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Something is very wrong with us, and it’s not bad reviews

 

It’s so much worse than that. Something is very wrong with us, and by “us” I mean the online community of (largely) women authors and readers. What is wrong is the “outing,” threatening, shaming, and silencing of readers who are perceived to be too critical of or hostile to authors. And for those in this online community who believe that this is not their concern or their harm, I would ask them to think again.

Several disturbing events targeting women have happened in the past few weeks. First is an app that allows you to beat the crap out of Anita Sarkeesian, a woman who makes videos about gaming. The app lets you beat this woman’s face until it is utterly wasted from violence, as part of the male gaming community’s ritual of threatening violence and rape against women who, in any way, best men in the gaming world. Then there is the story about a woman who left a comedy club after Daniel Tosh personally heckled her by suggesting she be gang raped when she vocally objected to one of his rape jokes. An incident featuring Eddie Griffin and a woman he is now referring to as a “dyke bitch” has just hit the news.

What all of these incidents have in common is the targeting of women for stepping out of the lines behind which we have historically been expected to stay – to refrain from criticism of men, to refrain from being outspoken, authoritative, aggressive, assertive, self-confident, brazen, in control, more competent than men, etc. And in each case, implicit or explicit threats are utilized as a means to scare women back behind those lines. Whether it’s being raped, beaten, or publicly exposed to ridicule, silencing, harassment, or shaming, each of these situations presents an invitation to violence, both to the women involved, and, by extension, to others who act out in ways that violate some behavioral code to which women are expected to adhere – polite, demure, uncritical, nurturing, etc.

Add to the mix the new website devoted to outing and threatening certain readers accused of being “bullies” on Goodreads.   [note: I am linking to author and blogger Foz Meadows’s post on the site, so as not to drive more traffic there. If you are also concerned about this, I suggest using only Google cached links]. Although there was a similar incident on Goodreads that has created a strong suspicion of the website’s owner, there is a public assertion of anonymity that makes the outing particularly and perversely disturbing, as are the claims of justice and accountability. How is what this website is doing to female readers a whole lot different than the incidents I recounted above? Short answer: it isn’t. It is part of a larger pattern of making women feel physically unsafe by exposing them to the threat and the possibility of actual violence, even if the person doing the threatening isn’t doing physical violence him/herself.

We have seen this kind of behavior before in the online Romance community. Remember when DeborahAnne MacGillivray went full-force against a reader?  Or Victoria Laurie’s aggression toward a reader and a blogger? Jane Litte has her own personal harasser, an author who used very similar tactics to somehow get Jane to be “nicer.” In the SF/F community, Will Shetterly found himself in hot water a few years ago when he outed a LiveJournal blogger with whom he had disagreed.  And let’s not forget the “Dixieland Mafia” incident involving a group of published authors who managed to hunt down the personal info of an aspiring author who had left a negative review of one of their books on Amazon.

Note that one main similarity among these examples is that it’s authors (public figures with books for commercial sale) going after readers (private figures who are responding to a commercial product), not the other way around (and while reader allies of authors might be involved in the GR site, I don’t think anyone believes a reader would be that invested in authors to take such a risk and spend so much time and energy on a site like that). And by “going after,” I don’t mean leaving a snotty comment about a book or about a comment an author left on Goodreads to a reader’s review or comment. What I mean by “going after” is pursuing the reader beyond the online exchanges, attempting to shut the reader up by threatening and or exposing their off-line life to danger and the possibility of violence or other unhinged aggression by crossing a hard, bright line away from snarky online exchange to real life stalking.

What could possibly be okay about that?

First, there is the accusation of bullying. When the GRB site put up banners of anti-bullying organizations, the organizations asked them to take the banners down. That is a decisive cut against GRB’s definition of bullying. As bloggers like Foz Meadows have pointed out

. . . bullying is not a synonym for argument, disagreement or pejorative reactions. Bullying is not a synonym for disliking someone, or for thinking their work is rubbish. Bullying is not even a synonym for saying so, publicly and repeatedly, in a place where that person can hear it – although that’s certainly unpleasant. Bullying is when someone with a greater position of power and/or possessed of greater strength repeatedly and purposefully attacks, harasses, belittles and/or otherwise undermines someone in a position of lesser power and/or possessed of lesser strength. In the vast majority of circumstances, bullying trickles down; it does not travel up, and in instances where the author in question is a super-successful megastar, to say they’re being bullied by reviewers is to ignore the fundamental power-dynamics of bullying. Even on the Goodreads system, where authors can see exactly what readers and reviewers think of them, expressing a negative opinion is not the same as bullying, because although the conversation is visible, it’s not directed at the author; they are under no obligation to respond, or even to read it at all. Feeling sad and overwhelmed because people don’t like your book and have said so publicly might constitute a bad day, but it’s not the same as being bullied.

Bullied individuals cannot just walk away from the bullying, because, for example, someone has posted their personal information online in tacit or explicit invitation for nasty pursuit. Bullying looks like this or this. It is not justice of any kind, let alone an eye for an eye, to do what is being done on the GR Bullies site. To make that association is to create a false equivalence.

And we should know better.

I say “we” here because I’ve seen a surprising number of comments online suggesting that what the GRB site is doing is fine and dandy, and that the readers being targeted deserve it, somehow. And we, as a community of women who can amass how many thousands of comments on the ethics of accepting ARCs and exchanging tweets with authors, or the real life effects of reading about forced sex, should know better than to stand for something that so obviously and intentionally targets and imperils the real life safety and security of other women. This is not the time to be sympathetic to people “getting sick of the high road,” or suggesting that “the two parties should fight amongst themselves and everyone else stay out of it.”  There is no reasonable justification for statements like “I, for one, am happy that there is a group of people who have called attention to the viciousness of a mob,” nor the passive posting of a link to the GRB site by someone in the guise of objective reporting (and could Jane’s recent email asking him not to post vast swaths of her blog content without permission or substantive comment of his own have influenced his GRB post?). The door to inviting, inciting, sanctioning, or providing a means for violence against women who have stepped out from behind the politeness veil has been kicked open, and it is changing the way we can talk about the reader – author relationship. When you really stop to think about what’s going on at the GRB site, even comments like this can feel potentially threatening and aggressive: “Read some of the blog posts there and then tell me those people don’t deserve to be outed.

We should be better than this.

While many, many authors and readers have spoken out against the bullying that is going on at the GRB site, we, as a community, should know better than to think that just because we may, as individuals, dislike others in the community, that talking smack about a book and/or an author’s public persona is in any way equivalent to hunting down someone’s public information, posting it online (or threatening to), and inviting any and all sorts of real life harassment of those individuals and their families, co-workers, dogs and cats, etc. Why would someone do that if not to make the targeted individual feel unsafe at every level? Would it be okay if readers started combing through the copyright records looking for authors’ real names, and then hunting down and posting as much private information as possible, gleefully using words like “justice” and “bullying” to rile up other readers against those outed authors? Because that is much more akin to bullying, and it’s equivalent to what GRB is doing to readers.

And it is already doing harm to the community as a whole, including authors who are not involved in the site. It is confusing the exchange of opinions and the writing of reviews with actual violence, making it even more difficult to have reasonable conversations about reviewing and the role of criticism more generally. It sowing seeds of suspicion toward authors about where they stand and how far they might go to silence critical readers. And beyond the obvious ramifications around readers feeling afraid to post honest opinions and reviews of books, it is generating hostility toward authors and readers who are offering equivocal opinions about how readers need to be slapped back or quasi-supportive comments about the goals of the GRB site (sometimes without having ever seen the site). And the last thing this collective online community needs is more unbridled hostility. Or more revenge outing.

As a community, we should not “stay out of it” or use our own personal dislikes as a justification for totally unjustifiable behavior. We don’t need to like the readers who are being targeted or agree with what they’re doing. We can think it’s crappy or out of line or undesirable. However, none of those thoughts could ever logically lead to an endorsement of literally targeting these readers for harassment. Can you imagine what a world created entirely from the logic that brands the GRB site as “justice” would look like? It would be incoherent and unlivable. It would obliterate the most basic social contract not to inflict intentional, undeserved harm on one another. It would be pure violent chaos.

And we can do better than that. We need to do better than that, not just to protect the integrity of the books and the book-talk, but to protect ourselves as women from even more vulnerability than we already face. Because, in the end, what this is really about is not reviews or criticism or Goodreads message boards, but threatening, punishing, and silencing women. And it’s not okay; it’s never okay.

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

835 Comments

  1. Kim in Hawaii
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 04:12:03

    Aloha, Robin. I applaud your post today, particularly your emphasis on community. I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph, “We need to do better than that.” You can count on my support to do so. Pupukahi i holomua. Unite to move forward.

  2. Sunnygirl
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 04:42:49

    Yep, I’m with you.

    Now the difficult question: how do we attempt to stop this? What practical action can be taken against this GRB site, or other instances of this dissent = bullying idea?

  3. NewLink: Something is very wrong with us, and it
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 04:50:08

  4. KT Grant
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 04:57:57

    It’s sickening isn’t it? Also all these so-called bullying Goodreads reviewers who have been “revealed” on this GRs bullying blog are so one sided, to suit the “movement” of this blog . Every time it starts, it’s because an author leaves a snide comment on a review saying the reviewer is wrong about their opinion, and then it snowballs and the reviewer defends themselves and the author comes back raging, because we all know an author is never wrong, especially when it comes to their book, their “baby” as they like to think their books to be. The author will use derogatory words like cow, bitch, douche aimed at the reviewer.

    Also I love how The whole Selection fiasco is used as an example of reviewer bullying. Hello! The author and agent went on twitter and called the Goodreads reviewer of the review a bitch first.

    The GRs bully blog is laughable. They don’t even have the balls to say who they really are, but yet have no problems outing reviewers’ personal information and making cruel remarks about their parenting skills and their handicaps. They also won’t allow any comments posted that disagree with them.

    Also, it’s pretty much a given we know who the ringleader is, a self published author who has gotten poor reviews in the past, has acted out horribly before and has the same MO as the GRs bully blog. She ended up posting very private information about a GRs reviewer to make them an example and embarrass them.

    I wonder what the powers that be at Goodreads feel about this because it’s putting a bad taste in both authors and reviewers’ mouths about the on-line site and how it is now known as a hostile place.

  5. Sean Cummings
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 05:56:31

    Great blog posting. Eventually, maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually this stuff is going to wind up in the courts. We’re just now starting to see lawsuits in Canada where bloggers themselves are being held liable not for the content of their postings, but rather, the comments from readers of the blog itself. There are civil actions being taken against owners of web forums too. We are in very strange territory here.

  6. Nimue
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 06:09:05

    Great post. I must have slept the last few days as I didn’t hear anything about this new scandal. I’m pretty shocked people who pretend to stop supposed bullies by bullying them openly? That’s a very sad chapter and I’m glad you took a stand.

  7. Violetta Vane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 06:30:23

    Agreed. The misogyny of that site—external or internalized—is vicious and overwhelming.

  8. Patricia Rice
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 06:46:24

    Bullying is not limited to authors against readers or males against females. That might be your perception but Seanan Maguire was personally attacked when her e-book didn’t come out fast enough to suit readers. This horrifying assumption of anonymous privilege has led to attacks on all levels of society. Until we understand how to return the concept of “respect” to our culture, we will continue to descend to the level of behavior of chimpanzees.

    If you can figure out how we do this, I’m behind you, 100%.

  9. Christi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 06:51:46

    Thank goodness for this blog post. I was participating in the comments on TPV and was tearing my hair out at some people’s defense of the indefensible. I’ve gotten a lot of harsh and scathing criticism in my day. A group got together once and formed a website for nothing but the purpose of mocking me. I’ve also had my RL personal information outed online.

    Whereas hearing mean things said about me did hurt my feelings, having my personal information given out made me fear for my personal safety. There’s an enormous gaping canyon of difference there, and the people who can’t see that, or write this off as “eye for an eye,” are so painfully ignorant it’s ridiculous.

  10. AM Gray
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 06:53:09

    I honestly don’t know why people cannot tell the difference between critical comment and abuse. It is beyond bizarre the way they have handled this. And don’t forget the targeting of Felicia Day recently over her comments about the treatment of women in the gaming world, in your list of recent women ‘bashing’.
    Do these authors not even comprehend the effect of bad publicity? Do they really want their name to be linked with the abuse of a reviewer; someone who put in the time, maybe money and effort to read their story… and yes, they didn’t like it. *So what?* Not everyone is going to like every story. Is it too obvious to point this out?

    A review is an opinion. Not a fact. Look up your favourite book on GR and there will be a one star review from someone who hated it. Or they won’t review at all; just in case they attract the ire of an author, who won’t know why their sales are dropping; why people don’t like their books any more.
    But come down on people like this and people will pick up their book and say, ‘Hey, wasn’t this the author who shredded that woman and got sued?’ And maybe that will be their author epitaph.
    These people are their customers. It’s dumb business practice, if nothing else.

  11. In2books
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 06:57:45

    I think the fact that the anti-bullying organizations and several of the authors that they originally promoted as recommended reading requested their information be removed from their website speaks volumes…. No one wants to be publicly associated with this site.

  12. Christi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:00:43

    @Patricia Rice: Yeah, but there’s also a lot of societal baggage tied to women voicing their opinions. We’ve been systematically taught to “be ladies” at all times, which in many cases was (and still is) just a tool used to keep women quiet and agreeable. Though I have no doubt opinionated men have experienced backlash for voicing such, the difference is that society puts no pressure on them to hold those opinions back as a direct result of gender inequality. Because women don’t have the power in society, men do. That’s a button that’s always going to be pressed when you tell a woman to “be polite.” Intent rarely means much, sorry to say.

    And I’m sure there are authors who have been verbally attacked by their readers, too. But like the blog post stated, the power dynamic in that relationship heavily favors the author. I doubt that makes it any easier for them (it didn’t for me), but it’s an important consideration.

  13. Sirius
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:07:46

    I do agree with every word you said in your post and you know what I wish for now? I wish everyone of those obnoxious mysoginistic bastards who somehow thinks that critical review is an equivalent of bullying would never ever received a single review on their books. Ever. Do I sound angry? It’s because I am . You think reviewer being outspoken about yor precious “baby” (not about you!!!) is a bad thing? Such a bad thing that you would have a nerve to “out” somebody’s personal information online and somehow delude yourself into thinking that you are doing a good thing? I hope your books (those who created that site which made me want to throw up) will fall into obscurity , maybe then you will get that review where reader discusses negative emotions your book caused her to feel is better than no review. Sorry for the angry rant, but when I saw that site it angered me so very much – yes I clicked once, but never again.

  14. Jane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:09:46

    @Patricia Rice: I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but your comment that refers to attacks on Seanan Maguire for the speed (or lack thereof) to market of her book is another false equivalency argument which seems to imply that if we were all more courteous then things like the GR bullies would never occur.

    People rarely deserve the viciousness of online attacks, however, Seanan Maguire is a producer of a product and any comments directed toward her book, her as an author including her speed or lack thereof, is a critique of the product. The GR Bullies, my own personal stalker, and others like them are attacking the person. An attack against the person is different than a personal attack. For instance, one can attack Seanan Maguire for being an awful writing. For being a slow writer. For trying to price gouge (none of things are true as far as I know). Those are not personal attacks. Those are attacks against Maguire, the author. A personal attack is commenting about Maguire’s fitness as a wife, mother, daughter, friend; something wholly unrelated to the production of her personal product.

    Maguire and all other authors earn money from the book transaction. That commercialization engenders a commercial response, some of it indelicate and some of it unsavory. However, attacking Maguire’s book/author persona is simply not the same thing as attacking a reviewer personally, particularly those that make zero dollars from the book transaction.
    The reader is the ONLY one of the ecosystem who makes zero dollars from the book transaction. Personal attacks arising out of the book transaction make no sense; but personal attacks against reviewers who make zero dollars from the book transaction make even less sense.

  15. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:12:26

    Yes. Just simply, yes.

  16. helen
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:13:31

    @Christi:
    I was wondering about the power dynamic statements. I can see where it would run from author to reader if the author is very famous and has a lot of clout but the midlist author or indie has pretty much no power. The reader in those cases has all the power since…they have the money.

  17. Nikki
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:19:02

    I have never joined or used Goodreads. Primarily it never served my needs as a reader.

    I am perturbed by the fact as always that an author or their more devoted fans will pursue people who disagree or criticize. The mob mentality is terrifying and develops far too easily. If someone reads a book and disagrees, they have a right to their opinion because that was their perception of how the book came across. The same reader who wrote a negative review might get you other readers who like what you wrote, and that same reader might still buy another one of your books. However, to come out against them, to publish their information and encourage victimization and abuse is never, ever appropriate. Disagree among your friends, comment on your own blog without mentioning them, but do not put them out there for the mob. While that author is mad and might think nothing will happen, you don’t know that they might have a truly disengaged fan who will then commit violence to that person. Who becomes responsible then? What if your information is wrong and an innocent bystander becomes the victim?

  18. kathy cole
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:22:14

    @helen:

    The reader in those cases has all the power since…they have the money.

    Which sentiment is why the author freakout makes no sense – how on earth will screaming at paying consumers improve your sales?

  19. Merrian
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:26:46

    Thankyou for this thoughtful and passionate analysis of the situation. Just as I am appalled by the bullying and stalking website I am equally distressed by the comments on various blogs that are either directly supportive of the site or saying that these reviewers deserve it. The level of aggression expressed in all of this against women reviewers (by other women in most instances) for what – having an opinion and voicing it strongly is chilling. They are taking an almost gleeful approach to burning down the book reviewing community. That will be the ultimate outcome of this unfettered behaviour – the silencing of voices and difference and self-censoring and chilling of conversation. We will be left with cover reveals and puff pieces only, due to this misogyny.

  20. Christi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:28:28

    @helen: The author has the power of publishing their work in the first place. They can stop the possibility for negative comments at that point. It’s not put out there against their own will, and hopefully, they realize doing such will open them up to negative reactions. They have a choice to do it, and realize the possibility for negative reactions is worth the possibility of them making some money.

    They also have the power of an audience. I don’t care how small one’s readership may be, they still have the mediums to incite readers at their disposal.

    Reviewers might also have the choice of publishing their reactions to the product, and they might also have avenues to get those opinions out, but the difference is, they have nothing to gain from it. They’re doing it as a gift to either the product, or to other potential customers. It’s strictly volunteer.

  21. Mandi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:30:00

    Yes to all of this. The GRB sickens me…as does every other example that was blogged about. But what do we do? I think it was DA or Smart Bitches that came up with the – We’ve Got Your Back – when reviewers had to deal with fall out over negative reviews a year or two ago. I have readers/reviewers backs…but what is next?

  22. Kayla Harris
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:37:12

    Brilliant, you hit it right on the spot. Bully of women in any context must be exposed, dealt with and eliminated. Well done you for an fabulous article x x x

  23. Michele | Just a Lil Lost
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:38:43

    @Sunnygirl: Great question. Last I heard, the site still exists. Although, it might be a tricky line that it crosses if the server (be it Blogspot, WordPress, etc.) takes it down.. would they then cry censorship?

  24. Christi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:40:06

    @Michele | Just a Lil Lost: It’s hosted on GoDaddy. You can go here to report it: https://supportcenter.godaddy.com/Abuse/SpamReport.aspx

  25. Sirius
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:44:32

    Oh and self published books without somebody recommending them first or if I know the author already? It is now official good bye . I at least looked sometimes in the past in hope of finding gem. I don’t want to anymore. Just for the fear of stumbling upon the author who treats their readers like this.

  26. Lynne Connolly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 07:45:22

    Bullying is a complex subject. I was bullied at school for being working class (I had a “common” accent, brought in sandwiches instead of having the school lunch, didn’t know which knife and fork to use, had second hand sports equipment etc etc) and spent three years fighting and learning, resulting in my denying my background for years.
    In the writing world, there are all kinds of bullying. A group of people ganging up against anyone or anything, and this is really my point, whether they deserve it or not.
    A few years ago, some of the major romance blogs ganged up against an author who had done something wrong. But the treatment was so vicious that the author had a stroke, and she now has carers to look after her. She lost all her contracts, but in any case, she’ll never write again. I’m not naming her because of the same reasons Jane gave. And because the last thing she needs now is more attention.
    I joined in that bullying, and I will never, ever fail to remember that, and I will never do it again. However much she’d transgressed, she didn’t deserve what happened to her.
    The worst, IMO, is the anonymous bullying. I don’t take any notice of that. If they don’t have the guts to say who they are, then they’re not worth listening to. I don’t care about the reasons – I learned long ago if you say something online that you wouldn’t say to someone face to face, then don’t say it. However much you think it’s justified.

  27. CG
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:01:37

    Maybe a tad off topic, but how do they get the personal information in the first place? Are there steps we as readers or reviewers can take to protect our personal information from something like this (beyond the obvious)? I feel like my personal info isn’t out there for anyone with a grudge and a computer to legally acces, but maybe I’m wrong.

    Are they breaking the law to obtain this personal information?

  28. Michelle
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:01:45

    Of course the only reason someone has a stroke is become people were vicious to him or her. Doesn’t matter if someone smokes, has high cholesterol, has uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes, has a vascular defect or aneurysm, or carotid stenosis, or atrial fibrillation as a source of emboli.

    So all you mean girls, you better stop being mean to others or you will make them all have strokes.

    (But one point I disagree with is that you can’t out someone who has their real name used often by themselves in their own public blog. I mean later they can go back and delete all their posts, but if you put your own name and info on your public blog, don’t point fingers at someone who uses it.)

    Poor Ridley. How long will it take authors to learn that Twitter is not private. It’s not a good use to bash readers with.

    I still remember when Jane was targeted by some lowlife author and called names, and told she was a bad mother. There were some other low level authors who defended him. Jerks.

  29. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:02:36

    The word “bullying,” I’m afraid, is being used the way the word “socialist” is used–as a generalized epithet without any regard to the actual meaning of the word or the justification of the charge. Being not nice to someone is not the same thing as bullying someone.

    The majority of the shit in this particular bucket hit the fan while I was moving/packing/unpacking/on the road, but everything I’ve read about it has just horrified me. Aside from the issues of power dynamics that are at play here, my biggest problem is that the point of the blog in question is not just to criticize harshly, but to actually make people less safe.

    I wish I could say this is something new, but many years ago, a friend had a stalker (boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend) post her personal information, address, and the fact that she had just had an abortion (which happened to be true–the boyfriend had told his ex about this) to a fundamentalist forum. I’m researching the history of women at Cambridge right now for one of my projects. Making woman physically unsafe is a standard way to deal with women who stick their necks out.

    Being a woman means that someone out there thinks it’s okay to use your vulnerabilities to make you unsafe. The fact that those “someones” include other women just makes me hurt.

    I’m okay with women being “mean.” I’m okay with women being critical. I’m actively in favor of women using their thinking skills to digest and discuss the world around them, in whatever fashion best lends itself to that discussion, including the use of harsh language (and this last one is usually what is meant by “mean”).

    I am not okay with anyone making anyone else less safe. I don’t care what someone has done to you. You don’t expose people to the risk of physical harm. That is just wrong, and it’s different in kind than someone saying mean things about you and/or your books on the internet.

    This shit has been going on for thousands and thousands of years. Can we knock it off already?

  30. Patricia M.
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:04:09

    I can speak from personal experience how scary it can be to have personal information published. This has nothing to do with authors and reviews but it is analogous. My husband was one of the driving forces behind a lawsuit in my community to stop the harassment of Hispanics by the police (which was won). There were a lot of articles in the local paper and in the on-line version people could comment. One of the commenters to one of the articles published our address and suggested “protesting” at our home. I was frightened, especially for my young daughter. Our address was easy enough to get since my husband has an unusual last name and we are in the phone book, but the publishing of it in the comments section carried a not so implied threat. Nothing came of it, thankfully, but that does not change the fact that publishing personal information carries an implied, if not explicit, threat. Anyone who would do something like that is inciting others to harmful acts.

  31. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:08:32

    Everything you said, yes, yes, yes.

    As Foz Meadows makes clear, it is the power dynamic that makes this so ugly. If there were merely disagreement over a review, with each side respecting the other’s right to an equally valid opinion, fine and dandy. But this is an attempt to, in Archie Bunker’s word, stifle. I think it’s important to keep that in mind, because the actions are symptoms of a much deeper ill.

    There is a flip side to this coin, however, that I think the Dear Author staff needs to take a little bit of extra credit for.

    Too many writers in this age of Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing seem to think all they need do is buy a stock photo for cover art, add a title and their name, then upload their MS Word file and they’re “published.” If a friend or two buys a copy, now the author is “a professional.” The family and the friends all think it’s so wonderful that Sis or Mom or Cousin Nancy or My Wife or Aunt Gracie has written A Book and they rush out to post gushing reviews.

    Along comes someone who dares to point out the flaws in Aunt Gracie’s lovely creation: the faulty grammar, the WTF history, the ludicrous dialogue, the creepy hero, the TSTL heroine. (And all too often, I might add, it is the hero who is creepy and overbearing and the heroine who is TSTL, which is a creepy dynamic in and of itself.) It’s not because the reviewer has been snarky, even though she may have been, or that she’s accurate, which she usually is: It’s that the authors and their supporters have no clue how to deal with public criticism. They’ve probably never even dealt with private criticism. And a few of them react disproportionately to the “violence” they perceive to have been part of the “attack” on their book.

    I don’t write that to in any way justify or excuse the actions of the bullies on the GRB website, but rather to offer some small explanation for them and perhaps a path to others’ avoiding that kind of behavior. I remember the days of my judging in RWA contests and the nasty letters written back to “that mean judge #4″ and I remember the horrible, vicious critique one of my manuscripts received when an equally unpublished friend gave it (without my permission) to a published friend of hers. I’ve been on both sides of that issue. There was another friend who, after both of us had contracted for our first books at about the same time, asked me to read the first chapters of her next and I had to tell her that in my opinion it just didn’t hang together at all. Her response was to call me jealous and a host of other things (including unchristian).

    But all of those criticisms were received in private, and we authors had time to thicken our skins at least a little bit before our books went live. And if our books got negative reviews (which they did!), well, we could blame our editors. We had lots and lots of buffers.

    The self-published author today doesn’t have that, and if her work isn’t of professional quality, she’s going to be found out, she’s going to get negative reviews, and there’s a very good chance she’s not going to know how to react.

    Dear Author’s “First Page Saturday” is, in my mind, one of its most valuable features for that very reason: It not only gives the featured author the experience of putting her work before an unmoderated public of fellow authors, readers, whatever, but also the experience of having to react to the often conflicting responses. It’s tough. It takes a certain amount of courage to upload that sample and then a very different kind of strength to watch as the reactions come in. Because in the First Page Saturday script, the power dynamic is reversed. Here it’s the reviewers who have all the power, even if only for one day, and it behooves the author, regardless what kind of reaction her sample evokes, to recognize how vital it is to balance the two in order to achieve success.

    The truth is, there are some vicious reviewers out there, and good for them. They’re not afraid to point out that there is a lot of shitty writing out there. The other truth is that a lot of writers just aren’t prepared to accept the fact that they wrote that shit, and all the pats on the head from Aunt Louise or Grandma Phyllis or the roses and champagne from hubby won’t change that. The book is what it is, good, bad, horrible, and learning to suck it up and move on to the next project is part of the life of a writer. “Some people” obviously haven’t learned that yet and would rather bully their critics than hone their craft. They deserve their Karma, and I think it’s well on its way to biting them in their butts.

  32. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:19:52

    @kathy cole:

    Which sentiment is why the author freakout makes no sense – how on earth will screaming at paying consumers improve your sales?

    Ignoring the seriousness of stalking and revealing personal information for a minute, THAT is what just kills me about all this. It’s so mind-boggling stupid. Why would you risk alienating potential readers with such behavior? I’m pretty sure attacking paying customers is the exception to the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” rule.

    I would really like to see an example of an author being attacked by reviewers/readers, because I keep seeing that mentioned as a justification for that site. Unless people are flocking to authors’ sites to sell them how much they and their books suck–and while obnoxious, that’s still not bullying–it doesn’t count as a “mob” that some authors are describing.

  33. Tamara
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:20:12

    I can’t get over the sheer hypocrisy of it. That GRB site owner should be utterly ashamed of herself.

  34. Lil
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:20:24

    I was really grateful a few years ago when I discovered the online community of Romance readers and reviews. The reviews have been a great help in guiding me to books I like, and I have also enjoyed the discussions.

    However, I have become a bit hesitant about posting comments myself. I know my first reaction to something I consider idiotic may be a bit intemperate, so I try not to hit the send button too quickly. Recently, though, I find myself hesitant to say anything that isn’t positive, and that bothers me.

  35. Kat Kennedy
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:30:58

    @CG: I am a paranoid person when it comes to my personal information – which is why there was so little on me compared to the other girls. But I still found some out there which I had to take down.

    To get rid of as much personal data as possible:

    1. Check all social networks you’ve ever joined. Deactivate ones you don’t use and limit personal info on ones you do.

    2. Check people finder sites like Spokeo, PeekYou, etc. They mine data from social network sites and build profiles on you. You will be surprised how much information may be there if you have, at any point since you began using the net, been a little sloppy with your personal info.

    3. If you want to keep your identity safe, it is best to have an email that doesn’t include your real full name – even in the sign up. If they can get your real name, they are that much closer to getting your info.

    4. Check that your IP address is anonymized and doesn’t reveal your address when searched.

    I hope that helps. I would wish for anyone to go through what the girls have been through.

  36. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:38:39

    @Jane: I don’t think the power dynamic issue explains the problem here.

    There’s a difference between strongly worded discussion (an area where I do think the author/reader power dynamic plays into the appropriateness of response), and direct or implied threats of physical violence–which are never appropriate, not for anyone, ever. STGB is engaging in implied threats of physical violence by posting names, places of business, and suggesting that these items might be useful to those who care. That would be activity that is inappropriate for anyone.

    The power dynamic explanation cannot explain the entirety of my loathing for the kind of attack the goodreads bullies are using, because I can think of extremely powerful woman who have been subjected to threats of physical violence precisely because they are powerful. In that case, those threats exist to weaken the women themselves, and also to threaten those who watch. It sends a clear message: Don’t you dare reach for power, because if you do, you too will get this.

    There is something particularly loathsome about the people who posted Sandra Day O’Connor’s address in DC and suggested that she should get raped, or people who talk about lynching Barack Obama, or people who threaten to hang out outside Oprah’s studio and shoot her. Regardless of what you think about those people, I hope everyone agrees that this is wrong. Those people are very powerful–no doubt about it. There’s no doubt in my mind that they have more power than their attackers. But those attacks are designed not just to attack, but to disenfranchise.

    You do have power, Jane. So do many other reviewers. I’m not saying that the power is equal. I am saying that your stalker targeted you–and the STGB targeted the reviewers they did–because you have power. It’s intended as an object lesson to others who are less powerful: that if readers stick their necks out, they will be chopped off. Sending the message that powerful women need to be cut down to size by any means necessary is, to me, the more despicable aspect of this issue than the the power dynamic.

  37. Carolyn Crane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:38:54

    Oh, thank you for this, and for linking this to the larger subject of slapping down women who step out of line, and that it’s not just men who do it to women.

    This whole thing has been making me sick and angry on behalf of the reader/reviewer victims. My heart goes out to these women, and I’ve really been impressed by their fortitude in the face of this Internet ugliness, which can make a person feel so sick inside. I hope those reader/reviewers know how people are pulling for them and wishing them well.

  38. Jennifer Leeland
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:41:23

    Quoted: “People rarely deserve the viciousness of online attacks, however, Seanan Maguire is a producer of a product and any comments directed toward her book, her as an author including her speed or lack thereof, is a critique of the product.”
    I completely disagree with this. Bullying is bullying regardless of whether it’s a reader or an author. Comments directed personally toward an author (like calling him/her a fat, lazy cow for not producing or calling the author “stupid and retarded” comments I’ve seen towards authors) are not about the product, but the person behind the product.
    Of course, we little sensitive flowers need to stop taking things so damn personally when it comes to reviews/reader comments. But I want to point out, as someone who has dealt with the constant “one view” about bullying, that a group of smaller, mean-spirited kids can be as vicious and ugly as the common “big kid” who is often viewed as a bully. I call it the “piranha syndrome” and it’s just as brutal and hurtful.
    To me, when intelligent discourse goes out the window and people aim personal, hurtful attacks at another person regardless of the “position” in an effort to demean them, it’s bullying.
    Do I like it when a reviewer attacks my characters, my story or my structure? No. But it’s very, very different to call my character a cunt than it is to suggest that the author is a cunt.
    Why is it any different for an author to feel bullied when readers attack HER/HIM than when authors attack readers? The positions of power are interchangeable. Readers have power to buy, to criticize, to spread by word of mouth positive and negative opinions about authors. And authors have an audience to spread their opinions plus some have their sock puppets to dance for them.
    I guess what I’m saying is that I wish we’d all remember that behind the “product” (the review, the online profile) is an honest to God person. I try and remember that when I call up my cell phone company to complain. The person on the other end of the line might represent “the product” but that doesn’t mean I should call them and cuss them out, call them names and generally scream at them in my frustration. Curse the product? Certainly. Spread by word of mouth how awful they are? Certainly.
    I do NOT understand the idea of an author condoning threats of violence, outing anyone’s (author or reader) personal information or gathering their followers to join in abuse of another. The dog pile that ensues shows us in a ugly, vicious light.
    Though condemnation of bad behavior is absolutely necessary, I wonder at some of the vitriol that can come out when we do. Believe me, I have done my share. I don’t like what I see in myself when I do.
    I don’t think it’s a “reader” “author” “reviewer” thing as much as it’s a human thing. No one-author, reader, reviewer-wants to be attacked personally, to have their real life exposed for ridicule, to become the bottom of an online dog pile.
    Controversy is all part of the online experience, but I do believe too many lines get crossed and it would be better if I can remember that behind a name, behind a review, behind a profile is a real, live person who has thoughts and feelings like I do.
    As far as a solution? I honestly believe the worst curse I can bestow on someone is obscurity. Like an obnoxious co-worker or a mean little kid, if they are ignored, shunned and alone, they eventually go away.
    The problem is that there are too many people who agree with them, who believe they are justified in their ugly and personal attacks.

  39. Lynnd
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:43:28

    @Sean Cummings: Out of curiousity, do you know in which province/territory these cases are being started (or the case cites). I haven’t seen them reported but would be interested in following them.

    Robin – great post. You have said everything that I have been thinking for quite some time now but far more eloquently that I. We need to realize that the fight for the rights which women have have so painfully struggles for is not over and that we can’t rest on our backsides thinking that the battles are done. There will always be those who want to roll back women’s rights and put us back into the our perceived roles (both other women and men) and it is up to those of us who refuse to comply to stand up and say NO WAY IN HELL! /getting off my soapbox now.

  40. Lori
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:47:51

    In the bigger picture it’s the way we’re socialized that demands women be nice or face ridicule and punishment.

    Publishing someone’s private information is so egregariously wrong that I’m still gobsmacked that anyone alive is defending it. Or that it’s still up.

    I know there are disagreements about the proper steps to take but I do believe that in this case trying to get the blog taken down for abuse is the correct thing to do. It’s not trying to silence a voice but rather refusing to allow someone to victimize others because they had the gall to have opinions in a snarky tone.

    As a community we have the ability to make it a point to refuse to play into this mean girl-nice reviewer bullcrap. We need to stop trying to silence the voices whose tone we don’t like because that makes us part of the problem. Do I like the snarky comments? The behavior of all? Absolutely not. But those voices are part of this community too.

    In my opinion we need to highlight these situations when they occur, understand the damage they do to us, all of us, as women and not try to stifle it but be louder and more confident that we’re not going to sit back and let it go on.

  41. Christi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 08:58:34

    It’s almost like some of the people defending the GRB site behavior haven’t ever been on the internet before. Like somehow trolls are some appalling new thing to be battled against unironically. You don’t feed the trolls! They’ll get bored and go on to trolling someone else.

    What I think annoys me almost as much as the inexcusable release of personal information to incite the masses, is this attitude that they’re somehow policing the internet and making it a batter place. Because of course, this one small group of authors should totally be the authority over how everyone else behaves. It’s stupidly arrogant. Stupid because *they* can’t even adhere to their own moral code, arrogant because they somehow think they’re important enough.

    If it weren’t so scary and violating, I’d be laughing my head off at these people.

    I imagine ten minutes reading YouTube contents would give them aneurisms.

  42. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:05:20

    @Las: I can think of only one clear example and I’ve been on GR for awhile. I flagged a review of a YA book called Hades, written by a teen author. The reviewer hadn’t read the book (it wasn’t out yet) and the comments were all about the author’s looks and personality. One person threatened to hunt the author down and punch her in the face. There were hundreds of comments from popular YA bloggers in this thread.

    In response to my flag, a GR rep (Patrick Brown) contacted me, saying he thought the comments were meant in jest. Maybe they were.

    Whenever the subject of bullying comes up, I think of this example, because that group of bloggers crossed the line in my opinion, especially considering the age of the author. Of course there are many, many more examples of authors behaving badly.

    I don’t agree that threats or outing someone’s personal information is appropriate, ever. That includes the person responsible for this awful Bullies site. The “bullies” they’ve “outed” (are home addresses posted? I didn’t see that) don’t deserve this. No one does. The comments about Kat Kennedy as a mother made me sick.

  43. janicu
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:08:49

    @Jane The Seanan McGuire incident involved Amazon shipping the physical books before the release date (a mistake on their part) but not the e-copies (holding them to the actual release date). Customers who had preordered the ebooks, unhappy that they weren’t getting their copies earlier than they were supposed to TOO, go vicious and sent McGuire hate mail. http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/425907.html — this was pretty awful.

    I think that calling authors names like that is never right, but I don’t think it is the equivalent of writing a snarky review or calling out an author for bad behavior like the so-called “GR bullies” have done. I’ve looked at their reviews and seen the long comment threads when they’ve spotlighted an author’s behavior. But you know what? Being opinionated and being loud about those opinions is not wrong. Yes some of the reviews have made me wince, but still not wrong for them to have an opinion on a book even if I disagree with it.

    I really REALLY don’t understand how I’m supposed to sympathize with the GR Bullies site over the so-called bad deeds of the “bullies” when the GR Bullies site is selective in it’s profiles, doesn’t put up the whole story (I’m not a dummy, GR bully site, I can use google), and does something so creepy as to specifically look for information on someone and post it all in one place (in one case telling the world where someone eats regularly and at what times? WTF)? It is wrong, plain and simple.

  44. Keishon
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:12:44

    I’m late sorry but I find the whole bullying thing horrifying and appalling behavior. It’s enough to make you want to quit sharing what is essentially an opinion on a book that’s intended for other readers. I was online and using the AOL message boards to talk to Nora Roberts and other readers back in the 90’s. Never did we have the animosity we have now. The attacks on readers does hurt the community, badly. I don’t (sadly) see a way to fix the situation as more authors get online and mingle with readers in the reader space. This shit recycles itself. The lack of professionalism though …. there are no words for it.

  45. Author on Vacation
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:14:23

    @Lynne Connolly:

    Bullying is a complex subject. I was bullied at school for being working class (I had a “common” accent, brought in sandwiches instead of having the school lunch, didn’t know which knife and fork to use, had second hand sports equipment etc etc) and spent three years fighting and learning, resulting in my denying my background for years.

    Dear Lynne:

    1. Your Georgian novels are fantastic.
    2. I am sorry you suffered these incredibly negative experiences with your peers. However, I assure you your accent and living habits were not more “common” than the behavior of your tormentors. For all their presumed “better class,” they clearly were not raised to understand that expressing cruelty and ridicule towards another person due to a perceived ignorance or other deficit is a pretty low-class thing to do. One might even call it the eptiome of vulgarity.

    A person ignorant of the niceties of table silver can learn them much more easily than a cruel, oblivious person can improve his/her disposition.

  46. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:26:09

    I’m very sorry if reviewers are targeted. I think anyone who is harassed or bullied has every right to be protected. I always respect my reviewers’ views, both positive and negative. People are welcome to read my Goodreads responses to verify that. I personally pay little attention to most “citizen reviewers” because their perceptions are so subjective. They tell us their experience of reading a story and little else, but they have a right to their opinion. Their opinions should be respected.

    However, the sheer bullying madness that is brought down on writers is part of the reason behind the backlash, I’m afraid. There are plenty of citizen reviewers who have a sanctimonious ax to grind and seek out writers on whom to use it. Some writers also target other writers, too. Other reviewers are just trying to make a name for themselves with their own brand of cruelty, paying no mind to the human being effected by their remarks.

    That does not make it okay to vilify and target those who are merely expressing themselves, but the matter should be seen in context. There has also been a LOT of bullying going on against writers. What we ALL need to do is fight our battles with the ones who bring them, if indeed they must be fought at all, and not group all people into our own narrow categories.

  47. Cheryl McInnis
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:30:03

    @Lynnd: Lynnd, One case that has gone to court here in Canada is in Moncton, NB. Here is a link to the CBC news article about it…hope it works for you.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/06/20/nb-cormier-online-comments-706.html

  48. Keishon
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:32:04

    One last thing: using terminology like “citizen reviewers” and “amateur reviewers” whether true or not is in itself provocative to me. Says a lot about the person using it too. Carry on.

  49. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:36:16

    Keishon, it says nothing more about the person making the comment than they want it to. Don’t group people together according to your own perceptions. You may just be wrong.

    I say “citizen reviewers” to differentiate them from reviewers who critique a story based solely on structure. Citizen reviewers tend to lead with their own emotions, based on personal experiences. That doesn’t make them bad. It makes them different — and thus deserving of their own definition.

    Anyone who presumes to be offended by the term may be telling us a lot about their own perceptions of the relative importance of their opinions. lol

  50. Sirius
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:41:58

    Melody Clark, I would appreciate the examples of the reviewers bullying writers please. No, being harsh about their books does not count. I think that if writers (those who cry bullying of course) would have gotten it into their heads we could have avoided so many problems. Attacking your book is not the same as attacking you as a person, repeat it after me. It is just not. I have read the books where I wanted to shoot the character , so annoyed they made me and said so. Does that mean I was bullying the writer?!!! I would say that it means that book got my emotions involved and very deeply and that’s about it. I never ever ever attacked the person who wrote the book, but I have seen too many writers crying foul where review has nothing of the personal attack on the writer and writer still comes all upset an d equals on her “baby” as if it was attack on her.

