Why Goodreads Sucks.

Why Goodreads Sucks 3.0

Hey, good to see you.

Every day someone comes to my blog to read this post. It’s my most-read post, and had I known that when I originally composed the entry for my blog, I would have been more thoughtful.

Apparently many, many people have many, many opinions about this social networking community. Back when I composed this post, I was just coming off a frustrating round of nonsense and I was feeling frisky and rant-o-riffic.

What you are reading is the third version of the post.

It’s “Why Goodreads Sucks 3.0.”

Why have I revised it twice? Well…

The original post was a rambling, yet entertaining rant regarding my negative experiences with the site after doing a book giveaway for Leather to the Corinthians. It was fun, cathartic, and poorly organized. It didn’t get my points across in a clear manner.

Soon after posting it, I forgot all about it. But then…

I noticed that people were coming to the blog. Some nodded their heads in agreement. They had also had a bad experience. These people were readers, reviewers, and authors. Others had their fun with me. Hey, I’m good either way. I’m no shrinking violet.

But over time, as the traffic continued, I began to think (and overthink) the content of the post. I’d add to it, revise small pieces. The whole thing was a mess, all over the place. If this was the only thing of mine that someone was going to read, was it the best example of my work?


So, I took it down and put up a lame poem about “Why Goodreads Sucks.” That sat for a while and the clicks kept coming.

So now we are here. Sigh. I’d love to retire this post because I am long since over it and the trolls have gone on to better targets. But, thanks to the permanence of the Internet, it’s probably always going to show up as a link, and if nothing was on the end of someone’s clicky clicky, I’d just look like a pussy for deleting the post.

I grew up in Detroit. That’s not going to happen.

OK. Still with me? Let us proceed then…

For the sake of transparency, I will break down the content of that original post and summarize the poem.

The Original Post (what I talked about):

  • I hosted a Goodreads Giveaway.
  • A cheater entered my giveaway using multiple false profiles.
  • This user rated my book a 1 and 2 star using false profiles, just to be a troll.
  • My ranting brought out a few of Goodreads meanies, who placed my book on shelves with insulting names.
  • It turns out there’s all kinds of shitty behavior going on in the Goodreads community and some people are all bunched up over it.
  • Turns out there are people that give books low ratings just to be dicks and are actually out to hurt people. These people are readers, reviewers, and writers. They are incredibly lame for doing so.
  • If you write a book – if you put your work out for the public – you must be willing to take your lumps.
  • If you rate a book, review it. Explain the high or low rating. Go on, give us a book report and tell us how you feel. It’s too easy to just click.
  • I coined the phrase, “Don’t just click and you won’t be a dick.” All the kids are saying it now.
  • I also posted a picture of a cute kitten.

That was pretty much it. Over time (it took a while) the folks running Goodreads cleaned up the nonsense that was going on. They were super cool about it. Also, a number of policy changes seemed to clean things up a bit.

My Second Post – Why Goodreads Sucks, Part II (what I waxed poetically about):

  • Sometimes people suck.
  • Sometimes I am full of shit.
  • There was no kitten picture. Instead, I posted a picture of monkeys hugging.


Why Goodreads Sucks 3.0.

I’ll be honest (I try to be, that way I never have to remember what I say or write). I am not really into Goodreads any more. When I finish a book and I am compelled to write about it, I post a review there and on Amazon. Other than that, I spend as little time as possible with it. Except the Bizarro Fiction reading group. Those people rock.

I don’t find it that engaging and I prefer to spend my social networking time on FB and Twitter. So…I don’t have a strong sense of the state of things today. I had a crappy experience, used my blog to purge it from my system and moved on.

So here we are. Hopefully you stuck with me to the end of this thing. Tell me, does it still suck? Is it better? Are people cooler now? What’s going on?

Why did you Google “Goodreads Sucks” and click on the link that brought you here?

I’m curious.

P.S. – There was a Part II (mentioned above) and III (not mentioned at all) to this saga. Those posts aren’t relevant any more, so I took them down. They weren’t that great or insightful anyway. And now that you’re here, all the way to the bottom – how about checking out some of my other posts. Thanks. YOU ROCK.

P.P.S – The secret code phrase for this article is Banana Hammock. Post this phrase in the comments below and you will have good luck for 7 years. Don’t post and you will have bad luck for 13.


138 thoughts on “Why Goodreads Sucks.”

  1. This is just awful! And exactly the reason why I’m scared to host a giveaway on goodreads or anywhere else. The freebie stalkers are insane. A lot of times they just sell the merch they win, it’s a way to supplement their income. The the rating thing blows, too. Someone just gave me a 3 star review on goodreads with no review, my book is still on her To Read shelf, and I’ve been fighting with myself ever since to not contact her and ask for more info.

    1. I’ve played mental ping-pong with contacting reviewers — specifically the ones who only rate the book and don’t leave comments.

      Overall the giveaway was a success, but I won’t be doing another one for this book. At least Amazon lets you know that the reviewer actually purchased the product. I am hoping to see improvements now that Amazon owns Goodreads but I am not holding my breath.

      1. Mental ping-pong. That sounds about right.

        Amazon has owned them for a while now and, unfortunately, they’re notorious for buying up online companies and not changing their operations at all, so, yeah…

    2. Apologies to journeyof this isn’t a reply to your comment, I just couldn’t figure out how to post a comment to the article so I hit reply on your post (it was first).

      To the author of the article, I would like to point out that goodreads not checking on if you’ve read a book or not is a good thing for someone like me. It has allowed me to move some of my reviews of books over from where I used to review books and it allows me to read books online in overdrive or wherever and then review them separately on good reads, so it is handy. I think this is a big part of why it is so popular with readers, it’s open format provides a sort of freedom so users feel comfortable using it to store all their book reviews in one spot.

      And the reason I clicked on your article is I’m guessing the same as many others, I just started on good reads and wanted to know if there was something seriously wrong with it before I spent too much time setting my account up.

      This article I feel has a misleading title so you can get yourself more hits, and also is an unfair bashing of a pretty good book review site. You are sad about getting bad reviews for you book so you decide to bash the whole site, nice work. Maybe take some of those negative comments you receive and actually try to use them to improve yourself instead of calling everyone who doesn’t agree with you, stupid or wtvr. Shame on you.

      1. Not a problem. Thanks for taking the time to read the article and comment.

        Sounds to me like you have many reviews that you are bringing to your Goodreads profile. Excellent to hear. There are many great reviewers on Goodreads and I have no doubt you will be contributing positively to the community. Did you know at one time they had a book exchange? It was great and it’s a shame they don’t do this anymore.

        I’m sorry if you feel the article title mislead you. I don’t title my blog posts to draw traffic. I don’t even know how and if you were to look through my list of titles in my table of contents, you would see this to be true. I had a moderately irritating experience with the trolls of Goodreads. Every online community has them. They are worse than cockroaches. Since writing this article, Goodreads has changed user policy and it has become a generally more positive experience. I wrote about this here:https://readtomlucas.com/2013/10/01/why-goodreads-sucks-part-iii-reversal-of-fortune/. Nobody ever reads this article, which is a shame. At the time that I wrote, Why Goodreads Sucks, there was quite a bit of buzz online regarding all kinds of attacks within the social networks, from disgruntled authors, upset reviewers, and others who just feed off of chaos. It seems to have calmed down a bit.

        I didn’t bash the whole site. I suggested that they crack down on giveaway cheaters and that people review books constructively. I’m still there.

        Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

      2. It could be no one reads the other article because it just isn’t there? When I click I receive a 404 error, and when I tried to do a search for it, only the original article turned up, none of the follow-ups.

      3. I’ve had nothing but nightmares dealing with Goodreads and their trollish members.
        Here is my own rant:

        First, I really dislike the fact that they list books without asking the author or publisher first, or at least offering the option to have them removed. This means we are forced to become members just to make sure our books are accurately presented.

        The site itself is poorly designed and maintained. Nothing is clearly labeled or arranged, with every function in a different spot. If you make the mistake of linking it to Facebook, you will never be rid of it unless you delete your Facebook and Goodreads accounts and start over. No matter how many times I e-mailed them they couldn’t separate the two.

        Goodreads also favors big publishers. Their promotions are designed to exclude most independent authors by only offering expensive ads, or giveaways. The problem with the giveaways is that they only allow prerelease PRINT books to be offered. Not ebooks or anything already published. Indie authors can’t afford to sit on a finished book. We need to get it out there as soon as possible.

        Listings only include books that readers already know about from advertising and listings on sites like Amazon (which also favors big publishers) Big pub doesn’t need the help. They buy their way onto bestseller lists and pay for wide-spread advertising.

