries to disrupt lives and could potentially incite violence–a website that outs mothers with children in their homesand encourages people to harass them (think about that again for a second: MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN IN THEIR HOMES)–that it turns the stomach and then pat yourself on your smug fucking back like you’ve just Scored One For The Good Guys.
YOU ARE NOT A GOOD GUY.
Jennifer Armintrout–and her closing:
Grow up, book community. You’re accusing people of child abuse and trying to get them fired OVER BOOKS. FUCKING BOOKS. THEY ARE MADE UP STORIES ON PAPER OR DIGITAL MEDIA. IF YOU LIKE SOMETHING AND SOMEONE ELSE DOESN’T? FUCKING DEAL WITH IT.
The afore-mentioned Smart Bitches:
Reviews of all types are part of everything we consume now, from vacuum cleaners to hotels in Portland.
No book – no thing that is consumed – is immune or excused from review now. We are each of us more and more adept at discerning who and what we trust when we look for opinions.
So outing and attempting to shame reviewers for doing what everyone does in different forms and different venues is counterintuitive, cruel, and hypocritical (especially the part where those doing the exposing hide behind pseudonyms).
They post the real name (and if they don’t have it, they keep looking), home city and, if they can find one, photograph (again, if they can’t find one, they keep looking) of the people they’re attacking. This is already frightening and, frankly, dangerous; but they then compound that by listing their place of work and their schedule.
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¹ Thanks to commenter Robert White over at Popehat, a way to link without giving hits and increasing Google relevance.
As a matter of fact, the only individuals profiled are women. To me, this looks like a campaign targeting women.