  51. LG
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:44:58

    @Melody Clark: From what I’ve seen, reviewers who are vicious towards authors (towards the author as a person), or who slam a book with bad reviews for reasons that have nothing to do with the contents of the book, tend to be smacked right back down by other readers. Most people aren’t stupid – they recognize when someone is being a jerk or is just plain crazy.

    You say that none of that makes STGB okay, but your comment still seems pretty close to “those reviewers brought this on themselves.”

  52. Julia Broadbooks
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:46:09

    I don’t usually feel compelled to comment on the internet author/reader/reviewer dramas. They are usually so bitter and hateful and don’t really involve me, so I just avoid them. But this is different. I feel that to remain silent is to tacitly approve their actions. It is not okay to post someone’s personal information. It is not okay to imply that other people will be taking note of that information. People say crap I disagree with all the time, online and in real life. I don’t get to threaten them into silence.

    I put a great deal of effort into teaching my daughters to be polite when they were small. It worked. But now, I fear it worked too well. As my now 18yo goes out into the world, she finds it really hard to shut down people she doesn’t want to talk to. A certain kind of guy takes advantage of that. She is getting better at drawing her own boundaries. And that FB block is a wonderful thing. All the same, she is avoiding hanging out on Skype so she doesn’t have to again tell a certain man that she isn’t going to be dating him.

    At this point, I’d rather she’d be a bitch than a doormat.

  53. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:48:12

    I have been harassed, called at home, threatened online, and stalked for many years because of my writing. I have had to change my phone number three times. I write male/male erotica, and there are plenty of reviewers who think their dislike is all they need to vindicate attacks. I know many other writers who’ve gone through the same thing.

    Attacking my book is attacking me if the point of attacking the book is to attack the writer. You can mask an attack behind a review, but the point is still made clear. Also, why do you think the writer is the one who is wrong? Maybe the reviewer is? Or, more probably, the writer and reviewer merely like different types of books. That doesn’t make one wrong and the other right. It means they disagree.

    I think reviewers and writers need to realize we are not warring camps. We’re the same people. In point of fact, some of the most vicious reviewers are themselves writers. The hidden agenda there should be obvious. The problem is that bullies will be bullies. It’s only by accepting the relativity of our own perspectives — and that our way to write is not the only way to write — that we’ll all get along.

  54. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:51:08

    LG, I don’t even know what STGB means, for one thing. I very clearly indicated that no one “brings it on themselves” — I said it must be seen in context. Yes, there is a lot of bullying that goes on between camps. In fact, we are NOT warring camps, we’re the same people.

    We just need to see the relativity of our own views and learn to be nicer to each other.

  55. LG
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:52:27

    @Melody Clark: Sorry – STGB = Stop the Goodreads Bullies

  56. Natalie L.
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:53:33

    First of all, it’s Seanan McGuire.

    Second of all, Amazon and B&N shipped the print edition of one of her recent books a few weeks before the on-sale date but held the electronic edition until the official release date. Because of this, she was the target of an awful lot of personal attacks of the sort being decried here–I refer you to this post on her LJ: http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/425907.html

    I’m not sure why Jane thinks that the personal attacks (including threats of rape and other violence) McGuire had to endure for something beyond her control are a false equivalency–yes, McGuire is a writer, but I’m really failing to see the difference here; being an author doesn’t make personal attacks acceptable.

    ETA: I see that someone else has made this point–more or less–already. Ah well.

  57. Sean Cummings
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:07:23

  58. Liz Talley
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:14:04

    It’s at times such as these, I’m really glad I don’t know what the hell is going on.

    You know how to solve some of this? By authors not going online and reading all their reviews on GR and Amazon and anywhere else readers have free reign to post their beliefs. Yep. That’s the solution. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

    I totally understand the impulse. I’ve done it myself. It goes like this – you have a book out and you want to know what everyone thinks. So you shop around for your reviews. And then you find one. And it hurts. And then you call that reader every bad word you know. And eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. And then go back on the site, re-read the horrid review. Rinse and repeat.

    So you know what would be better for everyone involved? If you just pretended there was no GR or kindleboards or whatever else is out there, and just concetrated on what you can control…your writing. Then you can go to sleep each night picturing legions of readers sighing over the beauty of your words, reveling in your meaty characters and desperate for more from your brilliant fingertips.

    At least that’s my new plan.

    Because you not everyone likes you. You’re not Sally Field, dammit.

  59. Madame X
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:16:30

    I’m starting to be really, really disturbed because I think the Stop the GR Bullies site is accomplishing its aims. People who are only casually invested in the issue seem willing enough to agree that the site is offensive – but many of them are also convinced that the reviewers called out on the site are actually bullies. They accept the skewed version of events presented on the site and don’t investigate further.

    As of right now, by checking goodreads…The Holy Terror has written 200 reviews with a 3.5 star average; Ridley has written 269 reviews with a 3.45 star average; Lucy has written 99 reviews with a 2.92 star average; Kat has written 318 reviews with a 3.34 star average.

    They’re not “bullies”. They’re “readers”. They’re not running around bashing authors; if they were, the average star ratings would look different. We focus so much on the negative, on the fact that the profiled reviewers object to author tantrums etc., that we’re totally forgetting the fact that most of what they do is…read books, share what they think, and help other readers discover books that they’ll LIKE.

    Incidentally, there’s a new post up on the GR Bullies site that gives examples of “bully reviews” and none of them are by the people she’s already called out. Why? Because they write good reviews.

  60. Jane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:19:27

    @Natalie L – The point is that calling an author names is not equivalent to what the STGB site is doing. Outing, stalking, and harassing a reviewer for reviews is not on the same level as name calling. To bring it up is to create a false equivalency – to wash away the things that STGB as if these reviewers were somehow asking for it.

    I certainly don’t agree with readers calling Maguire names and I don’t agree that reviewers/readers should attack Maguire for not shipping out the book but to me that is a different argument.

    By bringing up Maguire’s situation, which is not the same (although bad), seems to be an excuse for what the STGB people (and people like them) are doing. It’s not so different than what Julie Leto was saying on Twitter (as referenced in one of Robin’s links above) or the comments made on the Passive Voice (also referenced above).

    So, no, I don’t think that the name calling toward Maguire was appropriate and I would have very little (if any respect) toward a reviewer who engaged in that behavior. However, this type of thing does not excuse the type of behavior that is described in the original post.

  61. Julia Broadbooks
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:20:14

    @Liz Talley: Best advice ever.

  62. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:20:51

    Liz, amen, exactly. If someone can’t handle the reviews like a professional, they shouldn’t read them.

    Madame, the question isn’t “good” or “bad” — it’s the reasons behind the reviews. If someone regularly ranks down a book because he/she doesn’t like the author as a person, and ranks up a book when they do, that is bullying. There’s also just a lot of simple meanness that goes into reviewers (many of whom are writers) trying to make a name for themselves as nasty reviewers.

    I’d like to see more analysis and objectivity put into everyone’s perceptions, writers and reviewers.

  63. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:27:51

    @Melody Clark:

    Madame, the question isn’t “good” or “bad” — it’s the reasons behind the reviews. If someone regularly ranks down a book because he/she doesn’t like the author as a person, and ranks up a book when they do, that is bullying.

    No, it is not. When I was a kid, there were three boys who would follow me and my sister as we walked home from school and hurl insults, and then threats, and finally, rocks. That was bullying.

    Voting positive reviews down because you don’t like an author is petty meanness. Being mean and being a bully are NOT the same things.

    There’s a big difference between something that is exasperating and something that gives you real, legitimate fear for your well-being.

  64. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:29:45

    @Melody Clark: Regularly ranking an author’s books down — or even ranking their competition up — is mean and petty and juvenile, but it is NOT bullying. It’s not a threat to the author’s or her family members’ personal safety. Is it a threat to her livelihood? Oh, maybe. But there is always this to remember:

    If it’s just one reviewer, and your book is really really good, that bad review isn’t going to matter. And if it’s the only review, or there are a lot of others like it, then maybe the book really does suck.

    Look, I’m an author, I know what it feels like to get the sucky reviews, or no reviews at all. A sucky review NEVER NEVER NEVER justifies personal retaliation against the reviewer and NOTHING justifies personal retaliation against her family, her friends, the restaurant she eats at, the places she shops. NOTHING, NEVER.

    If the reviewer gets personal, then the author has the right to ask the review site to remove it, and from what I’ve seen personal attacks will be removed.

    But again, no matter how painful the review is, it NEVER justifies personal retaliation. NEVER. Just NEVER.

  65. Melody
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:30:44

    Courtney, bullying is bullying. It is defined as:

    Discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate

    I’d say that petty and mean remarks are definitely contained within the bullies manifest.

  66. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:31:48

    Linda, I’m not sure what you’re arguing with as I’ve said the same thing. lol

    Do you mean to say that anything a mean reviewer says is acceptable and a writer should just take it without the right to a reasonably polite response? A writer doesn’t get the same right as the reviewer? The reviewer cannot be reviewed?

  67. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:37:41

    BTW, I’m out of here to the real world and all it entails. I’ll give the writer’s perspective over to somebody else who is brave enough to step in. lol

  68. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:42:08

    @Melody: I don’t see the threat or the intimidation in clicking “this review wasn’t helpful.” I don’t see the domineering manner. Calling someone a bully because they dislike a review on Amazon is like calling someone a bully for threatening to pluck a blade of grass from your lawn.

    Implicit in that definition is that the threat is a threat of a serious consequence, and that the threatened action is itself one that is not an exercise of legitimate rights.

    Thus: Not bullying to organize a boycott of BP because you don’t like how they handled the oil spill. Even though there’s a serious potential consequence, it’s an exercise of legitimate rights.

    Thus: Not bullying to threaten to take a blank post-it note from a co-workers desk. Yes, it’s a threat, but it’s a relatively meaningless one.

    But: Posting someone’s place of work with the implication that you might get them fired from their job, or that people should go and harass them there… Definitely bullying.

    If all people who sometimes engage in less-than-kind and petty behavior are bullies, the word “bully” stops having any meaning whatsoever.

  69. Madame X
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:43:45

    @Melody Clark:

    Melody – why don’t you go read some of the readily available reviews by the called-out reviewers? I’m only really familiar with a few of them (The Holy Terror, Kat, Ridley) & they can speak for themselves. Personally, I follow their reviews and take their recommendations because they write about books. Not authors. They’re not nasty; if they were consistently negative, their ratings wouldn’t average on or above 3 stars.

    The point of the infamous shelves is that they’re not attached to ratings or reviews. So the book isn’t “ranked down” at all. If a reviewer ONLY uses shelves to fence off author-tantrum books, the author’s star rating remains completely unaffected.

  70. Sirius
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:49:14

    LG thank you for saying it. I mean i wish the authors would give their readers some credit . I can distinguish somebody launching a personal attack against the person and somebody being harsh against the book. Melody Clark, if you were personally attacked as a person – no somebody saying your wriring is bad, hat is wrong of course,all kinds of wrong. However If you seriously believe that attacking the book is the same as attacking the author , even if review does not say a word about you as a person, well trust me it is more than enough for me to never touch your book . No not because I want do any sort of revenge, but because I have no desire to experience another attack if I end up disliking it. I have seen behaviors in mm world I was disgusted with and I still buy these authors’ books – because I love their writing and feel that I will be the loser there is only one author I do not buy because I see how he abuses reviewers on the regular basis and has no desire to change it. I know this example gets brought up often , but somehow it gets ignored by writers usually. When I buy defective Tv, a washing machine, a dress or any other product and I go on amazon and rant that it broke, has a hole in, whatever the second I got it home, does it mean that I am attacking their creators? I am yet to see any of those people come online and threw a tantrum . They know that their products are not the same as them, I wish more writers would learn that. That really to me is the main problem here – change your mindset or do not read reviews . If you see reviewer who attacks you as a person NOT your book, report it, I think personal nastiness has no business in the reviews, none, but your book is not you.

  71. Stephanie Scott
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:51:14

    Thanks for providing the more recent Goodreads bullying links. I read about The Selection review scandal and read the original review; it wasn’t nearly as scathing as other reviews I’ve seen on GR; that reviewer is usually quite level-headed; I’ve followed her reviews for awhile. I can only imagine how hard it would be if someone didn’t like my book and posted about it, but I agree, this is not bullying. What is bullying is exposing someone’s identity online, personal information etc. with intent to shame or harm them. It doesn’t matter if “anyone could find those details, it’s not hard.” It’s the intent to expose for purposes of shame and retaliation.

    You’re right, we should be better than that. I have Christian beliefs to fall back on that stop me when I’m tempted to fight back with cruel words; even then, I’ve made mistakes. But not everyone has the same framework of beliefs or values. It’s a learned behaviour, and not everyone has learned tact and manners. Hiding behind a screenname and avatar makes it even easier to play a part we might never dream of in Real Life.

  72. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:52:43

    ~sigh~

    Call me old-fashioned, but this all boils down to good manners.

    I distanced myself from Goodreads a long time ago, and from Amazon reviews and various review sites because of the increasingly nasty nature of the rhetoric found even in the “good” reviews/commentary. The sneering, jeering tones, the snark, the sniping and cheap shots, the one-up-manship in who can be the loudest, crudest, meanest “bitch” in the bunch, the filthy, foul language…ugh. Then the petty “in-crowds” and pot-stirring and you-can’t-be-my-friend-if-you’re-her-friend, the queen bees rallying their drones, the sheer nastiness and ugliness of it all…what thoughtful reader wants anything to do with any of that?

    Nothing good has come of all this self-publishing, or the homegrown review industry, the jockeying for publicity, the self-appointed gatekeeping, and so on.

    Maybe I am a Luddite, but all of this only confirms my belief that there is something to be said for the traditional structure of the publishing industry. There is something to be said for authors remaining above the fray, and for society in general to shun the vulgar, shrill, and foul-mouthed among us.

    For all that people think the internet is the great equalizer and an agent of social change and open dialogue, it’s really just a giant free-for-all where the lowest of the low flourishes and mob-rule is the norm.

  73. Joanne Macgregor
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:02:33

    When we threaten, punish, and silence women for stepping outside the line, for succeeding, for daring to disagree, then we have internalised the voice of the oppressor, and are continuing the abuse.
    Bullying others, even those who we think are bullies themselves, does not satisfy our need for real authority and power. By demeaning others, we demean ourselves.

  74. Lisa (Fic Talk)
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:08:12

    Fantastic post.

    I could not agree more.

  75. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:14:11

    @Keishon – I have to disagree with you that this is new. I was part of the same AOL boards you were and an incident very like this occurred. If kandykane13 rings any bells, that person tried to out various members I won’t name. As well, one of NR’s strongest supporters felt very personally threatened during the plagiarism reveal, with her profession and general locale outed. While she and I constantly disagreed, I thought that was completely wrong and said so.

    I reviewed in the 80’s to mid 90’s then stopped for a long period of time because I was tired of dealing with the stalker nutcases and gas lighting of the then self published world. Self publishing has come a very long way and yet. Now that I am reviewing again I only accept self published authors I have a good feel for online. I don’t buy much self published work. Every self published author should feel a strong investment in the silencing of reviewers because a poisoned well yields water to none. When I read a book, I review it three places. When I like a book I handsell it to everyone I know. I’m not reading your self published book, and STGRB is creating more like me.

  76. Ridley
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:18:45

    What a day to start my exile from my house due to renovations. I have much to say, but little desire to type it out on my phone.

    I’ll just glare at Melody and fist-bump Robin.

  77. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:24:07

    @Melody Clark: No, Melody, you didn’t say the same thing I did.

    I said bad reviews, down-voting bad reviews for authors you like, up-voting good reviews, retaliatory reviews, all that shit is stupid and petty and juvenile BUT IT IS NOT BULLYING. I’m not sure how much more clear I can make that.

    Does an author have a “right” to respond to a bad review? Yeah, sure she does. Do I personally think she should? No, I don’t. I think authors should read their reviews, but I think they need to step back and realize that they had the FIRST word then they wrote and published the book. Now they need to STFU and allow the readers to have their say.

    If you feel you absolutely have to respond, do it on your blog or website or whatever, but don’t address the individual reader/reviewer directly. I just don’t think it’s a good thing.

    If it’s an issue of “defending” your book, shouldn’t the book be able to defend itself? And if the reviewer is so stupid (in the author’s mind) that she doesn’t “get it,” will arguing with her make any difference?

    No, no, no. I don’t think authors should ever respond directly to reviews/reviewers, no matter how bad, stupid, idiotic, wrong, mean they are.

    And no one ever ever ever has justification to intimidate or threaten over a bad review. If the author sees a personal threat in a review, as I said before, she can go to the review site and ask that it be removed. If the situation escalates, she can go to the police. But replying with bullying tactics is just wrong wrong wrong.

  78. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:26:55

    Coming back here, amid all the responses, to say, “why glare at Melody?” lol

    All I said is we’re all human — reviewers and writers — we’re the same people. Sometimes we’re wrong — all of us. You would disagree with that? You honestly believe the reviewers are the “good and wronged” against evil writers? If that’s the case, why do you think that? You seem to be arguing with something you think I’m saying rather than what I’ve said.

    I just found the Stop Goodreads Bullying site (I’d suggest everyone read my responses to reviews to see my own opinion). I think it’s a considerable overreach. It displays the same kind of pouting histronics going on in some of the posts here.

    I think I’m going to start a site called STOP READING STUPID REVIEWERS/WRITERS.

  79. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:26:58

    Some really interesting points of view here (both in the blog posts and comments) and I’m glad I took the time to read through.

    At some point we should all have learned the difference between: “Your writing is poor and you need to work on sentence structure and punctuation.” and “You suck and should throw away your keyboard and never write again.” and if your reader was your editor or teacher you’d be justified in being up in arms over such criticism. But your reader is your reader. She/He may be less educated, less informed, less classy than you. He/She may even been an annoying clod but they still bought your book and they are entitled to their opinion about it. If they want to give you one star and post “This book sucked” then let them do it.

    It isn’t about being nice and polite in my opinion. We can dislike something and still be polite about it. Having worked in customer service (front line, face to face with varying levels of irked people) I’ve been called names because they didn’t like the free toy that was offered, the person aiding them called them Miss when they were “clearly” married or even because their credit card was refused. Some jerk even told me he’d like to punch me. And this wasn’t from behind the safety of a screen. This was right up in my face. And I guess I could have felt bullied or picked on when my intelligence, looks or education were called into question but I didn’t because it was my job. Just like it’s the author’s job to take criticism from readers. If you don’t want criticism don’t publish. Write for your friends and family. As soon as you ask people for money for something they tend to get more critical.

    It’s a job, isn’t it? Don’t you expect to get paid? When I have a job I expect to hear about my performance. If it’s not measuring up then I expect to be called on it. Praise is nice, but shouldn’t praise be earned. Are we all so entitled to praise that we expect a laurel everytime we do what is expected of us?

    The more we call posting negative reviews bullying the less the term actually means. Even great works of literature are hated by some. I loathe Flaubert “Madame Bovery” and Dicken’s “A Tale of Two Cities”. I would very happily give both of those one star reviews. I could even bring up questionable aspects of both author’s personal lives into my review. It’s not bullying. It’s me being a snotty twit and says more about me than it does about either Flaubert or Dickens. There is a difference.

    *long time reader here, first time poster*

  80. Melody Clark
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:28:39

    Linda, this is becoming silly beyond measure. I know what I meant. If you’re defending vicious and mean reviewers who’ve had their Iddow Feewings Huwt because of honest responses from writers, I’m sorry. They need to develop the thick skin everyone tells writers to develop.

    If you’re defending honest reviewers who’ve come up against nasty, snarly writers, then I agree.

    And incidentally, WRITING IN BOLD IS NOT AN ARGUMENT. lol If you have a case to make against what I’ve said, make it, if you wish. I’ve explained why petty and mean remarks constitute bullying. If you wish, tell me why they don’t, don’t just proclaim it, if you want me to address the comment.

  81. Amanda
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:37:10

    @Melody Actually, reviewers are under no obligation to develop thick skin unless they are paid professionals. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The reviewers we’re discussing are bloggers, paying customers. They shouldn’t have to censor their opinion about a product they paid for because your authory ‘iddow feewings’ have been hurt (by the way, how snarky of you, you bully, you).

  82. Lynnd
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:38:52

    @Sean Cummings: Thanks Sean and Cheryl McInnis
    for the links. I think that issues like these will be a definite growth area for litigation.

  83. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:41:15

    But Melody, with all due respect, why should a reviewer be held to the same level of conduct as the writer? A author is selling a product, the reader is the customer. Any customer relations course teaches that they are not equal partners in the arrangement. No the customer isn’t always right and sometimes it’s annoying as heck but that customers is never held to the same standard as the seller.

    *sidenote* I guess since my baby days on the intenet back in 1995 I’ve always thought capitals meant yelling or stating your point emphatically which is what that person was doing. Or am I dating myself?

  84. KT Grant
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:46:48

    Can someone explain to me what makes a reviewer “professional”? Just because someone may get paid, doesn’t necessarily make them that. I might may be wrong, but last time I checked, a reviewer can’t get their Masters or PhD in reviewing, regardless if it’s for books, television or music. Most who review just fall into it. A reviewer who says they’re a professional confuses me because anyone can review.

    Also, I’ve read some review from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, People, NY Times and other “professional” review publications that are much more below the belt and more personal than book review bloggers or those on Goodreads.

    Again, no one is forcing an author to read a review or interact with a reviewer, especially those on Goodreads. Most of the time these conflicts happen when an author will leave a comment on a GRs review going after the review for being wrong with their opinion of what they read. Funny, I thought books are subjective and the author has no right to correct a reviewers opinion about the work. The best thing for authors is either not read reviews, or not comment and forget they exist and just continue writing and create the best possible product they can be proud of.

  85. Author on Vacation
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:48:58

    @Courtney Milan:

    I would say that any action taken by a reader/reviewer (or an alleged reader/reviewer) with the express intent of somehow penalizing an author, editor, or another reader/reviewer constitutes harrassment and that is indeed socially unacceptable and at times qualified for prosecution.

    I would say voting down an author or giving 1-star reviews, labeling an author as “I Don’t Read Because I Dislike the Author (or the Author’s editor, or the Author’s kid/s, pet/s, spouse/s, etc.” is a form of harrassment. It contributes to a hostile work environment for the author and for others active in the creation and promotion of the author’s work.

    Don’t get me wrong, I doubt the “Ban this Author ‘Cause I’m Teed Off by Whatever she/her agent/editor/fan said or did” gets susbstantial clout. I dismiss such “reviews” as pointless rants. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s okay to post it and that I don’t perceive the potential harm such harrassment causes to the reader community and to the artistic community.

  86. I was waiting for this… « Her Hands, My Hands
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:53:46

    […] Author finally weighs in on the Stop the GoodRead bullies […]

  87. Mo
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:56:49

    @ancientpeas:

    I’m not going to speak for Melody on this one. I just wanted to put in my own 2 cents on the reviewer/author/customer dynamic you ask about. To be clear, this is my own opinion about this dynamic and has no bearing on any other aspect of this post or discussion.

    In my opinion, a reviewer and a customer are not necessarily synonymous. A reviewer might be a customer, but might also not be a customer. An author is selling a product – a story. A reviewer is selling a product – a story. A customer is selling nothing; a customer is consuming.

    Therefore, when I write my thoughts on a book I read, I am writing as a customer, not as a reviewer even if what I write is called a review. That is my opinion and I am entitled to it as a customer. A reviewer is selling their story, even if the dollar amount they sell it for is $0. They are not just writing an opinion about a book; they are informing the consumer about the relative value of the book. In other words, they write with authority.

    As for level of conduct, I would assume that all roles in this exchange – author, reviewer, and consumer – would adhere to, at least, basic decency.

    As to your side note, yes, all caps in internet speak is shouting, and is still considered quite rude in most internet circles I frequent.

  88. P. Kirby
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 11:59:42

    @Liz Talley. This. “You know how to solve some of this? By authors not going online and reading all their reviews on GR and Amazon and anywhere else readers have free reign to post their beliefs. Yep. That’s the solution. Just. Don’t. Do. It.”

    I don’t see myself as anyway naive; in fact, I’m about as cynical as you can get. But I continue to be amazed by the pearl clutching–“Oh, noes, a snarky, mean review!”–of some authors.

    One of my books hasn’t been that well received. Yeah, the one review I stumbled on made me sad and somewhat perplexed. My beta readers loved it; as did, the editors who pushed for publication. So what’s the problem? Maybe it hasn’t reached the right readers. Maybe the change in tone from my first book threw some readers. Maybe it’s my own review karma biting me in the ass. Or maybe, it just sucks. Who knows?

    But that kiddies, is the nature of [all] business. You put out a product and the market responds. Sometimes negatively. If you absolutely cannot handle criticism, either: don’t published the darned thing, or…as I do, don’t read reviews.

    The bullying we’re seeing seems to be driven by a perverse, obsessive-compulsive belief that you can control EVERYTHING that is said about your product/book. There’s definitely an obsessive component, since the people involved are spending hours, even days pursuing their online nemesis, going so far as to out contact info and engaging in a scorched earth policy. The behavior, frankly, borders on mental illness. Anyone who puts that much effort into destroying someone who disagrees with their opinion might want to consider getting psychiatric help. Or a productive hobby. Or a real J.O.B.

    Honestly, the best response to a bad review is to write another book, then another and so on…

  89. Spaz
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:02:08

    Thank you!! I am still so sick and saddened that the GRB site still exists. At least they’ve removed all the “Anti-bullying” stuff from their side-bar… I guess?

  90. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:02:18

    @Christi: Are they breaking the law in their jurisdiction?

    If they are, then by all means, let’s report the bejesus out of the site. But if they aren’t, then a different approach is needed.

    Because while I don’t want people posting personal information and inciting stalking and physical violence against anyone, and I consider what the people at the StGRb site are doing beyond the pale, irresponsible, misogynistic and cruel, I also don’t want to give anyone the means to shut anyone else they don’t like by claiming cyber harassment.

  91. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:04:33

    @Author on Vacation: Harassment? Hostile work environment? Come on, now. Unless I’m calling you, contacting you via your personal email address, spamming your blog with comments about how I won’t read your books because you suck, RELEASING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION, it’s neither harassment nor creating a hostile work environment. (No, seriously, explain what you think hostile work environment means. I’m baffled.) Readers can say whatever the hell they want in reader spaces. And, while of course writers have the right to respond, it would be stupid of them to do so . Look, I get it. I used to work retail. I know in my bones that costumers suck. But it’s bad business to respond negatively to customers.

  92. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:04:33

    @Melody Clark:

    If you’re defending vicious and mean reviewers who’ve had their Iddow Feewings Huwt because of honest responses from writers, I’m sorry.

    …Um, wow. That has nothing to do with any of this.

    I don’t care how vicious or mean a reviewer is (and I’ve had my share of bad reviews but don’t particularly recall any vicious ones). My take on authors dealing with reviewers is: He who troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.

    This isn’t about my feelings. It’s about the fact that I run a business and it doesn’t make sense for me to antagonize my customers. If I have to choose between getting a paycheck or assuaging the temporary feelings of woe that arise in my breast when some reviewer fails to appropriately hurl rainbows and unicorns my way, I’m choosing the paycheck every time.

    (I don’t normally quote the Bible, since I don’t particularly swing that way, but since I learned the verse in the context of the famous play titled after it–which strikes me as entirely apropos when discussing overblown rhetoric and McCarthy-esque responses–I’m going to do it here.)

  93. Ros
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:05:22

    @NM: I don’t think it’s got anything to do with manners, actually, good or bad. And saying so goes straight back to Robin’s main point, that somehow the most important characteristic for women is always to be ‘nice’, or ‘well-mannered’. Sometimes the most important thing is to be honest. Sometimes the most important thing is to call a bully a bully.

    The STGRB site is attacking reviewers for not being nice. For not showing good manners, if you like. But here’s the point, why do they get to police the manners of the internet? Not being nice is NEVER grounds for harassment and bullying. And the harassment and bullying of the STGRB site is so far beyond any definition of manners, that it’s irrelevant.

  94. lazaraspaste
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:09:05

    I would add to this @ancientpeas: that there is a HUGE difference between “You suck and you should never pick up a keyboard or pen again” and “This person should be raped” or “This person is a horrible human being and here is all their information. Someone should do something about this person.”

    I think, too, saying to a third person. “X is a total dillweed and needs to be punched in the face” is not the same as hunting down X’s email and writing to them and saying, “You should be punched in the face” which I don’t think is the same as yelling at somebody in a moment of anger “I’m going to punch you in the face!” which is certainly not the same as saying, “If you do not stop what you are doing, I’m going to punch you in the face. Here’s a screencap of the Google Earth image of your house. ” And that to me, is not even in the same vicinity as voting down someone’s book by any stretch of the imagination.

  95. Ros
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:10:00

    @Lynne Connolly: I’m afraid that I do not think exposing a misdemeanour of the kind which Cassie Edwards had perpetuated for years constitutes bullying. I also think that the stroke which she suffered had medical grounds which were nothing to do with what happened on the blogs. It’s true that stress can be a contributing factor, but if she had wanted to avoid the stress of being exposed as a plagiarist, she should have refrained from plagiarism.

  96. Carolyn Crane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:13:43

    This whole push to make the sides equivalent as a way of excusing threatening behavior against readers/reviewer victims, this “both reviewers and authors are at fault” type of assertion disturbs me.

    Not only is it false as people have endlessly pointed out here – the GR Bullies site people have crossed a significant line and are the true bullies in this equation – but, even if the sides were equivalent (which they are not not not), it would still be wrong. If somebody wrongs you, it’s not okay to wrong them back. That’s the kind of behavior that is supposed to be corrected in childhood. “Two wrongs make a right” is not a feature of the kind of society I want to live in.

  97. Ros
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:14:44

    @Author on Vacation: Giving a 1* review is harassment? Um, how?

  98. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:16:40

    @Author on Vacation: I would say that any action taken by a reader/reviewer (or an alleged reader/reviewer) with the express intent of somehow penalizing an author, editor, or another reader/reviewer constitutes harrassment and that is indeed socially unacceptable and at times qualified for prosecution.

    This cannot be the case, and I think you can illustrate this by taking the author/personality out of the equation, and replacing “author” with “business.”

    Your statement then becomes: “Any action taken by a reviewer/customer with the express intent of somehow penalizing a business constitutes harassment.”

    And that can’t be true. It’s perfectly legitimate for someone to get online and leave scathing reviews of a product because they don’t like the company that makes it. It’s perfectly legitimate for someone to comment on every article about Amazon that Amazon is destroying publishing. It’s perfectly legitimate for someone to go and write negative reviews of HP products because they don’t like HP’s waste disposal practices. It’s perfectly legitimate for someone to lambast a product because it was tested on animals and they have it in for animal testing.

    Surely, there is a line that can be crossed–for instance, staking out the CEO’s house, posting pictures of his kids and putting them online, calling employees and giving them threats… Those things would be harassment. And I do believe authors can be harassed.

    But as authors, we are businesses. People can have it in for us–and hate us–and review us negatively for it and down vote our reviews because they just don’t like what we stand for. And that’s not harassment.

  99. Robin/Janet
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:17:24

    @Author on Vacation: I would say voting down an author or giving 1-star reviews, labeling an author as “I Don’t Read Because I Dislike the Author (or the Author’s editor, or the Author’s kid/s, pet/s, spouse/s, etc.” is a form of harrassment. It contributes to a hostile work environment for the author and for others active in the creation and promotion of the author’s work.

    Except that neither Goodreads nor Amazon nor any reader or reviewer blog or publication is a “work environment” for the author, and I think characterizing a social site that way has been part of the problem.

    There is absolutely NO commercial product that is immune from criticism. Some airlines, like United, have entire websites dedicated to the people who hate them, and attempts by the companies to shut them down have been famously disallowed. Whether comment or criticism is perceived to be “deserved” or “nice” or “fair” does not invalidate the ability to comment or the process itself. And if negative reviews and interaction with readers were a deterrent to sales, a number of recent book deals for self-pubbed authors would be unthinkable.

    Further, it would be next to impossible to convince me that any of the authors complaining about “nasty” reviews or readers haven’t made a similarly “nasty” public comment about a celebrity or a service provider or a product (or readers/reviewers!), which is one of the things that steams me about what I see as a total double standard regarding the nature of criticism. I have had some nasty shit said about me online, too, and it feels bad and unfair and undeserved, but them’s the breaks. I’ve also been pursued in ways that feel very much like stalking to me, and while I dislike the individuals doing it, I would not ever believe it’s okay for them to be threatened with actual or possible harm. Because once we start believing that’s justified (or even justifiable), we open the door for it to happen to us by making it an acceptable community value and practice.

    As I’m sure you are aware, there have been numerous comments by people who believe that you should be more “accountable” for your opinions by using your name. That you won’t, and that you are still commenting here knowing that you alone have control over that information, should be a basic right for everyone, no matter how disrespectful or out of line others have deemed your (or anyone else’s) comments. Having someone post your personal information is an implied threat of harm and the cultivation of hostility in a way no negative review or one-star drive-by could ever be. It’s a line across which IMO there is no arguable reason, understanding, or “context,” as another commenter called it.

  100. Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:22:53

    @Melody Clark:
    Petty and mean remarks do not constitute bullying. I’ve called people idiots in the past and that’s pretty petty and mean, but that doesn’t mean I was a bully. It just means I had an opinion of them and I decided to share it.
    Exerting power or forcefulness over another individual….that is bullying.

  101. Robin/Janet
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:26:55

    @Melody Clark: I just found the Stop Goodreads Bullying site (I’d suggest everyone read my responses to reviews to see my own opinion). I think it’s a considerable overreach. It displays the same kind of pouting histronics going on in some of the posts here.

    I think it’s statements like that last one that are getting you in trouble here.

    On the one hand you say you agree with those of us who think that the STGRB site is beyond the pale, then you seem to undermine that assertion with statements like this, which seem to make the whole thing equivalent, somehow, to precisely what the STGRB site premises its “outings” on. And the entire point of my post, and many of the comments here, is that there is NO equivalency. There is no “context” in which any of this makes any kind of logical sense or constitutes any kind of understandable justice. It’s a level of conduct that, IMO, should be totally beyond our comprehension, especially under the given circumstances. So every time you agree with someone who takes this position, and then say something that makes it seem like you totally understand what ‘drove’ STGRB to such lengths, it makes it more difficult to believe you on the first count. And I think that’s what people are responding to in your comments, whether you mean the mixed messages or not.

  102. Gillyweed
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:27:42

    I would say voting down an author or giving 1-star reviews, labeling an author as “I Don’t Read Because I Dislike the Author (or the Author’s editor, or the Author’s kid/s, pet/s, spouse/s, etc.” is a form of harrassment. It contributes to a hostile work environment for the author and for others active in the creation and promotion of the author’s work.

    Seriously? It’s perfectly acceptable for me, as a consumer, to reject any number of products and companies for what others might see as arbitrary reasons. I don’t support X organization because they withdrew their funding for Planned Parenthood. I don’t purchase products from Y company because they don’t promote women in upper management. I don’t read Z author because I was offended by his comments on homosexuality. How is that harassment?

  103. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:27:58

    @Melody Clark:

    If you’re defending vicious and mean reviewers who’ve had their Iddow Feewings Huwt because of honest responses from writers, I’m sorry. They need to develop the thick skin everyone tells writers to develop.

    So, what? If these women are foul mouthed they deserve to have their personal information and names and place of employment posted online for everyone to see, along with vicious summaries of their uppity behaviour and the exhortation that ‘they deserve what’s coming to them’?

    Are you blind to the real life consequences of the actions of the people behind the StoptheGoodReadbullies site?

    Can’t you see the difference between being foulmouthed, outspoken, harsh and snarky, and endangering someone for behaving in a way you don’t like?

  104. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:28:04

    @Melody Clark:

    Mean and nasty reviews are not bullying because the author asked for them. By putting her work out there in the public sphere she said, “Here is my book. I want you to buy it.” Buying it gives the purchaser the right to review it, to express an opinion of it, to like it, to hate it, to think it’s the very worst piece of garbage ever written. It even gives the purchaser the right to say “This writer should be ashamed of herself for putting this crap out there.” It even gives the purchaser the right to say, “This writer can’t write her way out of a wet paper bag.” It even gives the purchaser the right to say, “This person should never write anything ever again as long as she lives, and maybe even after that.” And yes, it even gives the purchaser the right to say, “This person must be evil and corrupt and condemned to everlasting hellfire for writing this kind of bad book.”

    None of those comments constitutes a direct threat to the author’s safety or to anyone else’s safety. None of those comments constitute an ultimatum to the author along the lines of, “If you don’t stop writing, I’m going to do something to you.” None of those comments constitute a threat to other reviewers who express differing opinions. None of those comments constitute an effort to incite anyone else to inflict bodily harm.

    A bad review is not a threat. It’s not bullying. Providing a person’s personal information and suggesting that they should be personally retaliated against is a threat. That is bullying.

    See, no capital letters except where they belong. Seeing as how I’ve been online since about 1991, through Prodigy and AOL and the GEnie RomEx, I think I know at least a little online etiquette.

  105. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:28:08

    @Ros

    I disagree. Expecting all people, men and women, to maintain a certain level of discourse is not oppressive to anyone. Allowing any piggery imaginable to flourish ultimately oppresses us all.

    Here’s the thing — the kind of snarky, petty, vulgar rhetoric I’m talking about always feels like a personal attack. Frankly, I think people who use that kind of aggressive, demeaning rhetoric have a big old chip on their shoulder and are looking to take it out in any way they can, and these reviewer sites are the perfect set up for them. They can hide behind the notion they’re really just offering critique of the material, while their language and tone speak to something quite disturbing beneath the words on the page.

    People can be honest without being cruel or vulgar or rude.

    Bullying from ANYONE is wrong. I’ve read both sides of this now and there are offenders on each side. The anti-bullying site is as bad as some of the nastier characters at Goodreads or elsewhere.

    When we had standards, when society in general shunned a certain sort of rhetoric, we were better for it. If review sites maintained their TOS and put the kebosh on vulgarity and ad hominems from the very beginning, none of this would be an issue.

  106. Janine
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:29:09

    There’s no excuse for outing people on the internet. None.

  107. Ros
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:34:50

    @NM: Goodreads are very clear on their TOS and there is nothing in it which requires good manners. If you would prefer not to visit a site where bad manners are permitted, that is entirely your choice, as it is theirs not to monitor such a thing.

    The anti-bullying site is as bad as some of the nastier characters at Goodreads or elsewhere.

    I… what?

  108. Author on Vacation
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:35:18

    @Las:

    Readers can say whatever the hell they want

    Anybody can say whatever they want, but they need to accept the consequences of that freedom.

    Examples of workplace harrassment can include:

    Abusing a person/s loudly, usually when others are present.

    Repeated threats of dismissal or other severe punishment for no reason.

    Constant ridicule, put down, or insult.

    Leaving offensive messages on email or the telephone.

    Sabotaging a person’s work, for example, by deliberately withholding or supplying incorrect information; hiding documents or equipment; not passing on messages; and getting a person into trouble in other ways.

    Persistent and unjustified criticisms, often about petty, irrelevant or insignificant matters.
    Humiliating a person/s through gestures, sarcasm, criticism and insults, often in front of customers, management or other workers.

    If the harrassment affects the victim in negative ways (ie, their productivity or their mental/physical/emotional health suffers) the responsible parties can and should be held accountable for their actions.

    If every reviewer who ever set fingers to a keyboard took a few minutes to read their own words and ask himself, “Would I be cool with someone writing and posting the same stuff about me (or another loved one)” I’m sure we’d see fewer “cyberbully reviews” and fewer of these dramatic e-fights.

  109. CC Denham
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:35:36

    So glad to see Dear Author weighing in with their usual intelligence. Thank you.

    As a (so-far) self-published author, this StGRB debacle is just embarrassing. And infuriating. More idiots making the rest of us look bad, when we’re already swimming upstream in an effort to be taken seriously. But worse than that is the actual bullying and stalking going on. I’m glad that at least a couple of the reviewers they’re targeting seem to be taking it in stride, but they shouldn’t have to. How is this ever, EVER okay? I’m just mystified, aggravated, and sad.

    And I’m also jealous of the free time these people obviously have, that they can waste it on this kind of bizarre crusade over BOOKS. Contrary to what some more esoteric-types like to spew, books are not “babies.” They’re product. Yes, we put heart and soul and sweat and tears into them. But when they’re done, we release them to the world. After that, no one – NO ONE, is ever obligated to “be nice” about or to our books (or our public authorial persona, for that matter). If you’re not ready for the worst, then you should probably stick to your day job. *edit to add* – before anyone tries to say something to the extent of, ‘these reviewers should follow that same rule,’ there’s a huge difference between mean-spirited reviews and outing someone’s offline life. Not okay. Not okay at all.

  110. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:36:06

    Hi Mo,
    Okay, I read through what you wrote and I’m not sure I agree. A reviewer does not get paid for their reviews unless they are a professional reviewer, correct? When, and if, I write a Goodreads or Amazon review and I say “The writing was unpleasant and made me want to throw the book against the wall” I’m writing that as a customer, aren’t I? I’m not being compensated for my opinion so it still falls in the realm of customer. It would never occur to me that the opinion of a customer or reviewer would be different based on the fact they are being paid or not paid. An opinion is an opinion. (brings up that famous joke about what opinions are like). The only time I question if the opinioner opinion is real is if they are being paid by the person whose book they are giving an opinion on. But it’s still just that, paid or not paid, one opinion on one book. I do not believe that I’m telling a story or speaking with authority on a book when I give it 3 stars or 5. I am giving my opinion. What you do with my opinion is up to you.

    I will give you an example which will probably rankle some people. I won’t read Rachel Gibson anymore. I read three of them. I liked the first one but the other two made me angry (not a common reaction for me). I left the last one (which had a romance novelist heroine) thinking “This author doesn’t like people who write romance, read romance or in fact women much at all.” That’s an opinion I have. It’s a feeling. If I was writing a review on the book I would probably phrase it differently but that was my opinion. Am I bullying Rachel Gibson? Would/should Ms. Gibson care I hated her last two books? The only part of my opinion I would expect her to give two hoots about is the fact that I won’t be spending money on her books again.

    I do not see a customer/reviewer as having the same need to be curtious as the author. If the customer comes up to me says “This kitchenaid mixer sucks. The Cuisinart is so much better. Kitchenaid needs to be more like Cuisinart” and I reply with what I want to reply with “You bought the Kitchenaid because it’s 100$ cheaper than the Cuisinart. Sorry you get what you pay for” I’d be fired or at least told to not be rude. No one holds the customer to that standard because that’s not the way the relationship works and I believe the same thing goes for reviewers/customers and authors.