        Early on I joined a discussion and asked how to post a video trailer for my first book. Instead of a helpful answer I got hammered by a troll who basically said “You’re just trying to promote your book.” (Except nastier). Really? Of COURSE I’m trying to promote my book, That’s the invitation Goodreads uses to entice authors to join the site!
        I closed my account, but then realized I need to stay there when I was close to publishing my second novel, and offering both in paperback for the first time.

        The first problem when I rejoined was the fact that they improperly listed the two formats for my book. It took many emails before they finally seemed willing to correct it.

        I joined another discussion and suggested the ‘New Releases’ listing include all new releases, and again got attacked. I realize there are a lot of books released each day, but since books are listed by genre they could be easily broken down into manageable sizes.
        I also joined some fan groups and introduced myself and got the cold shoulder. It seems most of the readers there have some kind of aversion to authors. I’m sorry, but that makes no sense. Are they not fans of books? Shouldn’t they enjoy interacting with the people who create the thing they enjoy?

        I’ve gotten absolutely no benefit from Goodreads, yet I’m stuck checking in just to make sure they haven’t screwed up my book listings or allowed trolls to give deliberately bad ratings and reviews. Based on the experience of other authors, so far I’m lucky I don’t have any reviews.

        Yes, Virginia, Goodreads sucks.

      4. Hi BL! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and respond in such detail. It’s my hope that it helps another reader who stops by. Every time I think about retiring this post, there’s another smart piece that gets added to the headache puzzle. It’s a jungle out there.

        All the best,

  2. Sometimes people just suck! I recently published a book on Amazon, “Welcome to the Zombie Hotel Sterling”: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E3SYXCG

    It’s about a failed preservation attempt, from the building’s point of view, as explained to an urban exploration style photographer, who sneaks inside to take pictures of the interior.

    Obviously, given the title, it is not supposed to be a book for historians by an historian. My intention was to write something that would appeal to individuals who would otherwise not care to read about the history of some hotel built in the late 1800s, by tying it into pop culture using zombies and urban exploration. And I did reach the #1 spot on Amazon’s Pop Culture and Historical Preservation lists, during my free download promotion period, and managed to maintain those spots a little beyond the free period, on the “paid” lists for the same categories.

    I was slammed, anonymously, by someone, or several someones, sending me nasty private messages, who did not want to see this landmark hotel shown in a state of decline. Then someone, who obviously didn’t even read my book, since the history of the hotel starts in the late 1800s and continues, in a linear fashion, straight through to the demise of the hotel, wrote the following review:

    “The history is choppy too starting from 2006 jumping back and forth indicative of a first time author. For the price if you want photo-cropped artwork of history it is fair if you want a history lesson though, this book needs a revision”.

    I don’t know what they are talking about! My historical research IS valid. I spent countless hours at my local Historical Society, looking up all of the available information about the hotel, using newspaper archives and other research materials. And the history presented in my book doesn’t begin in 2006, and does not jump back and forth…..

    I was going to respond to it on the Amazon website, but I’m not sure that its the best way to handle the situation since someone is obviously trying to be a troll. But it’s just not fair that people can attempt to sabotage your creative efforts out of spite or for just no good reason.

    So I feel your pain!

    1. Wow. Thanks for sharing your story. BTW your book sounds great — I teach a research for creative writing course. Send me a message via my contact page, I might want to interview you for my class 🙂

      Trolls they be trolling. The great thing about the Internet is that everyone is so much more accessible. It’s also the worst thing about it.

  3. That is one of the huge draw back of “successful” social networks: the fucking trolls. I guess on the plus side you might assume that you’ve reached a certain level of success that these bastards have found you among the millions and millions of unread treatises out there. Funny thing that when our “groups” go global the need for group management never quite kicks in. As they say, never read the comments unless you can emotionally filter out the sociopath-troll-scum. Idiots. We’re just trying to have some fun here and share the things we love. My guess is that the un-self-actualized dolts are just happy that they almost find the correct keys to hit on their mother’s Window-XP computer keyboard. Idiots.


      Nailed it brother. I am reminded of the Kevin Smith film where they visit trolls door to door and give em some tough love.

      Trolls and Russian hackers are the most exhausting aspects of the Internet. Sigh.

  4. Some people are just jerks. There’s no way around it. I can see leaving a bad review if someone shelled out the big bucks for a hardcover at retail price and the book was beyond bad. For free books, it’s the luck of the draw if you go with self-published. I’ve read dynamite stuff that was filled with misspellings and stuff like that. Leave a bad review because they can’t tell the difference between bear and bare? No way! Leave it alone. Be happy you got one free thing in your life!

    The whole cheating thing sucks, however, and I don’t blame you for being angry about it.

  5. First I want to say I like your book, my son likes your book and so does his mate who also read it. The fact that you chose to self publish is inspiring cuz hey, you had “the balls” to go and do it. It’s sad there are people who think its ok to cheat and I’d like to hope that she along with all cheaters get their comeuppance, hopefully not wishful thinking. I think it’s wrong to be able to give a star rating without giving a review. If someone doesn’t like it they should at least say why or, if they think a books ace they should comment on their favorite bits? I have read lots of pros and cons of joining good reads and so still haven’t.
    I have to admit that after reading your post above I’m still left pondering a rather odd question…. 20 facebook profiles? I wonder does she actually remember which one is the real her and more to the point, where on earth does she get the time to make so many and keep them going?
    Keep doing what your best at Tom, writing (whoops! and teaching!). Their are so many people that enjoy what you write. Me included! 🙂

    1. You’ve been with me since I started blogging, Nem. Your support has and continues to mean so much.

      Hey great idea for a story in your comments…someone with a million profiles and logins that loses all sense of self…..

  6. Because of this article I just bought ur book-yea I know only $.99 on Amazon BUT I am VERY curious now about you and ur writing- I am more if a “paranormal romance” gal BUT I really liked this article- I have a couple ahead if ur book to read BUT I will definitely let u know how it goes!!

  7. I really appreciate you sharing this and putting yourself out there. Its a good reminder to me that just because a book gets a great or not so great review, doesn’t mean I will like or dislike it.
    Recently, I picked up Mary Karr’s “Liar’s Club” memoir, one that had many positive reviews. I have read a couple books of her poetry which I loved and figured, why not finally read her memoir? After dragging myself through chapter 3, I gave up reading it. It was so detailed and I felt “overly written”, I just couldn’t find my brain getting interested or entertained by this book. Books and writing suit various tastes. It just goes to show you sometimes need to pick the book up and try it yourself. Even if a book is “well written” doesn’t mean YOU will enjoy it.

    1. A wise man once told me, “some people don’t like pizza.” We love what we love, right? I have been excited by new books by some of my fave authors and have been disappointed. Others come out of nowhere and blow me away. Thanks for taking the time to share in the discussion 🙂

  8. OMG, you have said a lot of what I have thought all this time. I’ve been a “pro” reviewer for awhile, working first with Goodreads, then with a private site, finally working with Paranormal Romance Guild. I read. I write reviews. I agonize over every minus of stars in a review and I always try to be constructive. I feel like I need to give a writer their best shot.

    Now I’ve become one of the writers. I just published (two days ago) my very first book. I’ve got it up on GoodReads and I figure that there will come a time, probably rather soon, that I’ll get a 1 star rating with no info or, worse, a 1 star with info and none of it kind. And you can tell if the person has read the book by the way it’s written.

    I wish GoodReads would find a way to know who has the book and who’s just clicking to, as you beautifully say, be a dick.

    1. Hey, congrats on your book!

      Sounds to me like you are one of those rare people who actually care about what they do and I admire you for that. The authors you have reviewed were lucky to have you!

      Feel free to post the link to your book in this comment thread. I have a feeling you’ll find a few readers.

  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Tom. I agree with everything you’ve said. I steer clear of Goodreads nowadays for the reasons you and others have mentioned. The people who give the nasty/negative reviews are just miserable people. Constructive criticism is good. I appreciate those that take the time to do just that, but others are just ridiculous. I would love to go “rate” their job performance.

    I hope someone gets back to you soon regarding the cheater. I’m a true believer in karma. What you put into the world will eventually come back to you. I’m sure she will answer for her misdeeds.

    Best wishes to you and your future endeavors…

    1. Hi Kelli,

      Thanks for jumping in here and leaving your comments. I am hoping to see some results, although perhaps the universe will present correction in a novel way.

      I am not sure if I will remain on Goodreads or not. I’m going to give it some time to breath before pulling the trigger.

      That being said, I often repost my blogs on Red Room and I have had zero issues with that community.

  10. My biggest gripe about GR is that they force you to sign up through facebook. I hate things linked to my fb page.
    If I happen to not like a book, I just delete it from my list and not worry about it. I think the least I’ve given out is 3 stars and those books had parts that just fucking confused me. You really have to make me scratch my head to do that though.
    I just downloaded your book to my Kindle. I promise when I’m done reading, my review won’t piss you off. 🙂

  11. I have been going back and forth on doing a giveaway and someone pointed me to your article. One of my books has almost all 4 and 5 star rating, not by friends and family and along came this guy on Goodreads who clearly had not read the book, if he did, it was a surface scan of the book. The book, is based on a Native American story, and is time travel, he clearly knows nothing about history as some of his comments were downright stupid. HIs ignorance showed in a big way, he rated the book at 3 stars. It does seem to me that Goodreads is rather clickish.

    I never thought of people cheating in those giveaways!

    Is there a moderator for the Giveaways?

    1. I’ve seen reviews that start…”I never read this kind of book and therefore I hated it before I even started to read it.”

      Ok, not an exact quote but I have seen this kind of thing. It’s interesting…there are great expectations for the writer, but not the critic. True criticism requires understanding how the material fits within its genre, history, subculture, what have you. There are a lot of people who don’t know how to critically evaluate a text, but they just do it anyway. And they blast indie authors for professionalism!

      The only moderation that occurred with my giveaway was when I initially set it up. You have to wait for their approval and then it is apparently a free-for-all. There are also veiled threats that if you don’t send out your books to the winners that there will be consequences.

      Another tip…when I set up my giveaway, I chose to make it available to readers in the US, UK, and Canada. I wanted to make it a fairly open contest. What I didn’t know is that Goodreads would pick an equal number of winners from each region. As a result, my shipping budget was underestimated. $$$$$. Ouch.

      I’d do it again, but probably just the US.

  12. HI there–

    I frequently enter goodreads first reads giveaways, but I always make sure to read each book summary to make sure it’s something I really want to read before I enter, otherwise I might get stuck reading a book that has a cool cover, but a crappy story I don’t wanna read. The rules for the giveaway state that winners are not required to give a review, but that it would be preferred that winners write a review, and that writing a review would better the reader’s chances of winning more books. I actually didn’t know this at first, but now I always make sure to read the book and write an honest review. Sometimes that’s the problem though. I know there are some authors that would prefer that readers not bother writing a review if we didn’t like the book, but if I want to keep on winning books ever again on goodreads, I have to. I would prefer not to give a bad review at all, because I honestly feel bad writing negatively about somebody’s hard work–I know it takes dedication to write an entire book, so I’d rather not say anything. It’s like I’m totally thankful to the author for giving me a free book, but I didn’t like it, so now I have to say I hated it, and explain why–But I’m sorry to do it…Either way you look at it–It’s kind of awkward, and it sucks for both parties. As a reader who isn’t a professional critic, the best I can do is keep it objective, polite, and respectful. Writing’s hard, man!

    1. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t give the book away to get reviews. I did it just to put it out there and potentially meet lots of new, cool people.

      Based on your practices, you are clearly one of the good ones and Goodreads has many fine folks in its community. However, I think that they should do a better job of managing the giveaways and kick cheaters.

  13. I’m not much of a Good Reads fan (the site just doesn’t hold my interest long) but I see the same issue on Amazon. I always check reviews when I’m deciding whether I want to try a certain book or not, but I’ve become adept at telling good reviews from bad. Didn’t even bother to finish the book? Bad review. Just “not your thing”? Bad review. Offended by homosexual content? BAD REVIEW. As much as it sucks, sometimes you have to wade through all the reviews to see what the trends are: characterization, plot, etc. I tend to be extremely wary of one star reviews, because a book would have to be insanely awful for me to give it a one-star review. I’ve only done that once, and I’ll always stand by that argument; nothing else has ever struck me as that bad, though. People just love to share their bad opinions, especially if the book is actually good. That’s what we get for encouraging all those little special snowflakes, I guess. XD

    1. I came to your site to read also because of that article which spawned other blog posts re Trolls and Trollettes. I did a post re Lauren on the cancellation. She now is backing off her stance of never publishing because she has had a barrage of tweeting by Trolls donning concerning hats and luring her back into the politics of Goodreads. A followup blog will ensue.

      I connected with your philosophy of killing of potential is not necessary. Got to check out your book, now.

      1. Hey there,

        Great post on Pippa. I added it to the comments for my Goodreads post. This whole thing is just so damn ridiculous.

        I received an email from Goodreads regarding the cheater. I will be following up on the story next week. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  14. Sadly, cheaters prosper all the time. And the minute you cock-block ’em, they find another little crack in the rules to squeeze their little cockroach selves through.

    Mental note: Pick up your book and stop by with a review. From the title alone, I know it’s totally something I’ll love. Angella Graff also said she liked it, and we have a lot of the same literary tastes, so that’s always a good sign! =)

    You totally had me dying laughing. Thanks for the elaboration on the seedy underbelly of Goodreads; I’ll definitely tread more carefully and pull out of the forums. A few indie authors in my local RWA chapter were going on about how wonderful the Goodreads forums are, and how we should be building a presence there. Not knowing much about GR, and trusting the author that has sold 80k+ copies of her debut novel, I did. Now I think I’ll just quietly pull out and pretend these aren’t the droids I’m looking for.

    1. I’ve heard that the forums can be quite good, but I’m seeing posts around the blogosphere that it is quite cliquish as well. As I am too cool for school, that’s a problem for me.

      80k+ is incredibly impressive. Makes a man wonder.

      I’d love to know who you are talking about…

      1. Well, forums (fora?) are touch-and-go for me anyway, given the time sink they can be. So it’s just a good reason for me to go the way I’m leaning and pull out anyway. Maybe in the near future I’ll try again.

        And yes, 80k+ is phenomenal. She recently (like, yesterday) left her day job and entered the Promised Land, the “full-time author.” If you haven’t heard of Aleatha Romig, I highly recommend her.

        (Of course, I recommend me, too, but I may be a tad biased…)

      2. Anything I have read about an “author’s platform” points to the need to participate in forums….but they are indeed a time sink. Time that could be spent writing.

        I’ll check out Aleatha…and you as well.

  15. Well, to be fair, right when you join GR they give you a huge list of books to go through. When I first joined, I rated a shitton of books that I’d read in the past without leaving reviews just to start building up my shelf. *shrug* But yeah, nowadays I try very hard to write reviews, and have gone back to a few of my lower rated books to try to explain why.

    It’s sort of a dangerous thing to comment on unreviewed ratings. Sometimes when I’m trying to decide if I’m interested in a book I’ll ask, but I’m not an author. Apparently some people are scared of authors and if you ask them about their rating they’ll feel intimidated into being nice or something. I can’t explain it. I would look carefully to see who their friends are and if they have 3 million negative shelves before I even tried, and if they seem to be people who aren’t affiliated with the trolls, then a simple, “It would greatly help me improve my writing in the future if you would be so kind as to give me some ideas as to why you disliked this book, if you don’t mind” or something along those lines. But again, it’s dangerous because some people will take even such a politely worded request as an ATTACK!!! and then you’re in the shit.

    I’ve been on Goodreads just over two years, and have seem some really heinous stuff on there. It’s disheartening.

    1. I recall the mass book rating when I joined as well. My assumption was that I was asked to rate books so that the Goodreads machine could suggest books that I might enjoy. Netflix works this way, so it made sense.

      The problem is in the design. A Netflix user rates a film. This rating is relative to their tastes only. It is not a universal rating. Netflix uses this data to show you movies you might want to watch. If Goodreads worked in the same fashion, then it would be a fine system. But we both know it does not. A rating is a rating is a rating.

      I have heard of authors contacting those that review their books. I would never do that. A review should stand, good or bad. Since posting my rant, many people have contacted me to let me know that they had been bullied on GR (many to the point of quitting). They thanked me for speaking out about my experiences. They had been too afraid to do so after seeing others incur the wrath of the trolls.

      Funny, you’d think a community based on the celebration of the written word would be too intelligent and mature for such shenanigans. How disappointing indeed.

      Yesterday, I discovered a new bully had arrived onto my book’s page. This individual is a Goodreads librarian, no less. I’ll be posting about that later this week. Now that I know that I am speaking for others and they appreciate me for doing so, I am seeing this all the way through.

      Thanks for taking the time to join in the discussion.