  111. Gillyweed
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:40:08

    Anybody can say whatever they want, but they need to accept the consequences of that freedom.

    And the consequence for exercising that freedom is being publicly outed by people who don’t agree with you?

  112. Robin/Janet
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:40:53

    @Merrian: That will be the ultimate outcome of this unfettered behaviour – the silencing of voices and difference and self-censoring and chilling of conversation. We will be left with cover reveals and puff pieces only, due to this misogyny.

    I definitely think this will be part of the fallout. But I also think there will be another aspect that a lot of people haven’t considered, namely a narrower and narrower margin for authors who are online. I can guarantee you that authors who have no clue they’ve alienated readers with some of their comments about this issue have been crossed off TBB/TBR lists. And beyond that, authors who have no connection with the site or its workings will suffer for the actions of that site. Readers are going to be more on alert for what they perceive to be author aggression or interference online at sites like Goodreads, and I think a lot more hostility between authors and readers will likely emerge from this. Which is sadly ironic, because it’s pretty much the opposite of what I’d think any author would want to be accomplished by the STGRB site.

  113. Madame X
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:42:55

    The biggest problem in this discussion, in my mind, is generalization. Lumping groups of authors and groups of readers into a vague “they” and then discussing the groups as though all the individuals within are alike.

    Yes, there are some authors out there who have really, really behaved badly. And then there are some authors out there who blunder around and get themselves in trouble more or less by accident, because they don’t understand or know how to engage with the culture of reviewers. But as author tantrums become a thing, all the little spats are lumped into this group that’s defined, straw-man-like, by its worst members.

    Same with reviewers. Part of the problem with the GR Bullies site is that it treats all the reviewers on GR as a kind of cumulative entity. One person’s shelf, another person’s snarky comment, a third person’s ranty review…add them all together, cast an ever-wider net to include more and more individuals, and yeah, it looks bad.

    But these reviewers aren’t a united group, they are not a “they” – they are individuals. Saying that any one reviewer should be scapegoated on behalf of the entire community of reviewers is clearly wrong, and yet even the people who defend the called-out reviewers against the bully site often talk about the reviewers as a “they”.

    Especially the people who support the GR Bullies site seem to be mad *in general* and very rarely *in specific*. But the people HURT by the site are individuals, and they shouldn’t be soaking up this generalized anger.

  114. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:44:16

    @Author on Vacation:

    I don’t think anyone is questioning whether some level of hostility or dislike is at play. It’s the “work environment” that’s making me scratch my head.

    The entire internet is not the environment in which an author works. And there aren’t the complicated power questions that arise when an employer abuses his power or tacitly approves of other employees doing the same.

  115. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:45:14

    Wow. Under AoV’s description of harassment, he/she has been harassing Dear Author. Excuse me while I refuse to be surprised.

    @NM This mythical time of civility you refer to has never existed. It is a canard people cling to when the speech they wish to suppress has failed to yield to other methods of suppression. Any historian can debunk the good old days in moments.

    @ MelodyClark first rule of holes, stop digging. When you say this is wrong but… you are defending what you claim you find wrong.

    Outing people and tracking their physical movements in an attempt to silence them is wrong. Full stop. No justification. Lord knows DA lets AoV blather on with full free speech, there is no site devoted to tracking him/her or calling her a drunken unfit parent. Assuming she/he has kids.

  116. EMoon
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:45:20

    Bullying is wrong, period. I see little awareness that some readers and some reader groups do bully writers. (Note the “some”–this is not a blanket accusation.) The perceived power of a writer (that writers are all celebrities and thus powerful) is actually a projected myth…most writers have little power. They do not consider themselves celebrities; they weren’t warned, before considering becoming a writer, that they would no longer be allowed any privacy the moment some anonymous reader decided to look them up on Google. That they would have to endure abuse and threats, including death threats, from all over the world if they displeased the wrong subgroup.

    The internet gives the formerly powerless power…not that readers ever were powerless. Readers have always, of course, had the power to not buy what writers write, and to badmouth books & writers to their friends. But now that power to influence others against a writer is much, much greater–negative comments are copied from blog to blog, from website to Twitter and from Twitter to website, at least as much as positive ones. One really angry reader can influence thousands….and readers are not unaware of their power. Increasingly, online readers have made it clear–have said explicitly to writers both online and in direct communication–that they do have power, that they “made” the writer and and unmake the writer–that without them the writer is nothing. That the writer “owes” them not only the exact books they want, when they want them, for whatever price they’re willing to pay–but also the writer owes them access, time, and the attitude and opinions they want a writer to have. Meanwhile publishers urge writers to be ever more vulnerable, by being visible and accessible online. Writers are told that writing good stories is not enough–they must “have a platform” and “sell their brand.” Writers used to be thought of as private people (who else would spend day after day alone writing?) but now the fact of having published a book–even a story–creates the assumption that the writer is a public person, a celebrity, a person in power. Writers who have never dissed a reviewer or a reader, online or elsewhere, have still been subject to vicious personal attacks, including death threats.

    This is a new situation for writers. These are new demands on writers. Writers always had to deal with rejections and bad reviews and poor sales figures. But they did not always have to deal with the kind of public pressure they face now. Most readers never interacted with a writer. Most writers met very few of their readers. It was easy for those who just wanted to write, to do that, un-invaded by the public. They were celebrities only if they chose (and were bestsellers as well.) They did not have to deal with hostility directed at them for any “infraction” of rules made by people they’d never met and whose rules they could not anticipate. Nobody thought they were arrogant, stuck-up, difficult if they didn’t “engage” on demand. Everyone’s opinion of them didn’t show up in their face every morning when they started a day’s work–as it does to any writer working on a computer connected to the internet. (If a writer has a bad review, bad comments on a writing/book venue, anything negative, it will be instantly forwarded to the writer, usually multiple times. ) The internet has enabled a world-wide mob mentality that shows up repeatedly in one area after another.

    The older “rule” for writers was “Never answer reviewers. ” When reviews lived in print media, and didn’t include comments from those who read the reviews, that was easy to do. But when a negative review directs attention to a writer’s website, blog, Twitter account–and it’s easy from that to find a way to contact a writer by email–it’s not. Readers may want the writer to stand there in noble silence while being pounded–to be powerless before the power of a mob, to live in fear of the next attack–but how is that fair? If silencing is wrong–and I think it is–then silencing a writer is just as wrong as silencing a reader. Not accepting a writer’s right to disagree is just as wrong as not accepting a reader’s right to disagree. Dogpiling a writer is just as wrong as dogpiling a reader.

    How, then, can we do better?

    The beginning of fair, ethical conversation about anything is honest recognition of one’s own level of power. Pretending to be powerless when you aren’t is like hiding a gun behind your back and pretending to be unarmed. Having the power readers have–the power to ruin a writer’s career–is not compatible with claiming powerlessness. People would not dogpile if they did not feel powerful doing it. People would not use insulting, rude language if they didn’t feel powerful doing it. People would not threaten physical violence or death if they didn’t feel powerful doing it. The internet encourages anonymity and thus lack of accountability–and in such circumstances bad behavior thrives because it gives the bully a feeling of power and power feels good. Admit it. Own it. Then make the choice to use that power responsibly, not abusively.

    This is not an argument against disagreement and it is not an attempt to silence criticism. It is instead an argument against verbal abuse from *anyone* online. Verbal abuse, name-calling, character attacks, threats–none of these are necessary to express disagreement or to criticize a book you don’t like. I like this book; you don’t. Fine. We don’t have to like the same books. I can tell you what I liked about it; you can tell me why Chapter 17 squicked you so bad you can’t stand the book…and then we drop it. Nobody had to be abusive or suffer abuse. But if one of us is abusive–if I say you’re an ignorant wuss and stupid besides for your reaction to Chapter 17–then the verbally abusive one is a bully. It doesn’t matter what our relative power elsewhere is—in this conversation, at this time, my being verbally abusive means I’m the bully. Same goes for you, if you were verbally abusive.

    I’ll bet there’s not a person on this venue who can honestly say they never, ever, in their whole life reacted to someone else’s actions and words with ill-considered angry words and/or actions of their own. We all are prodded and poked and taunted and teased at some time in our lives, and eventually we break and lash out. Should we have? No. But should the persons who prodded, poked, taunted, and teased–who are often determined to get a reaction out of their victim–have done that? Also no. It can be entertaining for bystanders (many a fight has been prolonged by the circle around the combatants, cheering them on)–and that, too, is an unworthy substitute for honest discussion.

    It might be helpful to imagine, before criticizing someone else’s book, what you would think of the criticism you’re about to give if it were directed at you. Is it fair? Is it helpful? Would it improve your/the writer’s next book? Was this just that the writer didn’t write the book you wanted to read (from the cover, you thought it was a romantic thriller, but it turned out to be a cozy mystery with recipes and you hate cozy mysteries with recipes)? Or do you find factual errors (the Battle of Bannockburn wasn’t fought in 1413, but in 1314) or contradictions within the book, or you can’t stand the main character because he/she kicked a dog, or…what? Keep it factual. Keep it impersonal–no name-calling the writer, no accusations of character flaws (“only a lazy, greedy, self-serving idiot would have written this.”) Ask questions, rather than make accusations. “Why did you let a cat be killed in this book?” “Why did you break the story here, and not farther on/farther back?” If something’s confusing say so–don’t assume you know the writer was stupid/lazy/rushed. (An amazing number of people aren’t really good readers. I’m sure that doesn’t apply to anyone here, but every writer has horror stories about the interpretations some readers–including professional readers like editors and reviewers–get from a passage that no one else mis-reads.) If someone else is being rude, don’t jump in to agree in equally lurid terms, even if you didn’t like the book either. Let that one rude post be balanced by your sensible, factual one. Valid, factual criticism can also sting (“You do realize that castle wasn’t built for 200 years after the time of your story…” “You killed Boris in Chapter 5, and here he is in Chapter 18, clearly the same Boris because he’s continuing a conversation with Alex about events in Chapter 4″) but it’s very different from being called names or threatened. If anyone–writer or reader–drops a steaming pile in the middle of the discourse…don’t feel compelled to start a mob pyre for the guilty party. You can prove by your continued rational discussions that you aren’t silenced and you aren’t going to play that game. Or, if you just have to be abusive because it’s such fun (and don’t we all know in our secret hearts that it’s both easier and more fun to trash a book than to think about and write a careful negative review?) then set up a locked group–a listserv, for instance, or a site with locked comments access–that bars all writers completely. Do all the abusive stuff there.

    I realize this is pie in the sky wishful thinking, but it’s worth at least thinking about. We cannot get rid of bullying by deciding that one group is entitled to use verbal abuse or raise a mob to support their position and another isn’t. That one group must not be silenced, but the other group should be quiet. The rules have to hold for all. Everyone has a right to have their say…but everyone needs to say it without verbal abuse, especially in the more open forums as on mixed book review/reader/writer sites.

    Ritual admissions and disclaimers. Yes, I’m a published writer. Yes, I’ve been slammed around, but no, I don’t respond to reviews, online comments, or dogpiles etc. unless they’re on spaces I control (be rude on my own space and you are so not there anymore.) I have not incited a dogpile on someone and will not do so. I was told to get on GoodReads, but I’m not there more than a few times a year (too many online commitments, and the book deadlines just keep coming; it’s been months. ) So I have no knowledge of who said what or how they said it relevant to the initiating comments…but I have considerable knowledge of what’s been said and how on other venues where writers and readers commingle and others where writers bind up their wounds out of sight. I am 100% against silencing but also 100% for non-abusive speaking.

  117. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:47:45

    @Author on Vacation:

    Anybody can say whatever they want, but they need to accept the consequences of that freedom.

    Yes, because having their personally information made public with the implication that people should physically attack them is a valid consequence.

    Like that thing I said that you didn’t quote, writers also have the right to say what they want, it doesn’t mean it’s not stupid for them do so.

    And there is nothing about negative reviews and online criticism of authors that fits with the definition workplace harassment.

  118. Author on Vacation
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:49:45

    @Janine:

    There’s no excuse for outing people on the internet. None.

    I agree people’s privacy should be respected. However, there’s a weird double standard to this attitude in the reading community. A lot of the same people who dun an author for “outing” a reviewer will express scorn or contempt for authors or others electing to post under a pseudonym or anonymity.

    If people expect others to have the guts (or whatever) to reveal themselves and express disrespect if they do not, why should they be offended when someone is revealed?

    I personally have no problem with people posting anonymously. I don’t think they’re bad or gutless or anything besides protective of their privacy, very prudent trait in these times.

    It just seems to me there’s a lot of openly expressed separatism in the reading community where authors are expected to accept second-class citizen status while the reviewer/reader should receive all manner of deference and respect, even when they exhibit insupportable behavior.

  119. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:49:52

    @Ros, I meant that “stop the GR bullies” site. Which is appalling.

    The GR TOS includes this clause: “You agree not to post User Content that contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable”.

    That should imply a tone of respect and general good manners.

    Unfortunately, in this day and age, I suppose it does not. That’s a shame, IMO, and I mean that quite literally. It’s shameful that people are more concerned with their technical right to be rude and vulgar than they are with being the best people they can be.

    Like I said, I’m sure I’m quite old-fashioned on this matter.

  120. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:50:57

    @Author on Vacation:

    Anybody can say whatever they want, but they need to accept the consequences of that freedom.

    That applies to the author, too. She’s had her say when she publishes that book, and now she has to accept the responses of readers, good, bad, snarky, polite, rude, WTFever.

    It’s a two way street.

    @NM — I don’t want to go back to the days of forced politeness. Those in power always seem to find ways of silencing the more “uppity” elements.

  121. Ros
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:53:37

    @NM: Just so I’m really clear what you’re saying, you think the Stop the GR Bullies site is “as bad as” some of what you’ve seen on Goodreads itself?

  122. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:55:18

    @EMoon your reviewer / reader is not your editor. They are not obligated to improve your product. If they don’t care for the cat dying, they can say so however they like. If it’s “OMFG why did she kill the only likable character in this godforsaken book” then suck it up. Your beta readers and your editors say “Well, I think the cat is the emotional vehicle for the reader to engage with unsympathetic characters, killing it at this point has an emotional impact but reduces the ease of identification…” because you pay them. Stop confusing the two groups and everyone will live longer.

    I would also like to retire the concepts that any of the actions taken by the alleged bullies are even extreme. They are outspoken and opinionated women. One must live in an incredibly tiny corner of the Internet to see them as otherwise. I, for one, am kinder on the Internet than I am in real life. Trust me, anything I say to anyone online I would say twice as strongly in person. So let’s retire the myth of “wouldn’t say it to their face”.

  123. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:57:04

    @Author on Vacation: If people expect others to have the guts (or whatever) to reveal themselves and express disrespect if they do not, why should they be offended when someone is revealed?

    Consent.

  124. Keishon
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:57:15

    I don’t know what it is about books in that they are perceived as anything other than what they are: a product we pay our hard earned dollars for. Gone are the days when people were actually happy to be read. I’m sure there are thousands of obscure writers out there that wished someone would read their book and share their opinion on it – good or bad. Real life does call and unlike Melody lol I am done with this topic.

    @Meoskop: no, I can’t recall that incident. But will concede that maybe the game hasn’t changed but has become more fierce? (from The Wire.)

    Ditto what Janine said, too. My fellow readers, keep doing what you’re doing. We need your voices no matter what anyone says.

  125. Jennifer Leeland
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:02:11

    I agree with Janine. There is NO excuse for “outing” personal information about anyone online. Period.

    Like Azteclady said, aren’t they breaking the law? It seems to me that there’s been some laws passed to stop just this kind of behavior.

  126. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:04:53

    @NM This mythical time of civility you refer to has never existed. It is a canard people cling to when the speech they wish to suppress has failed to yield to other methods of suppression. Any historian can debunk the good old days in moments.

    Perhaps. I still maintain that we should strive for the ideal rather than give up and devolve to small, mean, petty people just because we can.

    I don’t wish to suppress anyone’s “speech”. I would like people to use respectful, dignified rhetoric when expressing their opinions.

    Rude, snarky, vulgar people ultimately suppress their own speech by limiting their own audience. Sooner or later, no one hears anything but the vulgarity and nastiness, and they quietly distance themselves from that sort of thing.

  127. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:05:15

    @EMoon:

    It might be helpful to imagine, before criticizing someone else’s book, what you would think of the criticism you’re about to give if it were directed at you. Is it fair? Is it helpful? Would it improve your/the writer’s next book?

    How is that anyone’s responsibility? If I read a book, and feel inclined to right a review on goodreads, that review is going to be my thoughts on that book. I’m not writing to the author. I’m not an editor who’s getting paid to help improve an author’s work. It’s not some kind of moral failing on readers’ parts that their reviews aren’t as “constructive” as some authors would like. If authors want to read reviews with the sincere intentions of learning from them, well, good for them for making that effort (and I mean that, because if it were me I wouldn’t read reveiws of my work in places like goodreads and amazon); but it’s their job to learn to read those reviews in a way that might be helpful. When I read reviews trying to find something I want to read, I know what I’m looking for. It’s pretty easy sort out. I can’t count that number of glowing reviews that made me NOT read a book because I knew I wouldn’t like it; and how many negative reviews, even DNF reviews, that had me seeking out those books because they sounded exactly like what I wanted to read. If I can figure that out as a reader, why is it so difficult for authors who claim to read reviews so they can learn how to write better?

  128. Jennifer Armintrout
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:07:38

    I keep trying to find some correlation between “doesn’t review things the way I like,” and “post where she works on the internet, presumably so we can get her fired.” Is that really the next step here? Not, “I’ll avoid reading her reviews in the future,” or “I won’t engage her in a public forum?” It just goes straight from “I disagree with you/think you’re rude/etc.” to “ruin her life?”

  129. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:07:58

    @Ros

    I think that site is awful. I think some of the reviews, including ones they’ve highlighted, are awful. I’ve noticed an increase in vulgar and snarky rhetoric among these review sites, especially among romance, YA and fantasy genre review sites. It’s ALL bad. Equally so.

  130. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:14:08

    I see three things going on here with you Stop the Goodreads Bullies people (yes, I’m talking to you directly because I know you’re reading this):

    1) You have no home training and no common sense. Didn’t your mothers teach you any better or did they think everything you did was precious?

    2) What the fuck do you think, the world owes you something? It doesn’t. Life is not fair. You’re adults. Get over it. Stop acting like you should get a trophy for showing up for the tournament. Late.

    3) Get a job, get a life, get a hobby. Something. You have way too much time on your hands and apparently way too much money to have to support yourselves. Better yet, contribute something to society.

    Battered women’s shelters (you know, where women go who are really being abused, not just bullied or stalked) need volunteers.

    Habitat for Humanity (I suspect a little hard physical labor will do you a whole lot of good) can always use a helping hand.

    Homeless shelters (so you can find out what it’s like too have too much month at the end of the money) aren’t just there on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Harvesters (because clearly if you have time for this you don’t need money so spend it on people who are going hungry).

    Stop acting like a bored ADHD 6-year-old who isn’t getting his way and start contributing to society in significant, productive, helpful ways. God help us all if this country is populated by people like you.

    Go ahead. Come after me for telling you what your parents should have. I’m not that hard to find. See what happens.

  131. Gillyweed
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:15:27

    @Meoskop:

    I would also like to retire the concepts that any of the actions taken by the alleged bullies are even extreme. They are outspoken and opinionated women.

    Yes, thank you! The only outed person that I’m familiar with is Ridley, since she comments regularly here at DA. She never struck me as anything more than outspoken and I appreciate the fact that she calls out idiots who, for example, express the belief that a woman in a short skirt is asking for it. The irony of all of this is that STGB is doing precisely what it’s accusing Ridley et al of doing: bullying.

  132. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:17:29

    Is being rude, snarky, vulgar, mean or crude really the same as revealing personal information about someone on the internet for the mass consumption of others?

    My brain just refuses to see those two things as equal I guess.

  133. Mo
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:17:37

    @ancientpeas:

    I think we are mostly saying the same thing, just a bit differently.

    Your example of you buying a book and writing your thoughts about it on Amazon is the equivalent of me reading a book I bought and then writing my opinion about it on GoodReads. I am not a reviewer; I am a consumer writing down my opinions about the book I read. They are just that, our thoughts. An opinion for an opinion. I totally agree with you. Additionally, I agree that such a personal opinion does not need to meet any professional standard of any sort. It is much the same as shouting something at the top of your lungs in the middle of a busy intersection.

    The book reviewer in the NY Times gets paid to write reviews. He or she is not necessarily a regular purchaser of said author or genre, hence not a customer. A book is handed out, read, and reviewed. The authority of the reviewer is assumed there. That he gets paid is less important than the clout he wields by virtue of being a reviewer for the NY Times. But, he also gets paid to render a professional opinion about literary works. His opinion matters more in the author/publisher/literary world than my opinion from the first example. I *think* that we would agree on that.

    The grey area in all that are sites like Dear Author. Dear Author is a corporation (LLC). The people who review books here at Dear Author may not get paid to write reviews of books. They do, however, have clout because we as consumers give them that clout. Consumers come here to get Dear Author reviewers’ opinions about which books are quality and which are not. This sets them apart from both consumers who write opinions and the “professional” reviewers for magazines and newspapers. (I put professional in quotations because I do not think it is the best term to use, but I lack any other word at the moment.) It is in this gray area then, that we might disagree. I see Dear Author reviewers as much closer to the NY Times reviewer and accord them the rights and responsibilities I would give that NY Times reviewer. Others might see Dear Author reviewers as closer to consumers with opinions. Additionally, I see reviews posted to GoodReads by Dear Author reviewers as an extension of the reviews posted here on DA. In short, I make no distinction between a Jane as DA reviewer and a Jane as private consumer review when looking at her reviews on GoodReads. This is something that I have given thought to recently and I think that is one place where I have to be more careful. What Jane, for example, writes as a review on GoodReads may have no bearing whatsoever on her reviews or her job as a reviewer here. It is one of the dangers of the public/private persona dynamic and something we have to be aware of.

    Please be aware that I use DA and Jane as examples only.

    In your example of Rachel Gibson, I do not see your opinion or your choice to not buy her books as bullying in any way shape or form.

  134. Ros
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:19:59

    @NM: That’s what I thought you were saying. And that’s where I think you’re quite wrong. Writing mean, snarky, bitchy reviews is one thing. Publishing private details of someone’s real life name, address, family situation, workplace and other habits is another. The first may not be nice, but the second is bullying and harassment. Those two things are NOT equally bad.

  135. Expy
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:20:17

    @EMoon

    Having the power readers have–the power to ruin a writer’s career–is not compatible with claiming powerlessness.

    We have the power to ruin a writer’s career? Since when? Can you backup that claim with some anecdotes? Anecdotes that doesn’t have the writer ruin the career herself, i.e. argued against reviewers, wrote shitty books, didn’t hire an editor or listen to the editor, etc.

  136. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:21:33

    @Jennifer Armintrout: This, this!

    The disconnect is…appalling to say the least.

    And s Courtney Milan says in response to AoV–the difference is consent.

  137. Jane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:21:48

    A) Goodreads and the internet is not the work environment for an author.

    B) The IRONY (and yes, I put that in all caps intentionally) of Author on Vacation blathering about how freedom of speech leads to repercussions that must be accepted by the speaker, no matter they may be, is astonishing. If there is any doubt about how we feel about the importance of persevering anonymity it would be the existence of Author on Vacation and her ability to comment here without fear of exposure, particularly when so many of her comments depend upon a certain level of acceptance of her expertise as an author and bloviator on all sorts of topics without ANY verifiable credentials.

  138. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:23:03

    @NM: For the love of!! it’s all equally bad?

    Being foulmouthed and snarky is the same as risking the physical well-being of someone because the wrote foulmouthed and snarky things about your book?

    What in the every loving hell?

  139. Kaigou
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:26:08

    Ahhh… reading through, and I think it’s an important point that “bullying” incorporates a power dynamic. In this situation of readers, reviewers, big-name authors and indie-authors and self-published authors, it’s really hard to tease out who has the power, and who doesn’t. Seems like a lot of these replies see that power dynamic from different angles, and a few attempt to identify extenuating circumstances that are quite ambiguous or at least fuzzy, to me. (“The author is new/indie/self, doesn’t have a major fanbase” means less-power, but to me, one author with three really vociferous and malicious fans is going to offset the reader with twenty friends who are lassez-faire.)

    Bullying, itself, is becoming a loaded political term, and given the fuzziness, can we step back to use the broader term that incorporates bullying (as one type) — harassment. That doesn’t require we have, or define, or qualify, a power dynamic. It’s one person (or a group of people) attacking another person (or group of people) in an escalated manner beyond what would be a reasonable response to any objective bystander. Clearly, that’s what’s going on in a lot of the examples given, and then we can bypass the get-out-of-jail card that someone’s behavior is somehow acceptable or condonable because the power dynamic should be seen in this light and that exception and therefore not the up/down required for bullying. It’s still harassment.

    Frex, readers ganging up on an author for delivery dates… who has the power, here? You can skip that messy question and just go for the simplest: the author is being harassed. Even if it’s a horde of otherwise-powerless players (aka the piranha effect someone mentioned above), it’s still harassment, and bullying’s power dynamics are beside the point.

  140. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:28:13

    @EMoon, excellent post!

  141. Jane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:31:23

    I can hardly believe that Elizabeth Moon is here lecturing us on civility when she is the one who said these things about Muslims. Read it.

    I know–I do not dispute–that many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks, did not approve of them, would have stopped them if they could. I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Muslims, that many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways. I am totally, 100%, appalled at those who want to burn the Koran (which, by the way, I have read in English translation, with the same attention I’ve given to other holy books) or throw paint on mosques or beat up Muslims. But Muslims fail to recognize how much forbearance they’ve had. ….

    I feel that I personally (and many others) lean over backwards to put up with these things, to let Muslims believe stuff that unfits them for citizenship, on the grounds of their personal freedom. It would be helpful to have them understand what they’re demanding of me and others–how much more they’re asking than giving. It would be helpful for them to show more understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship in a non-Muslim country.

  142. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:36:46

    @Jane: Well, that certainly explains it. Looks like a chronic lack of critical thinking skills.

    And FYI to all those claiming that authors get bullied: that thing that Jane just did? That’s what you have to do. Provide links, because otherwise I’m calling bullshit.

  143. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:40:26

    @Ros

    The one begets the other. It is wrong and quite possibly illegal to post personal information that has the potential to lead to harm (I believe this is the case in California, at any rate). However, this is the road you go down when you claim that rudeness and vulgarity, cruel verbal attacks and ad hominems are some how “empowerment” and ought to be the norm. The behavior gets ramped up and ramped up until the next step is this sort of outing, is a situation that’s gotten so out of hand that physical harm is right around the corner. You open the door for nastiness, allow it to flourish, this is what happens. Physical violence is the logical next step.

  144. Christi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:45:45

    @NM:

    Perhaps. I still maintain that we should strive for the ideal rather than give up and devolve to small, mean, petty people just because we can.

    I don’t wish to suppress anyone’s “speech”. I would like people to use respectful, dignified rhetoric when expressing their opinions.

    We should still strive for an ideal that was conceived for the express purpose of suppressing the voice of a marginalized group? Well… ooookay (spoiler alert: it’s not).

    And by whose definition exactly?

    This is the problem. Everyone thinks their ideal is The Right Way. That’s BS. The way to getting along isn’t to conform to one unified avenue of discussion and behavior. What a miserable society that would be.

    Perhaps, rather than disregard the safety of people who strive for a slightly different ideal than you, you (general you) can condition yourself for the EXTREMELY COMMONPLACE OCCURRENCE that some people strive for a slightly different ideal than you. A lot of what you call snarky and mean spirited, I call levity on what would be an otherwise grim reaction.

    And the only thing you can control are your own reactions. Wishing for a society in which everyone is nice and pleasant by your own standard (because let’s face it, subjective-city) is absolutely ridiculous. It’s like being poor and playing the lottery instead of looking for a job. Yeah, could happen, but you’d be better off focusing on what you CAN control.

  145. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:49:58

    @Mo:

    I think, too, we are close to agreeing except for the fact that I don’t see clout as being the dividing line between being constructive in your reviews and being “overly” critical (if there is such a thing). For example, we all read the same book, you, this site and me and then we all had to write a review about it, you and I can get away with “The writing was poor, the plot was bad and I’m sorry I wasted 10$ on it” (Canadian, we pay more) whereas on this site that would not be considered a review they would want to publish. So therefore while you and I can couch our dislike of the book in berevity this site (and others like it) cannot. If a book was really bad and you have to review it how can you write 300 words about only the good parts and 50 about the bad. It’s dishonest reviewing. It is a lie. I’d rather read cruel, mean even nasty review than lies. I’ve bought books that this site has hated, made fun of, torn to pieces. I’ve ignored books they loved. I think the NYTimes book reviews are often petentious claptrap. I often read reviews merely to figure out content. If I like the sound of the book I read it.

    And about Rachel Gibson, I’m not just saying I didn’t like her books. I’m saying I walked way seriously disliking her tone and themes. I did what most readers do. I voted with my pocketbook.

    Ultimately it’s all about the all mighty dollar. If I found out an author I liked was part of the site we are discussing I would stop buying their books. If I found out an author I liked was harassing a reviewer I would stop buying them. It’s the author who is trying seperate me from my money, not the reviewer.

  146. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:54:08

    @Christi, actually, I don’t know anyone who thinks the inclusion of four letter words in a book review is The Right Way. Well, I do, but as I said, I avoid those sites.

    Asking people to behave like adults and refrain from what is commonly recognized as vulgar and foul rhetoric is not forcing everyone down one avenue of discussion. One avenue of behavior? Not even that.

    Right now I’m engaged in an intense, passionate theological discussion. We’ve got pagans, Christians, some clergy, deeply religious people, “spiritual but not religious” people, et al., and we’re using all kinds of rhetorical styles, including the irreverent, the scholarly, the brusque and the meandering. Not one of us has used foul or vulgar language, nor have we used language that demeans or makes the other person feel devalued or uncomfortable.

    It’s possible to have standards and foster diversity of opinion and expression at the same time.

  147. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:56:28

    I heart @Moriah Jovan… and I agree. Completely.

    My two cents about the people who think the STOPGR site is actually kosher? They’ve never actually dealt with true abusive relationships and/or have never actually been bullied.

    There’s a school of hard knocks around. Attend it. Learn from it.

    ETA: this doesn’t mean get bullied or abused…but try volunteering or working with abuse victims or kids who’ve actually dealt with hard bullying.

    You’ll pick up on the difference pretty quickly. After all, there’s a far cry from… ‘this reviewer HATED my book and told everybody NOT to read it blah blah blah to the girl who hides in her room every morning because people send threatening messages to her cellphone, telling her she should just kill herself.

    A far cry from… THIS REVIEWER MADE A BRATTY AUTHORS TO AVOID LIST to a woman who deals with physical abuse daily. Yeah.

    DEFCON ONE situations there alright.

  148. Janine
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:02:23

    @Author on Vacation: I’m in the process of moving so I don’t have time to respond at length. I’ll be brief and say that I see a world of difference between telling someone they are hiding behind a pseudonym and making someone’s identity and address known publicly.

  149. Lisa
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:05:42

    All this is crazy out of control BUT I will say a while back I saw some stuff on Goodreads that broke my heart. I wish like heck I remembered the name of the book –author — maybe someone else will? She was 16 when she wrote her first book?

    Book 2 was up for pre-order and she had hundreds and hundreds of people bashing her. At this point she was maybe 18? They attacked her. Used words like stupid and I’ll never read this book and just wow– mean mean stuff– and it was the personal attacks that got me. Granted she hit a list and success was her comfort I’m sure — but she was a kid at the time. These people stopped short of nothing but calling her a stupid fat pig.

    I was just baffled. WHAT sparks that kind of anger?

    I don’t think these kinds of attacks should be allowed.

    Hate a book you’ve read. That’s fine!
    Speak up about it.
    That’s fine!

    But yikes. Are there no limits?

    And I think when people see things like this they get raw and respond to other things more defensively.

    Posting people’s pictures and inferring they are drunks is no different from what these people were doing to this kid?

    I swear I told my kids that high school ended the meanness. I sometimes feel like I lied.

    If anyone remembers who I’m talking about — the young author please post! To read those comments is pretty disheartening.

  150. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:08:51

    Ah yes, NM. But whose 4letter words? As others have said, these are subjective measurements. And yet you use Red Dress defense by saying the uttering of profanity or unkind words is a step down the road to potential violence.

    To that I say “The hell it is.” or perhaps “You’re fucking kidding me.” maybe even “Cut the crap.” Two of those three sentences contain a vulgarity of four letters. Only one would generally be collectively agreed to be inappropriate.

    Standards are imperfect things most often invoked to hide deeper and darker beliefs.

  151. Lisas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:11:44

    I’m horrible at the highlight and comment thing but referring to the below I do agree cursing and such should not be allowed. We can’t stop the not nice– you got to be kidding me — but the you got to be FING kidding me. Not right.
    *******

    Comment:

    Ah yes, NM. But whose 4letter words? As others have said, these are subjective measurements. And yet you use Red Dress defense by saying the uttering of profanity or unkind words is a step down the road to potential violence.

    To that I say “The hell it is.” or perhaps “You’re fucking kidding me.” maybe even “Cut the crap.” Two of those three sentences contain a vulgarity of four letters. Only one would generally be collectively agreed to be inappropriate.

    Standards are imperfect things most often invoked to hide deeper and darker beliefs.

    From Meoskop

  152. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:14:43

    @NM: Using profanity is not an example of not behaving like an adult, and claiming that it is is just an excuse to ignore any arguments you don’t want acknowledge. Cursing serves a purpose, it’s a verbal shorthand. How you can claim that using the word “fuck” is worse than stating that physical violence is a natural consequence to anything is beyond me.

  153. Ros
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:16:14

    @Lisas: Who do you mean when you say ‘we’ have to stop cursing? Who gets to police the internet to that level? Some review sites don’t allow certain words, others do. That’s up to them.

  154. Jane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:17:19

    @Lisas: I disagree. Cursing does not make a statement “not right”. As in “I cannot fucking believe Elizabeth Moon wrote those things about Muslims” does not make my sentence or sentiment “not right.” The only reason a person should avoid cursing is because it diminishes the statement made. In other words, using curse words may make people automatically discount what I’ve said so I try to refrain but I don’t refrain because someone says it’s not nice or because it’s “not right.”

    Telling reviewers that using curse words in their reviews or in their commentary somehow opens them up to having their personal information hunted down, to being called an alcoholic neglectful mother, or to suggest that you’ve driven someone to suicide (my own personal stalker fred) is actually what is “not right.”

  155. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:18:05

    @Meoskop, yes, and the kind of rhetoric we see all over the internet and, unfortunately, hear out on the street and at the table next to us in restaurants, and so forth, is testimony to your anything goes attitude. Because it’s all subjective! If I want to show up at someone’s wedding and shout “Let’s #$%&ING hear it for the bride!” as soon as the nuptials are complete, why should anyone be upset — it’s all subjective, it’s just their opinion of what’s proper v. mine, and it’s a free country, I have a right to be vulgar and obscene! How dare the bride’s father show me the door? He’s oppressing me! It’s censorship! Why, my rhetoric speaks to my empowerment, my liberation from the patriarchy!

    No, standards are not something that hides deeper and darker things. I mean, you’ve just set a standard in that post. Does that hide something deep and dark?

  156. Lisa
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:23:48

    On cursing — for me its about a general forum where some people are very offending by curse words. I guess it’s my corporate roots but I think free speech and opinion are great, but I still cringe at the curse words. HR for many years! It’s build into my blood I guess. I still cringe when I go to a store here in Colorado and see the sidewalks with ice. I had an employee slip on ice and die. So cursing in the public forum tends to bring that out in me I think.

    It also makes me appalled seeing what that site is doing to reviewers. Move on and write another book!

  157. Amanda
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:24:42

    For some reason I CAN’T QUITE figure out, @NM’s comments make me think of Footloose.

    (edited for the totally wrong 80’s movie)

  158. Author on Vacation
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:25:49

    @ancientpeas:

    Is being rude, snarky, vulgar, mean or crude really the same as revealing personal information about someone on the internet for the mass consumption of others?

    My brain just refuses to see those two things as equal I guess.

    I find both behaviors objectionable. Verbal abuse is socially harmful behavior and civilized people should not support it, even if they think it is funny, harmless, or “no big deal, just fooling around on the internet.”

    I’ve seen many instances where people encourage e-abuse even if they themselves don’t actively participate. Even if they personally like or approve of the attacker and dislike or disapprove of the victim, supporting verbal abuse is socially deviant behavior and is not indicative of a stable, healthy community. People behaving this way should not expect to be treated with the same credibility and respect due adults behaving more appropriately.

    The violation of privacy is also socially harmful. It particularly concerns me when the “outer” releases details about the “outee’s” family members, including minor children. While I don’t believe the “outee” and/or his/her family members are in any serious danger from the “outing,” it’s still unpleasant and disturbing.

    I’m also intrigued by some of the individuals who’ve been “outed.” It’s never occurred to me to identify the RL ID’s of people on the internet, especially when I harbor unfavorable impressions of them. No one posting on the internet is important enough to merit that kind of curiosity on my part. There IS the occassional person I wish I knew so I could buy them a cup of coffee, but that’s about it.

    I’ve been “outed” myself and once I got over the “outer’s” neener-neener attitude, I really just sort of shrugged it off and chalked it up to the person’s own defects. My “outer” admitted to suffering serious mental illness and I believe her – what sane, mentally and emotionally sound person cares about pulling a stunt like that? I am unintimidated by the “outer” and I am more than capable and willing to defend myself and my property should the “outing” somehow contribute to a RL confrontation. I’m not good victim material.

    It’s pointless to argue one offense is somehow less offensive. Both are equally harmful and the intent behind the actions is to harm others, perhaps embarrass or frighten them, “run them out of e-town,” so to speak.

  159. karlynp
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:27:20

    Sadly, not surprised by this. I’ve been posting/chatting online about books for years, and have seen authors and readers butt heads so many times. Initially, it was mostly because the excessive spamming, schilling and fake reviews being posted on reader-to-reader communities. Readers had little resources at their disposal: they could report the post(s) which may or may not get removed, reply harshly with a stern message to the author/poster, or try their best to ignore the offensive author/poster. Some readers created blog posts on their site, if they had one. But when GR became popular, many authors soon realized that readers now have more power to communicate their dislike about an author’s behavior or book, and that they have more control over building and managing their online communities.

    Today, we can create bookshelves titled ‘bitch authors to avoid’ as well as ‘bests books evah!’, and post crazy photos of psychotic characters or sexy photos that represent a hot hero. We can express our love, hate, joy, surprise…etc. of books and authors unlike ever before. We are also able to build a much tighter community of online friends, and control who sees our profiles. There is no doubt in my mind that the GR reader-to-reader communities have been a HUGE blessing for many, many, many authors. Unfortunately, the amount of control a reader now has online greatly upsets some authors, so I am not surprised that a few delusional people are taking desperate steps to try and gain a bit more control for themselves.

    Goodreads is clear about what they allow us to post and not post, so authors do have the ability to get author-bashing reviews removed. But profanity, graphics, the names of our shelves…etc. are allowed. Some authors might not agree with their policies, but it clearly represents the future of online book clubs. For me, being a member of GR is no different than if I joined a library book club that took place in library basement, we should have the same freedom to say what we want without the INTERFERANCE of the author.

    The authors behind that crazy website will not stop the growth of online book clubs, nor will they ever stop freedom of expression. That website is laughable in so many ways, but it angers me that they are trying to hurt some great people who have been amazing contributors and advocates for the romance book genre. Their delusional and myopic view of this situation sickens me, but their efforts will never stop me from posting reviews and commenting as I see it.

  160. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:28:21

    @NM your deeper and darker truth is that you consider physical endangerment the natural and defensible outcome of disliked speech.

    I used profanity deliberately to convey that appropriate speech differs. In your completely not at all like situation the appropriateness of the bride’s father’s response depends on the eternal forces. Is this common speech for the Bride and her friends? Does her father own the venue? Is the person speaking perhaps the groom? Context matters. Blanket enforcement of subjective and personal standards are suppression.

  161. Meljean
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:28:36

    @NM: You open the door for nastiness, allow it to flourish, this is what happens. Physical violence is the logical next step.

    But I think that for most reasonable people, violence is not the next logical step. If my husband and I got into a nasty, personal screaming match, according to you the next logical step is: he’s going to punch me in the face.

    That’s not what reasonable people do, though. For us, the next logical step is walking away from each other. We cool off. And if worse comes to worst, we divorce. We never see each other again. But no matter how awful the argument becomes, no matter how many personal, nasty, petty, bitter arrows we throw in there, throwing that punch is a line we would never cross.

    It’s the same online. Everyone has the ability to walk away, no matter how nasty the comments become. You have the ability to block people, to filter out e-mails. That is what reasonable people do — that’s the next logical step. Sure, you might want to punch the other person in the face, but you never cross the line and actually do it. You might actually say it in the comments, too — and for the most part, I think people understand that you just want to do it, that you never really would.

    Obviously, that type of comment would be a really dumb thing to say, it would deserve a backlash from other commenters, would escalate any argument, and it would all probably just become even nastier — but unless you do something like creating a game where you could virtually punch someone (actually following through on the act) and put bruises on the physical representation of the person, I doubt the person on the receiving end of the comment would feel genuinely threatened.

    If these GR Bullies had started a blog and said “We really want to punch Ridley in the face” — and, heck, maybe someone actually has said it to her online? — that would be bad enough. There would be a backlash, no doubt. There would be rants and blog posts and gnashing of teeth. There would be another round of Authors vs. Reviewers. But basically, the GR Bullies would be doing the equivalent of screaming back. They’d be meeting ‘bad behavior’ with some real bad behavior of their own.

    But that’s not what they did. They could have screamed back. They could have walked away. They could have tried for civil discussion. They could have tried to appeal to Goodreads to change their TOS. They could have taken many, many logical next steps — but instead, they crossed the line.

    Maybe they didn’t physically punch those reviewers, but they certainly made the suggestion by posting their real information with a message like “We have to stop these people.” What other possible reason could someone have to post another person’s place of residence? None, except to make them afraid for their physical, personal safety, in the the hopes that they’d just shut the hell up.