  16. Wow, someone actually cheated as GoodReads contest. Hm, I’m thinking the person obviously doesn’t realize all the hard work that goes into writing a book! That’s so inconsiderate and doesn’t play well with the fact that I already got a critic yesterday that set my day off to a bad note. Have you heard back to your message to GoodReads yet? 2017 is so far away…

  17. This was a very thought provoking piece. I have an account at GoodReads and at Shelfari but don’t use either of them very much because it seems as though there are only young readers there and I do not have much in common with those who are 12-14 years old.

    1. Thanks TJ. I may have been more ranty than analytical, but the response I have seen since posting suggests that there are a number of folks out there that are unhappy with the nonsense floating about GR.

      Too bad, it could be a cool scene.

  18. you do realize that 3 stars on Goodreads is not actually a mediocre rating, right? it literally means “I Liked It”. personally, I don’t give 1 & 2 star ratings to authors who have asked me to review their book because it seems like an unkind gesture. I’d rather not rate or even write a review about a book that was given to me that I didn’t like or felt eh about – it seems unnecessarily discouraging.

    but I have no problem giving 3 stars because that is truly not a negative rating.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Although I respect your opinion, I think many people see three stars as a neutral rating at best. It’s a “C” on your final exam. Or maybe a “meh.”

      And if something thinks something deserves a “meh” or was only good enough to score a “C” on the rubric, so be it.

      The GR ratings/review system recently went through painful changes. However, there’s still plenty of trolling running about.

      Your general policy seems quite sound. Perhaps in time GR will move away from a “YouTube with Books” feel. For now, I am spending as little time as possible there.

  19. Having multiple profiles and rating books or multiple editions of books with malicious intent is against GR policy. You should flag all known profiles, so that they can be closed and the ratings cleared. [IF you are correct]

    Also a rating of 3 on GR is a good rating. A 3 on GR is equal a 4 on Amazon. Books with overall rating above 4 are rare. I personally consider any book with an average of 3.5 stars for a couple of thousand ratings as a VERY good rating. I would advise you to read on this on the feedback group as it has been discussed so many times, you will understand better the rating system.

    The recent changes are about the REVIEW and they are all in favor of the author [it has to do with the shelf names]. The rating system hasn’t changed and will not change as it will mean re-calculating and re-rating all the read books. This has also been discussed and for this reason there will be no half-star ratings.

    Instead of doing giveaways as the system is the one that chooses the winner and the algorithm changes, most authors are exchanging free ebooks for reviews on the various groups. LT has a separate groups only with this purpose. You can also create your own give-aways at your website.

    In anyway I find any system that involves people to become corrupt and perverted in ways, from both sides – readers and writers. In the end we all have our favorite websites. Personally I find Amazon to be one of the most unpleasant and unfriendly places online. Correction – the MOST unfriendly place. I like LT though it is a bit confusing at first. GR is a big community that will continue to develop and will always has it’s abusers. We can only try not be ones ourselves and support the people that need help. I feel bad you didn’t get the proper advice/help when you needed it.

    Good luck.

    1. Hey, thanks for reading and dropping some constructive, thoughtful comments.

      Three stars, no stars, or five…if that is what the reader feels that the book deserves (any book, not just mine), I am all for it. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t work like say, Netflix, that takes your tastes into account. However, it is what it is. In this particular case, and I am long since over it, the individual rated the book prior to reading.

      The cathartic nature of blogging relieved me of the irritation, but perhaps it has been a bit misleading in terms of capturing my true thoughts on the matter. In the end, I was barely affected by the GR “bullies” or errant star-clicking. I suppose it was just an in-the-moment kind of thing.

      I would still say that if you haven’t read a book, rating it is unethical (this is true for 5 star-helpful-friends as well as cranky-troll-one-star-fiestas).

      True, all communities will have the good and the kind, the mean, the knuckleheads, the brilliant. It will be interesting to see where it all goes.

      I just don’t spend much time on GR these days. I’ve been working on some other writing projects and the big promotional push that lasted about 6 months after putting out my book has given way to the next great thing. It seems a bit silly to keep hammering away for a single book.

      Onward and upward, and thanks again for your solid feedback 🙂

  20. I will not re-enter the GoodReads community until there is a policy stating one intended purpose of the star rating system. I don’t mind a poor rating from someone who reads my books (though it has never happened) but a one rating from someone because they don’t intend to read the book is crap.
    The Goodreads powers-that-be told me that people are free to use the stars for what ever purpose they want… that there is no implied intent or set purpose for the star rating system on the site . It is available as a tool to be used by different readers in different ways.
    No more free book from me!

    1. Ha, me either. If I had known how many people would read my posts on Goodreads, I might have spent more time on them. All the same, I doubt I will be doing any more giveaways on GR. I still post book reviews and such, though.

  21. I’m not fond of goodreads. They removed my account because there were suspicious accounts rating my book. When I asked them to investigate it properly, and not assume I was voting on my own book with multiple accounts, I never heard back from their “customer service” team. I feel that it was sabotage because my book was of a controversial religious nature. Also they didn’t seem to care much about the mysterious bad reviews. Not happy with that site at all, and the way they handled that.

    1. It took them about 9 months to get back to me. I don’t think they have the staff to handle the issues that come up on the site.

      I will tell you that since I stopped interacting with people on GR, my life has been kittens and rainbows.

  22. I’ll tell you the reason I googled “Goodreads sucks.” It’s because most of the reviews are utterly asinine or insipidly useless it makes me fear for humanity (well, I already did that). I expect Amazon reviews to mostly be crap, but when I go on a site about books and people who actually read I expect something more cogent than “this book sucked” or “I read this a long time ago, but can’t remember it, so I guess I’ll give it two stars.” Even worse are the people who think their review is some sort of micro-blog where they can strike a cool trendy pose and show off. I don’t give a damn about the person writing the review or how they view themselves in their mental mirror. I just want some idea of why they liked or disliked a book. It’s not hard, and I don’t expect an Orwellian-level essay. Just back up your opinion with some sort of logic or explanation. Oh wait, I forgot what age we live in. Anyway, reading about all the shenanigans that goes on with GR disinclines me to have anything to do with them. Another fine idea destroyed by Amazon and the marching morons of the mainstream.

    1. Hi Dave,
      Thanks for taking the time to read AND comment. Seriously, people read this post every damn day and nobody bothers to share their experience.

      GR was a lot of fun at one time. You could exchange books with other readers (there are now other online book exchanges that I haven’t used but have decent user feedback). Those days are past. Now it seems like a place for indie authors to spam the shit out of anyone who follows them.

      And the reviews/comments? It’s like YouTube for books. The folks at GR cleaned it up quite a bit, for a while the shit that was being said back and forth (some authors being the worst offenders). A total SMH situation. I do put up a review now and again. I try to make them worthwhile.

      Thanks again.

    2. You fear for humanity because it’s being mainstream?
      I don’t recognize your view of goodreads at all. Maybe I’m unconsciously sifting through the reviews ignoring the ones I find uninteresting but to me most reviews are kinda like your comment here: Stating why they like/disslike something in a bit of condescending tone trying to be funny.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Your experience with Goodreads has been different than mine, which was really just irritating more than anything else. Some folks (reviewers and authors alike) have suffered serious harassment on the site. When I wrote my original post, my main point was to vent about people cheating in the giveaway and GR doing nothing about it. After my post, several people created fun shelves just for my book, such as “this author should die” and other derogatory labels. So, I was a little pissed. Over time, I cared less and less until achieving complete apathy. However, this post lived on, so I rewrote it to be more lighthearted. My apologies to you, my intent is not to be condescending. I’ve never had time for people like that and it’s a bummer that is your impression of me. Take care.

  23. I really enjoyed your post and the great comments. However, I am going to come at this from a different angle. Nothing you experienced even comes close to the abuse I received when I dared call-out a professional reviewer who deliberately trashed by new book. I won’t go into all the gory details. Suffice it to say that the bullies came out in force on three different sites. Many of these were so-called writers who weren’t interested in the well-reasoned, considered responses I made. But I did re-learn an important lesson; and it was the hardest lesson of my life to re-learn! “The Lesson We All Learned in Third Grade” is my short, side-bar essay at MultiTouchFiction.com (a WordPress site) and I urge all writers to read it. Anyone who’s serious, and still thinks I wasted their time, I’ll send you a hundred bucks! How’s that!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. My experience was about as irritating as a really shitty traffic jam. In fact, I would just take the post down, but people read it every day. What to do? I read your Third Grade post this morning actually. I’m quite interested in hypertext and transmedia writing. I am looking forward to your future posts on what could very well be what literature (or simply story) looks like in the near future. Onward and upward.