    Those reviewers can’t walk away from that. You can say they can just move, but really — that’s not easy. The GR Bullies have taken away the reviewers’ choices, made it impossible to disengage because the GR Bullies have brought the argument to their doorstep in real life. And all the while the GR Bullies are suggesting to other people: “Hey, look, that’s where they live. Let’s stop them!” And we all know that the only way to stop them is by physically stopping them. By putting their real face, not their online face, in a position that’s really handy to punch.

    That’s not a logical step. It’s simply not. No matter the context, it’s not.

  162. Lynnd
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:28:37

    @Moriah Jovan: BRAVO! Standing up and clapping.

  163. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:28:50

    Whiie I might feel badly for that 16 year old on a personal level, I can’t help my internal “If you can’t stand the heat…”

  164. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:34:56

    @Lisa thank you for proving my point. Only one of the three profanities outraged you.

    @Meljean – absolutely

  165. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:40:59

    @NM: Using profanity is not an example of not behaving like an adult, and claiming that it is is just an excuse to ignore any arguments you don’t want acknowledge. Cursing serves a purpose, it’s a verbal shorthand. How you can claim that using the word “fuck” is worse than stating that physical violence is a natural consequence to anything is beyond me.

    @Las, but your claiming that my aversion to profanity is an excuse to ignore arguments I want to ignore is really just your excuse to ignore my argument that there ought to be standards when it comes to our rhetoric. :D

    I haven’t said that using an obscene word is worse than actual violence, nor have I claimed that violence is the right natural consequence to profane and abusive rhetoric. Violence is wrong. However, it would be foolish not to acknowledge that physical violence can and often does begin with verbal abuse. Look at the average bar fight. Things begin innocently enough. A couple of guys begin a friendly argument about their favorite sports team. The rhetoric gets amped up to profanity, raised tones, personal attacks, and next thing you know someone is throwing a punch. In that example, liquor is the fuel that feeds the fire. In these internet brouhahas, the immediacy and anonymity of the internet fuel the fire.

  166. Lisa
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:44:18

    Snort. The F word doesn’t offend me. I lived in NY two years lol!

    But now I am in Colorado Springs the bible capital of the US and they will hang me by my toes.

    So the HR person in me — DAMN IT — why won’t that part go way because I hated that world — thinks of the diverse audience and all being able to share views of books without being offended.

    They say it takes you half the years you were married to get over a divorce. I’m thinking I was married to the corporate world and still a recovering HR addict

  167. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:45:16

    Author on Vacation,
    But our whole legal system is based on the notion that two wrongs are not equal. Murder is not the same as theft which is not the same as arson and nor do they illict the same response from the law. All are harmful but they aren’t equal. I think bashing someone online with personal insults is wrong. It goes against my personal moral beliefs. Putting up the address and real names of someone online is also wrong and I wouldn’t never do it. But they aren’t equal. And they aren’t equal because of the harm that they could potentially do. You may not feel the need to do any harm to the person who outed you or a person who wrote bad reviews of your book but others might. Even if the outers had no malious intent (which I don’t believe) they have zero control over the actions of others.

  168. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:49:31

    @Christi: (are you the Christi commenting over at Passive Guy’s? If so: thank you, I agreed with all you said there) This, all of it.

    @NM: Except for one tiny, teensie, little thing.

    No one is forcing anyone to read those meanie, foulmouthed reviews, are they? No one is forcing authors or readers or other reviewers to suffer the indignity of snark, four letter expletives and the like. A person would have to go out of their way to read those–witness the fact that though I read Dear Author frequently, I avoid everything Ridley has to say any and every where else. Gee, how hard was that?

    By saying that Ridley or I cannot use language that offends you but are not forced to read/hear, you are trying to enforce specific behaviour and chill our freedom to speak in any way we like.

    And if you still think that the consequence for women using language you don’t approve of is to expose them to physical danger in their homes…well, words fail me here.

  169. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:51:21

    @NM your deeper and darker truth is that you consider physical endangerment the natural and defensible outcome of disliked speech.

    Except that I never defended the sad, but often real, outcome of physical harm. I’ve said none of this is ever acceptable, beginning with abusive and vulgar rhetoric. Acknowledging that physical violence is often the natural progression from verbal violence is not defending it by any means.

    I’m not defending any kind of violence, including verbal violence, even verbal vulgarity. You seem to want to defend everything up until the first punch is thrown. My point is that it’s better not to let it escalate in the first place.

  170. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:56:16

    No, I’m not the “christi” who’s posting anywhere. The theological discussion is taking place on a Catholic blog that has nothing to do with romance novels, lol! It has to do with a particular papal encyclical, however, that has a lot to do with romance. ;~)

  171. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:56:31

    @NM: But is saying, “This book is a fucking piece of shit” really worse than, “I think you’re opinion is ignorant, you obviously lack reading comprehension skills, and you have no business reviewing IKEA instructions, let alone books.”

    That’s the problem with calls to police rhetoric–the focus is always on individual words that are considered profane, which completely misses the point.* I’m no writer, but I can easily spend the next 500 words insulting you without using a single profanity, and by your own definition, that would be acceptable. But if you were to say to me in response, “Are you fucking kidding me?” you automatically lose the argument because of some arbitrary language rules established long before any of us were born? That’s–forgive me for distracting you from this discussion with my use of profanity–bullshit.

    *That’s not to say I’m okay with policing either type of argument, but it’s nonsensical to draw the line at four letter words.

  172. Jane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:56:33

    @NM: But you are wrong. In the law, words alone can almost never justify an act of physical violence. If physical violence escalated from a verbal altercation, the assault is pinned on the person who threw the first punch. The person being punched is the one who could use the defense of self defense.

    When you say ‘it’s better not to let it escalate” you are placing the blame on the reviewers. Let’s review what these reviewers have done. They’ve been critical of books. They’ve placed books on a “do not read” list. They’ve commented on how they don’t want authors haunting their reviews, taking issue with every little thing they’ve written. They’ve expressed displeasure at having authors sic their Facebook fans on them. They’ve used gifs and curse words in reviews. This is not “allowing things to escalate.”

    Edited to add a link to an actual code provision:

    http://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/800/917.html

    917. Insulting Words Are Not a Defense
    Words, no matter how offensive, and acts that are not threatening, are not enough to justify an assault or battery.

    [However, if you conclude that spoke or acted in a way that threatened with immediate harm [or an unlawful touching]/ [or] great bodily injury/ [or] trespass on land/ [or] trespass against goods], you may consider that evidence in deciding whether acted in (self-defense/ [or] defense of others).]

  173. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 14:58:40

    @NM: I had posted the links to the comments in the wrong order to my responses.

    Fixed now.

  174. Jane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:01:31

    @azteclady – done I think.

  175. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:04:00

    @Lisa:

    So the HR person in me — DAMN IT — why won’t that part go way because I hated that world — thinks of the diverse audience and all being able to share views of books without being offended.

    Because not everyone wants that, and in the age of the internet with all kind of niche markets, it makes no sense to copy network television and be as boring as possible to attract the widest audience. Not to mention the fact that most people writing reviews on goodreads aren’t trying to gain a large audience, anyway.

  176. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:07:49

    @Las: …you automatically lose the argument because of some arbitrary language rules established long before any of us were born?

    Oh, they weren’t arbitrary. Language rules most often start as shibboleths that served to distinguish between the upper classes and the lower classes. Most of the so-called polite language rules we have stem from class bias. “Polite” and “vulgar” are nice-speak for “aristocratic” and “poor.”

  177. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:09:01

    On a related matter and for circumstances such as this: via Popehat, I found a way of linking that doesn’t increase the Google relevance of sites, by using something called the Coral Cache.

  178. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:11:47

    @lisa, my apology I mixed up tags and meant to cite @ lisas.

    @NM “Acknowledging that physical violence is often the natural progression from verbal violence is not defending it by any means”

    Yes, it is. It is the Red Dress Defense. You are victim blaming. I refuse to accept your flawed hypothesis that the natural outcome of disliked speech, which you choose to classify as verbal violence, is physical harm or the threat of same. . You are defending while emotional distancing yourself from your defense. If only those bloggers had adhered to the mythical standard you hold then none of this would have happened. Except it would have, because suppression is not about standards.

  179. Author On Vacation
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:20:25

    @ancientpeas:

    I appreciate what you’re saying, I really do. To my mind, though, both offenses are more or less the same thing, hostile behaviors perpetrated with the intent of harming another person (or people.)

    Calling somone horrible names or maliciously mocking them subjects that person to stress. So does revealing the RL name and other ID info of an online personality. Stress can lead to a variety of problems with mental, emotional, and/or physical health.

    Both activities promote hostility and can negatively affect an individual’s personal happiness and productivity.

    Both actions are socially deviant and inappropriate among healthy, well-adjusted adults.

    So… how is one somehow different or more intense or “worse” than the other?

  180. Jennifer Armintrout
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:25:21

    AoV, revealing someone’s personal information on the internet doesn’t just cause them “stress.” It could cause them to lose their job, it could cause them to be physically attacked… I know this is purely anecdotal, but I’ve had a review of my book, no matter how snarky, come out of the computer and physically attack me.

    So yes, one is worse than the other. I think a person would have to be deranged or being deliberately obtuse not to see the difference.

  181. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:26:01

    @Author On Vacation: Telling you that you are a willfully blind idiot online allows you to click away and read something else, somewhere else, where your tender sensibilities are not offended.

    No one is keeping a gun to your head or a knife to your back forcing you to search the internet for negative, hostile, offensive language about your oeuvre.

    Posting real life personal information about people you don’t like can–and has–lead to actual, physical harm to them.

    If you can’t see the difference, you have confirmed–and not only to me–that you are a willfully blind idiot.

  182. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:27:43

    @Meoskop: Yes. Exactly.

    If physical violence is the “natural progression” from bad language, then it would logically follow that anyone who uses bad language (spoken, written, or even just heard???) will eventually resort to physical violence. Uh, I don’t think so. In fact, bad words (sic) are not necessarily even used as a stand-in for violence. “Man, that game was fucking awesome!” “I can’t believe how much shit you packed into the truck of that little car.” “She buys that cheap crap at the flea market and turns it into absolute works of art.”

    Or, as George Carlin told us, there are no bad words; only bad thoughts.

    And bad thoughts (and bad deeds) can be expressed without ever resorting to “bad words.”

  183. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:30:14

    @Author On Vacation – Why haven’t you asked to have your ‘defense’ by STGRB ended? Do you feel exchanges between your and Ridley are appropriately answered in this way? If you see ‘no difference’ then how do you defend not demanding your own information be placed on the site as you are often a “source of stress” to many here?

    Forgive us if we fail to take your words seriously. If I were being “defended” on that site I would be with the anti-bullying site in asking to be removed.

  184. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:34:55

    @Meoskop: They mentioned an exchange I had with Ridley, too, and my thought was that I didn’t want to touch that shit with a fifty-thousand foot pole. I haven’t asked them to take it off, and I hope nobody expects me to do so. I would rather be mauled by lions and dumped in a vat of vinegar.

  185. Alicia
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:36:55

    It absolutely blows my mind that people have to have their hands held through why stoptheGRbullies.com is wrong. Or how offensive it is to refer to reviews of a product as bullying. I truly can’t imagine anyone who has ever actually gone through being bullied agreeing with that ridiculous sentiment.

    I loved every part of this post. Thank you, Robin. I also really love the comments from those arguing against those in any way defending this atrocious behavior.

  186. Brie
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:42:53

    I don’t think that those saying that negative reviews/marking down reviews equals bullying paid attention to Robin’s post. Had they paid close attention, they would have seen the link to this heartbreaking post about bullying. You can choose not to read negative reviews and you can block people on Twitter. You can’t block this: http://themotherflippinblog.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/bullies-are-stupid-i-love-the-way-you-walk/ (Thanks Robin for linking to the post)

  187. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:43:30

    @Courtney Milan fair enough, but you aren’t advocating for them. I think it is a bit Elephant In The Room for AoV to discuss the site without acknowledging that. Since the site went up I’ve assumed it is inevitable that more of us will find ourselves upon it, that’s how intimidation and silencing works.

  188. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:44:39

    @Las: Are you calling my example bullshit? I’d love to provide a link but the post was deleted by the reviewer after I tweeted about it. I have no proof, just my word.

    @Lisa: I think you’re talking about the same thing I was, Hades by Alexandra Ardonetto.

    If someone threatened to punch *me* in the face, I’d probably ignore it. I’m an adult. I don’t need vigilante “readers” to protect me. If bullying is an issue (I’m not convinced that it is), reviewers should call it out and deal with it amongst themselves.

    I want to make it clear that I don’t consider any of the other behavior mentioned bullying. I have no issues with bad language, downvoting, snark, bratty-author GR shelves, etc. None of that concerns me; it’s part of being a public figure. I like the fact that GR values readers over authors. If authors don’t appreciate the dynamic, they can avoid the site.

  189. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:49:09

    @Las

    @NM: But is saying, “This book is a fucking piece of shit” really worse than, “I think you’re opinion is ignorant, you obviously lack reading comprehension skills, and you have no business reviewing IKEA instructions, let alone books.”

    Oh, I by no means draw the line at four letter words. If you read my earlier posts, I’m very much against snark and ad hominems and that sort of thing. It may be easier to police four letter words because they can be filtered out by software, however. The other kinds of inappropriate rhetoric would require a real, live moderator, which becomes more difficult, certainly for a site as large as Goodreads.

    @Meljean

    But I think that for most reasonable people, violence is not the next logical step. If my husband and I got into a nasty, personal screaming match, according to you the next logical step is: he’s going to punch me in the face.

    Obviously these are rare situations. The problem with the internet is that you don’t know who you’re speaking to. In real life, we can gauge tone and threat levels to some degree. On the internet, you never know. But that’s beside the point. In the context of this situation, we’re talking about a case where things have gotten out of control, where the rhetoric has lead to threats, or implied threats, of physical violence. My point is that some expectation and enforcement of decorum may have stopped this before it started.

    @Meoskop

    Yes, it is. It is the Red Dress Defense. You are victim blaming. I refuse to accept your flawed hypothesis that the natural outcome of disliked speech, which you choose to classify as verbal violence, is physical harm or the threat of same. . You are defending while emotional distancing yourself from your defense. If only those bloggers had adhered to the mythical standard you hold then none of this would have happened. Except it would have, because suppression is not about standards.

    I’m not victim blaming. Anyway, which is it? Empowerment or victimhood? On the one hand, engaging in violent and vulgar rhetoric is a right, it’s empowerment. On the other, suffering the more extreme consequences of one’s supposedly empowering actions makes you a victim? Empowered people don’t play the victim card.

    Also, you’re arguing another strawman. Not all “disliked” language is violent, abusive, rude, vulgar, or obscene. I am speaking to a certain level of ugly rhetoric that intends to stir up negative emotions, and to deliberate vulgarity and profanity. Vulgar language and profanity are just obnoxious and tedious and create a disharmonious atmosphere. Demeaning, dehumanizing and violent rhetoric intend to cause harm and sometimes that harm instigates greater levels of violence. I’m not calling to suppress negative reviews. I’m saying that I’m not surprised things have devolved to the point they have in this particular situation given the really nasty nature of some of the rhetoric.

    @Jane

    Again, I am not defending bad behavior, nor providing excuses for it. I’m saying that, in general, it’s better for everyone on these sites to maintain a certain level of decorum. When you can’t see people’s facial expressions or read their body language, all we have left are our words. Best to use them to present our best selves, best to use them to uplift, to raise the dialogue to a higher level than to just wallow in crude, vulgar, nasty and even violent rhetoric just because we can. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

  190. Author on Vacation
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:50:35

    @Jennifer Armintrout:

    Harmful, hateful, malicious verbal abuse is also conducive to RL harm. If an author is perceived as being too defensive or too uppity, his/her career may be impacted by that. This behavior can directly affect the author’s ability to earn income from a writing career.

    Verbal abuse can induce stress that either exacerbates or leads to several conditions that either negatively affect or outright threaten human life, such as depression, mismanaged anger, and numerous physical ailments including pulmonary problems and heart disease. It can exacerbate symptoms of chronic conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. It can cost someone their job because stressed people don’t usually work as productively as non-stressed people and they tend to be more easily distracted, prone to forgetfulness, etc..

    I appreciate your viewpoint, but I do think you should research the topic a bit more.

  191. Lynne Connolly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:52:29

    One result – I use Web of Trust with Firefox – it tells you when a website is unreliable or dangerous before you get there. The STGRB site has a red warning. So a lot of people have complained and activated the WOT warning.
    All I wanted to say earlier was that I’ve been bullied, and I’ve done it myself, much to my shame. I will try never to do it again. I’m ashamed of what I did. It doesn’t mean everybody has to be.

  192. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 15:57:54

    Author on Vacation,
    I don’t agree with you that the stress of being called names is the same as the stress of having your personal information revealed. One rises above the level of stress and into the level of threat. They seem very apples and oranges to me. I can see how hurtful it would be to have your hard work criticized and I’m sorry if you felt abused by the conduct of others. But I refuse to see the two acts as equal. As I said, my brain just won’t allow me to.

    Other than seeing a few comments on this site I don’t think I know who Ridley is but if you are allowing these people to use his or her treatment of you to justify their behaviour I urge you to take yourself out of the equation. If you want the dignified level of interaction you say you want surely you can see how being apart of any of it, even periforaly, would be wrong? You could use it as an opportunity to model good internet behaviour to others.

  193. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:06:15

    Too late to edit! I just wanted to clarify that I meant bullying BY reviewers, not bullying OF reviewers. I know the second happens with alarming frequency. By my definition, the first is rare.

  194. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:11:28

    @NM “On the other, suffering the more extreme consequences of one’s supposedly empowering actions makes you a victim?”

    ” I’m saying that I’m not surprised things have devolved to the point they have in this particular situation given the really nasty nature of some of the rhetoric.”

    Well that’s illuminating, isn’t it? You can continue to defend STGRB while pretending you aren’t defending them, but I think we’ve both left a clear record of our beliefs at this point. Common ground is impossible, and I’m happy I live on mine.

  195. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:18:13

    @Meoskop

    I’m not defending them. I think what they’re doing is childish at best and possibly illegal at worst. It’s appalling all around. No matter how many times you insist I’m defending them, I’m not, and your saying so doesn’t make it true.

    What common ground did we ever have? I clearly find obscenity, vulgarity and ugly, hurtful rhetoric intolerable. You do not. You choose to frequent the sorts of places where that kind of behavior and language is fine, I choose to avoid those venues. We have nothing in common, never did, never will. You can continue to use whatever rhetoric you choose, and I can continue to ignore rhetoric I find distasteful.

  196. Author on Vacation
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:19:07

    @Meoskop:

    @Author On Vacation – Why haven’t you asked to have your ‘defense’ by STGRB ended?

    Uh … What are you talking about?

  197. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:29:50

    Excellent post, Robin. Very clear and strong. I went to bed and there were 6 comments, woke up to 183 :) I wondered how AoV would manage to distort the argument and turn herself again into the world’s most abused poor little petal. Nice to see no one’s buying her BS.

    Jane @ 14 said “one can attack Seanan Maguire for being an awful writing. For being a slow writer. For trying to price gouge (none of things are true as far as I know). Those are not personal attacks. ”

    If someone’s threatening to rape you or calling you a stupid cunt for those things, yes, it is. And if they’re emailing you, then it rises to the level of bullying. It matter very little *what* the ostensible incitment for abuse is – once you cross over to threats or wishes of physical violence, or use violent misogynistic abuse, then you’ve become a harasser and a bully. An author can and should walk away from GR and Amazon if the comments get too much. You can’t walk away from email. Taking it to your space – persistently and viciously – is where the author can say ‘no, this is wrong’. No reader has the right to do that.

    Nikki @17 “The mob mentality is terrifying and develops far too easily.” God yes. And it’s at the heart of most of this garbage.

    Sirius @ 25 – “I don’t want to anymore. Just for the fear of stumbling upon the author who treats their readers like this. ”

    Um, Robin gave several examples of *pro* published authors losing their shit, and I could give you several more (AoV claims to be pro published, and it’s clear she’s as loonytunes as the others). I wish people would stop lumping all us self-published authors together.

    Lynne Connolly @ 26 – “A few years ago, some of the major romance blogs ganged up against an author who had done something wrong”.

    Oh bullshit. Cassie Edwards was exposed rightfully and righteously. You’ve bought uncritically into the utter lie that this caused her to have a stroke. While I’m sorry Mrs Edwards is now disabled, strokes are caused by long-term factors and disease, not by periods of stress. Any sorrow she felt she brought on herself by years and years of wilful misdeeds. If anyone was bullied, it was Candy and Sarah at SBs for being the whistleblower – they endured months of abuse over this, and I believe still get hate mail. I’m genuinely disgusted at you over bringing this up. Talk about false equivalency.

    Linda @77 “ad reviews, down-voting bad reviews for authors you like, up-voting good reviews, retaliatory reviews, all that shit is stupid and petty and juvenile BUT IT IS NOT BULLYING.”

    THANK YOU!

    Robin @ 99 and Jane @ 137 THANK YOU TOO! AoV is full of it. It can’t be said too often.

    Jane @ 157 ““I cannot fucking believe Elizabeth Moon wrote those things about Muslims” Me either. I had a feeling that this post would bring badly behaving authors crawling out of the woodwork to claim victimhood, but Moon’s chutzpah takes some beating.

    Oh you were making a point about swearing too? Well carrying the fuck on ;)

    NM @ 172 “Call me old-fashioned, but this all boils down to good manners. ”
    Oy. No. It really, really doesn’t. It ‘boils down to’ respecting boundaries and rights and personal privacy. You can be mannerly as all hell while you expose someone’s life on line, or write them hundreds of emails chastising them or blaming them for existing.

    I didn’t know I could be crankier at the ‘wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was nice’ crowd, but now I have a headache.

    I’m not going to respond to AoV’s crap or agree with those calling her out. She’s a troll and unlike Ridley’s trolling, there’s no point to anything she ever says but to derail the conversation. She’s a perfect example of how one can be an utter arsehole on line to other people, without it becoming bullying. Offensive as hell, yes. Bully no. (not yet at least)

  198. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:34:20

    @Author on Vacation:

    That’s so sloppy it’s not even logic. To say that stress is part of the slippery slope to a bad outcome does not mean that causing stress is morally equivalent to causing those bad outcomes.

    There’s a moral difference between causing someone stress, which could someday be a contributing factor in heart failure, and giving someone an injection of potassium chloride, causing heart failure directly.

    What you’re saying is: A -> C, B -> C, therefore, A ~ B.

    Or, filling in some potential blanks: “Smoking causes cancer. Genetics cause cancer. Since we’ve banned smoking in public places, we should also ban people with bad cancer genetics from reproducing.”

    You know what else can cause heart failure? Winning the lottery. Seriously, let’s stop that shit now before someone gets hurt.

  199. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:36:24

    NM @ 172 “Call me old-fashioned, but this all boils down to good manners. ”
    Oy. No. It really, really doesn’t. It ‘boils down to’ respecting boundaries and rights and personal privacy. You can be mannerly as all hell while you expose someone’s life on line, or write them hundreds of emails chastising them or blaming them for existing.

    I didn’t know I could be crankier at the ‘wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was nice’ crowd, but now I have a headache.

    Well, I’d say that respecting boundaries and rights and personal privacy IS good manners. I’m not talking about cultivating a veneer of good mannerISMS. I’m talking about manners as part of who you are as a person. Words and actions should match. If you’re exposing someone’s private information, or if you’re sending nasty emails, no amount of “please” and “thank you” changes who you are as a person.

  200. Sirius
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:42:38

    @Ann Somerville: “Sirius @ 25 – “I don’t want to anymore. Just for the fear of stumbling upon the author who treats their readers like this. ”

    Um, Robin gave several examples of *pro* published authors losing their shit, and I could give you several more (AoV claims to be pro published, and it’s clear she’s as loonytunes as the others). I wish people would stop lumping all us self-published authors together.”

    Sirius:

    Oh I know. And I *still* feel safer (safer only in a sense that I am not expecting to be attacked as much) posting a review of propublished author’s work,than self published one, IF such author is totally unknown entity to me.

    I love some self published works, I am however not interested in searching for them myself anymore, since I am usually bad in finding good ones anyway.

    I mostly review mm stories anyway and they are either small pubs or self published, as you know. I am not refusing to read self published works of course, but I do refuse to go look for them and even if I will enjoy the book by self published author, if I never heard of her before, I will think twice before leaving a review.

    For me this recent bruhahah just crosses all the possible boundaries, but Dear author is my main source of online dramas anyway, so I am sure I missed a lot of other craziness (and thank goodness for that).

    As to Author on Vacation, I refuse

  201. » Jumping on the bandwagon: snark and the author/reader relationship Flight into Fantasy
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:42:59

    […] going to write about this anymore, but the Stop the Goodreads bully scandal has finally hit Dear Author, and I have wasted a day that I should have been spending finishing my reread of Outlander reading […]

  202. connie333
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:43:51

    @Author On Vacation:
    I am absolutely gobsmacked. Yes, bad reviews I imagine can be upsetting to authors and cause them stress. They also have the incredibly easy option of not reading the reviews or visiting certain websites. Posting actual information about people’s names and physical whereabouts is completely indefensable. All it takes is one lunatic fan to take the information and do something truly harmful to that person, and once the information is out there (along with derogatory statements) it’s there for good. How is STGRB even legal?

  203. Sirius
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:44:42

    That was meant to say as to Author on Vacation I refuse to have a discussion with her, since I cannot take her seriously anymore.

  204. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:45:13

    Well, Ms. Sommerville doesn’t hold back does she?

    I haven’t been to this site but now I kind of want to just so I know what you all are talking about. But then again what’s the point. I’ve kept up with the amazon Badly Behaving Author’s group (never posted but read). For the most part they seem to mostly be interested in unmasking self reviewing authors and sock puppettry.

  205. meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:46:12

    @Author on Vacation: My apologies if you don’t know – I assumed that you were aware of the content of STGRB site as you are active in this thread.

  206. Loosheesh
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:51:16

    @Melody Clark: “If someone regularly ranks down a book because he/she doesn’t like the author as a person, and ranks up a book when they do, that is bullying. ” – Really? Seriously? For real?

    @Author on Vacation: “I would say voting down an author or giving 1-star reviews, labeling an author as “I Don’t Read Because I Dislike the Author (or the Author’s editor, or the Author’s kid/s, pet/s, spouse/s, etc.” is a form of harrassment. It contributes to a hostile work environment for the author and for others active in the creation and promotion of the author’s work.” – Really? Seriously? For real?

    (I’m banging my forehead against my cinder-block wall and I’m afraid it’s gonna leave a mark … on my forehead, not the wall.)

  207. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 16:52:43

    @connie333:

    If they’re outing people based on information those people themselves posted on the ‘net somewhere, they may be legally covered, although that can vary from state to state, and certainly can come back to bite them if a violent act is traced back to that particular exposition. I am NOT defending this. Just attempting to answer your question.

  208. Lynne Connolly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 17:00:20

    @Ann Somerville: I kept it personal. My behavior on that occasion, I believe, was reprehensible. Yours might not have been, that’s not for me to judge. I felt ashamed, and promised myself I wouldn’t do it again. I am not talking about the original posts or the motivations, since I had nothing to do with those.
    Neither did I wish to bring the name into the conversation. She’s an old lady and she won’t be writing any more books. She lost her contracts, so reprints aren’t in the offing. It’s finished, done. It was my reaction and behavior on that occasion that I was addressing, not the case itself.
    At the moment in the UK, we’re watching the Leveson Inquiry about misdeeds at News International, specifically, phone tapping of the parents of murder victims, and other people, including celebrities, politicians and royalty. As the inquiry has gone on, it’s becoming clear that NI is a bully culture, and the example has been set by the man at the top. “Do this or you’re fired.” Ripples widen and spread, and if people think it’s okay, then it gets worse. It’s everywhere, and I’ll support any movement to prevent it.
    http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/

  209. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 17:08:59

    @Lynne Connolly: “As the inquiry has gone on, it’s becoming clear that NI is a bully culture, and the example has been set by the man at the top. ”

    Because that’s what this conversation *needed* – comparing the exposure of a hardened plagiarist (who was *not* old when she started doing this) to Rupert Murdoch’s illegal activities.

    Lynne – you’re doing yourself no favours with this line of argument. What happened to Edwards and what is happening to the people outed on the STGRB site, is not remotely comparable.

  210. Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 17:28:53

    @Author on Vacation: You know who is responsible for your stress? YOU are. You are responsible for learning how to deal with your own stress. You cannot control others’ actions, only your own reaction.
    If reading something on the internet, no matter your profession, causes you so much stress that it could contribute to other physical conditions (and the well-being of others, apparently), thereby justifying something along the lines of the StGRB website, then I beg you to seek professional therapy to learn how to deal with it.

  211. ducky
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 17:34:24

    @Author On Vacation:

    You must be joking. Your post is a joke, right?

    Bad reviews are not fun and nobody likes to get bad reviews but we all get them in some form sometimes in life. You suck it up, hopefully learn something from them and move on. Posting somebody’s private information online to get even with somebody for bad reviews could lead to serious and dangerous consequences for the person so exposed – like being stalked and physically attacked.

    There is a big difference between receiving a blow to the ego or a potential blow to the head. The blow to the ego can only hurt you if you let it.

  212. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 17:47:00

    @Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog: I love you.

    (in a totally not scary or creepy manner)

  213. IMO: Bully Me and I’ll Bully You, Because That Makes It Right. Logic, I Has It. | The Bawdy Book Blog
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 17:50:08

    […] Dear Author weighs in with a post on what this all really means.  […]

  214. Karen Scott
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 17:54:04

    Great post, but I’m not surprised by the people doing the whole “Yes that site is awful, but I understand why they’re doing it.” thing. It’s standard procedure surely? Trying to draw parallels between a reader writing slice and dice reviews and an author posting said reviewer’s personal details online makes perfect sense. If you happen to be an imbecile…

  215. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 18:11:41

    @Jill Sorenson: No, I don’t think you’re example is bullshit at all. That’s an awful thing to have happened, and those people are idiots, but it’s not what I’d describe as bullying. Some here are claiming that readers go to authors’ spaces to harass them, that they follow them on blogs and twitter for the express purpose of bullying them. That’s what I want to see proof of, because, as mean and stupid as it is, a bunch of readers talking crap on goodreads doesn’t qualify as bullying.

    @Courtney Milan:

    Oh, they weren’t arbitrary.

    Good point. It’s no different than looking down on people for not knowing which fork to use. It’s the difference between etiquette and manners.

    @NM:

    It may be easier to police four letter words because they can be filtered out by software, however. The other kinds of inappropriate rhetoric would require a real, live moderator, which becomes more difficult, certainly for a site as large as Goodreads.

    I’ve been a part of various online communities that heavily moderate “inappropriate” rhetoric, and the end result has always been a stifling of intelligent discussion and an atmosphere that does doesn’t allow for any deep analysis or strong opinions, with no thought to context, and dominated by people who know how to stay just below the radar of the mods because those who state things outright get banned. No thank you.

  216. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 18:56:18

    @Las:
    “Some here are claiming that readers go to authors’ spaces to harass them”
    Yeah, they do. I had a lot of that over my posts on AJ Llewellyn, eg here:
    http://logophilos.net/blog/index.php/2011/11/a-j-llewellyn-d-j-manly-a-study-in-deception/

    And I’ve had people drop into my LJ (now deleted) to rag on me. But my blog and my LJ are public, so I kind of expect it.

    And I also should note that the abuse I got over Llewellyn was *incited* by Llewellyn quite directly by his passive-aggressive blog/GR posts, and that every single time readers start one starring my books or downrating my reviews on Amazon, it’s because I’ve got into it with a Badly Behaving Author. Readers don’t get worked up about authors unless the author gets worked up first. Why would they care?But once their ‘team’ is attacked – as identified by the ‘team leader’ – well of course they are going to go after the attacker to prove their devotion.

    There’s an example of an author trying to whip up harrassment on Twitter right now, in fact. James Austen (who could *possibly* be associated with the bully site, but is certainly an avid fan) is using his account right now to do that, and to attack Heidi Belleau simply for associating with me. My crime? To point out his previous bullying on my blog (linked in Robin’s post).

    Some BBAs try to pretend they are just readers, nothing to do with any author. Melissa Douthit did this with the creation of a multitude of sock puppets on GR, attacking – strangely enough – the women targetted by the bully site (ain’t that a strange coincidence?) Of course this got all her accounts banned, and it was very obvious what was going on. Genuine readers getting their nappies in a knot over a book review without an author poking them? Can’t think of a single case where that went past a short discussion exchanging views.

    “I’ve been a part of various online communities that heavily moderate “inappropriate” rhetoric, and the end result has always been a stifling of intelligent discussion and an atmosphere that does doesn’t allow for any deep analysis or strong opinions, with no thought to context, and dominated by people who know how to stay just below the radar of the mods because those who state things outright get banned. No thank you. ”

    Too bloody right!

  217. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 18:58:30

    I’ve been a part of various online communities that heavily moderate “inappropriate” rhetoric, and the end result has always been a stifling of intelligent discussion and an atmosphere that does doesn’t allow for any deep analysis or strong opinions, with no thought to context, and dominated by people who know how to stay just below the radar of the mods because those who state things outright get banned. No thank you.

    @Las

    And I am an active participant at several online communities where moderation isn’t necessary because the community consists of adults who understand how to discuss serious, often controversial topics without resorting to ad hominems, vulgarity, profanity and cheap snark, much less verbally abusive or violent commentary. Admittedly, sites like these are few and far between, but they do exist and participation is a pleasant, enlightening, productive experience.

  218. Maili
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 19:04:35

    I didn’t think I had anything to say, but after reading some responses, I feel I want to now.

    @Author on Vacation
    Every job in the world has its share of health and safety issues. I work as a freelance, which regularly means being tied to my desk for what it seems like 24 hours per day. It’s 100% my responsibility to ensure my welfare. Being sick would mean no pay, which would screw up my personal budget. So that means monitoring my welfare, which include taking frequent breaks from my computer, eating healthily, doing boring exercises, blah blah, and avoiding sites that have the ability to upset or anger me.

    It’s not the Internet’s responsibility to protect me from the effect its users’ ramblings may have on me. I can react, I can rage, I can argue and I can debate, but it still doesn’t mean I can be exempt from facing the consequences of *my* reactions. Knowing this means I should stay away from those sites in order to protect my health. And so, I do. It’s for my sake after all.

    If authors can’t handle abrasive or offensive reviews, then they should stick to author-friendly areas of GRs, turn off Google Alerts, put out a clear request to their regular readers not to tell them about negative reviews, and so on. With a bit of time and effort, this can work.

    You and many others seem to forget one thing: the reader/reviewer/blogger community does monitor itself within boundaries it sets in accordance with its majority. When a, say, reader or reviewer steps over a line by revealing one author’s contact details, you can bet many bloggers/readers/re viewers will put that right. They would request the reader to take down her post and some others will try to erase the post from the Net, and refuse to share the info publicly with those who may arrive too late to witness the fuss. I know because it happened before.

    It’s still happening now. Some targeted reviewers now know who’s behind Stop the GR Bullies site, but still aren’t prepared to ‘out’ that person. This is, to me, typical of the community (which includes many like-minded authors). This is how it should be.

    You can carry on trying to tell people how they should write their reviews, but I need to remind you and some others the point of Robin’s post:

    What solution could we use to ensure that outing a person – reader, reviewer, author, anyone – will never happen again?

    Trying to censor ‘nasty’ reviewers or demand they should change how they write reviews is not the right way. Neither is outing ‘nasty’ reviewers. This is morally and ethically repulsive. So, should we highlight author-friendly areas of Good Reads and similar sites for authors and readers who detest certain types of reviews? Should we remind all ourselves the boundaries of reviews, interaction and such? And how?

    Authors, reviewers and readers can co-exist peacefully. Some fights will happen, no big deal, but how do we all make it so that it won’t reach to the point where one feels entitled to stalking and revealing a person’s off-line details?

  219. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 19:27:28

    @Maili:
    “how do we all make it so that it won’t reach to the point where one feels entitled to stalking and revealing a person’s off-line details? ”

    I suppose making sure that all the authors who were clearly dropped on their heads at birth and therefore are *incapable* of telling right from wrong, have their hands superglued together, is too extreme?*

    Honestly, you can’t stop them. You *can* name and shame them. And fight back against the false equivalency nonsence that’s being displayed all too often, even here.

    *ETA: Not intended to be an actual physical threat, just to be to be clear

  220. KT Grant
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 19:32:18

    Do you want to know how out of control this has gotten? A Goodreads reviewer has received an anonymous, threatening phone call all because of her reviews. I’m beyond sick over this.: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/309224-what-it-s-like-to-be-stalked?chapter=428115

  221. Expy
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 19:41:29

    @Karen Scott: What she said.

    (I had a hard time commenting to this post without looking like a bobblehead, but screw it!)

  222. karlynp
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 19:45:25

    Wow, just saw the following Twitter post reporting that one reviewer got a threatening phone call by the crazy person behind that web site.

    “Kayleigh Anne ?@Ceilidhann The not so anonymous bully running that Stop the GR Bullies site found a reviewer’s phone number and rang her up to threaten her. Not okay.”

    There are so many untruths and exaggerations posted on that web site about the reviewers, the author(s) behind that site doesn’t have one ounce of integrity. That author has gone off the deep end and is taking this way too personally, which speaks volumes to her mental stability as a person.

  223. Sirius
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 19:46:51

    @KT Grant: Oh shoot. Nah nothing dangerous can *possibly* happen when crazies put the personal info of the people whose opinions they dislike for all other crazies to see. I admire these women’s desire to be better than the crazies but at the very least I would have gone to authorities without hesitation. Because this is totally the same as saying bad things about *books*. Sorry, for some reason this ju made me very angry .

  224. Christi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 19:50:42

    @azteclady:

    are you the Christi commenting over at Passive Guy’s? If so: thank you, I agreed with all you said there

    Yes, that’s me! Thanks! I had to walk away. Way too many defenders of STGRB going on by truly ignorant people.

    @NM:

    Asking people to behave like adults and refrain from what is commonly recognized as vulgar and foul rhetoric…

    But what *gives you the right* to set that standard? What makes your standard The Right Way? I was raised to believe that vulgar words can be used to express passion for a topic. What gives you a right to tell me otherwise? Because doing so hurts your feelings? It might sort of hurt my feelings when reviewers only give short, one-sentence comments that lack any emotion at all. So what? It’s not my place to dictate what makes a good review.

    And that forum you were talking about, that was rhetoric between peers, toward peers. Reviews are NOT rhetoric between peers, nor is it rhetoric toward peers. It isn’t an “adult conversation”. It’s a reaction to art and the consumption of a product they’ve paid for. Trying to set this to the same standard as having a theological discussion in which there is no singular target representing the product being sold (Is God the author in that metaphor?) doesn’t really work.

    Lastly, the place where this all is happening is Goodreads. And to be honest, GoodReads is a place for readers. It is their safe space to be as vulgar and trolly as they wish within the bounds of enforcement of the site TOS, and it is NOT the place of the author to set the standard for that discussion. On their own blogs or websites, yeah maybe. Not on GoodReads, which is a social media site for readers. It’s like Kristen Stewart going onto Celebitchy.com to cry about all the mean comments about her. It’s not there to please you. We’ve purchased your product, and this is our safe space to react on it how we see fit.

  225. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:04:55

    @Meoskop:

    I’m not sure why you believe it’s somehow my responsibility to demand people not criticize Ridley’s hostile, antagonistic, verbal abuse (to me and to others.)

    Surely that’s Ridley’s responsibility. Assuming s/he cares about it in the first place.

  226. SonomaLass
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:08:19

    @Christi: Excellent points. There is no such thing as a universal standard for acceptable or appropriate language. The idea that anything is “commonly recognized as vulgar” is ridiculous. Common in a certain age/gender/class group, maybe, but that doesn’t mean different language is somehow wrong. As you rightly point out, each forum can set its own terms of use, and enforce them. And as@Maili: points out, most communities are pretty good about policing themselves when someone crosses a line that most users agree upon. (In my day job I’m a professor of communication, but I promised to save lengthy discussion of this aspect for a blog post at my own site.)

    The point I really want to reinforce is that what Robin is talking about here is important, and it shouldn’t be diluted by lesser concerns. Yes, we have different opinions on language; yes, sometimes a reader or reviewer crosses a line; yes, writing books is hard and hearing harsh criticism that doesn’t seem well-reasoned hurts. All of those can lead to conversations worth having, I think. But none of that, none of that, justifies what’s going on. We as a community have to be better than this, which means we have to say loud and clear that this is intolerable, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

  227. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:14:31

    @Melody Clark:
    “Attacking my book is attacking me if the point of attacking the book is to attack the writer. ”

    [citation needed]

    Seriously. Give an example of a review which attacks the author to the same degree of harrassment as calling someone at home and threatening them, or get out.

  228. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:17:15

    LOL, no, Christi, my feelings don’t get hurt when other people use vulgar or obscene language. However, that kind of language tends to diminish what they’re trying to say.

    Of course, if the reviewer’s intent is to let off steam by writing a crude or abusive review, well, that speaks to something not quite right with the reviewer. And, by the same token, if a responding author uses the moment to lash out in general over myriad frustrations, that’s not a good thing, either. That kind of behavior isn’t serving anyone well, not the person engaging in it, not the target, not the people witnessing the various tantrums.

    That the venue at Goodreads involves readers and the authors of the books they’re reviewing doesn’t change the concept of mature, thoughtful, constructive discussion. That you refer to the authors as “targets” is telling. Honestly, I’ve never bought a book and then thought of it’s author as my “target” because I paid money for her book. I don’t even know how to respond to that, it’s so bizarre to me. Also, I believe that adults should always be, well, adults. I believe people should behave with integrity. I don’t have separate personas for various types of discussions, or venues, or internet v. real world. I don’t treat some people disrespectfully because I feel that, as a consumer of their product, I have a right to be abusive. Again, I just don’t know how to process the notion that it’s okay to be willfully demeaning and hurtful to someone just because you purchased their product.

    I’m pretty sure Goodreads was never intended to be a “safe space” for the rude, the profane and the abusive.

    Feel free to be as obscene and rude and vulgar as you like. Just don’t try to silence me for not agreeing with you, ‘k? Because that would be truly hypocritical.

  229. Jane
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:18:49

    So the upshot of something like the STGB (not to mention the horrifying personal phone call the goodreads participant received) is this email I received today (republished with permission and identifying information left out). It came via a request to delete a comment (link to screenshot):

    I left a comment on this review accidentally, after I wrote everything, I wanted to copy and paste it to word so that I could edit it for grammar and spelling, and just clean it up a bit. I thought I hit the “x”put somehow i managed to post it and I don’t know how to delete it, i am new to blogs and posting things and i’ve seen the way people bash reviewers and i’m just terrified of what people are going to do, I’ve seen how that will search for personal info and make fun of people and i’m begging you to please please delete it!

  230. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:19:38

    @AoV:
    “Surely that’s Ridley’s responsibility.”

    you mean, she should complain to the site which is outing her and ask for them to behave well, instead of you contacting them and asking them to stop using your online beef with her as an excuse to out her?

    You make Pontius Pilate look like President Truman.

    ” Assuming s/he cares about it in the first place. ”

    Too stupid to work out what gender Ridley is from the same site which is using your online disputes with her to out her?

    You are really, really foul.

    @SonomaLass: “what Robin is talking about here is important, and it shouldn’t be diluted by lesser concerns”

    Yes. A thousands times yes. We’re talking about women being put in danger by deranged stalkers. Not about the poor widdle feefees of authors who need to grow the fuck up and get over it.

  231. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:31:31

    @NM:
    “if the reviewer’s intent is to let off steam by writing a crude or abusive review, well, that speaks to something not quite right with the reviewer”

    You’re a really judgemental person, aren’t you? People who swear are either mentally ill or unintelligent, or not ‘adult’, or don’t have integrity, according to you.

    “Again, I just don’t know how to process the notion that it’s okay to be willfully demeaning and hurtful to someone just because you purchased their product. ”

    If you can’t tell the difference between a review of a *product* and a review of a *person*, I don’t know how you cope in real life. The world is full of rude, foul mouthed profane little fuckers like me prepared to make their opinion known about their disappointing purchases, as pungently as possible. I’m almost certainly older than you, easily as smart, and I don’t swear because I suffer from depression – I swear because sometimes that’s the best bloody way to exorcise my bad mood.

    Where do you live? Stepford?

  232. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:35:32

    @SonomaLass

    So if you bumped into me accidentally while walking down the street, and I stopped and started shrieking obscenities at you, that’s fine because there no such thing as commonly accepted standards of behavior? Calling you an $%*@ing c u next tuesday at the top of my lungs, in front of your small children, is perfectly acceptable behavior, and if you complain, I can just remind you that there’s no such thing as a universal standard for acceptable or appropriate language? Really?

    Yes, bullying is wrong. Yes, revealing personally sensitive information about people you don’t like on the internet is wrong. Calling people and making threats is wrong. Agreed.

    OTOH, if you continue to poke away at people and harass them, and abuse them, and treat them like they are somehow less human than you, you shouldn’t be surprised if, sooner or later, some0ne snaps and takes things to the extreme. That doesn’t justify their behavior, but it happens, and people should be aware of that when they start down that road.

    I find it increasingly bizarre that people want to defend every sort of malicious behavior possible just up to the point where someone gets physically harmed. That’s unreasonable. Not to mention that words are powerful and words can hurt people terribly, and we are responsible for our words.

  233. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:38:02

    @NM:
    “people should be aware of that when they start down that road. ”

    …wearing that short skirt and the low cut blouse. Bitch was just asking for it, wasn’t she?

  234. Kelly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:43:46

    @NM:

    …adults who understand how to discuss serious, often controversial topics without resorting to ad hominems, vulgarity, profanity and cheap snark, much less verbally abusive or violent commentary.

    That sounds like a Very Happy Place, and I’m glad you are happy there. But that makes me question why you are HERE, if such things bother you so much.

    I am a passionate reader. I am a passionate writer. I love reading what other passionate readers and writers have to say. I want to hear what other reviewers really *feel* about a book, and strong feelings require strong language.

    I can’t imagine trying to disguise my visceral response to a so-called romance author’s misogyny in “pleasant” writing and being forced to share it in an “enlightening, productive” environment. *shudder*

    If I was limited by those restrictions, my writing would be so flattened and sweetened it would no longer serve the purpose of bringing attention to an issue I feel passionate about.

    I am a prolific user of vulgarity, profanity and cheap snark, and I wield those written weapons VERY carefully. I will NEVER apologize for explaining my opinions with strong language, and I will NEVER censor myself to spare the feelings of an author who calls her books her “babies.”

  235. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:46:06

    @Ann

    No. What I actually said was that people who post an abusive review as a means of alleviating stress are not behaving appropriately. It’s inappropriate to write an abusive review that attacks an author merely because the reviewer had a bad day at work. Behavior like that speaks to the person engaging in it. If it’s a pattern, it speaks to a problem with that reviewer.

    Again, you’re creating a strawman and claiming I’m saying things I am not saying. I do not think people who swear are mentally ill. Those are your words, not mine. Nor do I think people who swear are stupid. Again, those are your words. I do not think people who swear lack integrity, either. Another strawman.

    People who cannot express a negative reaction without resorting to profanity or abusive rhetoric are immature and lack creativity, IMO. Anyone can fling around a dirty word for shock value or effect. It’s harder to write something critical without resorting to the lowest form of speech possible.

    As for integrity, if you are one person to one set of people, and another person to a different group, if you’re two-faced, yes, you lack integrity.

    I know how to tell the difference between a product and a person. What I’m talking about is reviewers who resort to ad hominems. They’re the ones who can’t tell the difference between a product and a person. Attacking the author on a personal level through abusive rhetoric and profanity is not a legitimate response just because you don’t like her product.

    No, I don’t live in Stepford. I live in San Francisco, narrow, uptight little community, that…

    You can curse up a storm, and I can make of that what I like. Why do you need my approval?

    I doubt you’re that much older than me, if you are older at all. I’m in my 50s, the mother of five adult children, and grandmother to three adorable grandchildren. Probably makes me the oldest person here.

  236. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:51:25

    @NM:

    So if you bumped into me accidentally while walking down the street, and I stopped and started shrieking obscenities at you, that’s fine because there no such thing as commonly accepted standards of behavior?

    Where is this happening? When has a reader (who’s not a fangirl out to defend another author) gone to an author’s space and said, essentially, “Hey, fuck you, cunt.” Links or it didn’t happen.

    And let me make it really clear to you, because I have a feeling you still don’t understand: using profanity in the body of a REVIEW of a BOOK is in NO WAY analogous to shrieking obscenities in an author’s face.

  237. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:55:23

    @AoV: “I’m not sure why you believe it’s somehow my responsibility to demand people not criticize Ridley’s hostile, antagonistic, verbal abuse (to me and to others.) Surely that’s Ridley’s responsibility. Assuming s/he cares about it in the first place.”

    The fact that you are fine with your tit for tat exchanges with Ridley being used to prop up a site detailing how to physically locate (and now phoning to threaten) bloggers and reviewers tells me what I already knew about your character. I hope the AoV tag means someone is spoofing you, but I think you just got tired of typing.

  238. Kelly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 20:57:42

    @NM:

    …if the reviewer’s intent is to let off steam by writing a crude or abusive review, well, that speaks to something not quite right with the reviewer.

    Wow. If something in a book offends me, and I post a rant about it, that makes me “not quite right”?

    So getting PISSED OFF about misogyny, rape jokes, homophobia, racism or other touchy issues in books is “not quite right” – in other words, WRONG?

    Please feel free to clarify if I’m misunderstanding you, because I really want to be “quite right” just like you.

  239. Ridley
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:02:16

    “S/he?” Bitch, please.

  240. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:05:04

    No, Ann. But a woman who wears a sexually provocative outfit and who frequents certain areas known for that sort of trouble should be aware that she may be targeted. That doesn’t mean she deserves violence, nor does it excuse those who would attack her. It does, however, mean that we are responsible for our own behavior and for the decisions we make.

    @Las, so now there are universal standards for acceptable and appropriate language? Aha. Are you setting those…? What right do you have to tell me I cannot shriek profanities in front of small children? Yes, using profanities as descriptors in the body of a review is not the same as calling the author names. I am referring to reviews where authors are attacked on a personal level. That said, using profanities as descriptors in the body of the review diminishes the review. Truth is, most people are turned off by dirty language and will probably stop reading. But that is your choice. You can’t blame people for not liking your reviews if they’re profanity laden.

    @Kelly, believe it or not, people are perfectly capable of expressing passion, disgust, anger, outrage, etc., without resorting to profanity. It just takes a little extra thought and creativity. Doesn’t have to be sweet or sappy at all.

  241. AOV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:07:56

    @Courtney Milan: You are just as interesting and entertaining as your novels.

  242. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:08:01

    @Kelly:
    “I really want to be “quite right” just like you.”

    Are you sure? Because being ‘right’ like NM means being a supporter of rape culture as well as a judgemental prude.

    If hating her views is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  243. LG
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:08:16

    @NM: I don’t see anyone saying there are no commonly accepted standards of behavior. It’s just that not every site will have *your* accepted standards of behavior. When you’re online, you’re not surrounded by just people from your neighborhood or your town – there are people from all over the world. They’re not going to be just like you, they’re not going to think just like you. What you do is you figure out what the accepted standards of behavior of a particular site are and whether you’re comfortable with them. If you’re not comfortable with them, there are many, many sites out there you can visit instead. Same goes for reviewers – there are lots of different reviewing styles, and if you hate snarky reviews DON’T READ THEM.

  244. Kelly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:10:04

    @NM:

    Thank you so much for that patronizing pat on the head. Your self-righteousness is truly epic.

  245. diremommy
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:10:48

    It is not ABUSIVE to say you think a book fucking sucks. Mean, maybe, but not abusive.

  246. Kelly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:12:04

    @Ann Somerville:

    /sarcasm

  247. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:14:02

    @Kelly

    If you choose to target an author and write a review chock full of profanity-laden, abusive, ad hominem attacks on her in order to alleviate a rotten day at work, and then claim it’s perfectly fine because it’s a “review”, yes, there’s something wrong with that behavior. If it’s a pattern, if you find yourself doing this frequently, yes, there’s something wrong with you and you should seek professional help to alleviate whatever source of stress is causing you to personally attack others.

    It’s fine to be angry about any number of things, including the things you mentioned. If you let your anger and passion get lost in abusive language, profanity, and/or personal attacks, however, your words will not have as much power as they would if you waited until you could write a more thoughtful, well-reasoned and argued critique, avoiding the trap of ad hominems.

  248. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:14:39

    @Kelly:

    I left the sarcasm tag off my comment too. No worries :)

  249. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:19:27

    @NM: No, NM, you’re not the oldest, not by a fucking long shot. I’m 63.

    Like Kelly, I wonder why you’re here, too. You don’t like our language, you think we’re all abusive and rude attackers of sweet little precious authors, you want to impose your standards on us but don’t want us to hint that you adapt to ours when you’re on our turf, etc. etc. etc. So I’m thinking you’re nothing but a little troll, hiding behind initials because you’re a coward.

    I normally don’t come right out and confront people like that, but when someone comes to a site — and yes, thank you, Jane and Jayne and all our other hostesses, for letting my contentious little ass in your home — with the sole intention of disagreeing with just about everyone else there, then they have an agenda to harrass and at some point someone has to call them to account.

    And that’s exactly what this discussion is about: harrassment. You keep saying you don’t like what the “Stop Them” website is doing, but in your very next breath you defend them. You say they’re justified. You say their victims brought it on themselves. You’re an apologist for bullies. And that, in my book, makes you a bully, too.

    You keep putting down those of us who use “common” language. You say it demeans us or diminishes our arguments, as though you are some super-mommy chiding all us brats. And I’m sure you just suck up every bit of attention it’s bringing you.

    Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? It’s about the high and mighty special NM snowflake, the saintly prig who wouldn’t say shit if she had a mouthful.

    I’m short and I’ve always had to stand up for myself. Very very rarely does anyone ever come to my defense because everyone thinks Linda’s the strong one, the smart one who doesn’t need any help, the intimidating one who scares everyone else away. Well, fine. But I’m also the one who will not sit by and let people be bullied. I will call out the bullies when maybe no one else will.

    And that’s what you are, NM. You’re a fucking bully. You’re a coward, just like AoV and whoever the slimebuckets are on that “Stop Them” website.

    I’ve only been on GoodReads for a very short time, haven’t left very many reviews except of old classic books that I loved (and one new “hoax” that made me laugh it was so outrageous). But damn it, a person’s book is not them. Criticizing someone’s book is not the same as saying they’re a bad person, no matter how snarky or rude or painful the review is. I know a hell of a lot of people who are absolutely wonderful people, great parents, staunch friends, excellent at their chosen professions, but they can’t write crap. They just can’t. And telling them they can’t write crap is not the same as telling them they’re bad people.

    There are a lot of people publishing today who are bad writers. They may have great stories in their heads and hearts, but they suck at the writing. Maybe they can learn, and maybe they can’t, but nothing changes the fact that their writing sucks. That doesn’t mean they themselves suck.

    I don’t think it’s that you can’t get this through your head, NM. I think it’s that you just don’t want to, because your agenda is to bully, start trouble, stir the pot and sit back and watch. That’s the mark of a very very small minded person, in my estimation. That’s the mark of someone who can’t build, can’t create, but can only destroy what others have created.

    Fuck that noise, and piss on you.

  250. Robin/Janet
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:22:40

    @NM: Can you provide examples of reviews you are referring to in your comments? Because I have been more and more puzzled by your comments and your assertions that people here are somehow valorizing abusive behavior toward authors. I haven’t seen anyone argue that this behavior should be the norm (something you stated in an earlier comment), and you keep referring to these repeated patterns of abuse and attack, which sounds to me a lot like the unsubstantiated stuff the STGRB site and its supporters are using.

    As far as I’m concerned, we should all, as a community of women who participate online, be saying: intentionally exposing readers to actual threats and harm, trying shame them into silence by implicit threats of violence is wrong.

    There should be no “but” in that sentence. Saying that does NOT make okay any other behavior; it merely acknowledges that there is a line across which there is no longer an arguable position, and IMO that’s what is needed here to keep that line hard and bright. All of this equivocating language merely weakens the precise integrity you continue to assert. And I am perfectly willing to believe that your intentions are good in this regard, but I am having difficulty with your comments, not only because they rely on no proffered evidence, but also because they seem to keep qualifying your objection to what is going on at STGRB. And the point that some of us are trying to make is that if we do not recognize a line across something is absolutely not okay full stop, we give those who are crossing that line ammunition and permission to continue to do so.

  251. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:23:52

    @AoV: If you think Ridley is hostile, you have led a very sheltered online existence. You have commented anonymously since I’ve been reading this blog. How would YOU like it if I tracked you down, posted all your vitals on my blog, and issued a fatwa on you to all the people you’ve shown condescending passive aggression to?

    This entire conversation is asinine. It wouldn’t be an issue if there weren’t so many people on the internet who want to control other people’s behavior by any means necessary. (Google “SWATting.”)

  252. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:24:39

    @Linda Hilton:

    I think it’s that you just don’t want to, because your agenda is to bully, start trouble, stir the pot and sit back and watch. That’s the mark of a very very small minded person, in my estimation. That’s the mark of someone who can’t build, can’t create, but can only destroy what others have created.

    Fuck that noise, and piss on you.

    From one old broad to another – you’re fabulous!

  253. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:26:14

    @NM:

    @Las, so now there are universal standards for acceptable and appropriate language? Aha. Are you setting those…? What right do you have to tell me I cannot shriek profanities in front of small children?

    I have no idea what the –brace yourself–fuck you’re talking about. Stop deliberately missing the point and making–watch out–bullshit analogies that have nothing to do with the discussion at hand. You’re not making some deep point here, you’re just showing your–oh no–ass.

    Using profanities doesn’t diminish anything. What it does do is allow lazy debaters to stop engaging when they know they don’t have a leg to stand on, because they get to claim that the use of profanity invalidates their opponent’s argument. You get to completely ignore the points being made and blame the person making those points.

    And in what corner of the internet do you live that you think most people will avoid reviews that contain profanities?

  254. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:26:36

    @Ann, no matter how many times you repeat your strawman, I have never claimed that anyone is asking to be raped.

    @LG

    There is no such thing as a universal standard for acceptable or appropriate language. The idea that anything is “commonly recognized as vulgar” is ridiculous.

    — SonomaLass, comment #226

    Actually, SonomaLass claims there are no universal standards for acceptable or appropriate language.

    I understand that, when online, at least at some sites, there’s a broad variety of expression, and I am perfectly capable of not reading what I don’t like.

    My original response was about how this stuff gets started and ends up snowballing into extreme behavior, and how we might end this kind of behavior. Much like when Obama asked that we raise the level of discourse after the tragic shooting in Arizona. Didn’t see anyone blasting him, or calling him a Stepford wife, or any other names for suggesting that violent language leads to violent behavior. Go figure.

  255. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:27:26

    @Las, you forgot to close your tags…

  256. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:28:42

    @diremommy:

    It is not ABUSIVE to say you think a book fucking sucks. Mean, maybe, but not abusive.

    I think people know the diff between a negative book review and verbal abuse. I’m unaware of anyone claiming a negative review is automatically abuse, stalking, bullying, or other inappropriate behavior.

  257. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:30:49

    @Linda

    Feel better, dear? :~)

  258. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:32:24

    @NM:

    But a woman who wears a sexually provocative outfit and who frequents certain areas known for that sort of trouble should be aware that she may be targeted.

    That right there is the very essence of rape culture. And you said it, no one else.

    I’d rather talk to someone who uses ‘fuck’ every other word, than a shitty bully enabler like you who victim blames and tells outright lies.

    You should stick to shoving your twisted morality down your kids and grandkids throats. They have to listen to you. I don’t.

    “when Obama asked that we raise the level of discourse after the tragic shooting in Arizona. ”

    He was asking politicians to stop making remarks about shooting people they disagree with. He wasn’t asking people not to swear. And if he was here, I’d bet he’d call you a fucking clueless troll.

  259. Alicia
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:33:14

    @NM:

    No. What I actually said was that people who post an abusive review as a means of alleviating stress are not behaving appropriately. It’s inappropriate to write an abusive review that attacks an author merely because the reviewer had a bad day at work.

    Has anyone actually seen this happen? I have rarely ever seen reviews directly attacking an author (and I mean actually attacking the author, not what STGRB considers an attack). I know I have never, ever seen someone write an “abusive” review as a form of stress relief.

    I can’t even begin to imagine that thought process. “God, my day sucked. I’m going to…I’m going to…I’m going to spend several hours/days reading this book and then KILL IT WITH FIRE on Goodreads!”

    Every harsh review I’ve read or the ones I’ve seen mentioned in conjunction with this debacle was written by someone who bought a book, read it, and was left enraged by it. And they kept their rage to the book. They’re blowing off steam about the book. Not the author. Not life. The book. If a reviewer can read a book and love it so much that they spew that love pretty much everywhere, why can’t they read a book, hate it and post an angry review on GR/their blog? That’s what books do to us. That’s why we read them.

    Confusing a book with a human being, and erroneously using the words “bully” and “attack” regarding book reviews is an unreasonable response. No matter how vitriolic the review is about the book. What the STGRB site is doing is so far beyond unreasonable I don’t even have words for it anymore. There is no defense for it.

  260. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:35:19

    @Robin/Janet

    I haven’t accused anyone here of writing personally abusive reviews. I’ve spoken in generalities.

    Okay, so the only appropriate response here is that what the stop the GR bullies site is doing is wrong? Nothing else? No further discussion of how we raise the level of discussion, how we avoid that kind of snowballing into extreme behaviors? Nothing else is allowed?

    Why didn’t you just post that disclaimer at the end of the original piece, then, or close comboxes, or something? Is all you want an echo chamber — yesmen, cheerleaders rah-rah-ing your post, but no other opinions or thoughts? All you had to do is say that upfront.

  261. diremommy
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:36:06

    @ AoV: And yet, no one is actually linking to these so called attacking the author viciously and calling them names reviews. They are linking to reviews that say, essentially, that book sucks, the story is bad, editing sucks, grammar is terrible, etc etc. No one is linking to these abusive reviews.

  262. Robin/Janet
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:40:12

    @NM: Much like when Obama asked that we raise the level of discourse after the tragic shooting in Arizona. Didn’t see anyone blasting him, or calling him a Stepford wife, or any other names for suggesting that violent language leads to violent behavior. Go figure.

    But the problem with this example is that it pretty much goes against your arguments throughout this thread. Obama was appealing to those who were inciting violence by their language — the Right Wing tea party types whose tactics are akin to what the STGRB site is doing NOT to reader and reviewer comments. And yes, those he was targeting absolutely mocked and ridiculed him. Those who did not were those who already believed that NOTHING could justify what happened in that Arizona parking lot.

  263. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:44:16

    @Alicia

    Rage…over a romance novel…? Really?

  264. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:46:36

    @NM:

    @Las, you forgot to close your tags…

    Heh, well played. Guess you really are just pretending…

  265. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:47:18

    @Moriah Jovan:

    If you think Ridley is hostile, you have led a very sheltered online existence.

    I don’t think Ridley is hostile. I don’t think anything about Ridley. I don’t know Ridley, nor have I any wish to know Ridley. I do regard Ridley’s comments as hostile, aggressive, and unpleasant. To me, anyway.

    You have commented anonymously since I’ve been reading this blog.

    So what?

    How would YOU like it if I tracked you down, posted all your vitals on my blog, and issued a fatwa on you to all the people you’ve shown condescending passive aggression to?

    Honestly, unless you made me aware of what you’d done, I probably wouldn’t notice or care. That isn’t condescending passive aggression, that’s honest apathy. Been there done that and suffered no significant harm because of it. In fact, I even made a few friends out of the fracas. Nice people.

    This entire conversation is asinine. It wouldn’t be an issue if there weren’t so many people on the internet who want to control other people’s behavior by any means necessary.

    I think the situation is much more absurd than the conversation. I have no interest in controlling anyone’s behavior. I am not afiliated with the Goodreads Group responsible for the alleged “outing” discussed in this conversation. I haven’t even seen proof this even occurred.

  266. Kelly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:49:07

    @NM:

    Rage…over a romance novel…? Really?

    Again, I’m wondering why you’re here.

    Misogyny in a romance novel enrages me. Perpetuating rape culture in a romance novel enrages me. Homophobia in a YA novel enrages me. Racism in anything, anywhere, enrages me.

    Oh, look, I’m stressed out over a book – I’d better go call my doctor!

  267. Carolyn Jewel
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:50:27

    @NM:

    When we had standards, when society in general shunned a certain sort of rhetoric, we were better for it. If review sites maintained their TOS and put the kebosh on vulgarity and ad hominems from the very beginning, none of this would be an issue.

    Holy Cow. When do you think that ever happened?

    There were no glory days of politeness. There is no time when our elders aren’t decrying the decay of manners.

    The problem isn’t in controlling speech so that we’re all polite and kind as in the days of yore. As if that would stop people from being mean or nasty or offensive. Look to the past for some of the most vicious, beautifully written, personal attacks ever made. Some of those attacks were designed specifically to keep women in their “place.” (Since that’s the area we’re debating here. )

    How about the graffiti on the walls of Pompeii? Or Ovid’s infamous, vulgar (if one is offended by references to “face fucking”) poetical retort to those who disparaged his work?

    Let’s talk about the poet Joyce Kilmer’s vendetta against the Imagiste poets (Pound, HD, t.s. eliot and others) and Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Decending a Stair, vigorously carried out in the pages of the NY Times Review of Books — which he edited at the time (prior, of course, to WWI). You can see in those pages his opinion pieces and carefully curated set of interviews of people who felt that free verse was the end of civilization as they knew it. His words were beautifully written, but they were vicious. They mocked free verse and cubism in grandiose words and exquisite prose.

    The point is not the language used. The point is the goal. And the goal behind the SGRB site is to silence the voices of reviewers they don’t like by putting those reviewers and their families in fear of physical attack.

    Given that goal, would the SGRB site be OK if any of those posts were written with the fullness of Kilmer’s literary gifts? Would it be OK if those responsible were as adept as Mark Twain at skewering the people they don’t like?

    If they’d stopped at mocking those reviewers, whether the language was polite, rude, Dickensian, formed of crude Latin verse, bad haiku or just plain old mediocre prose, I’d say, well, fine. Let them say what they want. But that isn’t where they stopped, and that is the entire point.

  268. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:51:41

    @AoV:
    “I am not afiliated with the Goodreads Group responsible for the alleged “outing” discussed in this conversation.”

    There is no goodreads group, dummy. And if you haven’t bothered to look at the site in question, why the fuck are you here?

    This is the site: stopthegrbullies.com

    You are cited under the entries about Ridley. Yes, they are outing people. You are an idiot of mammoth proportions.

    You drop into these conversations to stir shit, but you don’t even bother to check what shit you’re stirring.

  269. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:56:31

    @diremommy:

    I have read blogs and reviews that turned into “Kick the Author” rounds. I have also read blogs and reviews where angry authors (or people claiming to be authors) have attacked reviewers quite viciously with seemingly little provocative or justification.

    I’m not blind to the obvious. Clearly there are many personalities in the online read/review communities and not all of them mesh well. It’s also clear at least some people have difficulty respecting appropriate boundaries, standards of professionalism, etc..

    My observation, though, is that none of it is one-sided. There are abusers and bullies on both sides of a fence that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    Most of the on-line drama would be easily avoided if people treated each other with sensitivity and respect.

  270. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 21:57:59

    @Carolyn Jewel:

    Perhaps NM would prefer we wrote our reviews in Greek to spare the blushes of the poor poor authors, like the guy who found penguin sex too depraved to share in plain text.

    I have a mug given to me by a friend covered with Shakespearean insults. I think a guy who wrote

    He is deformed, crooked, old and sere,
    Ill-faced, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere;
    Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind;
    Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.

    Wouldn’t get too worked up about someone critting one of his plays using the word ‘fuck’.

  271. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:01:04

    Would it be too much to ask these voluble trolls to actually provide links to examples of what they’re talking about? I’m sick of strawmen, and vacuous assertions made without the slightest truth.

    Put up or shut up.

  272. Kelly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:05:28

    @NM:

    Fudge, lost my long-ass yet witty response.

    …profanity-laden, abusive, ad hominem attacks on her

    emphasis mine

    To repeat – AGAIN – what others are trying to explain in nice, pleasant, enlightened, namby-pamby words: There is no HER. There are BOOKS.

    You also keep using phrase “ad hominem attacks,” but I’m not sure if you really know what that means.

    Definition of AD HOMINEM:
    1: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
    2: marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ad%20hominem

    This next quote is yours:

    …yes, there’s something wrong with you and you should seek professional help to alleviate whatever source of stress is causing you to personally attack others.

    If I’m not mistaken, that right there is an ad hominem attack on ME as a person. You are turning your argument back on ME PERSONALLY to deflect the conversation.

    Anyway, that “seek professional help” thing? Already taken care of. Doesn’t keep me from getting pissed off about stupid shit in books. I’d ask my doctor to up my dose of Xanax to get to whatever Happy Place you’re at, but then I’d have to dose down on the Ambien, and then I’d be up all night getting even more pissed off about patronizing comments on blogs.

  273. Ridley
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:10:34

    @NM: Well, if you were paying attention, you might have noticed that your “solution” is precisely what Robin termed the problem in her post. Trying to hold everyone to a single standard of “ladylike” behavior is what leads to abuse getting heaped upon non-conformists.

    Don’t like my working class, Boston bluntness in my reviews? Fine. That’s legit. I can’t stand your self-righteous, ignorant condescension.

    Everyone annoys someone. And that’s why the flying spaghetti monster gave us the internet in its infinite splendor. I can avoid whatever repressed corner of the internet you crawled from, and you can block me on Goodreads. Synergy.

    The solution to preventing future cases of stalking an menacing isn’t to do exactly what the stalkers wanted to scare their targets into doing. It’s to isolate the nutcases who stalk with a clear statement of “this shit’s bananas.”

  274. Robin/Janet
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:11:58

    @NM: I haven’t accused anyone here of writing personally abusive reviews. I’ve spoken in generalities.

    Okay, so the only appropriate response here is that what the stop the GR bullies site is doing is wrong? Nothing else? No further discussion of how we raise the level of discussion, how we avoid that kind of snowballing into extreme behaviors? Nothing else is allowed?

    CLEARLY, given the almost 300 comments here, there is A LOT of room for discussion. And if the repeated substance of one’s comments to a blog post that drew a hard, bright line between what is happening on the STGRB site and other conduct and speech is to talk “in generalities” about bad manners, abusive attacks on authors, etc., my curiosity is going to be engaged. Why the investment in these generalities? Why no specific evidence of these charges? Why the continued focus on “generalities” when what we do have hard evidence of is so far beyond the pale? You have no issue accusing others of lacking integrity, but I ask you to provide examples of what I think are VERY inflammatory accusations on your part (general accusations of exactly the sort the STGRB and its supporters have rolled out), and you immediately accuse me of not allowing discussion?! That seems to me, at best, problematic to any civil discussion.

  275. Julia Broadbooks
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:13:27

    @Ann Somerville:

    @AoV:
    “Surely that’s Ridley’s responsibility.”

    you mean, she should complain to the site which is outing her and ask for them to behave well, instead of you contacting them and asking them to stop using your online beef with her as an excuse to out her?

    I’ve never quoted anything in a comment before so I hope this comes out right.

    No. Just no. It is not incumbent upon the people being harassed and threatened by this blog to ask for it to stop. It’s up to us. We cannot allow this sort of thing -the publishing of personal information, the effing phone calls at home. It is wrong and offensive and really quite scary. Even if you disagree with that, more importantly, this will drive other readers away. Away from Goodreads. Away from blogs. Away from the wonderful and varied community we have become.

    And that is a cost we all would pay.

  276. Dabney
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:13:54

    @Meljean: @Carolyn Jewel: I loved both of your comments. Language is of course just a tool. The issue is what one wants to and actually does accomplish with that tool.

  277. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:16:59

    @Meoskop:

    The fact that you are fine with your tit for tat exchanges with Ridley being used to prop up a site detailing how to physically locate (and now phoning to threaten) bloggers and reviewers tells me what I already knew about your character.

    I never said I was fine with anyone being treated this way. Like Courtney Milan, I have no wish to contact the group/website. I think someone even said earlier there was a potential security risk in visiting the group/website. This isn’t my problem, this is Ridley’s problem.

    Face it, you’re taking potshots at me for “not doing (your opinion of) the right thing” because of personal antipathy. You dislike my opinions and how I express them, so my decision to do nothing — the same as Courtney Milan — now “proves what a bad character I am.”

    Ridley neither needs nor wants me to stand up for Ridley. Ridley handles herself just fine and I’m confident she can contact these individuals and respectfully request that they remove her information from their group/site/blog. Unless she actually wants it there.

  278. Merrian
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:21:21

    @Robin/Janet: When I first started reading DA I ended up with a vision in my head of author and readers as overlapping Venn circles. I was thinking of the author horror of ebooks (4 or 5 years ago) and the common equation of e-book readers as pirates in author minds as frequently expressed by authors jumping into comments threads in those days.

    I am more and more convinced that readers and authors have similar interests but not the same. Where we overlap in the diagram is not a coming together at a shared place of interest but the point of friction. Reviews are marketing tools for authors and book finding tools for readers. As a thing with two different purposes and meanings, in effect they are a site of struggle. The bullying and the stalking actions and their passive-aggressive apologists are not just being inherently misogynistic in the attacks on reviewers and their false equivalencies they are seeking power over this space because it is the place where things are changing and the door through which possible futures will come.

    I am sitting here wondering whose Thermopylae this is? I know authors don’t see themselves as having the might of invading Persia but the repeated attempts by authors that I have seen over my active years in romancelandia to control what readers and reviewers think and say add up (as always Author on Vacation is the most egregious example to hand). I really am concerned that what Robyn/Janet fears will be the true result of this situation. At the minimum this means authors will be viewed suspiciously by readers and reviewers and this changes both our online community and the relationship with the books we read. We will be paying more attention to the author persona than the text in order to be sure the books are safe for us to read.

  279. Christi
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:22:03

    @NM:

    But a woman who wears a sexually provocative outfit and who frequents certain areas known for that sort of trouble should be aware that she may be targeted.

    Yeah so, this explains a lot. You know the kind of people who share that attitude? People who teach girls to avoid being raped (wear this, not that, walk here, not there, say this, not that, have sex then, not then), instead of focusing all that energy on teaching boys not to ever EVER rape girls. At the risk of hyperbole, I see a lot of parallels here.

    Instead of teaching our reviewers to be and react honestly, we’re teaching them to avoid being stalked (say this, not that, act this way, not that way, post here, not there).

    That kind of attitude is disgusting. We should be pouring our energy into teaching authors not to stalk and harass people in RL. Not ever. Sure, we have control over our actions, and I’m sure an internet in which people are too afraid of facing terrifying RL consequences to be honest (as well as society where women are too afraid of being raped to wear what they want) would be just wonderful for you. Personally, it makes me sick.

    I have the right to express my feelings, however vulgar they may be, just as I have the right to wear whatever the hell I want. We shouldn’t have to censor ourselves to accommodate criminals. THEY are the ones in the wrong.

  280. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:29:57

    @R0bin

    I haven’t accused anyone of not having integrity. Again, I’ve spoken generally, said that certain behaviors would indicate a lack of integrity, and I’ve spoken generally because I’m not accusing anyone. Which, I guess, I should have been doing all along. Seems like I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t, and all because I don’t like profanity. Not that anyone here would gang up and start personally attacking anyone because of something as innocuous as not liking profanity, or something, right? They wouldn’t resort to a big Twitter-fest of snark or name-calling or any of that behavior, or trying to figure out who I am or where I post, or anything, because that would be truly reprehensible. Right…right…??

    I’ve seen what you all really are, and it’s hypocritical and dishonest beyond belief. That’s all I need to know about you now.

    Enjoy your ugly little snark-fest.

  281. meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:32:38

    @AoV: Are you asking me if I dislike your opinions? Generally. Yes. I disagree with potshots, I’m taking direct aim because of your words and your actions here. Milan isn’t excusing STGRB while you alternate between claiming the events Janet refers to haven’t happened and making up excuses if they have. You inserted the word “bad” before character. I won’t argue with you on that point.

  282. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:36:45

    Of course, I suppose I should be worried now that Ann Somerville wants to punch me. Isn’t that bullying…? Aren’t threats of physical violence something we should take seriously? Call law enforcement?

    My God, but you are a pack of repulsive, hateful, hypocritical harpies.

    So much for all your pretensions to be just so concerned about real bullying and threats of physical violence. Right.

    I guess Dear Author really is the same as the stop the GR bully people. It’s just okay when you do it to people, but not okay when they do it to you. Of course. So typical of the bully mentality.

  283. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:39:52

    We should be pouring our energy into teaching authors not to stalk and harass people in RL. Not ever.

    Good. Start with yourself and your twitter friends who are now expressing their desire to physically harm me.

  284. Robin/Janet
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:42:45

    @NM: Where have I been snarky or attacking toward you? I engaged your politely and civilly, tried to take your comments seriously, and asked for examples and evidence when you made accusations that I find problematic and disturbing. Where I’m from, that’s called civil, reasoned debate, and isn’t that what you keep claiming you want us all to engage in?

    Civility doesn’t mean I won’t challenge you on assertions, arguments, and ideas I find problematic; it simply means that I will do so respectfully, which I have made more than one attempt to do. And the fact that you’re still commenting freely here behind two initials, is, I believe, MORE than enough evidence that you have far more safety commenting here than many, many, many readers have in places they should unquestioningly enjoy the very same right. Which is, as far as I’m concerned, the whole point. If I were being snarky, I’d thank you for letting me demonstrate that, but I’m so baffled by your response to being sincerely questioned about your incredibly strong and strongly worded ideas, I am just completely taken aback by your outburst.

  285. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:43:30

    Are you asking me if I dislike your opinions?

    I am not asking.

    I’m taking direct aim because of your words and your actions here. Milan isn’t excusing STGRB while you alternate between claiming the events Janet refers to haven’t happened and making up excuses if they have.

    You are a disgusting liar. I have stated several times I believe “outing” people is wrong.

    HOWEVER, even if your comment was true, it still does not justify your expectation I should stand up to some alleged cyberbully group to defend a person who has repeatedly attempted to insult me with this community’s full blessing for an extended period of time.

    The fact that you even nurture such expectation is laughable.

  286. Alicia
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:46:45

    @NM:

    Rage…over a romance novel…? Really?

    So, you’re saying you’ve never read anything that’s angered you so much you needed to get it out? You’re damn right rage over a romance novel. I’ve recently written rage filled reviews over Nora Roberts books from the 80s because I had to release my feelings about the seriously rapey heroes. Just wrote a ragey review of a Fern Michaels reissue with horribly misogynistic males and utterly stupid females. Kelly it the nail on the head, all of those issues she mentioned set me off, too. I bought those books and I have every right to work out my feelings about it in my review. Excuse me if the rest of us aren’t as evolved. Or, really, I have to echo Kelly’s question of why you’re here if you think that romance is such a meaningless, insignificant genre that experiencing emotions over these books is somehow ridiculous.

    But you seem to have skipped over giving us examples of these reviews you’re talking about. Likely because they don’t exist. And even if they did they would not, in any way, excuse or justify the actions of the STGRB site. It would not excuse or justify the phone call Lucy received.

  287. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:46:51

    Yes, Robin. Then why are you part of that nasty, hate-filled, physically threatening twitter fest targeting myself and “AoV”?

    You present one face here, and another there, as do the other participants here who are oh-so-sanctimoniously claiming this is all about putting a stop to REAL bullying, as in making physical threats here on this thread, but are then expressing their desire to punch me in the face as they ponder who I could be and what sites I frequent.

    I see who you really are now, and I know the truth about you.

    There is nothing you can say to undo that now.

    Good night.

  288. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:47:21

    @NM:

    “I suppose I should be worried now that Ann Somerville wants to punch me.”

    If you’re going to stalk my twitter, please stalk it properly. I want to punch *AoV* every time she posts. I can’t help it – when someone posts something so rage inducingly moronic as she regularly comes out with, I have an instant rage reflex.

    You, I just wish would go away. Actually, take AoV with you – you can discuss how much rape victims ask for it while you sympathise over your imaginary victimhood.

    You really are unbelievably pathetic. You both refuse to substantiate your inflammatory rhetoric, but you take a conversation out of context to ‘prove’ that you are the one who deserves sympathy.

    You deserve nothing but scorn.

    The ones who deserve – and who have – my support and synpathy for the real danger they and their families have been put in, are Ridley, Kat Kennedy, The holy terror, and Lucy. They’re the victims here.

    You’re nothing. An anonymous irritation hiding behind a pseudonym, risking nothing and doing nothing remotely constructive. A gnat, to be swatted and forgotten.

  289. Ridley
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:47:24

    @AoV: Yeah, lemme go and hand over my IP address to an unhinged stalker by sending them a “respectful” email asking them to please stop threatening me. What could go wrong?

  290. Jennifer Armintrout
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:48:56

    @Author on Vacation: I’m sorry, I’m hundreds of comments behind here, but AoV, did you really just suggest that I should do more research about bad reviews causing stress? You have got to be effing kidding me. Do me a favor, google “Queene of Light” and get back to me.

    Shaking. My. Head.

  291. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:49:11

    @NM:

    I guess Dear Author really is the same as the stop the GR bully people. It’s just okay when you do it to people, but not okay when they do it to you. Of course. So typical of the bully mentality.

    It gives me the creeps, but it does strike me as very plausible DA is directly involved with this alleged bully blog. That’s no compliment to DA, but it’s a sad reflection on the overall situation that I consider the possibility and don’t find it implausible. NOTE: I am not saying that is a fact, just that it wouldn’t surprise me if it were so.

  292. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:49:24

    Oh hey, I see NM doesn’t have any problem with abusive rhetoric when *she’s* upset about something!

    Come join the rest of us in the gutter, darling.

  293. Gillyweed
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:49:47

    @AoV:

    You are a disgusting liar. I have stated several times I believe “outing” people is wrong.

    LOL! I think you meant “alleged” outing.

  294. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:50:34

    @NM: Didn’t you flounce already? Please, follow through, you condescending misogynist.

    @Christi: *applauding*

    I hope you don’t mind that I’m going to be quoting this comment in my blog.

  295. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:53:51

    @NM: One person gets hyperbolic and says she wants to punch you and that’s an example of people ganging up and attacking you? Please. No one attacked you because you dislike profanity. People disagreed with you and called you out on both your erroneous statements about the good ole days and your blatant insults of people who use profanity. If that’s what you consider an attack, it’s no wonder you think there are so many examples (that you refuse to link to) of readers attacking authors.

  296. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:54:44

    @AoV: And I thought neither of you could stoop any lower.

    Live to learn.

    Then again, you act with impunity, as cowardly as the StGRb, because you know that none of the people behind Dear Author will expose you to real life stalking by outing you.

    Unmitigated hypocrites.

  297. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:56:01

    @Ridley:

    @AoV: Yeah, lemme go and hand over my IP address to an unhinged stalker by sending them a “respectful” email asking them to please stop threatening me. What could go wrong?

    Well okay. Ask your attorney to do it.

  298. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:56:21

    No, Ann, you and AnimeJune were referring to me. You’re both dishonest and spectacularly hypocritical.

    What you think doesn’t matter. You’re not an honest person. You’re a foul-mouthed, ugly-minded, hypocritical liar. And one who is doing exactly what you’re whinging and whining about others doing to your pals. You want to report AoV to CPS because you think she is so dumb that just being a mother constitutes child abuse. And you saw my posts and want to punch me in the face. We get it. You want to stalk and harass us because we disagree with you. You want to physically harm us because we disagree with you. And your pals, AnimeJune, SonomaLass, ReaderLas, RobinL, et al., are all guffawing along with you on Twitter, while they put up this sanctimonious, holier-than-thou front over here.

    You’re rotten to the core, and it’s there for everyone to see. Not that they’ll care. They’re just the same as you.

  299. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:56:46

    I wrote a big huge post about how I thought AOV could really be a champion for good internet behaviour and get her part with Ridley taken down and tell them that she didn’t need them “defend” her that way. That is what I would do in her place. I wouldn’t want any part of those people and their efforts. I would want my name out of it if for no other reason than how badly it reflects back on me.

    But, it doesn’t really matter does it? I’m spitting into the wind and wondering why my face is wet.

  300. Robin/Janet
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:57:37

    @NM: I have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. I have not threatened you, physically or otherwise, here or on Twitter. That you are claiming such a thing is EXACTLY why I kept pressing you on your “generalizations.” That you are trying to turn this back on me, when I have done NOTHING of the sort you are claiming says much more about you than me. And, yes, I think those unsubstantiated accusations are precisely part of the problem that is fueling the STGRB site.