      1. Thanks for reading, Tom. I just gotta remind myself every goddam day that there really are people who are not worth one more minute of my time. To call these people ‘losers’ does not really do them justice when we live in a society where anyone can say they’re a winner. Well, anyone can be successful at something: golf, surfing, kazoo, Scrabble…but being successful – being a winner – at anything requires two essentials: passion and talent. These trash-talkers are lazy cynics who haven’t accomplished anything in their lives. And since I’m going to be dead in a few years, I say fuck ’em!

  24. I ended up here because Goodreads listed me as the author for a book I didn’t write and for which I received a lot of harassment on Amazon. I actually helped a friend edit the book, but then he put my name on it without ever asking permission. I demanded it be taken down from Amazon, and he/Amazon complied. However, when I emailed Goodreads asking that they either take the book down or take my name off as an author and completely remove my author profile from their site, they said they never take books down and didn’t even address the second part of my request. I’ve sent them three messages sent (the last one just a minute ago, though), and they haven’t responded. How can they keep my name on a book I didn’t write and which people have used to harass me?! It makes no sense! I’m extremely frustrated.

    1. CG, I hear you. It took them about 6-9 months (I can’t even remember, but it was the better part of a year) to get it all worked out. Some of it still remains and the few low ratings without reviews remain.

      It’s just not the community I had hoped for. I hope they resolve your issue soon. Thanks for reading AND taking the time to comment. Not many do.

      All the best,

  25. Hi Tom. I was a naive Indie author that got trolled at GR and then got excommunicated for an entirely different reason when I tried to work around the broken and useless features at GR that were affecting my book sales. So I did something about it. I wrote a free book, http://bit.ly/1JXgwaX and created a web site that will go live tonight with the information I should have found before I joined GR, http://bit.ly/13Mopz2 (damned ironic that GR’s IT department isn’t smart enough to buy derogatory domain names.) Just wanted to give you a heads up that this blog is referenced. Glad to make corrections if I’m in error.

    Regards — Zoe a.k.a. A.V. Roe

    (Access is coming through my wordpress account. Disregard unless you don’t like ethanol in your gasoline. ;=D)

    1. Hi Zoe, sorry to hear about your experience. I am most curious about your new book regarding GR. Thanks for referencing my blog. I know that there are many more detailed and insightful articles than mine. Lately I have found a couple groups on GR where there is little nonsense, but overall I spend very little time there anymore. All the best, Tom.

      1. The book is just the web site in an eBook to try to reach the widest audience. It’s a smashwords so hopefully it will be pushed to iTunes and B&N. Figure some author might see it without thinking to google the abuse at GR, which is how I found you. You showed up when I googled ‘goodreads sucks’ which ironically was the domain name I purchased. Checking to see if it had already been used and was surprised that GR IT hadn’t bought up the derogatory domain names, but after using their software, I knew they were pretty clueless. The web site will be more up to date than the eBook.

        Did meet some new Indie authors that I count among my friends now on GR, so wasn’t a total waste and the smashwords author group and the struggling writer group are helpful. If GR would fix the beauty contest rating system as I suggest on my site, there would be a lot drama and angst. Doubt it will happen though until more authors get a backbone. Just my opinion.

      2. It’s also the ambiguity of the Internet, where people have the freedom to be complete dickheads. It’s a social illness. This is found in so many online communities that I rarely read the comments under an article because of the amount of morons that post freely.

        Way back when, Goodreads had a book exchange that was mighty cool. I do miss that!

  26. Hi Tom,

    Sorry to hear about your giveaway. I agree with you about not reviewing when rating. But this encounter to your blog by me was when I searched “Goodreads recommendations suck”. I’m usually not so impressed by the recommendations provided by goodreads. They are very rambling. It says “abc, because you liked: xyz” but then i find no common point between abc & xyz. And sometimes they are completely of different genre. One of the best recommendations I have found was here: http://www.jinni.com . It is for movies though.

    1. No worries. I learned a lot from it!

      This link looks interesting. The biggest flaw in the GR recommendations is that they are not personalized based on your ratings (like Netflix). In fact, I don’t know what stupid maths are at play.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  27. I googled goodreads recomendation system stupid and it gave me this as one of the first hits. I don’t necessary find goodreads as a whole stupid just that it annoys me when they give me like ten recommendations based solely on a book I gave three stars.

  28. Actually I Googled why wattpad cridics suck xD You might find haplessness on critquecircle, it’s way better then goodreads and wattpad. The people there are mostly mature. ^_^

    I hope your still writing, don’t let a bunch of assholes wreck that for you.

    And as to why I was searching for the posted above, I was a little pissed off with a critic doing a bait and switch on me. Theres a improve your writing forum topic in wattpads ‘clubs’ The cridics there you generally send a polite message asking for a critique on a chapter/chapters. In the message you send the title, the link, and blurb. As a ‘payment’ for the critiques you critique a chapter or town in their story in return.(Anything more then that is a rip off.) Usually, this works out great.

    But not this time, this guy instead of doing a normal critique in the story that I requested in the first place, goes in to my wattpad blog (has quotes I like and stuff in it. It’s not a story at all.) And posts a haughty trolly ‘critique’ making fun of the blog. And to top it off when I asked him about it he tried feeding me some bullcrap about how he’s random and likes to study people. Lets just say I’m not pleased. Why? Your word is everything, do what your going to say you will, do don’t dick people around.

    Growl! I don’t like having my time waisted, the critique/review I gave him is twenty minutes I’ll never get back. Yesh.

    -End of rant-
    (If you like I made screen shots of the conversation, as my something isn’t right here antenna was going nuts, so just ask. Maybie I’m being a bitch but he sure felt like a troll to me.)

  29. Banana Hammock, but goodreads reccomendations system sucks, I’ve found and have read wrong article:(

  30. To me Gr sucks mostly because it holds out the “free” opportunity for writers to present their works to GR’s preferred, free working reviewers. Most others straight up charge to get another un-heralded review. After playing with their BS for months a few of my books started to receive top notch ratings from some “lesser” reviewers. At that point I was besieged by Traveler, their #1 rated reviewer, who in others words writes like a crack whore. Her goal was painfully obvious; to make some sort of financial arrangement for her support. When I refused citing distaste I was deleted from the GR, which obnoxiously over-states their membership and puts on profiles of authors who have never condescended to being any part of their garbage, well personified in this moron using the name Traveler. Her or his one competent attestation to half a brain is her-his decision to use a fake name.

  31. Banana Hammock

    Well, Tom. Here it is 27 May 2015. People are still going to your site to see what it is that went down nearly two years ago. What led me to this post? I will tell you.

    *Kicks back with a root beer and relaxes into the old worn out office chair*

    I am Angela B. Chrysler and do a lot of piddly work on Goodreads, which I use to hold cyber conventions and month long blog tours with over 90 people. We have a hoot. I don’t use it to hang. I use Twitter for that. I use GR to congregate. You are the third case of someone having bad juju with GR, but I am happy to report that GR has gotten a lot better (kind of). In fact, they went the other extreme and now watch trolls like a hawk (in a manner of speaking).

    From what I heard—I am passing this direct from the victim on to you—GR flagged a suspicious reviewer who turned out to be a troll. Later, Goodreads banned my author friend for life because said flagged troll reviewed his book. That’s right GR punished the GR author…”banned him for life” because the “rogue flagged troll” reviewed his book (rogue flagged troll…sounds like a jazzy album). As for me? I was directed to your post while conversing on my GR Blog Tour and was told about your plight so I am here to check it out!

    I had a hoot. You have a delightful sense of humor and I am off now to look up your books! I’ll probably follow you on Twitter in the non-creepy professional kind of fashion.

    -Angela B. Chrysler

    1. Hi Angela!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing. It’s great to see that the community has served you well. It sounds like you have some great stuff going on — I will have to check it out.

      Yeah, there were some early snags but GR did eventually sort things out. I have no complaints. The permanency of the Internet is such that although I pretty much just want to delete this post, I think the link would appear for years. I’m grateful that none of the stupid things I said in my 20s were documented digitally. There’s something to be said for being older.

      I have had a great time getting to know the fantastic folks in the Bizarro Fiction reading group but perhaps it’s time to branch out and see what’s new and exciting over there.

      Great to “meet” you!


  32. I’d like to point out to the first commenter journeyofjordannaeast that a 3 on Goodreads is pretty much the same as a 4 on Amazon. Goodreads shifts the neutral, ‘ok’, rating to 2, instead of 3 like on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. 3 on Goodreads is ‘I liked it’. Using this system I guess creates the possibility of more nuanced ratings, because if you don’t like it you’re unlikely to finish it (it’s not a movie or an album, it takes many hours of your life to complete) and also who really cares between ‘didn’t like’ and ‘hated’? You just need to know it isn’t worth reading. That person who gave you a 3 is actually helping, because every extra positive rating (and 3 is a positive rating, 2 is neutral (‘ok’)) raises the book in recommendation lists. I’ve rated lots of things 3 that are perfectly good books and even prize-winners and famous, like ‘The Stars My Destination’,. Also I don’t agree that people are obliged to write a review. They read your book, that’s a lot of time, they rated it. True, it seems harsh if they give it a 2 or 1, but then the site is mainly about finding out what you’re more likely to like, so it’s a service to others to tell them that you didn’t like a book. How useful would ratings be if we all decided we could only rate with a 4 or a 5, or felt that we had to write a review if we gave less (thus also discouraged to rate it)? Of course insulting criticism is just sadism and childishness, but sometimes maybe a review highlighting faults is a good thing, if not for the author then for the public. I personally would maybe only do that when I think the book is influential but has what is to me objectionable politics. Though I’ve written no negative reviews. Maybe of a couple of bad blockbuster movies on RYM, but then again the rationale is that these things are taking over our culture and are shallow and dumbing people down, but still I don’t do it much. I wouldn’t do it with anyone independent, a small operation, etc. and I’ve never done if for a book.

    In reply to B.L. Alley I sympathise, like I do with the author of this thread, that there simply are d___head trolls everywhere. Things you see on YouTube and elsewhere can be really nasty. Total psychopathic, nasty idiots. People who would kick someone to death if they could get away with it. Lots of them. The nazi times aren’t really so long ago. Millions of those people are still with us. As for the rest of it, I can see your point of view, but to me there’s again a problem in that you maybe haven’t quite seen how it works from the inside. Anybody can add any book (I think to add it you don’t even have to be a librarian on there, though I could be wrong, to edit it you have to be one), firstly because if you’ve put your book out you’re inviting people to pick it up and read it and they have a right to find out how others rate it, not to have that opportunity only if you’re comfortable with it, and not to get a presentation of it slanted towards what you would like them to think.. But also it addresses the things you say later. Any book can be on there. I’ve added books by writers that are hardly known anywhere, and some hardly known in the English speaking world, and to this day many of those have few ratings, though some have picked a bunch up. Just like rare movies and LPs I’ve added on RYM. They’re often totally independent, small-scale, not big business at all, alternative culture, anarchistic, whatever. No-one stops anyone putting any book that exists on here, or takes it down for being too ‘fringe’ or whatever. If only writers could add them, who do you think would have time to pay staff to administrate the books’ and authors’ pages? Big publishers, of course. As it is that isn’t the case. If they maybe are paying users here and there there is a mass of 40 million individual users to drown out their biases. And it works by allowing anyone who has clearly genuinely rated a bunch of books over a period of time to become a librarian, and only very well-tested users who have messed little up and are seen to be thorough to have full editing access. And the process is transparent. People add crap, of course, and it might be there for a while, but once someone discovers the error they deal with it (I do it constantly, just a little, as I discover errors, typos, missing covers, editions that need adding, combining, etc.). Books less looked at will be corrected more slowly, but you can request in the librarian group for someone to fix something, but you can hardly complain about slowness, because it’s not staff doing most of this. There are too many books (a billion already), and it’s people’s own free time. The giveaway promos and whatever maybe do only feature print and industry books (maybe because only they have the resources to do this, though I’ve seen giveaways from small independent writers, in fact most of the ones I’ve seen have been this, maybe due to the recommendation algorithm related to my ratings), but as far as I can see the automatic recommendations really do have an algorithm based on your previous ratings, but you won’t really see that until you’ve rated more. RYM works like this too, and I wish they’;d moved onto books quickly after adding movies to their site, because that site really is independent, but then that’s why it can’t develop quickly. That highlights too how sites need support from users if users expect much back for free. Maybe Goodreads wouldn’t have sold out to Amazon if there was more using and developing the site from users instead of wanting quick fixes on a free service. I bet there was far less than a billion users when it sold out. With Amazon in control I guess it’s different, but it’s still run with that user focus, and that’s what actually ensures that any book can get featured and rated here, and move up the recommendations. It’s also what means that there’s a kind of ‘peer-review’ system in place where people add and edit books and it’s not fully controlled by authors, publishers, or even the site’s admin. That means it’ll be a mess as books get sorted out, and things are slow, and someone can add your book as they like, and screw it up, or add some stupid book to your page you didn’t write (not that I’ve ever actually seen this, the user would be soon banned) but that’s what ensures the other thing you ask for- a place for independent and as-yet-unknown authors.

    And ultimately if you put a book out there, it’s going to be read, talked about, written about, etc. You’re not obliged to try and control how that happens via an author page. I understand wanting to do so, but in the end it’s kind of like wanting to be out there getting involved in every café or street conversation about your book. If you put it out there then surely you just have to let it go (not that I know that I could do so, I understand this impulse).

    As for groups snubbing authors, I don’t know. Maybe it’s unfair. I haven’t joined in groups on there enough. But I know that I get people friending me on Last.fm who are musicians because they want me to listen to their music, and hopefully like it, and I don’t like that. Maybe it’s good music sometimes. But the point of the site is to have a rating system and an algorithm that reads the data of your ratings. A creator who just comes to you telling you you might like their work is just random, and more than half the time you actually won’t like it. The site is designed for you to explore and find what appeals to you, not for other people to do it for you. Of course if your work is actually something to do with their group, an author rated in whatever genre or that they have on their shelves or discuss or whatever, then they’re being weird, stiff, snobby Mfs to give you the cold shoulder.

    And Facebook interaction with sites. I can imagine Amazon slack on this, because it’s Amazon, but who really is the biggest culprit in building its site up via apps made by others and connecting to other sites and then kept changing the rules for that, putting most of those app makers out of business with not even a thankyou? This could easily be a facebook issue. Just like the way pinterest interaction changed, and pinterest didn’t know, and RottenTomatoes integration, etc., etc.

    I wish it were more independent and customer friendly, but for something owned by a corporation it’s pretty much left itself user-centred, and much of what you complain about comes from that, but if it changed and the site, publishers and authors took it over more and made it more ‘effective’ you’d have even less of the things you’re asking about in the second part. It may be they leave it more user controlled out of cynical business motives, but all the same.

    If people had supported more indie sites, like RYM, for example, it would have had books on it years ago, and its system is tighter and even more egalitarian than here, but it’s unpopular, it’s not obvious and easy enough for the average user, plus they’re keener on corporate sites like IMDB, and when it started they were more into those glitzy, mainstream music sites we had then, that was the case with Last.fm too, thus why in the end it had to sell to Sony if it didn’t want to be outcompeted in a few years time. It may have peaked then, but in the face of those big companies and everyones gravitating towards their shiny things, it knew it’s time was limited. Though, yeah, they had enough money, they shouldn’t have sold out. But Goodreads? I don’t know. What about the other many book sites that didn’t sell to Amazon? Will they be here long? And RYM has always been independent and focused on user’s taste, never pushing the moneyed stuff, but then the site only has hundred of thousands of users, which isn’t bad, but not tens of millions, plus it doesn’t sell out, but no one supports it.

    I could go on answering other people’s comments, but in answer to Tom, I’d just add, seeing as he knows trolls are everywhere, and sees Goodreads more broadly than maybe he initially let on, that to me the site isn’t really a social network. I, I think like most people, rate books on there, like I rate music and films on RYM, and the more ratings I put on there, the more tailored recommendations are to my tastes. You go and look at it as a reference, if you hear about a book, or if you’re looking to hear about something good. You add to it mainly to support the growth of the site in providing that, but not as a social network (the only social things on there are reading groups, and that’s cool, people who get into thinking deeper about something they read by discussing it with others).Plus the more people in general rate, the better of an idea we have of a book’s quality, and the freer it is for anyone to add whatever book and rate it as they like, the more honest and transparent that will be, though we have to find ways to filter out trolls, pointless negativity and corrupt rating. It’s just a reference point for what books might be worth my reading.