  301. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:00:37

    @NM:

    You have such a potty mouth. Do you think this is contributing to civil discourse? You kiss your grandkid with that mouth

    Go have a sherry. Or three.

  302. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:02:04

    Robin, you are part of the current twitter fest, instigated by AnimeJune and Ann Somerville, in which all kinds of true bullying is going on. Stop lying.

    You’re not an honorable person. You pretend one thing here, and you do another thing elsewhere. You criticize one set of people for a certain set of behaviors and then excuse the same set of behaviors in your friends.

    Nothing you say now means anything. I’ve seen what you really are. You can’t unring the bell now. Now don’t you have to head back to twitter to guffaw and titter and snicker and snark with your like-minded friends…? Hurry! You might miss another gem from AnimeJune!

  303. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:03:21

    @ancientpeas:
    “That is what I would do in her place.”

    Stop thinking of her as a real person. She’s an animatronic troll programmed with Contrarianism++. Arguing is all she’s capable of. They didn’t code for decency or logic.

    NM is AoV v2, gawd help us.

  304. Speaking Up and Out « Writer's Diary
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:05:42

    […] Janet’s Dear Author commentary […]

  305. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:07:22

    @NM: I don’t know why I bother since I’m convinced you don’t believe half the stuff you’re saying in this thread, but here goes…

    How has anyone been a hypocrite? Go ahead and explain it to me like the idiot I obviously am, with my use of profanity and all. Everyone has made their opinion of your comments clear to you; no one has called for finding out and releasing your personal information. Seriously, spell it out.

  306. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:10:52

    @NM: Yes, Robin. Then why are you part of that nasty, hate-filled, physically threatening twitter fest targeting myself and “AoV”?

    …You are clearly not looking at the same twitter feed for Robin that I am. Can you point to a single nasty, hate-filled physically threatening tweet from her? Or a tweet “guffawing” with anyone?

    Because this is the tweet I see:

    redrobinreader @ann_somerville I finally asked for some examples b/c the rhetoric sounds like some of those folks on AW making general unsupported claims.

  307. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:10:59

    @azteclady: I’m sorry if my speculation offends you. My point is that I’ve witnessed cyberbullying here at DA, so it’s not a stretch IMHO that DA could be involved with or responsible for a different website focussed on cyberbullying.

    As to my confidence DA would never “out” me, I have no such confidence. DA has frequently tolerated verbal abuse directed at me, all the while warning me against wiping the floor with the yahoos who know they can say whatever they want without being called on it. At the very least, DA is certainly guilty of contributing to an environment conducive to bullying and abuse of certain participants. I don’t see why it’s so far-fetched they’d participate in abuse of other individuals, whether as a “social experiment” or some other morbid quest for attention. And I certainly have no reason to believe DA would protect my privacy except for the idea that DA likes to portray itself as being above that kind of thing. Still, it wouldn’t shock me to know info about me has likely been shared with other DA members through more private venues.

    I visit DA for multiple reasons but blind loyalty and absolute trust are not among them.

  308. Susan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:14:35

    Wow. This post–and the resulting comments—makes me very sad.

    –There are a lot more idiots/loons/scary people out there than I had ever imagined. And I’d imagined quite a few.
    –I’m vulgar. (Well, I’m not sure how sad I really am about that.)
    –There are some authors I’m going to have to strike off my list. And it appears that the list will only grow.
    –Courtney Milan is, like, 5 times smarter than I am.

  309. Madame X
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:14:59

    @NM:

    So…here’s the thing, NM. All through this conversation, you’ve mostly been speaking in hypotheticals and generalizations. About ideas that calmed you, probably, because that’s what nostalgia does, and your posts have been nostalgic, if nothing else.

    Most of the rest of us? Speaking about a real thing.

    So now you’re realizing that people have been mocking you on twitter and that it is not fun. And now you’re MAD. And now that you’re MAD, all your nice hypotheticals about raising the level of discourse are gone.

    And, you know. It’s not fun to be mocked. You sound hurt and you have a right to be. So just think about how you’re feeling right now, multiply it a few times, and imagine how much worse it is to be the butt of the GR Bully site & maybe you’ll realize where we’ve been all along, while you were catching up.

  310. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:15:15

    @AoV:

    “I visit DA for multiple reasons but blind loyalty and absolute trust are not among them. ”

    You visit to shit stir.

    Your suggestions are as ridiculous as they are vile. Pretty much sums you up.

  311. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:16:55

    @ancientpeas:

    Absolutely no one is preventing you from contacting the group and requesting they remove identifying information about people because you consider it inappropriate.

    Go for it. Good luck to you.

  312. Kelly
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:16:56

    @AoV:

    I’ve witnessed cyberbullying here at DA

    Could you please be more specific? Maybe provide some links to or quotes from specific examples?

  313. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:17:14

    Las

    Yes. All the back and forth on Twitter over who I am, whether I’m an author or not (I’m not), where I post, and then the mockery and snark, the personal attacks, compounded by Ann Somerville’s claim she wants to punch me in the face (she claims she’s really saying she wants to punch AoV in the face, like that makes it okay). That’s hypocritical in light of the supposed concern over “real” bullying and threats of physical violence.

    That I’m raked over the coals for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, readers, writers, reviewers, whoever — without accusing anyone, without taking sides — should perhaps see this situation as a call to raise the level of the dialogue, but that others are praised and fawned over because they can say fuck and cunt and twat and shit and cock and whatever, while those same people are engaging in mob-mentality, bullying and threats of physical violence is hypocritical.

    If you can’t see that, yes, you are an idiot.

  314. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:19:39

    Wow, if I thought a website was giving out personal information about me so that people could cyber harass me you can bet your butt I wouldn’t be posting there.

    *side note because I read Ms. Jewels blog post*
    I really wish George R.R. Martin was my b*tch. I’m afraid he won’t finish The song of Ice and Fire before Roy Dotrice (who will soon be 90) is too old to narrate them and then I’ll have to learn to accept new voices for all the characters I love. *selfish, selfish reader but at least I’m being honest*

  315. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:21:31

    @NM:

    What you think doesn’t matter. You’re not an honest person. You’re a foul-mouthed, ugly-minded, hypocritical liar. And one who is doing exactly what you’re whinging and whining about others doing to your pals. You want to report AoV to CPS because you think she is so dumb that just being a mother constitutes child abuse. And you saw my posts and want to punch me in the face. We get it. You want to stalk and harass us because we disagree with you. You want to physically harm us because we disagree with you.

    Don’t mind Ann. I stopped reading her posts or responding to her months ago. I don’t believe in paying too much attention to distracted personalities. From what you’ve observed, it sounds like business as usual.

  316. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:22:29

    @Madame X:

    Yes. Which is EXACTLY why I said, from the get-go, that that site was just appalling.

    See, if you’d actually read my words, rather than played into the mob-mentality, you might be able to stand up and be a person of honor, but you’re stuck in the trap of assuming I’m defending that site just because the queen bee of your meangirl hive told you that’s what I was doing.

    You and your ugly little crew are cut from the same cloth as the people who started that site. As I said, it’s ALL bad. It’s bad when they do it, and it’s bad when you do it.

    Oh, but that can’t possibly be. Because I didn’t say fuck or cunt. How could I possibly be against bullying if I don’t use those words…?

  317. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:23:49

    @AoV:

    I actually feel sorry for her. She’s clearly an unhappy, bitter person with very little genuine love in her life.

    That’s what’s hidden behind all her cruelty and foul words — it’s all really self-loathing in the end, and that’s sad.

  318. meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:23:51

    @AoV:

    The fact that you even nurture such expectation is laughable.

    Oh, there’s plenty of amusement to be had here. Expecting you to walk your talk is just part of it. While I may or may not be disgusting, liar is a tag you’re not going to be able to sell. The whole “Well, I don’t think this, but…..” game is pretty transparent. Generally I ignore you. Assuming Author on Vacation isn’t being gaslighted (and wouldn’t that be fitting) and you are s/he –

    I would say voting down an author or giving 1-star reviews, labeling an author as “I Don’t Read Because I Dislike the Author (or the Author’s editor, or the Author’s kid/s, pet/s, spouse/s, etc.” is a form of harrassment.

    Anybody can say whatever they want, but they need to accept the consequences of that freedom.

    Both are equally harmful and the intent behind the actions is to harm others, perhaps embarrass or frighten them, “run them out of e-town,” so to speak.

    So… how is one somehow different or more intense or “worse” than the other?

    I am not afiliated with the Goodreads Group responsible for the alleged “outing” discussed in this conversation. I haven’t even seen proof this even occurred.

    It gives me the creeps, but it does strike me as very plausible DA is directly involved with this alleged bully blog.

    Oh yes, your moral stance is so clear now. You’ve been playing the “yes, but” game all day long. Now you’re going for broke with the DA accusation. If you didn’t support STGRB you’d be sick that you were in any way involved with it. I didn’t (and wouldn’t) ask you to defend Ridley or stop criticism of her. I felt you should repudiate your involvement in the situation. I have been in your EXACT shoes. I stood up for the person being outed and endangered because I thought that was the correct thing to do. I didn’t make excuses for the stalkers. You prefer not to and I pointed that out. The reason you lack support in this conversation is not the culture of DA, it’s the indefensible positions you choose (and have previously chosen) to take.

  319. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:24:40

    @Kelly:

    Could you please be more specific? Maybe provide some links to or quotes from specific examples?

    No I could not. I don’t save every abusive conversation I read at DA. I’m uninterested in immersing myself in too much of that negativity. I’m just saying I’ve observed it and experienced it repeatedly.

  320. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:28:04

    @NM:

    Here’s a thing. Saying I want to punch anyone is not the same thing as actually punching them. Or say, outing them. Or even calling them up at their home to abuse them.

    THis is the conversation NM is using to prove I’m a bully:

    Can someone send the Luddite back to whichever time machine to 1891 she wandered out of? ?#dearauthorcomments?

    @AnimeJune can she take AoV with her? And can anyone make either of them *link* to actual examples?

    @ann_somerville She ACTUALLY said physical violence is the LOGICAL next step. She’s bullying the definition of logic, I say.

    @AnimeJune yes, I saw. I have to agree. She posts, and I want to punch her ;)

    [and yes, rereading it does look like I meant NM, for which I apologise, but I was still thinking about AoV]

    It’s a *joke*. I am responding to the ludicrousness of NM’s statement which AnimeJune quoted. If there’s anyone here who hasn’t, even in their heads, said “oooh that person needs a slap” or the like, I’d be amazed. I’d be equally amazed if real slaps resulted therefrom.

    Jokes are not threats. There is nothing anywhere in my twitter which is a serious threat to NM or anyone. I dislike NM and AoV intensely, and I make no secret of the fact I despise them – but outing them? Threatening actual violence? Stalking them for casually wondering which butthurt author has to be behind the screen name?

    Lady, you need stronger drugs. I’d lend you mine but I think you need more than I could supply you with.

    Oh, and as I said on Twitter, go fuck yourself. You’re ridiculous.

  321. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:30:29

    @Kelly: She’s been told she’s a troll and an idiot–which you can plainly see for yourself.

    Apparently expressing an opinion based on witnessed behaviour is bullying and cyber attacking.

    Go figure.

    @AoV: And yet, here you are, plainly accusing them–and don’t start with the bullshit “I’m not stating a fact” when you are planting such a seed. We know you are hypocrite, no need to keep proving it.

    You accuse them of this when, if you truly thought for one second that they could be in any way behind the StGRb site, you would be in fear of being exposed yourself. After all, don’t they all abuse and hate you here? Then why wouldn’t they out you, right?

    What could possibly stop them, if they are willing to expose Ridley–who is welcome participant here, unlike you–why on Earth wouldn’t you fear exposure?

    Gee.

    Perhaps because you know, as well as the rest of us, that you are full of shit.

  322. Las
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:30:42

    I think you’re picking at straws, NM. Considering your complaints about snark in reviews and how many of us disagree with those complaints, it’s hardly hypocritical for anyone to say snarky comments about you on twitter, especially when there’s been plenty of snark stated directly to you here. And whoever the punching comment was about, come on. You know damn well no one is actually planning violence against you. I know you’re all about genteel discussion, but that kind of hyperbolic comment is actually quite common and isn’t meant as a threat. And it’s certainly not the same thing as tracking people’s personal information and not so subtly suggesting that someone harm you. If she had posted your address and then said she wanted to punch you, your point would be valid. As it is, you’re making stuff up in an attempt to derail the conversation, which you’ve been doing since the start of this discussion.

  323. AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:31:03

    @Jennifer Armintrout:

    @Author on Vacation: I’m sorry, I’m hundreds of comments behind here, but AoV, did you really just suggest that I should do more research about bad reviews causing stress?

    No. I suggested researching how stress can affect human health. Sorry. I’ll remember to dumb down my speech if we ever talk again.

  324. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:31:51

    @NM: I’d still like to see you post those hypocritical, violence-laden tweets that supposedly come from Robin.

    Copy-paste. It can’t take longer than a few seconds.

  325. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:32:13

    @Courtney Milan:

    When you call people out on this site for making physically threatening comments, but associate with people who are doing the same thing and say nothing about it, you’re behaving dishonorably.

    @redrobinreader is happily posting with Ann Somerville while Ann Somerville is doing exactly what the people at the GR bully site are doing, yet she says nothing.

    Guess she daren’t cross the queen bee!

  326. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:32:27

    *okay I’ll try*

    AOV, my opinion would mean nothing to them. NOTHING. But yours does obviously. They have used your interactions with Ridley as a partial justification for their actions. They feel they are defending you and people like you who have been “harassed” by her. If you would tell them that you want no part of it and to please take down the part about you then you would be out of it. Even if they wouldn’t take it down you would at least look like you weren’t part of this mess. Otherwise, by standing back and not saying anything you are giving tacit approval and you become part of the mob if only by being silent.

    I really would like to see you do right thing here. Not that my opinion matters much but it would be amazing if you would do the really brave thing and not be a part of this. You might really dislike Ridley but surely you can see that a site that puts her personal information up for all to see and calls her a drunk or a bad mother or a layabout disabled person (I can’t keep track of which label was put on which reviewer anymore) is clearly in the wrong.

  327. Madame X
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:32:52

    @NM:

    On the contrary, NM. I never meant to suggest that you’ve approved of the Bully site. Clearly it wouldn’t meet your threshold of good behavior.

    You have, however, clearly disapproved of the sharp, emotional tenor of discussion here on DA. You’ve suggested that all the commenters who are moved to extreme emotion on the subject are ALSO falling beneath the threshold of good behavior, and should express themselves differently.

    Because we were already where you are now. Because we were speaking out of empathy the way that you’re speaking now, out of hurt.

  328. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:38:49

    @Madame X:

    No, I haven’t disapproved of “the sharp, emotional tenor” of discussion at DA. I disapprove of abusive, profanity-laden reviews at GR (or anywhere — I don’t recall seeing them here, which is why I’m surprised that this discussion has taken the turn it has), and I disapprove of reviews that attack the author personally rather than critique the work.

    There’s nothing wrong with emotion — it’s the expression of emotion that matters. If the only way you can express emotion is to call someone a foul name, yes, it’s pretty undignified behavior, and once people start going down that road, the rhetoric gets uglier and uglier until it crosses a line.

  329. Courtney Milan
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:39:41

    @NM: Is…is Ann Somerville supposed to be the queen bee in your analysis?

    *boggles*

  330. meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:39:42

    @ancientpeas: To do these things AoV would have to actually disapprove instead of pretend she disapproves while offering false parallels. Which was my point earlier. You’ve been quite reasonable and adult today, yet your words were largely ignored. I noticed them. Your opinion matters.

    @ Everyone else – I lost track – who is Queen Bee of the mean girls? It keeps shifting and I can’t tell where the line allegedly forms.

  331. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:40:51

    By the way, in case I didn’t make it clear – my twitter isn’t locked.

    Anyone can go here:

    https://twitter.com/ann_somerville

    And see for themselves what I said and to whom.

    “Ann Somerville is doing exactly what the people at the GR bully site are doing”

    Yeah. “Exactly” the same.

    Excuse while I go hug my inner Inigo Montoya. He’s crying from the excess of irony. He’s a very sensitive fellow.

  332. Dhympna
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:41:19

    See, Ann provides evidence. Thank you for the evidence/examples. Evidence seems to be lacking in some of the fairly pungent claims being made.

    I am so tired of folks making allegations/claims of being bullied but not offering evidence. It just shows me that 1) your evidence is not persuasive and 2) you just want to play the martyr/victim for attention. I don’t buy it and I won’t pat you on the head and say “poor you”.

    If you are going to make allegations/claims, you had better have evidence to back it up. Period.

    And if you claim that you have been repeatedly bullied, you don’t offer evidence to support your claims, and still show up to stir the pot…well, that sounds like your problem, not ours and perhaps another venue would be appropriate for your viewing, reading, and commenting pleasure.

    If you say you are going to flounce, flounce and be done with it, otherwise you are just grandstanding for attention.

    All of these derailments for attention will not obfuscate the real issue here–women who are known to be blunt, critical, and outspoken are being targeted because someone(s) mistakes criticism for bullying. It is disgusting and it needs to stop.

  333. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:41:56

    @Courtney Milan:

    I’m Queen? Yay!

    Bow down before me, you wretches! And someone go make me a sammich!

  334. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:42:39

    Of course it’s a joke when YOU do it, Ann. Of course all your ugly words and threats of violence and group-menality snark fests are just a big joke and don’t mean anything when YOU do it.

    You only have a problem when other people do it, and do it to you or your friends.

    That’s not hypocritical AT ALL. Nope, not one bit. Right.

    And you can curse at me all day long and it doesn’t shock me or offend me or upset me. It just makes you look pathetic. You’re a grown woman saying dirty words and tittering over it with your friends, all in the hopes that you can shock me. Honey, I raised five kids to adulthood. Nothing shocks me. Nothing.

  335. NM
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:45:23

    @Courtney Milan: Does it matter? Do you approve of the behavior and rhetoric she engages in? This is who you are as a person — a person who gives that kind of thing a pass when it’s her pals, but pretends to be against it when it’s someone else? Please. You have totally lost my respect.

  336. AnimeJune
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:45:25

    Dear NM: I’m finally going to join this argument after catching up. Let me make a list of all the things I HAVEN’T done, first of all:

    1. I haven’t searched for where you live
    2. I haven’t referenced you by name on Twitter or linked to any of your a) irrelevant, b) beside the point, c) strawman, d) victim-blaming posts. I kept it an inside joke that kept your internet pseudonym out of search engines and unidentifiable by anyone except those granted the privilege of reading your cleanly-worded and yet incredibly faulty rhetoric on this thread.
    3. I haven’t posted any of your personal information online on a website dedicated to “Internet Justice.”
    4. I haven’t tracked down your phone number in order to call you and threaten you – as happened to one of the victims of the STGRB site.
    5. I have in no way endangered your personal safety or threatened to endanger your personal safety.

    THAT is the difference between a mean review and what the Bully Site is doing. There is a significant, significant difference. Your posts made me angry, and I expressed that anger in a verbal, harmless manner that left your internet reputation, such as it is, entirely unscathed until you decided to reference it yourself.

    At the risk of being vulgar, your entire argument is full of “but”s.

    Butts belong primarily in two places – in a nice pair of tight jeans, or an ashtray.

    They do NOT belong ANYWHERE in any version of the sentence, “Reviewers don’t deserve to be stalked on the internet.”

    There are NO BUTS to that argument, and yet that is all you have been doing in ALL your comments – “BUT reviewers can be mean, too!” “BUT reviewers use disgusting language!”

    That can very well be true that that is NOT and has NEVER been the point of Dear Author’s post. Dear Author’s post was about the victimization of women on the internet, and your lovely comments “butt”ed in with all the terrible things reviewers have allegedly done (which, again – you have not provided links for), mixed with comments about how women dressing provocatively will naturally be targeted for rape.

    So you essentially walked into a post about women reviewers being terrorized online to remind us that reviewers are mean and “physical violence is a logical next step” to harsh language. If you think what the bullying site is doing is wrong (which is what Dear Author’s post was about) why are you arguing? Why are you *still* arguing – with more and more details (all without citations) about blogger misbehaviour and the natural progression of snarky language to violence? What is behind your repeated insistence that everyone remember the terrible things that bloggers can do? What is behind your finger-wagging lecturing that everyone should play nice and by the rules and follow the yellow line and eat their greens?

    What else am I to assume with this rhetoric except that you are trying to convince us that these bloggers brought this horror upon themselves? That if these bloggers had only followed the standards of The Good Old Days, coloured within the lines, and obeyed the rules, then they would never have had their hubris punished by being sought out and terrorized?

    You mention the old standards and “this day and age” and how people used to act better, think better. I’m sorry, but The Good Old Days weren’t very kind to women. Or LGBT*Q people. Or POC. So what you must mean then is that society would flourish – if only people continued to follow the rules set down by the White, Western, Male Upper Class. In your first post, even, you mention your preference for the traditional publishing structure where the all-powerful authors and editors and “professional” reviewers were held above the unwashed, ignorant masses, and decry the equalizing nature of the internet that gave EVERYONE a say.

    YOU, madam, an an Imperialist. And that’s as old-fashioned as they come.

    I’m sorry, but I’d more than prefer to be a member of the vulgar, unwashed, democratic masses who now get their say thanks to the magical dirty-language factory that is the Internet than someone who feels she has to mind her tongue in case someone decides to make a “natural progression” and enact physical violence upon me.

  337. meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:45:44

    @NM:

    You only have a problem when other people do it, and do it to you or your friends.

    Wait – Ann Sommerville published your name, your routine, your picture, called you at home and I MISSED IT? LA Complex must have been on….

  338. azteclady
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:46:10

    @Dhympna:

    “All of these derailments for attention will not obfuscate the real issue here–women who are known to be blunt, critical, and outspoken are being targeted because someone(s) mistakes criticism for bullying. It is disgusting and it needs to stop.”

    Thank you, Dhympna.

  339. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:46:32

    @NM: You are the poster child for hypocrisy.

    If you really really really believed that words like fuck and cunt didn’t add to the discussion, you wouldn’t use them even as illustrations. But you know better, don’t you? and you’ve proven it with your comments.

    I’m really really sorry you got your feelings hurt, but that’s not because you were bullied. You taunted and teased and the big dog got tired of being poked. It woke up and went after you.

    The difference is, however, that a lot of the dogs you taunted make no secret of who we are. We didn’t go after you — you walked in here, knowing full well what kind of reception your ideas would receive, and you kept it up and kept it up and kept it up, and now it’s our fault??? Excuse me?

    You and your little friends were repeatedly asked to provide evidence of your claims and you provided not one shred. Nothing. Zero, zip, zilch, nada, ninguna cosa. You still can’t seem to do it but now you’re calling US bullies? For what? For responding to your direct challenges and accusations? For wondering who the fuck you are? For being so frustrated with your childish taunts and teases that we express the wish to punch you out? Isn’t that what you wanted, our anger and frustration? You couldn’t engage us on any issue, so you resorted to petty picking in order to anger us and thus “prove” what bullies we are.

    Oh, FFS, grow up.

  340. ancientpeas
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:47:58

    Thanks meoskop. I guess what I was trying to say to AOV was that my opinion probably doesn’t matter to her but I see an opportunity for her to be part of the solution.

  341. Linda Hilton
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:49:03

    @Ann Somerville: Sammich? What kind of low, common, vulgar language is that?

    /sarcasm and ;-)

  342. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:50:41

    Let’s not forget in all this derailment, that the real harassment of real people in their real homes is going on. Please offer support to Lucy here:

    http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/309224-what-it-s-like-to-be-stalked

    And to Kat Kennedy and Ridley and The Holy Terror. I know they’ve been very brave and open about this, but it’s wearing at least one of them down very badly. Speak up and out. Don’t let these ‘fake’ victims claim all the attention.

  343. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:51:52

    @Linda Hilton:

    How daare you!

    Off wif ur hed!

  344. Meoskop
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:53:36

    @Linda Hilton: I think it’s dirty sex talk. I hear she’s allllll about the dirty sex talk. How many kinds of lettuce are there, right? She’s into Rocket, I bet.

    Also, what she just said. AoV and NM have beaten their breasts long enough. It’s escalated to phone calls, which I hope the police can address.

  345. leslie
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:57:17

    I have been checking this thread since early this morning. I am appalled at how it has degenerated and at the same time I am in awe and admire all of you for sticking with it.

    What STBGR has done is abominable. They posted the personal information of 4 women because “they” didn’t like what the women had to say in some GR reviews. Basically saying “Hey millions of web users here are the addresses and phone numbers of my enemies GO FOR IT!” Despicable. Inappropriate to say the least.

    The Anita Sarkeesian app was also despicable.

    Ann Sommeville: Stop it.

    NM: Who are you?
    Author on Vacation: Who are you?
    I think both of you are insincere. I think the term is Concern Trolls.

    I would fight for the right of everyone here to speak, even if I disagree, but it’s time to call it a night. Take a breath. Have a drink. Go to bed. Not ready to stop. Tell those fuckwits over at STBGR how you feel.

  346. Ann Somerville
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 23:58:42

    @leslie:

    “Ann Sommeville: Stop it.”

    Um, and who the fuck are you again?

  347. ancientpeas
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:01:10

    Interestingly enough, Rotten Tomatoes has just had to shut down their comment section because irate fans of The Dark Knight Rises were becoming abusive toward the reviews by two profession reviewers.
    http://ca.eonline.com/news/331099/holy-backlash-batman-dark-knight-rises-commenting-suspended-on-rotten-tomatoes (proof!)

    Why can’t people just have different opinions about a movie or book and leave it at that. Are we trying to make ourselves into some kind of borg continumn?

  348. Courtney Milan
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:01:14

    @NM: No. You’ll notice that I don’t engage her comments about that stuff on twitter. I do interact with her. I interact with lots of people who don’t 100% pass the Courtney civility test–and I don’t even tell most of them off! I’ve wished complete assholes a happy birthday. I’ve exchanged pleasantries with people who made me so furious I wanted to implode. I bought lunch for the biggest, smarmiest SOB I’ve ever met, and it was a freaking expensive restaurant.

    Ann’s twitter feed doesn’t meet my personal standards for civility. I wouldn’t hold it up as a shining example of proper discourse. But it also doesn’t meet my standards for legitimate, verifiable threats. There’s a big difference between going up to someone and saying, “I’m going to punch you in the face!” and saying to a friend, when you don’t think you’re being observed, “Gah! She makes me so mad, I want to punch her in the face!”

    I think I’ve made the entirely consistent point that there is a difference between being petty and mean and being a threatening bully. And now you’re conflating those two things again. Ann is being mean. But she’s not issuing a legitimate threat.

    When I say, “threat of physical violence,” I don’t use a knee-jerk definition where I say, “Oh noes! She said ‘punch’! Now I have to throw her in the bullying jail!” I ask, instead, whether a reasonable person would think that there was a real danger that Ann intended to cause you imminent harm. And the answer is, no. A reasonable person would think that Ann was uncivil and mean.

    Likewise, even though the STGB have never used the word “punch,” they called someone up and said that they knew where she was. That, in my mind, is a legitimate threat–despite the lack of immediate violent language.

  349. Gillyweed
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:05:28

    @NM:

    That I’m raked over the coals for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, readers, writers, reviewers, whoever — without accusing anyone, without taking sides — should perhaps see this situation as a call to raise the level of the dialogue

    You’re being raked over the coals, as you put it, because you think everyone should follow your rules for proper behavior. And because of your ridiculous assertion that snarky or “vulgar” comments naturally beget actual physical violence. And because you think reviewers who write critical reviews are blowing off steam because they’re mentally ill and/or lead pathetic, depressing lives. And because of this:

    But a woman who wears a sexually provocative outfit and who frequents certain areas known for that sort of trouble should be aware that she may be targeted.

    For the record, I don’t have any friends here and I’m not part of an angry mob. I’m just an annoyed party of one. And I think you knew exactly what you were getting into here, otherwise you wouldn’t have switched gravatars after your first comment.

  350. leslie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:12:35

    @Ann Somerville: You just proved my point. Stop. You are making an ass of yourself. You have made many good points in this thread. You have a smart wit and an intelligent way of speaking. So stop being an ass.

    Oh, by the way I’m OB/GYN. A mother. A wife. A reader of romance.

  351. Kaetrin
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:14:12

    @Janine:

    There’s no excuse for outing people on the internet. None.

    Yes. This.

  352. azteclady
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:15:22

    @leslie: Oh dear.

    *watches derailment*

  353. Reba
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:15:45

    there ought to be standards when it comes to our rhetoric

    And who sets those? The dominant power politically, academically, financially? How well has that worked out historically for those who are not in power, much less those on the margins? How many women have been silenced by “a lady does not speak of such things” and other rhetoric standards? Many, many, many. Oh, and perhaps we should insist that the rhetoric be confined to the language of the empowered, as well. None of this speaking Navajo, not even at home…

  354. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:18:02

    @leslie: “You are making an ass of yourself. ”

    You’re the one issuing orders to readers of a blog you do not run. I’d say that was pretty assy.

    Courtney? You may not approve of me, but I haven’t involved anyone who didn’t go looking for trouble. I also haven’t flung out wild accusations of stalking and harassment and threats based on no evidence at all. My twitter is public, and I am not ashamed of my opinions. I back up what I say, and I don’t gaslight. I say the world would be a better place if we could stop policing women’s civility and look at the real enemies we face.

    You disappoint me. I wouldn’t have thought you’d buy into that nonsense, especially after the display of tone policing we’ve experienced here.

    No one’s forcing you to read my twitter, blog or books either. I’m not into forcing anyone to do anything.

  355. Alicia
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:31:41

    At this point I’m chuckling at how many times NM has been asked to back up her assertions with any sort of evidence and how many times she’s lashed out at something/someone else instead.

  356. IC
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:32:33

    To the creepy jerks over at STGB and their baffling movement pro-censorship, I have something to say:

    Writing is not for wusses.

    If you’re going to seriously expect everybody to review your stuff according to what you deem “appropriate”, and only give you constructive criticism, and never say anything mean, and never tell somebody else not to read your book, and serve you a kindness-sandwich type comment every time just because you can’t handle loud-mouthed, snarky, opinionated people, good luck with that. Why don’t you just pack up your stuff and move to Candyland. Send me a postcard of a unicorn too.

  357. Christi
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:34:04

    At this point, some of the comments from NM are actually pretty good entertainment. “She makes me want to punch her in the face” tweet = physical threat. That is like, 24k gold. My goodness have I physically threatened a lot of people. George Bush. Kristen Stewart. That “you’re gonna love my nuts!” dude who’s now promoting the Schticky. Giada What’s-her-ginormously-toothed-face on Food Network. The dog next door. The other dog next door. My local Pizza Hut manager.

    I could go on and on. A lot of people make me hyperbolic. Maybe NM could use a lmgtfy on that word’s definition… as well as a lot of others (physical threat, bullying, melodrama, sticks and stones, etc and so forth).

    How does anyone go through life being that much of an alarmist?

  358. Ex GR Member
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:36:38

    I do NOT condone what the StopBRBullies website is doing, but Goodreads has become a place that I don’t feel comfortable supporting or participating in anymore because of the actions of a group of reviewers, some of whom are mentioned on that website. I was sickened by the overreaction and gleeful piling-on onto Kiera Cass that occurred not in the reviews–which as long as they’re about the book, are fine; I support anyone’s right to post critical reviews–but in the comment threads on a couple of reviews. Personal attacks on the author were plentiful. GR did nothing–as far as I could tell–to curb the attacks, perhaps because they were considered opinions. And no, I don’t know Ms. Cass, am not related to her, have not read her book, etc. I am not an author. Just a reader.

    I wish I had something more thoughtful to add to the discussion, but it comes to this for me: just because you CAN be an insensitive jerk on the Internet, doesn’t mean you have to be. I’m not telling anyone how to behave or what to post. Everyone must decide for herself how she feels comfortable behaving online. At the same time, everyone can also decide for herself if she wants to be around that. I didn’t.

    One additional note: I have also seen some authors behave poorly in response to perfectly legitimate critical reviews. I don’t condone that. I am specifically speaking about this latest “zero-tolerance OMGWTFBBQ we-all-must-shelve-the-author-as-behaving-badly” GR trend, where authors who make some perceived minor transgression are instantly villified on multiple reviews/threads/blogs/etc. I also don’t condone that.

  359. Kaetrin
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:40:56

    @AoV:

    AoV
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 22:49:11

    @NM:

    I guess Dear Author really is the same as the stop the GR bully people. It’s just okay when you do it to people, but not okay when they do it to you. Of course. So typical of the bully mentality.

    It gives me the creeps, but it does strike me as very plausible DA is directly involved with this alleged bully blog. That’s no compliment to DA, but it’s a sad reflection on the overall situation that I consider the possibility and don’t find it implausible. NOTE: I am not saying that is a fact, just that it wouldn’t surprise me if it were so.

    WTF? No way.

    As much as I almost universally dislike everything you have to say here AoV, I would not agree with someone outing you on the internet and inviting/inciting people to do you actual physical harm. The STGRB site is heinous. The activities of Kat, Ridley, Lucy et al are not bullying and they do not deserve this treatment. Even though I don’t like you much, you don’t deserve it either. And there’s no way that DA would have anything to do with any of it – it’s not remotely plausible.

    I sincerely hope I have not bought any of your books.

  360. Alicia
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 00:59:42

    @Ex GR Member:

    GR did nothing–as far as I could tell–to curb the attacks, perhaps because they were considered opinions.

    You mean like how Kiera Cass did nothing to curb the nasty things her agent was saying about reviewers and went on to think about gaming the system? (http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7149/6693431555_6c54b960b1_b.jpg)

    And even with that being true, I saw plenty of comments in that thread that made clear Cass wasn’t the one who called Wendy a “bitch” but it was because she was advocating gaming the system (which she was). How is that “gleeful piling on”? You act like they’re coming out the gate reacting to absolutely nothing.

    Also notice how that didn’t do one damn thing to dampen the sales of her book or result in the CW optioning her book for a television show.

    But never mind that, let’s get back to the fact there is no “BUT” in this situation. Not one thing you mentioned nor anything I have witnessed on GR, including simply shelving an author’s book, justifies what is being done. Nothing does. I’m sick of seeing all of the “but”s that explicitly or tacitly lend any sort of credence to the point of STGRB.

  361. Anon 76
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 01:20:46

    I’ve been reading DA on and off for years. Have contributed comments to many discussions. Have disagreed openly and adamantly on some opinion blogs from the hosts.

    One thing I have learned and trust whole-heartedly; my anonymity with DA is a given. Yes, I worried at first, but that trust has never been broken no matter how loudly I voiced a dissenting opinion. I’ve emailed Jane about two to three times in all these years and was open about my identity. Still, it’s been kept safe.

    Personally, I don’t think I can be convinced of the “mean girl giving up private info on the sly” without some slap me in the face evidence.

  362. Reba
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 01:22:25

    I review books for a different site (not nearly as top o’ the heap as DA), and I would hate to think that my not liking a particular book would so enrage anyone that they would feel the need to look up my personal information and publish it, much less instruct (even indirectly) people to “get” me. That can’t be okay, no matter what I say about someone’s books. It wouldn’t be okay if I said they had an ugly dog, or that I hated the scarf they were wearing at the signing, or that I find their voice grating. It cannot ever be okay to endanger my family because you dislike something I say on the internet. Not for any reason. Ever.

    On the other hand, if it ever happens, and someone is foolish enough to threaten violence toward me and mine, they will first meet the big dogs. And after that, the guys who paint themselves blue and play with blades (and fire!). Just the sight is enough to discourage even the most seasoned trolls.

  363. Courtney Milan
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 01:26:08

    @Ann Somerville: Okay, I’ve tried to write this response about eighteen times, and I’m tired enough that I’m sure I’m going to screw it up, so I’m going to try to keep this simple in hopes that if I do screw it up, I screw it up simply.

    The question I thought I was answering was, “Would you say the things Ann Somerville says?” and the answer is “no, I wouldn’t be comfortable doing that.”

    That was intended as a statement of individual comfort, not intended to be a statement that Ann Somerville is a dangerous mean girl who must be taken out at all costs. To make it clear: I believe that different people can set their civility bar at different rates for different things. I think this world would suck if we were all equally civil. We need people to say, “Hey, that shit’s not right, and are you fucking listening to me? You better be listening to me!” We also need people to be nice. And all kinds of people in between. As long as someone’s bar is not set at the point of doing actual harm, I’m not going to point fingers at anyone and tell them to stop, and I’m not going to tell them they’re bad people who should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. There’s a politeness ecosystem. I’m not in favor of a politeness monoculture.

    But I fully admit that the way it was written, I did not say any of that, or say it well, and what I did say sounded like a tirade on Ann the mean girl. Trying to say “Ann and I are different” ended up with me saying something that sounded more like, “I’m way superior to Ann.” I so did not mean that. I’m tired, this is the thread of doom, and I was trying to translate “What the fuck?” into a cogent argument.

    So I fucked up. Sorry.

  364. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 01:32:39

    Thank you, Courtney. I thank you for your apology and accept in the spirit it’s offered. I apologise also for my harshness on Twitter. I’m tired too and this day started with another bout of WTF from one of my least favourite people, so all in all, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind.

    Monocultures of any kind of bad. Vive la diversité! :)

  365. Tamara
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 01:33:58

    @ancientpeas: “Not that my opinion matters much but it would be amazing if you would do the really brave thing and not be a part of this.”

    In all the months I’ve been following discussions at this site, I’ve seen “Author”* on Vacation display neither the courage nor the integrity necessary for that. But I do admire you, ancientpeas, for so open-heartedly requesting it of her. I don’t know you, but I have a great deal of respect for your opinion now.

    There’s an uplifting element in the growing number of people rushing to the aid of reviewers targeted by the bully running the SGRB site. You’re fighting back so intelligently, eloquently, and ferociously, not just here, but everywhere I’ve been online in the past couple of days. Thank you for speaking out.

    (*If the poster is an author. I’m not buying it so far.)

  366. Karen Scott
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 01:54:34

    I couldn’t help but notice that NM and AOV went quickly from faux caring politeness to frothing at the mouth. I knew it was only a matter of time, but I’m slightly pissed off that they managed to derail the original discussion.

    Oh, and I’ve waded through hundreds of posts looking for NM’s links to prove her points about readers abusing authors, rather than their books. *crickets*

    Still waiting here…

  367. Anon 76
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 02:06:24

    @Courtney Milan: Message 363

    @Ann Somerville: Message 364

    This, this is how it should be. Two people with very different “voices” when it comes to both thier books and posting styles. And yet both with very valid oppinions I appreciate reading.

    Would that everyone on the net had the class to know you can agree to disagree and shake hands after.

    Kudos to you both.

  368. Has
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 02:36:01

    @Karen Scott:

    Oh I noticed too ;) But despite their attempts at derailing – being stalked and now being threatened on the phone doesn’t help their arguments – its TWO different issues. And a negative review with bad language, gifs or anything deemed not the right way to review ‘nicely’ is not the issue behind this it’s just a way to undermine people’s opinions if they don’t like those reviews then don’t read them and ignore.

    I really really hate this BE NICE crap because its just the passive aggressive way to silence people. Authors, critics and readers have been harsh since the the written word was first inked and that wont change. If an author can’t handle a bad review then they are in the wrong field because it is a business and the fact with all the millions of books being published out there – a review whether it is bad or good helps its profile and that wont harm its chances with its success to sell. Being a total twat to reviewers will.

  369. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 05:11:14

    I have a question. I haven’t been onto the site (and maybe it’s clear there) but where is STGRB getting its personal information about the people it talks about? If it’s from publicly accessible sources either on or offline then I don’t see how simply putting all that information in one place is wrong – presumably the people targeted agreed to have that information made public in the first place or even did it themselves. If STGRB has got it from other non-publicly available sources, however, then that’s a completely different matter…

  370. This needs to be said, over and over and over. « Her Hands, My Hands
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:09:43

    […] conversation at Dear Author is, at the time I’m typing, well over 300 comments strong. I’m sure it will go on for a while. At this point it seems to have devolved into a loop, […]

  371. Ridley
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:11:15

    @Charlie: Really? Nothing about compiling and broadcasting personal info strikes you as wrong?

    This thread has been a bit like clicking the other Yahoo! blogs. I get complacent reading the sensible comments on Puck Daddy. Visiting the other blogs remind me that the internet’s still blind drunk.

    My Twitter feed played the role of Puck Daddy in this play.

  372. Kelsey
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:24:00

    It makes me a little sad that the comments seem to majorly feature an argument about who needs to grow a thicker skin. This post is about the physical safety of reviewers being threatened by a group of (assumed) authors. The people being implicitly and explicitly threatened do not even need to be identified as reviewers. It is not acceptable to make someone’s personal information available for the purpose of aiming a mob of angry people. The website in question does this. While one might make an argument that the internet and social media has blurred the lines between what is really “personal” information, it is merely a semantic problem. No one has the right to make someone else feel unsafe. That this behavior is occurring within the romance reading community has brought it to our attention, but it is only a part of the larger issue.

  373. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:24:14

    @Ridley Not really if it’s already in the public domain. But really I don’t see any point in even trying to argue my case. It’s clear from the responses to NM and AoV (and don’t even THINK of claiming that I support them because I don’t) that anyone who dares to disagree with the majority here is shot down (hell, comment 249 even states that disagreement is akin to harrassment) so I’m outta here.

  374. Michelle
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:28:25

    Do the outed victims have any legal recourse against the site, anything civil vs criminal. It really seems like the site is trying to incite violence.

  375. eggs
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:32:36

    Really, Charlie? It’s okay to stalk someone and amalgamate all the personal contact information about them in one place and then incite people to be hateful to them IRL? Really? Then the following scenario perfectly fits your definition of “not wrong”:

    My online name is eggs. That’s who I’ve been online for donkey’s years. If you felt like it, you could google stalk me to the point of discovering my interests, from which you’d find a few of my IRL friend’s names. From there you could nut out my real name if you put five or six hours into it online. Once you get that, you can find my home phone number and address in the local phone book, and from there you can get some notice board stuff from our Church’s website. From that, you find out one my kid’s first names. Once you have that you can find out where my kid goes to school, and from that you can track down a soccer team photo of my kid on the school website. Then you look up his team’s soccer draw for next week and post your completely ethical and publicly available amalgamation of my kid’s name, age, home address and phone number, complete with a photo. Then you say something like “I hate that cunt, eggs. Let’s go harrass her and her kids next saturday at X oval. They’re playing at 10:00 am.” And you see nothing wrong with that kind of stalking because it’s all “publicly available” information? Frankly, if you find that kind of thing perfectly okay then you are very much less than a perfectly okay human being.

  376. Merrian
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:47:38

    @Charlie: No! Seriously no! The compilation of personal information is intended to do or elicit harm and at the least intimidate. It is not alright – we all have info scattered over the internet that someone can pull together – I don’t even hide my name so it is dead easy to do it for me. This info is simply a consequence of using or being active on the web. STGRB site brings personal information together with the intention of using it to do harm – to make its targets vulnerable and to induce fear. You are way off the mark if you think this is OK.

  377. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:53:24

    @eggs: Of course it isn’t right to stalk, incite hatred or indeed violence. Please provide an example from their website of where STGRB is inciting to be hateful (I’ve had a quick look and couldn’t find one, but then didn’t pore over every word, so may have missed this).

  378. Michelle
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 06:54:01

    John Scalzi has blogged about this now, it will be interesting to see how the comments play on his site. Maybe author on vacation and NM should go over there and enlighten the masses. I liked Scott Lynch’s comment on twitter:” If you want to write a negative review, don’t tickle me gently with your aesthetic displeasure about my work. Unleash the goddamn Kraken.”

  379. azteclady
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 07:43:17

    @Kelsey:

    “It is not acceptable to make someone’s personal information available for the purpose of aiming a mob of angry people. The website in question does this. While one might make an argument that the internet and social media has blurred the lines between what is really “personal” information, it is merely a semantic problem. No one has the right to make someone else feel unsafe. That this behavior is occurring within the romance reading community has brought it to our attention, but it is only a part of the larger issue. “

    This is what I’ve been trying to say myself, exactly this.

  380. Hype, Bullying & Extinction Of The Reviewer red
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 07:53:08

    […] Robin Reader @ Dear Author described here: “What is wrong is the “outing,” threatening, shaming, and silencing of readers who are […]

  381. Jennifer Armintrout
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 08:25:11

    @AoV: Gorsh, y’all gunna dumb it down fer me? I shore wuld appurciate it. I’ll just sit here and chew on this hay stalk, talk to my sister-cousin for a while. Thanks for gracing me with your learnins’.

    Seriously, you wanna come up in here, talking about how saying mean things cause stress and that’s bad and it’s going to cause real world consequences for these poor authors who get snarky reviews… and then you run straight to “you dumb” in retaliation? I guess that means it’s totally cool if I out you and lead a boycott of your books, right? I mean, you insinuated that I’m not smart, in a public forum, and I’m feeling all of this stress right now… that makes it okay, so maybe I should just start stalking you for personal information so I can mess up your life?

    Oh, wait, no, I wouldn’t do that. Because I have like… a conscience? That prevents me from doing reprehensible things to innocent people? I don’t know. It’s not as good as book smarts, I guess.

  382. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 08:33:46

    I’m too tired to scroll through comments to find it, so thanks @Las for the response upthread. I thought about this last night, puzzling over why my bullying example wasn’t sufficient. Why is it ever okay to threaten to punch someone in the face?

    Then Ann Sommerville said she wanted to punch AoV in the face (on Twitter), and I understood. I’m familiar enough with her to interpret that it wasn’t a serious threat. I’m familiar enough with Ridley to not be offended by her frank language. Not that I would be, but I can see how others might miss her thoughtful comments and focus on the rude ones.

    When I stumbled over a review with comments (from adult YA bloggers, I presume) threatening to hunt a teenaged girl down and harm her, I wasn’t familiar with the personalities. I might have interpreted joking and jealousy as bullying.

    So I can see how authors and readers can disagree or be confused about what constitutes bullying. I’m confused. Some people think name-calling is bullying, and a profanity-laced review qualifies. My line was physical threats, but I’ve adjusted that, depending on the context.

    What I think we can all agree on is that real threats of violence and exposing personal information is NOT OKAY. So why is there a link from this post to the personal information of the bully site owner? This is generating more confusion for me, and reinforcing the idea that it’s okay for one side to do it, but not the other.

  383. azteclady
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 08:49:31

    @Jill Sorenson: Sorry, what? Where?

    I’m admittedly blurry from reading all the comments into the wee hours last night and then catching up this morning, but I don’t remember seeing that anywhere.

    Do you mean Ann Somerville’s suspicions?

  384. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 08:52:21

    @Jill Sorenson:
    “So why is there a link from this post to the personal information of the bully site owner?”

    Are you talking about my blog post, Jill?

    And do you mean the information from whois which is freely available, and indeed, provided for the very purpose of knowing who’s running a site? The information which is in fact fraudulent?

    Or do you mean me linking to [name redacted]’s Goodreads page?

    How is this ‘personal’ information when the author has put it up there in public (and indeed in multiple places) for the actual purpose of people finding out more about her?

    I’m confused why you think anyone who was interested in outing the owner would consider my post a revelation. Anyone who wanted to give her the shit that she’s given other people has a vast amount of information available to them online which I haven’t linked or even mentioned. No one in any conversation I have seen has mentioned these sources though a single enquiry on Google would reveal them.

    If you mean something else, then by all means, make yourself clear. The insinuation is rather nasty.

  385. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 08:57:44

    you know what? Fuck it. I’m not going to play games with some bloody concern troll for another 12 hours. If the owner of that fucking site wants to take issue with anything I’ve posted, she can complain here, or to me. Same with [DA edited out name]. I doubt she has the ovaries to do any such thing.

    And if anyone else wants to bitch, they can bite me. I’m not interested in the ‘both sides do it’ argument when it’s perfectly clear that one side is egregiously violating privacy and inciting harm, and the other side is *not*.

  386. Barbara
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 08:58:22

    I’m exhausted just reading all of these comments this morning. I’ve never seen such deliberate, dogged idiocy on the part of a few people, amusingly enough argued in the same manner they’re foaming at the mouth about someone else doing.

    I can barely wrap my mind around AoV’s argument that what the StGrR is doing is comparable to being harassed in her workplace. Her “workplace” is in her head and on her keyboard. It’s not at Goodreads. Her job doesn’t involve knowing exactly who said what about her work – if she wants to know, bully for her, but she’s the one who’s responsible for any stress that occurs as a result.

    NM’s rape analogy – what century is she living in? I’m hardwired to feel compassion if something happened to her because someone else was an asshat or exposed her to a criminal element. It’s a shame that she lacks the ability to discern between irritation online that can be walked away from and the deliberate posting of information that could lead to personal harm of people (including children). How those two things are related are irrelevant and it’s perplexing that anyone couldn’t see that.

    I had a copy of L.B. Schulman’s League of Strays to review, but when she tweeted that the StGrR site made her smile, I contacted the publisher and told them I couldn’t fairly review it. How ironic that a an author who writes a book about bullying endorses a site like that. Screencap, for anyone who wants it: Schulman’s Tweet

    I know there are at least a half-dozen more people that deserve praise for their comments, but Courtney, Robin and Las especially stand out for being fucking (oooh, I swore!) awesome.

    Dammit Has, quit putting Crichton and Aeron as your avie! You’re killing me.

  387. Don’t be scared, li’l punkins – I’ve got chocolate! | ccdenham
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:01:33

    […] ‘blogging’ into ‘online journaling,’ and believe me – we do not want that. Besides, several other bloggers have summed it up far better than I […]

  388. Maili
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:05:39

    @NM:

    Maybe I’m stating the obvious, but you do realise that there are extremely nasty people who don’t use profanity at all, and extremely kind and nice people who do profanity like there’s no tomorrow, right? I just feel that profanity – or lack of – shouldn’t be used as a measurement of a person’s integrity.

    Of course, it still doesn’t mean you have to accept profanity as ‘one of things one has to put up with’. You don’t need to. I also do get your concern about profanity as you’re not the only one who’s not happy about the increasing ‘normalisation’ of profanity in the everyday life, TV entertainment and such. You’re not alone. Definitely not.

    But the fact you’re trying to cite profanity in reviews as proof of bad reviewer behaviour, bullies and mean girls isn’t right.

    There’s a huge difference between ‘this book is a piece of sh–‘ and ‘that author is a stupid c—‘. Thankfully, the latter isn’t that common. When a reviewer does say that, calling an author a c— for writing the book in the first place, I don’t read that reviewer’s reviews again. You know how many times this happened during my time as a member of the Romance community in almost twenty years? Four.

    I stopped reading reviews by those four reviewers, who didn’t meet my level of comfort. What they wrote wasn’t acts of bullying. What they said was crass, tasteless, unfunny and/or utterly silly. Nowt wrong with that, though. They had every right to say them and I had every right not to like those words they used. Solution? I avoided them. Simple as that.

    Like every reader, I have my level of comfort. I don’t like it when reviewers make fun of ‘old skool’ authors (such as implying that those authors were too dumb to know anything better about women’s rights, rape, domestic violence and such), criticise authors for making “historical errors” when in fact these authors aren’t wrong, and use a certain type of language I don’t feel comfortable with (“this heroine is a retard”, “this book is so lame” or “this hero is so gay”). It doesn’t have to be extreme either: I don’t read reviews where heroes are regularly defined by types (alpha, beta, etc.) and heroines are judged by their sexual behaviour (“she’s a slut for sleeping with the hero within five minutes of meeting”).

    But none of those reviewers are bullies. Absolutely not. They are just people with levels of comfort that happen to be different from mine. Nowt wrong with that, too.

    I don’t like places where racist, sexist, xenophobic and ableist languages flow freely, so I don’t hang out there. You should do the same where profanity is concerned. Find reviews that fit your criterion and stick with reviewers who write those reviews.

    It would be wrong of us to demand authors to change the way they write, so it makes sense to say that it’d be wrong for us to demand reviewers and reader to change the way they review or criticise. That applies to how they use profanity in their expression. You don’t like? Don’t read that reviewer’s reviews or reader’s comments again. Sure, you can criticise — as long as you’re willing to accept to deal with their reactions, but you can’t demand them to change. This is a basic lesson every author learnt and every new author should learn.

    Regardless, you cannot say that profanity in reviews is responsible for prompting people to take dangerous actions. You just can’t. I mean, ‘rape’ is a painful trigger for many rape survivors, but they didn’t ‘out’ reviewers for discussing rape in their reviews, did they? Most choose not to read anything by reviewers, who openly enjoy forced seduction or rape in romance novels. Authors and readers should do the same with reviewers who use profanity in their reviews.

  389. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:47:41

    @Ann Somerville: I meant the whois information. It’s a fake name and address? Sorry, I didn’t catch that. I genuinely thought you were exposing someone’s real info. Thanks for clarifying, and I apologize for the accusation.

  390. Ex GR Member
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:53:45

    @Alicia: I’m not here to argue the Kiera Cass debacle–although I will point out that (a) you don’t know what Cass said to her agent in private, (b) publicly chastizing someone with whom you have business relationship is extremely unprofessional, and (c) asking a few friends to like reviews is not “gaming the system” and that is the type of overreaction that I mentioned–but you wrote, “Not one thing you mentioned nor anything I have witnessed on GR, including simply shelving an author’s book, justifies what is being done.” I want to make sure that you didn’t miss the very first thing I wrote, which was that I do NOT support the actions of those behind the GRBullies web site. I don’t think I equivocated at all about that.

  391. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:59:29

    @Ann Sommerville
    Here’s a thing. Saying I want to punch anyone is not the same thing as actually punching them. Or say, outing them. Or even calling them up at their home to abuse them.

    @Jill Sorenson
    Then Ann Sommerville said she wanted to punch AoV in the face (on Twitter), and I understood. I’m familiar enough with her to interpret that it wasn’t a serious threat. I’m familiar enough with Ridley to not be offended by her frank language.

    As a former HR Manager, I’d like to comment on these two. In the workplace, threats of violence, even “jokes” are taken seriously enough that I’ve fired people for it. There’s no reason or rationale to threaten someone in a public arena. And the fact that people
    who know the speaker know she’s doesn’t mean anything is also not a valid excuse or justification. @NM and @AoV were completely correct in taking it personally and as a threat. It can be argued that this isn’t a workplace but the concept is the same–threats, joking or not, in the public are just not right. Do what you want at home but leave it there.

    This is what saddens me about society. That people think that just because they have the right to free speech that makes it okay to drop profanity into every other word as well
    as threaten people in a public feed and yet cry foul on those who set up a site outing those that do. I don’t care about bad reviews – our product is out there and we should expect that not everyone will like what we wrote. I don’t even care if they call me names though I don’t see the point. I defend the readers’ right to write their review in the manner they wish. I just find it sad when it is hostile or an attack.

    Also, I totally disagree with the site. And I find it appalling to out someone’s personal life (despite how relatively easy it is to obtain) online.

    But mostly I find it sad that the same things over there are being found here in these 300+ comments, and I’ve read every last one of them. That it’s okay for tough women to call each other out with foul language and call each other names and that’s acceptable because they can and they’re grumpy or old or whatever. Sure, you can absolutely do that and defend your right to do so. But must you? Is this the only way? Some came on with statements that made other mad but instead of discussing them, it ended up falling into abuse and the calling of names. And once that happens, I can’t take those seriously.

    The fact that this is acceptable is what I find the most disheartening of life in general. It’s in our daily lives, in our movies, in our books and in our social media. Call it good manners or just plain respect, that’s what’s missing from society. People cry their right to behave in such a way as meaning it’s acceptable. It’s not.

    But dang, it’s like a train wreck, I can’t stop watching (reading) but I need to. I’m not getting anything done.

  392. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:09:04

    @Ann T: But you see, Ann, this isn’t The Workplace, and Workplace rules don’t apply.

    I would never come to a new chat venue and spout off the same way I do here or on my own blog or the other places I frequent until I’m sure what the atmosphere is. We all have different personas for different venues.

    We don’t have people arrested for saying “I feel like I wanta punch his lights out” just for the words themselves. We just don’t. Context matters, which is why a real threat in The Workplace can get a person fired.

    But again, this ain’t The Workplace. I don’t have to wear a bra here either.

  393. Lexxie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:12:10

    @EMoon:

    I only want to comment on a small part of what you said, and that is that if I write a review, it is not meant to ‘better’ the author’s writing. It is meant for myself, and for others who read my review. Sharing my opinion is only that, I am not a beta-reader when I pay for and read a book, then post my opinions about it.

    Some reviewers have found a voice that sometimes includes swearing. I don’t think that is wrong. Sometimes, a review that is filled with snark, swearing and telling me why a reviewer didn’t like the book can actually get me to pick up and want to read that very same book. However, if the author comes on to that same review and starts to act out his or her hurt, it will make me weary. I do not want to read and review a book written by an author who will comment on his or her readers’ opinions.

    The StGRB site is very scary! I will not review any books (thus, not read those books either) from the authors who are supporting that site. I think I have 2’500 books on my ‘to be read’ list, so it won’t really be a hardship to take a few books off of it.

  394. Anon 76
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:29:32

    @Linda Hilton:

    Thank you, I was trying to figure out how to say the exact same thing but it became wordy.

    And another point, if in the workplace you were catty, fine. But if you then proceeded to gather up your fellow employees to harass a coworker at home and elsewhere, and his her family, well then, you’ve crossed the line to what could be considered criminal actions.

  395. LG
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:33:59

    @Lexxie: “I only want to comment on a small part of what you said, and that is that if I write a review, it is not meant to ‘better’ the author’s writing. It is meant for myself, and for others who read my review.”

    I’ve been trying to think how the whole “would this improve the writer’s next book?” thing would apply to reviews I write of translated works. Maybe I’m not supposed to review those works unless I’m able to read them (and write about them) in their original language? Or maybe my reviews are intended for the translator? As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better example than reviews of translated works and reviews of works by authors who are no longer living that reviews are not intended for authors. Or maybe I should say “aimed at authors,” since some people’s perception seems to be that they (at least the snarky and/or negative ones) are thrown at authors like projectile weapons.

  396. ancientpeas
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:38:54

    Put me down as a fan of civil behaviour but I cannot and will not hold anyone else to whatever arbritary standards I set up for myself.

    I just don’t see how you can equate the workplace with an online forum or a review. It’s not harassment, nothing that happened last night rose to the level of harassment (and I was here, and took a look at the twitter in question), not even by a long shot. To call it so undermines the whole idea of what harassment really is.

    And by the way, you can create a hostile working enviroment without ever uttering a single curse word or threat. I have an extremely close friend who used to come home from work in tears a least two 2 days a week (she refused to cry in front of them) until they finally got her fired. Even the person who fired her said she was the best worker they had (the best with customers, the most reliable, the most willing to put the company first) but that he had no choice because the other women were unable to work with her. They bullied and harassed her out of a job. That’s harrassment not some petty name calling and obviously fake threats of violence.

    Maybe it’s time we all put on our big girl pants. The world isn’t a nice, polite place. Bullying isn’t a few nasty (or snarky or mean, choose your adjective) reviews or comments. Bullying is what a person or persons with power does to a person without power usually in a child to child or adult to child relationship. Harassment isn’t a few comments on twitter or a forum.

    I see nothing especially valiant in defending the rights of the majority. It is easy to defend the right to free speech if that speech falls within societies expected limits. There is a reason why the end of the most famous quote about free speech ends with “I will defend to the death your right to say it.” If I’m not offended everytime I read Yahoo news comments I’d consider myself a hardened shell but my being offended should never limit anyone elses right to free speech.

  397. Arethusa
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:43:13

    “1. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about the things they read (or watch, or listen to, or taste, or whatever). They’re also entitled to express them online.

    2. Sometimes those opinions will be ones you don’t like.

    3. Sometimes those opinions won’t be very nice.

    4. The people expressing those may be (but are not always) assholes.

    5. However, if your solution to this “problem” is to vex, annoy, threaten or harrass them, you are almost certainly a bigger asshole.

    6. You may also be twelve.

    7. You are not responsible for anyone else’s actions or karma, but you are responsible for your own.

    8. So leave them alone and go about your own life.” – Scalzi

    Is all I got to say. If you’re an author and you retaliate or answer, regardless of how right your position is, you’re going to look like a chump. Sorry, dems the breaks. It’s called business. The reviewers will never have as much at stake as you. They will not lose business. People will not refuse to read their books (unless they’re also another author then two of you look dumb, hooray, while we laugh). This may seem unfair to you. Life isn’t always fair.

    You can always complain to the authorities about that mean old person who claimed your book was a lump of shit. I’m pretty sure they’d find the GR bullying site of worthier notice.

    (Thank goodness I followed my instincts and avoided Good Reads when it first started. That particular meshing of authors and readers was a bomb waiting to go off, esp with the new trend of self-published ones.)

  398. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:01:14

    But you see Linda and Anon, it shouldn’t matter. Why should behavior in a social situation be any less respectful than in th workplace? Why should a “joke” to threaten to punch someone in the workplace be less acceptable than in our social lives? No, this is not the workplace but I call foul that the two are separate in behavior. And, again, what you do in your own home (to bra or not to bra) is so not the same as workplace or social violence. I submit that it makes all the difference when you bring it to a public arena and even if you can wear your pjs in front of your computer where no one sees you, you are STILL in a public arena and respect of each other, in all its forms, should matter. Which means, don’t threaten to punch someone, don’t out someone’s personal life and don’t call each other names. Why is this so hard to get? @NM called it manners and got slapped for it. It IS manners and I think people can disagree vehmently withouth threats and calling names. When you don’t, I think the messags is lost – and so is respect for the speaker. Now, I’m sure there will be some that say they don’t care. Fine, that’s your choice. But I still think that’s a problem – people use the “anomnity” of the internet to act in whatever manner they wish and claim it’s their right. Again, I submit that just because it’s your right, doens’t mean you should.

  399. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:04:43

    Oh and I want to address this:

    “And another point, if in the workplace you were catty, fine. But if you then proceeded to gather up your fellow employees to harass a coworker at home and elsewhere, and his her family, well then, you’ve crossed the line to what could be considered criminal actions.”

    You can’t say it’s different but then bring this up and call it equal. It’s either equal in all ways or none. Then let’s also talk about schools and bullying as two of the links provided in Robin’s excellent post noted. Bullying, harassment, name calling and being otherwise disrespectful is the SAME no matter the venue (well, except the privacy or your own home).

  400. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:14:50

    @ancientpeas
    Another thing in HR is that the remarks were based on the perception of the receiver. In other words, if @NM or @AoV felt threatened or harassed by the punch comment, then that’s what defined the harassment or violence not the fact the person making the comment was joking.

    Big girl panties aside, the fact that our society finds it acceptable to use this type of language and threats in a public venue (job, twitter, etc.) is the problem. I put on my big girl panties every day. I’m not the oldest here but I’m 48 and I’ve been around (not that way ) and what I see is that it HAS become more socially acceptable to be foul-mouthed in our books, our movies and now in social media. That’s what I call foul. Again, just because you have the right to do it doesn’t mean you should.

  401. Michelle
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:19:05

    I think one major component of being “mannerly” is not to consistently point out how others are ill-mannered.

    This whole be nice despite the provocation is ridiculous. Some episodes of bullying, harassment, bigotry deserve to be called out, and not done politely. There is a lot of victim blaming going on. Having it done by other women to women is one of the saddest things of all.

  402. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:24:46

    @Michelle
    Does this mean you are in support of the site?

    I do agree that there are times it’s necessary to call out bad behavior. Hence, what’s happening here. And yes, you are so right – having it done by other women to women is one of the saddest things of all. And that’s even going on here. In response to a post that calls attention to it. And I want to make it clear – I’m not blaming the victim. I’m just calling out the fact that the discussion had denigated to name calling – women against women.

    Okay, I’m back to work.

  403. theo
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:27:43

    @Ann T: But both @Linda Hilton: and@Anon 76: are correct. This is not a workplace environment where you have a small or large group of people who are being PAID to move a company to a higher level and are expected to work in a way that promotes their ability to do so. (And as an aside, HR isn’t the be all and end all in the workplace. I’ve seen problems arise out of false accusations where HR didn’t even bother to investigate erroneous allegations, they just fired without cause.)

    This is a site where people are allowed to share, agree, disagree, call out, and any number of other things without fear of a higher department ‘firing them.’ The only higher department here is Jane. It’s her choice as owner as to content, comment allowance and anything else she chooses. And so far, through all the disagreements/arguments/whatever you want to call all of the comments here, no one has pointed a finger at anyone else and said, “Here’s XXXX’s personal information. All those who are in agreement with me are being incited to call this person, threaten her, her children, her family, her livelihood or anything else that would constitute an illegal endeavor against someone. Until that happens, this remains a mostly civilized arena of discourse.

    The GR site that has been specifically established in order to do just that is what’s being discussed. And it’s been fascinating. But it is not, nor can it be considered akin to, the workplace and the behavior expected therein.

  404. DS
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:32:36

    I know it is important to exposed to opinions that differ from your own– and engage with people who have different views. However, there are threads on DA that I really wish had an ignore button.

    Reading the same crap over and over after I’ve decided that I don’t agree with the poster is tiresome. I have no objection to long posts about things I am not interested in and people can post away, but it takes on my screen space when I’m looking for the good bits.

  405. ancientpeas
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:34:21

    But just because I feel something, Ann T, doesn’t make it reality. I might feel that someone is an idiot but unless I have proof of their stupidity what I feel is just that, what I feel. You can report someone from harassing you and then a 3rd party looks at the facts and decides if you were in fact harassed. Feeling harassed is not the same as being harrassed.

    So if you and I (I’ll speak for myself here but I don’t know these people, I don’t twitter, chat, LJ, Facebook anything with them) are the 3rd parties judging the harassment that may or may not have occurred and you say that it did and I say that it didn’t which one of us is right? Is there one entity or individual that can assertain what is and isn’t harassment?

    And even if it was harassment (rising to whatever your defination of harrassment is) would it matter? Was AOV or NM in any danger from anyone here? Was anyone threatening their jobs, families or lives? No, they were calling them trolls and other not so pleasant things. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. I don’t know because I don’t have enough information to judge for myself. And at any point they could have walked away. Were their jobs at stake? Personal repuations? No, because none of it is real. It’s the internet. It’s only real when it invades into your real life. And that is why, to me, what the site outing reviewers addresses and phone number and real lives is so wrong. If they wanted to have a whole site about what a cruddy reviewer Ridley or the others are and block all negative comments I’d say, fine, have at it, free speech and all that. But that’s not what they did. And I still don’t see how people can’t see that they are different. But maybe I’m just being myopic.

  406. Michelle
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:35:15

    Support which site? The GRB site is vicious, and in my opinion enticing others to violence. Any author who supports that site, or says that site brings a smile to their face is on my do not buy list.

    Support the dear author site? Often. I do think they have been a little lenient with author on vacation, and NM but this is their space and not my call.

    I think trying to say be nice and mannerly while being condescending and superior is a bit hypocritical, but again that is just me. I am having difficulty occasionally differentiating between the clueless, and the trolls/pot stirrers. It reminds me of the saying “don’t automatically assume malice when stupidity can also explain the behavior”.
    Calling out bigoted, misogynistic behavior gets my a-ok. I am neutral on the profanity, especially since this is not a work setting.

  407. Madame X
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:09:20

    So I’m considering the question of why it’s not okay to out the reviewers on the GR Bullies site but feels (to me at least) perfectly fine to name the author responsible for the site.

    This is my answer: if the responsible party is the person that most of us assume she is, she started this fight back in October of last year, and she started it under her own name. Now, all of a sudden, she’s got a new set of pseudonyms, which – at least in discussions like these – mean we can’t bring up her past tantrums. I think that’s cheating; part of the reason why the site needs to be taken seriously, why it’s frightening, is because there is a nine month long history of increasingly aggressive behavior.

    There’s another way she’s cheating with the Bully site. She discovered long ago that she’d get more traction trying to own a piece of this ongoing author-reviewer debate than by focusing on her own book. As long as she spoke under her own name, her book was always the first and greatest strike against her.

    I’m not going to come here and post under an obvious pseudonym and claim that she, or anyone else, has no right to do the same. But it’s not quite correct to say she’s being outed when, to most of the people involved – the reviewers profiled on her site, certainly – it was always obvious who runs the site, because she’s not starting something new so much as trying a new tactic.

    I’m completely willing to have someone explain to my why I’m wrong here. But I think that the person who brought up the reverse outing as a conflict hit on an important issue, and I’ve offered a (potentially unsuccessful) counter point.

  408. Ridley
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:24:31

    @ancientpeas: Agreed. My issue isn’t that they’ve called me names, it’s that they’ve made me a target for real life violence by posting identifying information.

    Call me every name in the book. That’s fair. Just leave it online. Bringing up my RL identity makes you a stalker.

  409. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:32:11

    As I asked @Michelle:

    ‘The GRB site is vicious, and in my opinion enticing others to violence.’

    Please could you provide an example of where the site entices others to violence, because if you can’t it you could it not be construed as libellous? (I am not asking to be provocative, I’d genuinely like to know.) I asked Eggs earlier to provide an example of where the site incites hatred as she claims, but she has yet to do so.

  410. Karen Knows Best
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:32:58

    […] a rather beautifully articulated OP on the above, head on over to Dear Author, but for Oprah’s sake, watch out for the batshit loony wankers defecating all over the […]

  411. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:40:30

    No, Ann T., it most certainly does make a difference where the behavior is behaved. I can walk around my house nekkid if I want, but I can’t do that at Safeway. I can take a bottle of wine with me to have dinner with friends, but I can’t take a bottle of cabernet with me to McDonald’s. I can swear like a sailor (I was married to one for 36 years) around friends, but I wouldn’t think of going into a friends’s church and doing the same thing.

    The point I think some of us were trying to make last night and again still this morning is that some of us consider it rude and impolite and maybe even uncivil to come into someone’s online “house” and tell them how to behave in that house. If they don’t like how we’re talking in “our” house, they are free to leave.

    When I worked the customer service desk at Walmart, we endured all kinds of crap. People tried (and often succeeded) at all kinds of shit to get refunds, such as (among a lot of other things) returning underwear that had obviously been worn that still had Target labels on it. No, I’m not kidding. We were polite to them at the counter, we cheerfully gave them refunds, and then we went into the break room and said things to each other like, “Do you believe the fucking balls of that guy? I mean, he bought the lawn mower in May, used it all fucking summer to cut his lawn, then returned it exactly 90 days later for a full refund? What the fuck is up with that?”

    I don’t wear the same clothes when I’m out rock hunting that I wear when I go out to dinner at a nice restaurant. I don’t drive the same way in a residential neighborhood that I drive on the open highway. I don’t behave in a movie theater the same way I behave at a baseball game.

    But if I don’t like the way people around me are behaving and they’re behaving under the norms of the location, it’s much more my responsibility to leave than it is my job to change the rules. I used to frequent a local bar where one of the patrons often became drunk and abusive. I reached the point where I refused to go there any more. It’s not my bar, I don’t make the rules, and so I got out.

    That’s what personally offended me last night by Melody Clark, NM, and AoV — they were well aware that they were “guests” in someone else’s home and felt they had the right to impose their standards of behavior. Sorry, but I find that kind of arrogance offensive.

    Dear Author is not my workplace. It’s an internet location where I come on occasion to discuss issues of interest to me with people who are also interested in that issue. I don’t come here to be lectured on decorum and what language I use by people who don’t live here . If Jane wants to institute rules of behavior, that’s one thing, but not NM and her ilk.

    This is NOT the workplace. Workplace rules don’t apply.

    And now I’m going home to MY workplace.

  412. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:44:00

    @Ann T: Let me preface my remarks by saying that I am not a fan of name-calling or of jokes about punching, etc. In fact, when I first came online, about ten years ago, I was much less comfortable with the harsh language and wondered — sometimes vocally — why people couldn’t just be more “civil.”

    Over time, I have come to believe that communities need a variety of voices, and those voices will naturally come in many different registers and tones. Some will be harshly grating to us, while others will be buttery soft and comforting. And while it is so much easier to protect and nurture those soft voices, it’s so often NOT those folks who need the protection; it’s often the harsher voices, the ones who offend others either intentionally or unintentionally.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t offer a counter perspective, but one of the reasons I wrote this post is because I find the correlation of harsh, dissonant online voices with “bullying” to be MUCH more dangerous than the possibility of having nothing both those harsh voices online. Because sometimes those harsh voices have something important to say. And sometimes maybe a voice we only think of as soft (and this could be one’s own voice) comes out in a way that seems harsh to someone else. And, of course, there is the selective acceptance of certain harsh voices over others (I see this all the time with those who claim DA is nothing but mean girls speaking in dulcet approval about folks I would likely term “mean”).

    So in principle, I will defend harshness in voice and tone and delivery, even though I might personally not love it, because I think it’s important for the general integrity of honest and open exchange and engaged, critical discourse. And that we’re seeing some of that here is the reality of open online exchange under the best circumstances, IMO, which is another really important reason to distinguish it from STGRB and continue to underline those differences whenever people try to blur those (IMO very hard, bright) lines.

    I know that some people worry more generally that as women we are being uncivil to each other during this discussion, but I worry more that “incivility” is becoming code for crap like the STGRB site is fomenting. This is a voluntary discussion, and anyone can choose to walk away from it. People can delete emails, and they can ignore blog comments. There is, IMO, an often misconstrued connection between a pile of comments and a pile-on — those are not the same thing, but they are often conflated, in part, I think, because it can feel horribly overwhelming to be the subject of many comments. It can FEEL like a pile-on, even though for every individual commenting, the experience is absolutely NOT the same.

    But it’s another way in which strong female voices are being criticized or called bullying, because they may be louder than others. And while I absolutely think it would be ideal if all of us really thought about what we say and how we say it, I know that a) people miscalculate this all the time, including authors who think they’ve just made a perfectly innocent comment to a reader and readers who think they’re making a perfectly normal comment about a book or authorial persona, and b) people AREN’T always going to think twice, and that still doesn’t come close, IMO, to the implied threats of violence that the STGRB site features. So while I don’t disagree with everything you are saying (and I know you are not justifying the STGRB), I also think it’s tough to talk about the importance of online civility in the context of this discussion without seeming to equivocate the substantial and substantive differences between what’s going on here and what’s going on there.

    As for the workplace analogy, one reason I think it’s a hard one to support re. Goodreads and blogs, etc., is that people can’t just walk away from the workplace when they are offended. It’s one thing to have someone say something crappy to you that you can walk away from, but it’s another to have them say something that disrupts your ability to make a living because you can’t walk away from it. For authors to argue that a space like Goodreads is comparable to a workplace reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what those sites are about and who they are meant to serve.

  413. MrsJoseph
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:45:23

    @Charlie: Charlie, I would suggest you go look at the site for yourself at this point.

  414. Dear Fandom: Grow the Fuck Up | Epiphany 2.0
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:53:06

    […] this, which happened at Readercon, same Bat-time but across the continent from SDCC. And holy crap, this, which has been happening for several days but I just found out about it yesterday. (Good linkspam […]

  415. Jamie Michele
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:18:58

    @ancientpeas: No, writing in all-caps means you’re my mother.

    Har.

    Sorry. I just needed a little levity here. This whole business is scary to me, as an author. Will I lose my shit one day and completely implode my career? I’d like to think that as long as I keep my mouth shut and my head down, a la @LizTalley’s advice above, I’ll be okay, but it reminds me of the way I feel whenever I read about someone who accidentally killed someone while driving a car. No impairment, no texting. Just a moment of stupidity, or a temporary lapse in judgement, and bam, someone’s dead, and you did it, even though you aren’t a terrible person or a bad driver, generally speaking. You were just having a bad day, and you let your guard down. But one bad day can haunt you forever, whether behind the wheel or on the Internet.

  416. connie333
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:27:22

    @Charlie
    When it comes to people finding things about you on the internet it isn’t as simple as being able to google your name and re-posting information that you’ve happily posted for anyone to see.
    A year ago I had a youtube account under a different user name, and along with using it to comment on music and silly videos I also commented quite a lot (maybe twice a week) on a video that was trying to pass off a very right wing British political party with a history of violence as not being racist despite all evidence to the contrary. Naturally I was called every name under the sun by people pro the party, but I was careful to always remain polite (mostly because it annoyed them rather than any saintly behaviour on my part and it showed the bigots’s true colours). After a few months I recieved a personal message from an obvious clone account that promptly was deleted listing my full name and address, with the message “we’ll be be seeing you soon.”
    A friend who is much more computer savvy than I worked out that three years ago I had posted using my alias on an art blog where I posted a link to a picture my art group were auctioning off for charity, the mod replied mentioning my first name as we were friends and from there it wasn’t hard to find my surname. Since it’s an uncommon name and my family are in the phone book that’s where he/she got my info from – I wasn’t even on any social networking sites at the times.
    It honestly scared the hell out of me, not only for myself but to people who could be linked to me. Thankfully nothing happened but I did register a copy (yes I do have proof of bullying and threats;)) with my local police who couldn’t really do anything. If people want to find you on he internet – either by ferreting around or by IP addresses, they can. What SGRB is doing is inexcusable.

  417. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:28:13

    @MrsJoseph: I have, and that’s why I ask. I’m obviously not seeing what others are, because while the site undoubtedly reveals personal details, I can’t find any calls to arms, hence my request for examples.

  418. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:38:44

    @connie333: What a terrifying experience. It just goes to show that if someone sets their sights on you there’s little they’ll stop at. I guess in a (sort of) similar way if someone really has it in for a reviewer, they too would be able to get hold of the info they want and do what they want with it, with or without STGRB.

  419. Sirius
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:43:24

    @Charlie: Are you seriously saying that you do not understand how posting personal details about the people whose opinions they do not like could be easily construed as call to arms, no express spelling out is needed? Witness a nutjob calling one of those women at home and threatening her already. I do not know if they spell it out or not, I clicked once saw the comments they made about Kat Kennedy and have no desire to look at anything else. But to me – them posting personal detals together with what they said about these reviewers is the call to arms, even if implicit one.

  420. Meljean
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:44:32

    @Charlie: For me, the call to arms is right there in the name: Stop the GR Bullies.

    We know that no one is going to say, “Let’s go get them!” in so many words. That’s just not going to happen, because the site owner would be explicitly inciting violence against someone.

    But the site owner doesn’t need to say it, because it’s implied by the gathering, compiling, and posting of the personal information. There is simply no other reason to do something like that except to say to the ‘bullies': We’re watching you, and we can come after you if we want to.

    And they aren’t just watching the online personas, no. It’s not enough to simply quote their posts and the supposedly bullying reviews and comments online. They’re putting out real names, real locations, real places that these people eat, real information about having kids. And while it’s true that, at some point, these reviewers offered that information themselves, it wasn’t in that sort of laundry list of “Here I am, come find me!” way. The site did that, along with the clear message that “These people need to be stopped.”

    I’m asking this in a genuine way: Can you honestly think of any reason to compile their information that doesn’t mean the site is trying to intimidate them personally and threaten their safety, with the goal of scaring them into shutting up? Because I can’t think of any reason to do so.

  421. KT Grant
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:46:37

    Now based on the Chapter 1 Goodreads thread, the GRs bully blog may have gotten in touch with the Huffington Post and there might be a post about their site and their mission.

    No words.

  422. Meoskop
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:49:04

    @Charlie – wouldn’t you consider calling someone on their private cell threatening? Or listing where they can be found during the day and saying they must be stopped? We’re not having your routine today, but thank you for the performance.

    @Jamie Michele You are unlikely to implode your career in a moment of emotion or error. In this very thread two authors tangled, apologized, and moved on. The authors that damage themselves in online interactions work at it, for whatever blind reason.

    @ everyone – the difference between outing the reviewers / bloggers and outing the owner(s) of STGRB is not difficult for me at all. There is an escalating pattern of aggression that is tied to the potential real life endangerment of someone who gave their opinion. Stalkers should always be exposed, and where possible, prosecuted. Speech is not a crime. Stalking is.

  423. Sirius
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:49:15

    @Meljean: Thank you! I cannot even imaginecoming up with such reason and truthfully do not buy that anybody can.

  424. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:51:59

    I won’t specifically address this to the person who is asking for links, because I don’t have any. I won’t go there. But what I will do is ask this question and maybe better minds than mine can figure out if I’m onto something or not.

    As a writer, and before that as a reader, I recognize that words have meanings. Subtle changes in words and/or how they’re used can significantly alter those meanings. All the nuances of language can come into play, and a skillful writer uses those nuances to convey exactly the image or experience or feeling that she wants to share with the reader.

    So when I see that the site is called “Stop the Goodreads Bullies,” I take away a very clear meaning. The purpose of the website is not to stop the bullying that may be happening on the Goodreads site. Nor is it about stopping the publication of reviews that some people might consider to be in the nature of bullying. Instead, the website name itself, the first thing that is presented to the visitor to that site, is a command to stop certain people.

    The very title of the website is a call to arms, just like “Support Our Troops.”

    It then goes on to identify who those “bullies” are, not just by their online personae, but by their real life identities. Now there is a clearly implied (or at least clearly inferred) threat: The website owner is commanding someone/anyone to “stop” certain people from doing something, and to stop them in real life.

    I won’t go so far as to say this site is just like a much more notorious one that singled out a specific group of women’s health care providers, but I do think there are similarities in strategy. Overt threats aren’t needed; the minions, even if not known to the website owner, understand the codes. And the potential victims have no defense, except to accede to the intimidation. They have no idea where the attack will come from, what form it will take, or even if they themselves will be targeted or someone innocent but close to them.

    I would be surprised to see overt threats on the site, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t implied and/or easily inferred.

    But again, that implication/inference comes directly from the specific language used. That’s a concrete example, and if it isn’t explicit, the implicit message can still be discerned.

    Where are the reviews that contained even implicit threats? I still haven’t seen one.

  425. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:52:03

    @Meljean: “For me, the call to arms is right there in the name: Stop the GR Bullies.”

    And Dear Author genuinely addresses all its book reviews to the authors that wrote them?

  426. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:56:58

    @Meljean: What we said! ;-)

  427. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:57:05

    @Meljean: “I’m asking this in a genuine way: Can you honestly think of any reason to compile their information that doesn’t mean the site is trying to intimidate them personally and threaten their safety, with the goal of scaring them into shutting up? Because I can’t think of any reason to do so.”

    I can’t, but maybe they can. Has anyone actually asked them?

  428. Meljean
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:03:17

    @Charlie: The substance of a Dear Author review makes it clear that it’s a book review, just as the substance of the GR Bullies site makes it clear that they want the ‘bullies’ to be stopped.

    …as the rest of my post which you so conveniently ignored went on to say, discussing how the call to arms in their site title was reflected in the content of their posts. I took your question in good faith, and answered it in many paragraphs. You can’t do the same?

  429. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:05:15

    @Meoskop: “wouldn’t you consider calling someone on their private cell threatening? Or listing where they can be found during the day and saying they must be stopped?

    Yes, I would of course consider calling people on their private cells is threatening, as is listing where they can be found and saying they must be stopped, but I can’t see any evidence that STGRB are doing either. Again, I’m genuinely happy to be proved wrong if only someone would give me an example.

  430. MrsJoseph
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:06:36

    @Charlie: So let me ask this: Do you feel it is appropriate to post the name and location of people you don’t like/agree with in a very public space? Do you feel that people do not have the right to maintain a sense of separation between an online and a real life persona? How comfortable would you be if your wife got into an argument with someone…and that someone saw fit to post YOUR FAMILY’S address, phone number, details of your children and possibly musings about the fitness of your parenting skills on the front page of the NYTimes.com?

  431. Meljean
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:06:53

    @Charlie: Yes, they’ve been asked. There’s an interview with them on an author site. Does anyone have the link? (I don’t have it handy.)

  432. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:09:04

    Um, I think it’s a troll. I’m going to stop feeding it.

  433. MrsJoseph
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:09:21

    @Meljean: No link but I’m sure Charlie can google. The site is called Two Fantasy Floozies (I believe).

  434. Jane
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:09:28

    @Charlie: There have been examples given but you’ve ignored them. Your dogged persistence in being blind to the dangers that the STGB site presents does not present a honest and genuine attempt at dialogue. Instead, it portrays a blind adherence to a philosophy that many of us do not ascribe to. Your actions are not those that are designed to increase thoughtful debate because you simply do not respond with anything but repeated dismissals of people’s credible concerns.

    We get it. You see nothing wrong in the posts on STGRB. We are not required to give you any further examples as proof. The entire site is, in itself, proof of its mal intentions.

  435. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:10:56

    @Meoskop: @Madame X: Thanks for the responses.

    I agree that there is no comparison between the bully site owner and honest reviewers. I think I was trying to find some common ground that everyone could agree on or some basic standards of behavior that we call all adhere to, but I’m going to just stop here and admit defeat. I’m at a loss.