    In the end all these things lead me to think that it’s just about how obviously you’re going to get some chaos and crap and things you don’t like when you create something that’s freely run by its users, but that’s inevitably an intrinsic and inseparable part of that very process. And you can’t ask for an open system of rating and not expect it to be open to whatever, or lack of control on what’s added and not have some crap and chaos in what is added, or think that the individuals paying attention to what they do are going to get around quickly to solving your problems, but surely you can see that that free system means that all problems that need fixing will eventually be fixed, via a few mistakes probably, and that it will be done according to the priorities of all those users, who aren’t you, in the open, dynamic, ‘peer-reviewed’ way of everyone being able to contribute. Where else would all those books come from? More than a billion. And all those ratings? And is a site that basically creates its content via the interaction of 40 million people really as chaotic and useless as it might be?

    But, yeah, trolls,babies. I remember a Henry Rollins thing: “In my room I reign supreme!”

    1. Mark!

      Thank you for taking the time to read and compose a thorough, thoughtful, and level-headed addition to the conversation.

      This post just continues to breathe on. It’s true, the title of the post and the current content don’t quite line up. It’s more broad than the original post. With the pervasive nature of the Internet, I saw no reason to change the title or take down the post. At the time of the original rant, it was fueled by my irritation over cheaters in my giveaway and GRs initial lack of response. My rant just happened to jump in when things were a bit wild and ugly on GR. Three years later, seems like it’s a much better scene.

      Thanks for mentioning RYM, I took a quick peek and I’m intrigued. I recently inherited a large vinyl collection. This could be very cool.

      Rollins quote to end your comments? SOLID.

      Thanks again for stopping by. Rock and roll.


  33. I don’t know why anyone even talks about GR any more. Their rating and review system is a joke; designed for the marketing of shit books. Their queen-bee librarians have the ability to change any information they so desire. Their cliques of author swapping five star reviews serve only to make readers avoid indie books. Their admitted ability to have their “secure server” hacked results in indie books being available for free on other sites. Excepting five put in by their nervous publishers, no author of any stature maintains a presence. It is only of use to those who would A) like to get a book recommendation of a well known book for sale on Amazon, B) like to join a discussion thread populated by pretentious indie writers, or C) like to read 100,000 reviews of “Moby Dick” and eight five star reviews of “Zombie Retardation in Newark.” Under Amazon mismanagement this site has become one giant turdball. And by the way, it is nowhere near as big as they claim.

    1. Spot on! I’m sure an audit would find thousands of ghost books in that “billion book” claim and thousands of “ghost members” who signed up once and have never been back.

  34. Hi Tom,
    There’s many things I want to say, but it’s nearing midnight and sleep is calling. Not only did I read your blog, I couldn’t stop myself from reading many of the replies. Btw, I got the link to this piece on a Twitter tweet. What I found most depressing were the name-calling shelves. That was enough to ward me off doing a giveaway here. I have about 50 reviews of my 8 titles here. I don’t or can’t let it get to me. One of my one star reviews on Amazon has the subject title “Got Porn?” Come on. You gotta laugh at stuff like that, especially since that particular title is a murder mystery. Your post was about cheaters and inappropriate conduct. I get it and feel for you. You’re a dying breed like myself. We used to be called honest people, except now we’re mostly labeled as whiners for pointing out dishonesty. Thanks for sharing, because this piece was helpful in many ways.

    1. Hi Shelley! Thank you for stopping by, reading, and commenting. Yep, we are a dying breed. I am a chronic optimist and sadly I expect people to be like me, just trying to honestly make my way through life. Every so often I get punched in the face by the potential for people to act like jerks but it doesn’t stop me for long. This post had some crazy legs. I never expected that I would, several years later, still get reads and comments on what was originally just a rant about people who cheat in giveaways. I have thought about deleting it many times as it hasn’t been an issue for me for some time but when a level-headed and kind person such as yourself comments that the post was helpful to them I know that I must keep it alive. I do hope that those who read stay for a little while and check out some of my other writings — they are far more interesting (at least I would like to think so lol).

      It was great to meet you. May Goodreads and the world in general treat you better than you expect, more often than you expect.

      And have a great holiday season.

      All the best,

  35. Certainly, your experiences there match mine, there to say that i don’t even go to Fakereads, i actually surfed across there once or twice when i noticed my books were auto-funneled there just by being on KDP Select (Lol) yes i intended to write that, they click but no tip, you made that great point because i think there might be people out there thinking that site is the ”elite” of ratings when in reality seems more like a troll site to giveaway. Also you forgot to add (and to this i checked myself) that most of those ”expert raters” are teenage girls with no more creativity than a baby chipmunk clicking their fingers on fire to win ”reader prizes!” (faints laughing) sadly, that’s what seems to go down there. Cheers

    1. I am now only going to see baby chipmunks when I go to Goodreads. Thank you for that gift. It will make my future experiences much more enjoyable! Thanks for reading and commenting. Rock and roll.

  36. Been there before. Think I got it distilled. The only thing GR has going for it is that it is a monopoly. It’s an absolutely useless addiction for both readers and writers. The ratings there have as much validity as a politician’s promises, and sucker indies waste time swapping four and five reviews. Better book info exists on Wiki.

    The thing is already dead. No further use in talking about it. Put a few flowers on it twice a year, and let it advertise in peace.

  37. Banana Hammock all the way. I just had to say it. Now on to the comment. I hate goodreads. But, I’m not angry over the ratings, if they’re relevant to the book. I feel like my book could have been better and that’s on me.

    The thing I hate is the people who leave reviews that look like an essay of why they didn’t like a book. And they’re not doing it to tell you what angered them. They’re doing it because they like the attention they get. It’s all for the kicks and giggles. One group I joined had already formed their little cliques.

    So, when I came on the scene, I guess I was supposed to kiss major a**, WRONG. I declined to do that so I was automatically going to get a bad review or rating. I’ve found that to be true in many groups. NOT ALL. But, it’s important to be careful when joining groups.

    It’s like swimming with piranhas. I noticed that all their friends books had five stars from them. And everyone else who wasn’t on their friend list got one and two stars. I read a few of the books that they had given five stars to and they were seriously lacking to say the least.

    I’ve met a few cool people on GR, but most are people who want to be funny. So, they put others down. One of the people who reviewed my book told another reviewer that liked her nasty posts and reviews. That she enjoys entertaining people with her reviews. She’s quite popular on GR too, so know one wants to anger her.

    I almost wish I hadn’t joined. But what’s done is done. I wish you much success Tom in all that you do.

    1. Hi Michele,
      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. More importantly, thank your for the Banana Hammock.

      I have spent almost no time on GR in the last year. I ultimately found that it didn’t help me find new books (mainly because the reviews just weren’t all that helpful) and it had done nothing to help my book sales.

      Attending events where meet authors, reviewers, and readers has proven to be much more useful, fun, and relevant.

      Indeed, what’s done is done. My GR rant is still my most viewed post and I’d rather that award go to something more creative or fun from my pile of posts. So it goes.

      Great to meet you and much success to you as well!

  38. I wound up coming here because I’ve kinda had it with Goodreads and I just wanted to read a funny article tearing the place down. Now I know not to bother doing a giveaway there. The insanity is amazing.

    I’m not new to the internet and I’ve known about goodreads for years, but somehow, I missed all the drama with people fighting there. So when I signed up for the website, I had no idea I was dipping into a pool of sharks.

    Everyone on Goodreads is a dick. EVERYONE.

    I joined some groups, and they ganged up on me at once, so I left. Most every group went out of their way to be rude. They acted really cliquish, like highschoolers. It was really toxic. So I left the groups I joined and just decided to stop talking to people.

    But then I had to talk to a librarian, and she was snarky and rude for no reason. All because I made some mistake and didn’t recognize that she was a librarian when she was talking to me (I was new to the site, give me a break).

    Then recently, I asked a woman on the website to read a book of mine. When will my foolish self learn? She tried to read the book but told me it was too stupid for her to bother.

    I mean, she could have just said she wasn’t interested. She didn’t have to insult my book, you know? I guess I should be grateful she didn’t just give it a crap review after barely reading it.

    And now I’ve learned to just stop talking to people there altogether. They are all assholes, and nothing has really changed now that Amazon owns it.

    1. Hey,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It’s been a while since I did anything with Goodreads and that’s really it, right? It doesn’t reward me for participating much. So far from the early days of book trades and the like.

      I get so much more out of my local writing community and doing the occasional show 🙂

      1. Yeah, sorry for ranting on your blog. I was just having a bad day and fed up with the that website. There are a few very rare souls there who are not complete jerks and actually want to help indie authors, and I’ve gotten good reviews from a few people there, so it hasn’t been all bad. I wish I had the courage to join a writing community, but those things never workout for me, lol. Glad to see it’s working out for someone.