    I’m so, so sorry if my comments suggested that I sympathize with stalkers. That is not the case at all. I always try to understand both sides because I think it’s a good way to find solutions and peace-make, but I went too far.

    Sorry.

  436. Meljean
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:11:27

    @MrsJoseph: Thanks! I couldn’t remember the site.

  437. LG
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:11:38

    @Charlie: During the interview with Kenya Writer, the site owner says they have a growing “underground movement. The thing that gave them the idea to put this site together was another site they viewed as having set up a “lynch mob” against an author. And of course the site owner is not going to admit to trying to do the same thing to the GR reviewers, and yet they have set up a site with all the necessary information for their “underground movement” (or any random crazy person). They are saying they just want to “call [the GR reviewers] out”…which they could just as easily have done by listing the offending GR usernames, complete with griping. No obsessive collection of personal information necessary.

  438. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:12:39

    @Meljean: Sorry, I didn’t mean to ignore the rest of your post (am new to commenting/replying) and I think I might have cross-posted with you, and done it badly too, in separate posts rather than in the same one with different paras. Sorry again! Implication is imo a bit of a dodgy issue because it’s so subjective, but I take your point.

  439. rosecolette
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:13:50

    @charlie If you scroll up to post #220 you will see an example of what Meljean has explained and the incident that @meoksop has referenced. One of the ladies listed on the bully site has been called and threatened. The very title is a call to harm. It is inviting violence. It is inviting stalking. It is inviting those who support the person who started website to follow in her footsteps and harass those listed.

    If the link to the harassment is TL;DR for you, then here: “This week, shortly after writing a status update about feeling stalked, I received a call. A woman said, “We can find you, bitch” and then hung up.”

  440. LG
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:16:50

    Ugh. I meant Kenya Wright. I’ve having problems editing the comment.

  441. Jane
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:20:09

    @LG: They deleted the post. I actually commented on it, disagreeing with the interview, taking issue with their inaccurate legal assessments, and calling them on their false equivalencies. They deleted my comment. One of them replied that my legal analysis was “garbage” and t they don’t do online debates and that I would have to come to Miami and say these things to their face which, I guess, they thought I would not do.

    Subsequently one of them apologized to me on twitter for deleting the comment; deleted the post; and tried to repair their damage by posting a flurry of anti bullying messages.

  442. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:20:42

    @Ann T: Seeing that I’ve spent the morning completely ticked off about something else, I need to expend a little energy elsewhere, and so I’ve been thinking about this whole ‘women being uncivil to women’ thing and how, IMO, it often becomes an excuse to punish or marginalize loud, angry female voices.

    For example, I used to do a lot of horse rescue work, and one of the women I worked with was an activist extraordinaire. She was, in fact, so devoted to the cause that other areas of her life suffered terribly. She was angry. She had self-destructive tendencies and had no interest in appearing to follow the norm in anything. She was rude to people and turned others off with persistent regularity. Her marriage suffered, and if you were being polite, you’d call her eccentric. If you weren’t, you’d call her bonkers. One of her long-time friends called the day he met her a “dark, dark day,” and he was only half kidding.

    This woman was also one of the most effective and important animal activists in the state. She almost single-handedly got basic, necessary laws passed in the state to protect animals, largely by combing the halls of the capital, talking to and writing legislators, sitting in on legislative meetings that were more boring as you can imagine, getting (nagging) people to volunteer in various capacities, and creating and coordinating a huge network of individuals and organizations to raise public awareness.

    Some people called her a bully, while others were afraid of her. She was not quiet; she was not polite, although she could be very charming when she chose to be. But regardless of how one felt about her, she did incredibly important work that most other people did not have the guts nor the tenacity to do. And she did it ETHICALLY and HONESTLY. I certainly did not have the courage or the drive to do what she did, and that she did it allowed so many others of us to benefit from her continually running outside the normal lines of society.

    And what happened after she died? A number of the laws she worked so hard to get passed, laws that most of us would consider basic humane rights, have been under fire or threat of overturn. And I don’t believe that anyone who fills that vacuum (assuming it will be or has been filled) will be able to do it nicely or politely, because the commitment such activism requires is already extreme in the context of our society.

    So, yeah, it may not be polite or “mannered” in genteel terms, but when people won’t naturally step up and do the right thing, I’ll take the cage rattling rudeness, especially when it’s not unethical, illegal, or morally unconscionable. And in the case of civil disobedience, legality is not always a determining factor of “right” action.

  443. Jane
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:23:32

    Source: google.com via shiloh on Pinterest

  444. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:24:40

    @MrsJoseph: Very uncomfortable naturally, but if it’s legal, how could I stop it?

    @Jane: I’m sorry you think that. I’m simply trying to see things from both sides which is surely the basis of a successful debate.

    Thank you for the examples – I apologise if I missed them before. Awful. Not acceptable at all, and I would hope that the people affected are taking the appropriate action.

    @rosecolette – I don’t know what TL;DR means. Do I want to?

  445. DS
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:26:27

    @DS: I just walked back into the office and saw this post again. Should have looked it more carefully before sending. I should have said I know it is important to be exposed to opinions different from one’s own. Also it takes up my screen space not takes on.

    I don’t know what will bore people more, my sloppy post or feeling I need to correct it.

  446. Meljean
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:27:44

    @Charlie: It is true that the site doesn’t say, “Go get them.” But there’s never any excuse for compiling/posting information on someone, and to do it on a site that explicitly calls for them to be stopped is beyond dodgy. It’s dangerous and posted to intimidate. And the call to arms has already been acted upon, as seen by the call that one of the reviewers received.

    And, you know, I’m one of those people who likes to believe the best of other people. I like to believe that intentions are good. I don’t like to accuse people or pretend that I know anyone’s true intentions. But the way that site is set up is so clearly meant to intimidate and explicitly created to ‘stop’ the reviewers, that even I can’t see how any other conclusion can be reached.

    If they didn’t want those reviewers to feel personally threatened, why would they include the personal information along with the message to ‘stop them’? I have a pretty expansive imagination, and I can’t come up with a single reason. I doubt anyone could.

  447. Madame X
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:28:48

    @Jill Sorenson:

    I replied because I thought your comment had merit, and I was a little troubled that I’d never asked myself the same question.

    I suspect that the difference is that I’ve been on GR for almost a year now, use the site frequently & admire a lot of the reviewers who have been targeted. So to me, this is first and formost a conflict of individuals.

    The DA post is sketching out broader outlines, trends, principles. Almost the exact opposite of where my concerns lie (though I think the post is great & the points valid).

    I’m not inclined to pretend that the Bully site is anonymous because, to me, it’s not. But to someone who’s only followed this fiasco for a couple of weeks, it’s more than fair to ask why a discussion condemning naming-and-shaming would ever, itself, do the same.

  448. Karen Scott
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:29:05

    I see that we’re still feeding the trolls.

    Seriously, I’m not entirely sure why people are still responding to “Charlie”. His/her/its mind won’t be changed any time soon, I think we can probably bet our mortgage on that. What’s that saying? There are none so blind as those who refuse to see, blah, blah, blah…

    In my opinion, anybody who doesn’t categorically denounce stalkerish behaviour, and the outing of people’s identities online, whether it be by readers or authors, needs to stand in the corner made specially for imbeciles, nutters, and utter fuckwits.

  449. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:34:52

    JSYK, goodreads “reader” (read: sockpuppet) “Sharon” is now giving a whole slew of 1 star reviews to any author even tangentially involved in this debate.

    Here are her “reviews”:
    http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6652697-sharon
    (just now made private, as if that will hide her tracks, but it was a whole slew of one stars for myself, Ann Somerville, Sarah Wendell, and many, many others that I don’t remember the names of)

    Here is her openly admitting to trolling:
    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/371455652

    So that’s the level of discourse we are at currently.

    By the way, my 1-star ratings come in a day after James Austen spent about 10 hours harassing me on twitter and trying to get his followers to attack me for being a toady to a “homophobic” (which is not a noun, Mr. Austen, and also, I’m as queer as you, so shove it)

  450. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:41:40

    @Heidi Belleau: I never joined Goodreads and don’t spend a ton of time there, but doesn’t “Sharon” have it backward? Isn’t it that certain readers became frustrated with self-pubbed authors using sockpuppets, etc. to write multiple reviews of their own book or voting it up and others down, etc.? How did this whole idea that the non-bullying bullies targeted by STGRB were doing things they were railing against get traction? *confused*

  451. Meljean
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:41:44

    @Heidi Belleau: I saw that (and on my book that isn’t out yet, too!) But happily, I’ve received so many 1-star reviews in my life, that Sharon’s are just another drop in the bucket :-D

  452. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:44:18

    @Meljean: It will be interesting to see if this ever gets to court.

    Karen, that’s odd, because I actually think that my mind is the only one that has been changed here (see comments 444, and 438 in which I concede that someone I previously disagreed with might *gasp* have a point).

  453. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:44:26

    @Meljean: @Meljean:

    Well it seems that profile has been deleted, either by “Sharon” herself, or by GR, I’m not sure. I imagine this isn’t the last of my 1 star reviews, trolling or not, though. LOL!

  454. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:46:05

    @Robin/Janet:

    I legitimately have no idea. I haven’t even GIVEN a 1 star review on Goodreads. All I did was ignore James Austen being an asshole to me.

  455. Meoskop
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:48:00

    @Jane one of the blog owners (Kenya) apologized again on Goodreads for the deletion & said it was mishandled. I think this is who apologized to you on Twitter, based on her words. I don’t think they thought that interview through & were unprepared for the door they chose to open.

  456. ginmar
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:50:26

    The whole ‘be nice’ thing is striking, when you consider how so very many of these anonymous writers slut shame not just real live people, but also other characters in their books, except for the Mary Sue. They’re punishing other women for not being nice to them, when after awhile the whole ‘be nice to me’ seems to have an unspoken second part: ‘or else.’ And by basing it on violating female norms, these writers are allying themselves squarely with victim blamers like NM and her hateful rape-in-a-red-dress mindset. I’m sure they think they’re the true, good, virtuous women in the bunch, the way they have denounced their victims as women who drink, neglect their children, use unladylike language, ‘work at Home Depot’ (!), don’t work, use a wheelchair, (!), are married (poor guy who married her, huh!, are unmarried (no man would have her!), and so on.

    Being nice when one has been treated very badly one’s self—-especially when it comes from people who have not or are not enduring the same mistreatment—–amounts to a second burden the victim has to deal with, on top of the burden of the harassment itself. Typically, this is only something women are asked to do. Sometimes it’s not demanded outright, but hinted at, as NM managed to do with her pearl-clutching disapproval.

    When you’re in the shit, I frankly think you should be allowed to swear. That we’re still having arguments about fucking swear words indicates how far some people haven’t come. When you’re stressed out, you need to let off steam. Demanding ‘be nice’ at such times amounts to demanding the victim not inflict her emotions and pain on those around her, because it makes them uncomfortable and might actually make them aware that their cosy world view—–bad shit only happens to bad people—–is extremely unfair.

    I had this happen to me years ago, and to a certain extent it’s still ongoing. To give you an idea of the mindset at its most chilling, when I booted one of the trolls off my site, he claimed he’d been invited…..just not by me. One guy also said I was too careless with my info, and all he did was take it. So in other words, these people don’t believe in other peoples’ rights, because should you have a weak spot, what’s a person to do but take advantage of it?

    These people are issuing the same ‘invitation’ my stalker claimed as an excuse for invading my space. Someone invited him—not me. These people, in publishing lies are sexist victim-blaming and issuing orders to ‘stop’ ‘bullies’ are issuing a similar invitation.

  457. connie333
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:53:08

    “I guess in a (sort of) similar way if someone really has it in for a reviewer, they too would be able to get hold of the info they want and do what they want with it, with or without STGRB. ”
    Perhaps, but in this current instance you have a website that is doing the stalking for them.
    There is no doubt that STGRB is actively encouraging putting up personal information of reviewers with no thought to the consequences as to what other people may do with it. At best it’s whiny and terribly misguided, at worst downright dangerous.
    Are you really ok with that?

  458. ginmar
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:58:25

    Oh, I don’t think they’re doing it with ‘ no thought’. I think they’re really hoping somebody will do something like that, and then they can say, “See what happens when you leave a bad/snarky/one star/didn’t like it/review? Huh?”

  459. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:02:55

    @ginmar:

    It’s also as much to intimidate people they HAVEN’T featured yet.

    I mean, even if it never escalated (which for one person it already HAS escalated), having my personal info bandied about like that is enough of a threat, so potentially I could think “well unless I want these people to advertise where I work / my name / my kids’ names / their schools / whatever other horror I can think up for them to find out I better keep my mouth shut”.

    So it’s simultaneously a show of power, an incitement to harassment and/or violence, and an attempt to frighten bystanders.

  460. Meoskop
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:06:04

    @Robin/Janet:

    How did this whole idea that the non-bullying bullies targeted by STGRB were doing things they were railing against get traction? *confused*

    It’s exactly what you talk about in your original post – all you have to do is point to an outspoken woman and say “Bad!” for the silencing to begin. Facts are irrelevant, she who claims victim first can be as crap monkey crazy as the day is long and still get belief. That’s why I periodically point out (again) that the so called bullies were no such thing.

    Also, Comment 459 +1000

  461. ginmar
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:12:53

    Yes it is. It’s exactly that.

    I can’t help but notice how much slut shaming goes on in the books by some of these writers—-because their Mary Sue is perfect she only needs imperfection to bounce off of, like it’s a competition between women——while the writers themselves position themselves as innocent (good) women and mothers. They position their detractors as bad mothers and sluts—-or drunks. If you work, you’re a bad person. If you don’t work you’re a bad person. If you’re a mom and you have a glass of wine, you’re a drunk. (And drinking for women is treated very differently than drinking in men. It’s ‘short skirt in a dark alley’ for some people.)

    And all this stuff is precisely what’s been criticized in reviews, with other women pointing out the constant bashing of other women and characters, with the authors doubling down and attacking because they have an unshakable view of themselves as good people. It’s been striking all across the board. There’s only two kinds of women, and all bets are off if you can position your detractors—-oh, those mean reviewers!—-as the mean, unladylike girls who need a good lesson.

  462. Charlie
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:12:55

    @connie333: Nope, I’m not OK with that, but that’s my opinion. If what they’re doing is illegal (and that would be a question for the lawyers) then they should be called to account, and if it isn’t then imo they should be allowed to carry on because anything else would be censorship.

  463. ginmar
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:16:04

    Nice blaming the victim, Charlie.

    I’m always puzzled by people for whom the greatest crime is ‘censorship’ while threatening, harassing, and all the rest are just shrugged off. But it does tend to be directed at women, so who cares, right?

  464. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:16:38

    @Charlie:

    It’s not censorship to speak out against someone’s behaviour and condemn it as a community. Romancelandia is not the government of the United States. (In fact some of us don’t even live there.)

  465. Sirius
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:20:46

    @ginmar: That comment did it – from now on I am paying Charlie’s words as much attention as I am paying attention to AoV’s words.

  466. rosecolette
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:23:12

    @Charlie: Too Long; Didn’t Read. We all have those moments when staring at a wall of text we look for the salient points and move along. My TL;DR may be shorter or longer than your own. Brains are fun that way.

  467. Jennifer Leeland
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:38:27

    I know this may seem like a non sequitur, but I wanted to share it because it came to my mind immediately when I saw both this horrific site and when I saw the comments on McGuire’s LJ blog.
    I don’t remember how I met Claudia Christian online, but I’m glad I did. She’s been someone I respect and admire for a long time and then, last month, she posted this.

    http://www.on-a-limb.com/2012/06/so-its-been-a-year-since-you-kicked-me-when-i-was-down-heres-what-ive-learned/

    What impacts me most is that I had interactions/online conversations with Claudia while this was happening and I HAD NO IDEA. In this instance, someone knew her both online and in real life. Someone “went after” her in all her spaces online and, though not physically threatening, the reviews and comments made toward her stepped over the line of “mean girl” and into the realm of cyberbullying.
    The reason I’m posting her link is this (and I got her permission first, not wanting to expose her to anything negative); Here is an author I want to be when I grow up. Here is an author who took it in the shorts and didn’t react by creating a dangerous website basically entitled “GET THEM”. Here is an author who showed class, perseverance and determination.
    This is the kind of person I want to be when faced with online bullying.
    Claudia herself states that she’s responsible for her own mental zone. She survived it and she doesn’t whine about it.
    I thought, since the conversation has veered into “standards of behavior” and so on, that Claudia’s response was appropriate to present.

  468. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:47:44

    @Jennifer Leeland: Thank you for posting that link. I am not in any way going to say what happened to her was okay. The only thing that stuck out at me was that she says it was a *friend* who did this to her, not a stranger who had no previous interactions with her and then started stalking her. Does that mean it was an author peer or a CP or an aspiring author friend? Again, not suggesting authors cannot be harassed; just want to clarify whether it was just a plain reader who did this or another author, because that would be a somewhat differently disturbing dynamic.

  469. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:54:26

    Robin/Janet, thank you. I totally get your point, honestly, I do and you said it in such a persuasive and unattacking manner that I appreciate. I agree that there are times people should speak up and call people on things and I’ve done that so I’m kettle meet pot.

    My main point is that threatening someone, no matter the format or if it’s a joke, is just not right. That was my whole reason for posting on here. The dismissal that just ’cause someone has the right or that they meant it joking (and everyone that knows this person knows that) of a threat just bothered me.

    Have we reached a record yet with these comments?

  470. Jennifer Leeland
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:02:58

    @Robin/Janet I believe it was someone she knew, a friend, who was a reader. The reason I think it came to mind is because it began with this “friend” posting reviews and creating false accounts. Believe me I’m not equating it with that collection of insanity at STGRB, but it was a nasty situation that I thought she handled with sanity.
    Frankly, I think it’s all a disturbing dynamic. Whether a stranger or a friend’s betrayal, I can imagine that it can eat at a person’s confidence, their sleep and so on. Claudia takes responsibility for her own peace of mind and I respect that.
    I can’t even imagine what Lucy and Ridley and the others have been experiencing. Where in Claudia’s case I think the legalities are flimsy, in the STGRB case it seems clear that what they’re doing is illegal.
    I’m stunned the site is still up.

  471. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:03:27

    For those paying any attention to AoV, MN, Charlie and anybody else defending the STOPGR site or excusing stalking/bullying crap…

    I shared this with Meljean earlier. :) It might make you smile. Might not, but might…

    The haters

  472. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:14:05

    @Ann T: Thank you, Ann.

    I think another dynamic at work here is that of insider/outsider. For example, I know Ann a little bit, and when she made that comment on Twitter, I understood that she was expressing a huge sense of frustration and did not take her comment seriously (and I suspect that she was not, by far, the only one feeling frustrated in the heat of that conversation, even if no one else made a similar comment publicly ;D). But to an outsider, the perspective might have been different. I’ve had things casually said about me that felt like a punch, too, even though the people who said them likely didn’t give me a second thought past the comment.

    This insider/outsider effect is often operational when new people come to a blog that has an established, regular community of commenters, and the new person feels marginalized at first. I still remember shaking in my proverbial boots about commenting for the first time at Dear Author and Smart Bitches, way back when. Now, of course, I don’t hesitate, because I feel like I have a feeling for the community and do not feel alienated (and the fact that I blog at DA has helped, too). But I still think it’s often difficult to discern someone’s intentions based on one comment, which is why we sometimes just need to ask before we pounce. And yet, as we’ve seen, mutual suspicions and heightened emotions can even make that difficult. What can I say; I think it’s just all an imperfect work in progress.

  473. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:16:42

    @Shiloh Walker: No smile; laugh out loud.

  474. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:24:30

    @Jennifer Leeland: I suspect that in a case where a friend betrays you, the emotional wounds would be devastating, regardless of the outcome. I had just wondered because I haven’t seen a documented situation of readers kind of randomly harassing and stalking an author in the way that the STGRB site is pursuing readers, so I felt I should ask for clarification.

    You’re right that it’s all disturbing, and I know there are some awful peer to peer stories both bloggers and authors have to tell, so clearly there is bad stuff happening in all different types of relationships and networks. In fact, it’s probably some of the worst stuff we don’t even hear about, precisely because people are so busy actually dealing with it.

  475. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:39:40

    @Robin/Janet

    Absolutely – that’s exactly my point.

  476. Alicia
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:49:06

    @Ex GR Member: I’m not sure why you think Cass had to chastise anyone. She could have simply said something to the effect of her not being a bitch and it’s just a review. Instead, she said nothing and, yes, asking friends and family to upvote positive reviews (just like having them write positive reviews) and the author doing it his/herself is unethical. It creates a false public impression of the book. Calling that an overreaction is just the sort of unreasonable response that is coming from STGRB.

    I think you missed parts of my final paragraph. Yes, I saw where you said you didn’t condone the actions of STGRB. What I also saw is where you said “but”. I don’t condone it, “BUT”. That screams to me, ‘I don’t think they should do this, BUT they kind of deserve it’ or ‘BUT they have a point.’ No, they do not have a point. They, as authors selling a good, acted in a certain way, and consumers did not appreciate this and made it vocal. If this were Apple, Nike, BP, Microsoft, or any other company (including very small ones, like this for example – unfortunately the behemoths are just the first that came to mind) that garners massive amounts of public criticism over their business practices and products outing the consumers who dare speak about them negatively there would be no question about how wrong it is. There would be no “buts”. You said you didn’t condone the site; I was pointing out that this is a situation where the “but”, in a way, negates what you said. Especially since you went to on to explain, at length, what you find wrong with the victims, not the site.

    @Meljean: Oh, I love this comment! I couldn’t see why this wasn’t evident and you stated it so eloquently.

  477. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 17:05:52

    @Robin/Janet:
    “I know Ann a little bit, and when she made that comment on Twitter, I understood that she was expressing a huge sense of frustration and did not take her comment seriously ”

    What everyone seems to ignore is that my comment to June on twitter isn’t equivalent to anyone’s workplace – it’s the equivalent of someone walking past my verandah where I’m having a chat with a husband, and hearing a comment I’ve made (and then presenting it to everyone else out of context).

    Yes, my verandah is open to the world. No, I’m not expecting or wanting anyone I’m talking about to hear what I said. I’m not talking about a friend, or a neighbour, or anyone known to me personally.

    But someone I was talking about came sniffing around to see if she could find any dirt, after behaving outrageously and insultingly for hours, and lo, she found us talking about her. (And in my head, not even her.) She jumped from an obvious joke over her ludicrous remarks to a ‘threat’ which (a) was expressed as ‘want’ not ‘intention’ and (b) I have no means or desire to carry out even if it was real, and went screaming her fool head off to villainise me and get sympathy.

    She invaded *my* space, looking for something she could use. Not a shared space, not a workplace where there’s an expected level of conduct. *My* space, *my* conversation.

    And then some of you went and fell for it like damn fools.

    I’m not interested in participating in being baited by trolls today so I’ll let others deal with Charlie, but Ann T, by repeating the lie that any actual threat was made, you are defaming me. And you can fucking knock it off. I assure you I don’t mince my words and if I wanted to threaten NM or her unlovely bestie, I’d have done it to her face and in words which would leave no room for misinterpretation.

    That’s how I roll. And anyone who knows me even casually, knows that.

  478. Ex GR Member
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 18:06:16

    @Alicia: I think you and I are going to have to disagree whether an author’s friends have the right to express their opinion about a book (for the record, I believe they have just as much right as someone who doesn’t know the author). I will continue to stand by my assertion, however, that publicly chastising, reprimanding, calling out, correcting, [insert word of your choice here] a person with whom you do business is not professional.

    Back to the first sentence of my original post. I was trying to say that I don’t condone the behavior of either party, not that the behavior of one party warranted the behavior of the other. If I was unclear, then I apologize. The STGRB website is legally (just my opinion, IANAL) and morally wrong for trying to post people’s private information, and I believe they should stop. I think that some of the instances of group behavior I have seen on GR are morally wrong, but since morals are a personal choice, I am not going to presume to tell people they can’t say certain things or shelve books how they want. I am saying that I wouldn’t do that.

    Please don’t play the “victims” card with me. Just because certain people have been treated in an unfair and unwarranted manner by the STGRB, that does not mean that their speech and behavior are immune to criticism. As soon as you put your words out there in public, they are fair game.

  479. LeeF
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 18:29:04

    Wow- step away for a day and suddenly there are 478 comments! :-) Thanks to everyone for so much food for thought. Never realized just how harsh the on-line/blogging world could be when it comes to books/authors/writing/literature.

  480. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 19:27:23

    @Ann I’m going to apologize if it sounded as if I said you made a threat. That wasn’t my point. My point is that it could very easily be taken as a threat. And I don’t agree that your twitter feed is your porch. The Internet is NOT private and anything you say is out there for anyone. Disagree? Then lock your feed then it’s your porch and you’re private. To some extent but at least you have more grounds to say someone poached.

    Otherwise, if you (not you specifically but the universal you) believe it’s private you are seriously mistaken. Anymore than someone who thinks that they say on their blog is private or uses company emails or posts comments or anything like that. You put it on the webi, it’s fair game. And subject to misterpretation.

    However, again, I did not mean to say you threatend her and I apologize if that came across that’s what I thought you did. But I stick by my belief that it was not the best thing that could have been said and I think Robin/Janet did much better than I have at #472 by explaining why.

  481. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 19:46:40

    @Ann T:
    “My point is that it could very easily be taken as a threat. ”

    No, it really couldn’t. Not in how it was worded, and not in context. You are utterly ignoring the fact that NM went ballistic over my ‘threat’ and imaginary ‘guffaws’ by Robin exactly at the point when she was being pressured to provide evidence for her claims. She was deflecting very nicely from the fact she was trolling quite outrageously, and with a definite agenda.

    “The Internet is NOT private and anything you say is out there for anyone. ”

    I know that. I even said that my feed was public. However, no one logged into twitter would have seen the convo between June and me if they weren’t mutally subscribed to both of us, and my posts only if someone retweeted them (which they didn’t) or they were subbed to my feed. I have a *tiny* list of followers.

    Ergo NM went looking. She wasn’t standing around minding her own business – she went digging for dirt, and knowing she’d find people talking about her because she had been trolling.

    People can come onto my property and hear what I say to my husband talking on our verandah. I don’t even have a fence. That doesn’t mean that if they eavesdrop, they won’t get the traditional reward of eavesdroppers.

    “I stick by my belief that it was not the best thing that could have been said ”

    Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn what you believe. You have no right to criticise a conversation you weren’t part of, which NM wasn’t invited to, and which you have characterised as a ‘workplace’ situation when it so very clearly is not.

    Unlike NM and AoV I am posting under my professional penname, taking the lumps that goes with being outspoken and not hiding from the results of my opinions. However, that doesn’t give you the right to concern troll me or this conversation because you have decided that we haven’t had *enough* tone policing on this thread.

    You’re not part of the solution – you’re part of the problem. I don’t want to hear anyone, let alone another woman, tell me to mind my mouth in case someone gets upset because I’m too damn blunt. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

    ETA: I don’t accept any apology which doubles down on the original offence.

  482. jo bourne
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 19:48:02

    Is this “I will tell people where to find you and suggest that harm might come to you *wink**wink*,” edging into Criminal Threats or cyberstalking territory?

    If the person behind the SGRB site posts from CA, her actions might fall under California Penal Code 422 PC (Criminal Threats) or California Civil Code 1708.7 (Cyberstalking).

    Would a complaint filed in California lead to a subpoena to Goodreads, (a CA company based in Santa Monica,) and, at the very least, revelation of the names of the posters who advocated harassment or violence?

    Would we want the law to do this?

  483. azteclady
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 19:56:28

    (my apologies in advance, I’m catching up to about a hundred comments so…)

    @Ann T: Dear Lord, are you for real?

    @Michelle: Thank you.

    @Ann T: Verdict just in: you are trolling (confirmed from subsequent comments).

    @Madame X: My deciding point would be, are the victims of the StGRb site one hundred percent sure? If they are, can they take legal action to stop the harassment? If there is no legal action–as in, get the cops/FBI involved, get her blog platform to have her remove the information (and not to hide it behind a useless link)–then outing her (not real life, real name, real address, but her author name) could perhaps stop her.

    And maybe not, because the crazy? doesn’t follow any logic, even self-preservation.

    @Meljean: Thank you for your calm reply, Meljean–I’m out of patience with the stupid and the trolls.

    @Jane: Please tell me there’s a cache somewhere?

    @Shiloh Walker: Jane shared it earlier–I want! do you know the origin? I would love to post that as a button on my blog

    @jo bourne: Honestly? Public outing of personal information of the people behind the StGRb site is exposing them to the same danger they have exposed their victims. I sincerely doubt that any of the victims–whose votes should have more weight that anyone else’s here–would want to stoop that low.

  484. azteclady
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:00:43

    Rats. I went crazy with the comment reply linkage and the post is now awaiting moderation :sigh: oh well.

  485. Kaetrin
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:02:53

    @Charlie At the risk of feeding a troll…

    The STGRB site gleefully and specifically points out that a particular woman and her husband regularly walk somewhere (an actual real life place) at a certain time of day. There is NO reason for posting that kind of information EXCEPT to be a threat.

    Something doesn’t have to be illegal (and it may be, I hope it is) for it to be wrong. It’s a reaction to some book reviews FFS – there is just no excuse for this behaviour.

    Also, what Meljean said.

  486. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:08:55

    @azteclady: There was a cached version on Goodreads. Google both blog names and it should come up as the first link.

  487. azteclady
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:23:45

    @Kaetrin: Also, lest Charlie needs it spoonfed, the site also posts a long string of ‘offensive’ behaviour by the women they target. The highlight language and reactions they find inappropriate or inadequate–just as they tell you where you can find them.

    Gee, such a leap to think that someone might take all that information–both the “these is why they are bullies and should be stopped” and the “and here’s where you can find them”–and do the “stopping” by stalking or actually assaulting these women and/or their families! Clearly, we are all alarmists here

    /sarcasm (for the trolls’ benefit)

    Also: thank you, Robin (for the info and for presumably fishing my link laden comment from moderation).

    Finally: for those on twitter, would it be a good/bad idea to contact Helen Lewis at the New Stateman with the story?

  488. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:39:36

    @azteclady: Actually, I think Jane fished your comment out, because by the time I got to the spam folder (before responding to you), it was gone.

  489. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:46:55

    Something’s been bothering me since this whole thread started.

    Going back to the original opening: “Something is very wrong with us. . . .”

    Y’know what? Even that is victim-blaming, Robin, and I don’t mean that in a snarky, nasty, critical tone. I do mean in the sense that even when we’re trying to do right, we tend to blame ourselves for what’s wrong. And that’s not right. Forgivable and understandable, but still not right.

    Okay, if I don’t have you completely confused now ;-) —

    Something is wrong, but it isn’t with “us.” We handled a bunch of trolls (we know who they are and so do they) with grace and finesse and skill and cool. We’ve articulated our position clearly and passionately. We’ve disagreed and apologized, we’ve agreed and laughed. And we’ve never once lost sight of the real issue: Bullying is never, ever, ever, ever justified and should never, ever, ever be tolerated or excused.

    Something’s definitely wrong, but, damn, we’re good. I am most honored to be just occasionally and cantankerously in such illustrious company.

  490. Ridley
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:52:12

    @Ex GR Member:

    Please don’t play the “victims” card with me. Just because certain people have been treated in an unfair and unwarranted manner by the STGRB, that does not mean that their speech and behavior are immune to criticism. As soon as you put your words out there in public, they are fair game.

    Ah, see, here’s where your fool ass needs to sit the fuck down. My words are fair game. My life and safety absolutely are not.

    You need to take your false equivalence bullshit and peace out. Since stalking and threatening people is unequivocably wrong, bringing up what other reviewers do that makes you sad is a non sequitur. What does reviewer behavior have to do with some vanity-published author’s stalking them?

    The only reason you’d bring it up is because you think our behavior warranted or at least caused us to be stalked. You can say you dislike what the site’s done, but it’s an empty sentiment coming from you when everything else you’ve said blames us for bringing it upon ourselves.

    Let me put this out there: Anyone who thinks a loud personality warrants threats to her safety is a fucking sociopath. Go grow some empathy, and we can talk.

  491. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:56:51

    @azteclady: I also found Jane’s deleted comment: http://yfrog.com/z/odajfrkp

  492. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:10:47

    @Linda Hilton: Y’know what? Even that is victim-blaming, Robin

    I really have to take exception to this. Had I said that there is something wrong with us as individuals, I might agree with your argument. But that’s not what I said nor what I meant. For me, at some broad level the community is like an organism, and like any organism, it has parts that are healthier and stabler than others. You don’t blame a whole person because their pancreas develops cancer, even though as a whole the person gets sick. I also think there’s something wrong with US society for the way we have so many young men of color in prison for non-violent drug offenses. Obviously there are people fighting valiantly to cure all the ills that lead to that situation, but IMO it still weakens and imperils the integrity of our society as a whole.

    It’s like what Albert O. Hirschman discussed as a “public good” in Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. He speaks extensively about how education, for example, is a public good, because when you have an area in which schools are underfunded, you get social ills that are the byproduct of poor educational opportunities. Obviously there are people who are doing great work within that social structure, but there is still an ill that affects the whole. Poverty, racial inequity, racism, sexism, etc. — they are damaging to society, they all emerge from society, and in all cases there are people fighting valiantly to cure them. How can that not be about “we, the people”?

    I absolutely believe that our community as a whole is suffering from the effects of this STGRB crap, I articulated how I see that, and I do not in any way see that as “victim blaming.” In fact, I think it’s precisely the opposite.

  493. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:37:59

    @Robin/Janet:

    I absolutely believe that our community as a whole is suffering from the effects of this STGRB crap, I articulated how I see that, and I do not in any way see that as “victim blaming.” In fact, I think it’s precisely the opposite.

    I’m not arguing or disagreeing with you, Robin, I’m agreeing wholeheartedly. Yes, our community as a whole has suffered from the actions of a miserable few. We’re all walking on pins and needles, waiting for the next shoe to drop. I only tried to make the point that in spite of the wrong that’s been done TO us, we seem to have done pretty well as a community defending ourselves, defending our comrades, beating back the trolls.

    To me that indicates that as a community, readers and writers both, we are far stronger than the bullies and trolls. To me, they’re no longer part of the community; they’ve exiled themselves. And the rest of us can be — and will be, goddess willing — better off for standing up to them. That’s a measure of the health of our community, and of everything that’s right with it.

  494. jo bourne
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:41:03

    @ azteclady My understanding is that subpoenas are issued by judges and require a reasonable demonstration that somebody’s broken the law. If the people behind the SGRB site have been guilty of Criminal Threat or Cyberstalking as defined by CA law, should they not be prosecuted?

    I’m not sure I like the erosion of privacy here … but these particular circumstances may step beyond malicious language to deliberately provoking physical hazard.

  495. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:47:04

    @Linda Hilton: You are much more optimistic than I am.

    ETA: Although I definitely agree with you that there has been some fierce rhetorical power and eloquence wielded in this thread.

  496. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:52:21

    @jo bourne:
    “I’m not sure I like the erosion of privacy here ”

    you’re not *sure*?

    If you mean the victims of this damn site, how can you not be sure?

    And if you mean the people behind it, how can they claim privilege of privacy when they are breaking the law? We don’t go, ‘ooh, let’s not out that mugger cos of privacy’ – we name them to the authorities and let them deal.

    I tell you now, if I have convincing proof of the people behind this site, I will certainly name them. And I will continue to voice my strong suspicions based on individual’s suspicious behaviour because these people must be called to account and stopped. This isn’t a free speech issue, or a ‘both sides do it’ thing – this is about women’s safety and their right to live their lives without interference while pursuing a harmless and lawful hobby.

    That site isn’t harmless, whether it’s lawful or not.

  497. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:55:11

    @Robin/Janet:
    Linda’s right. The *overwhelming* response has been helpful, healthy and supportive.

    Though I wish the apologists would all FOAD/DIAF. (Theoretically, metaphorically and without me actually spilling petrol or lighting a match. In case anyone thinks that’s a threat. One must be so clear about one’s words after all ::puke::)

  498. azteclady
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:59:28

    @jo bourne: I am not sure I get your meaning.

    @Ann Somerville: So if the people behind the StGRb site happen to be women and you post their real life information, that’s okay? Because they started it?

    Or do you mean, you’ll contact the victims of the harassment, give them the information, and have them take the legal steps available to them?

  499. jo bourne
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:04:26

    @ Ann Somerville —

    I mean the people running the SGRB site. I’m sorry that was not clear in context.

    I’m not an advocate of companies being forced to disclose the identity of people who post on their site.

  500. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:08:56

    @azteclady:
    “So if the people behind the StGRb site happen to be women and you post their real life information, that’s okay? Because they started it?”

    If the person behind it is the person I think it is, she uses her real name as her professional name (and has outed people while using it), and I would certainly name her. Since the people behind it are authors, I would have no hesitation in naming them by their penname/professional names. I don’t see why they can’t be named when we name authors for far less egregious behaviour. (And being a woman has nothing to with this!)

    I would not put addresses up etc, and I’m sure you know that perfectly well.

    Godaddy should be in the process of making the owner of the site correct their domain registration information and I would have no qualms about telling people this has happened. Because WHOIS information is *provided* for this reason – so people are forced to be accountable for their sites.

    “Or do you mean, you’ll contact the victims of the harassment, give them the information, and have them take the legal steps available to them? ”

    Well AL, what would you do? I’m such a heinous bitch, I would *obviously* conceal information from the victims, while taking out Google Ads on all the big sites to tell everyone else. But that’s just me, because, as you obviously imply, I’m utterly lacking in morals or common sense.

    Christ, go jump in a lake, and take your vendetta with you.

  501. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:09:56

    Okay, yeah, I’m really done now. I’ve been now called a troll because why? because I disagreed? and Ann still doesn’t get it so consider me putting up the poster Jane used that says don’t feed the trolls ’cause guess what, several of you, and you know who you are, are the pot calling the kettle black. ANY time someone came on here and tried to get some of you to see a side that wasn’t yours, you threw out the troll card. Don’t agree with you = troll. And I’m not talking about agreeing whether or not the site under discussion constitutes abuse (it does).

    What a shame but hey, @Ann and @azteclady, you just proved my points for me. Thanks for that.

    Robin/Janet, thanks for engaging in a postive way – I appreciate that.

    And for a handful since it seems you best communicate when it’s used, here’s my profanity, fuck yes, I’m flouncing away (cause based on the pattern, I know this is coming) – but with a smile on my face. I just don’t care to read any more of some of your two-facedness (I don’t think that’s a word but it works for me). Bye bye!

  502. Jane
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:13:29

    @jo Bourne. Prosecutors have the discretion to prosecute and frankly I don’t see an understaffed county prosecutor pursuing this. As far as I know the actual perpetrator behind the site is not actually from California.

    Also subpoenas are routinely signed by the clerk of court. We kept dozens of them our office. You can send them out pursuant to certain rules and the court’s role is enforcement of the subpoena.

  503. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:18:10

    @Jane:
    “Prosecutors have the discretion to prosecute and frankly I don’t see an understaffed county prosecutor pursuing this.”

    And historically the legal system has been very slow to get involved in stalking/harassment cases unless someone’s physically injured. It’s been one of the reasons that so many women have ended up being killed or hurt by stalkers – no one paid any attention until it was too late.

  504. jo bourne
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:22:07

    @ azteclady —

    If the people at the SGRB site have committed a crime, they forfeit their right to anonymity. I’d argue this is qualitatively different from ‘outing’ someone from malice.

  505. jo bourne
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:27:04

    @ Jane —

    I knew somebody would know how this worked. I’m sorry to think there’s not more actual protection under these laws … but I know you’re correct.

  506. azteclady
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:27:40

    It is pointless but what the hell:

    @Ann Somerville: “Christ, go jump in a lake”

    No, thank you.

    Ms Somerville, I often don’t understand you, so the question was sincere.

    Yes, I didn’t know quite what you meant by “if you mean the people behind it, how can they claim privilege of privacy when they are breaking the law?” and “if I have convincing proof of the people behind this site, I will certainly name them.” Particularly when it was posted in response to jo bourne’s: “I’m not sure I like the erosion of privacy here …”

    So I misunderstood and you slapped me straight.

    I can take it.

    However, if disagreeing with you–often by mere degree, or because you take exception when I chose to express myself differently than you–means I have a vendetta…

  507. Alicia
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:29:19

    @Ex GR Member: But allowing that business associate to refer to your customers in derogatory terms without ever publicly saying you don’t agree is the height of professional. Okay. And I really can’t help you if you don’t see the difference in someone reviewing an author’s work and that author asking friends and family to give them good reviews and up vote good reviews and down vote bad ones (which, in particular, is what’s unethical).

    You should have just stopped talking, really. You only proved my point. Honestly, I’m tired of my head meeting this brick wall. You really believe that the people profiled on that site haven’t been victimized? You don’t think someone receiving a phone call saying, “We can find you, bitch” isn’t a victim? That person being driven out of her own home fearing for her safety isn’t a victim? Are you kidding me? All because they gave a freaking book a bad review? Because they don’t care to have authors attacking readers? Because they put an author’s book a bookshelf?

    We’re not talking about criticism, which if you think what they’ve done warrants that, it’s your opinion. ‘Be nice about that product you bought!’ ‘You be nice to the person selling it to you even if they’re being awful and rude. Or else you deserve to be harassed about it!’ And that is what we’re talking about: harassment. We’re talking about stalking. We’re talking about dangerous behavior and a threats to safety. You keep justifying their behavior. It’s basically saying, ‘I don’t think it’s right, and the site should stop, but those women totally deserve this.’ You obviously missed the point of Robin’s post. You should really go read it again.

  508. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 23:38:48

    @Ann Somerville: Oh, at Dear Author, you mean. Yes, definitely. Of course, I kind of loaded the post that way, lol.

    In general, I think we’ve had some really great discussions in this thread, though.

  509. Loreen
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 23:56:20

    I guess the good thing in all of this mess is that there are people who genuinely care enough about books to put in the time and effort to insult each other, write mean reviews, and create bizarre websites.

    Look: there are mean people on the internet. Or the internet makes people mean. It is kind of a chicken or the egg situation. Some people are nasty, some people are typing while drunk or high, and some people are very mentally ill. There is really no point in getting upset about it when you have never met the person. I agree with Liz that authors should avoid reading reviews if it is too painful. I avoid reading my “ratemyprofessor.com” profile unless I want a good laugh about what the 18-22 year old population thinks about my current “hotness” level and how this affects their ability to learn how to write a coherent sentence. I will admit too that I was on ten