  39. I used to use goodreads mostly just to keep track of all the things I plan on reading eventually. Now I’m thinking of just deleting my account. I wish I’d never posted on the forums; I only did that because I was bored and I have no social life. Then, some people started trolling the shit out of me just because they couldn’t handle critical analysis of a book they like. They were really condescending about how my opinions are all wrong, and I don’t think they even read the post, either that or they were intentionally twisting everything I said just to bitch about it. They did the same to anyone else who didn’t like the book, even though the topic of that forum thread was pointing out the unfortunate implications in the book, that the trolls/ rabid fans, were ignoring. And then there’s all those douchebags who go on any reviews that are less than 4 or 5 stars (or even if the reviewer actually liked the book, but pointed out anything they dislike) and say shit like “you can’t say that because I like it so it’s the best book ever” and continue to troll anyone who says otherwise. tl;dr, the goodreads community is a shitstorm and full of trolls.

      1. Mostly fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery. Whatever I’m specifically reading at the moment usually depends on what I’m currently trying to write and get inspiration for. btw, I hadn’t heard of your books before until I found this, and they seem really interesting! I’ll have to get around to reading them… *looks at list of things I plan on reading* eventually. Hopefully I’ll have more time to read over the summer.

  40. Thanks for checking my books out 🙂 I have a to-read stack to the moon (and back) so I totally get it.

    I don’t read mystery so much, but sci-fi and fantasy are definite go-tos. Reading anything good right now?

  41. Hello! I actually stumbled across your article by mistake. I was originally searching for an answer to a technical issue (Goodreads doesn’t seem to think I have read a single book on my Kindle for over two years even though I haven’t owned it that long…that’s another story) though my boyfriend and I read on it almost daily and the other reads and honest to goodness paper book.

    Google actually autofilled the title of your article. Congratulations, by the way, the title of your article is a common search. 😉 The truth is, I came out of curiosity more than anything. I honestly had no idea that any such thing was happening on the app (mostly I just like to spy on what my friends are reading) but honestly I’m not surprised. I won’t get into the whole rant about how interacting with people digitally makes us assholes, but it does and there’s science to prove it. Some people are just jerks because they can be, because there is no moral repercussions to them since they don’t see anyone online as a real person.

    So there you go. Some people are closet sociopaths and too cowardly to ever do these things to your face. I know that this article is several years old but I still feel like the interactions between people still remain the same and the lesson is still there: on the other end of that screen and all that wire is a real person. In this case you are not only tearing them down on a personal level but possibly ruining them financially.

    1. Hey Samantha,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Man, this little article has some legs!

      I couldn’t agree more and every day there is plenty of evidence that shows that the Internet encourages jerkfaces to rage on. Ultimately, we can only control what we do and pay them as little heed as possible. I have carefully curated my newsfeed to remove the toxic personalities. Not because I want an cozy little echo chamber of like-minded folks, but because there’s too much digital noise in general. I don’t need any extra static.

      I don’t know whether I should revise, retire, remove, or sit tight with this post. It sucks that a reading community would possess such negative qualities and that it’s never been worked out or discouraged, so I guess this post is still evergreen.

      But I would rather meet people as a result of more positive topics of conversation. What to do, what to do…

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  42. Hi! I went to Amazon to order a Banana Hammock. Well, that certainly was interesting.

    OK, I’m here because Goodreads Sucks! My two books (the start of a series) were listed there for over two years and then when I publish the third book, some librarian moderator comes along and decides my titles “violate” her “rules” and flips my subtitles to be the titles, over my objections. Since the ISBN terms of service require the title of a book to be what is in the registry, I objected and even contacted Bowker. Surprisingly, despite all the “thou shalt not”s in the Bowker TOS they do nothing to enforce it. When I ask this petty tyrant librarian moderator (aka PTLM) exactly what “rules” I violated, she sends me a part of the librarian manual – which actually supports the use of my titles the way I set them up. I then ask for “how” my titles violate their “rules” and the PTLM freezes the thread! Suspicious.

    So I email Goodreads support. A nice lady goes in and repairs my title listings and I’m happy again. But two days later, the titles had gone back to the PTLM’s arrogant whims. I emailed the nice support lady twice and she finally answers with “the librarians say that the titles violate our rules”. Again, I ask for specifics and how I can appeal this arrogant decision, and the support lady now does not respond to my emails. Funny that at the end of each email she states “please do not hesitate to contact me”. All that really means is “send me your silly emails so I can ignore them”.

    I don’t understand how GR can legally co-opt my work, my intellectual property and change it based on some idiot librarian’s whim. Not to mention completely ignoring requests to explain “why”. That’s because there is no why, it’s all in the moronic PTLM’s peanut sized brain. Give a volunteer power and she will crush whomever she decides to crush, and the more you resist the harder she crushes. GR support, who are supposed to have the authority to correct the over-reaching PTLMs, are in fact intimidated by them.

    So all the work and expense I have put into marketing my books is wiped away by arrogance and stupidity. I queried an attorney in SF who is experience in publishing law but he doesn’t respond. I’m guessing no one wants to take on the Amazon Army of Litigious Lawyers. Not unless I’m a billionaire who can afford it, which I’m not. Justice is only for those with money.

    I don’t have a problem with profit. It would make no difference if government was in charge, because government is a for-profit business too, they just hide that fact. Legislatures steal your tax money and their bureaucrat minions dish it out freely to those who vote for their elected benefactors, or influence those to vote for them. Government is simply legalized organized crime. I would rather give my tax money to Al Capone for protection, and actually get protection. Government has fewer scruples than Scarface himself. As proof, long time residents of Las Vegas say that the town ran better and there was less crime when the crime syndicates controlled it.

    From comments above it seems that GR has violated many other author’s titles. As long as they get away with it, the problem will never be resolved. I would write “Banana Hammock” a thousand times on a blackboard if it would make the PTLM go away.
    Rant out.

    1. Hey Johann,
      I’m glad that I could give you a little room to work it out. Every time I think it’s time to tear this post down, it finds a way to argue for its existence.

      Banana Hammock to you, my friend.

  43. You bet! GoodReads is still BadReads! Nothing in my mind has changed at all. I’m not sure what the librarians cleaned up, but there are still tons of fake reviews everywhere. Books that simply don’t sell on Amazon (with almost no reviews at all) are filled with 4 and 5 star reviews. The worst thing about GR is the Poetry Group’s monthly poetry contest. This ‘contest’ is run by a female administrator/author – Amy King – and three female judges. They all share the same taste in poetry (mostly liberal inspired virtue signaling), so they vote in a block. And, since most of the only active members are other lonely old women, they all pitch in with their own votes in order to keep complete control of the contest. The whole thing is rigged, Gerrymandered, and a bunch of BS! That’s the New GoodReads!

  44. Sweet dear merciful heavens to megatroids, THANK! YOU!


    I thought I was all by myself in that feeling. I didn’t know about any of this GR nonsense, but I was using it and thinking it was a good place to find a book to read in a series, and…when I’d see a book well reviewed, full of glowing reviews and details, then I’d read it.
    More than once, I’ve struggled to get through “one of the greatest military sci-fi novels written, part of the Warhammer sci-fi lore.”
    And that was THE…most. Boring. And dull shit I could…I couldn’t. I can’t even don’t. But in all seriousness, the author of the book, they are calling “a god”. Maybe he is a god, because when you can take a man brushing his teeth in the mirror before work, and turn THAT, into about 3-5 entire pages…I mean, read it for yourself. It’s a trilogy lauded as the best in sci-fi and 40K. Eisenbell, or something like that. It’s…I can’t imagine trying to WRITE what he wrote, let alone read it. Several chapters will describe something like two people sitting in the living room, eating sandwhiches.

    So, that wasn’t the first time GR has sent me to a horrible horrible book. I started saying, “these is fanboys, F em.” But then, I saw the whole fiasco over some girl’s fantasy book, and the waves of fanatical toxic fangirls choking the entire review page with gifs, 1 stars, and a profile pic that looks like a cabbagepatch doll with breasts. (Don’t get me started on the cringey rage-tantrumming fanboys on Quora.).

    At this point, I’ve decided I must not be a nerd, or never was. And I’m tired of the nerd revolution now. They don’t do anything but argue, fight, and get fatter behind a keyboard.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. There’s so much to unpack with that name of yours…fantastic work there. I personally have never used GR for book recommendations. It feels like a lifetime ago you could actually exchange books with other readers and that the general purpose of the platform was to bring book lovers together. Fan/nerd/geek culture has taken a turn as well and as I get older, I tend to avoid any public conversations about these things. Like what you like, and fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

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