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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!


  1. 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.

  2. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:24:46

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 […]

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. MrsJoseph
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 12:45:23

    @Charlie: Charlie, I would suggest you go look at the site for yourself at this point.

  14. 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 […]

  15. Jamie Michele
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:18:58

    @ancientpeas: No, writing in all-caps means you’re my mother.


    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.

  16. connie333
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:27:22

    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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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?

  26. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:56:58

    @Meljean: What we said! ;-)

  27. 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?

  28. 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?

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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.)

  32. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:09:04

    Um, I think it’s a troll. I’m going to stop feeding it.

  33. 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).

  34. 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.

  35. 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.


  36. Meljean
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:11:27

    @MrsJoseph: Thanks! I couldn’t remember the site.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.”

  40. LG
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:16:50

    Ugh. I meant Kenya Wright. I’ve having problems editing the comment.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. Jane
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:23:32

    Source: via shiloh on Pinterest

  44. 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?

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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”:
    (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:

    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)

  50. 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*

  51. 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

  52. 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).

  53. 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!

  54. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 14:46:05


    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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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?

  58. 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?”

  59. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:02:55


    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.

  60. Meoskop
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:06:04


    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

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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?

  64. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:16:38


    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.)

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

    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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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?

  70. 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.

  71. 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

  72. 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.

  73. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:16:42

    @Shiloh Walker: No smile; laugh out loud.

  74. 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.

  75. Ann T
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:39:40


    Absolutely – that’s exactly my point.

  76. 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.

  77. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 17:05:52

    “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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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.

  80. 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.

  81. 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.

  82. 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?

  83. 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.

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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?

  88. 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.

  89. 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.

  90. 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.

  91. Robin/Janet
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:56:51

    @azteclady: I also found Jane’s deleted comment:

  92. 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.

  93. Linda Hilton
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:37:59


    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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 21:55:11

    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::)

  98. 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?

  99. 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.

  100. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:08:56

    “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.

  101. 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!

  102. 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.

  103. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:18:10

    “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.

  104. 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.

  105. 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.

  106. 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…

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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 “” 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 tender-hooks submitting my work to the “first page section” – thrilled when writers I admire liked it, disappointed when anyone didn’t. (Still have to finish the darn thing, though). It is hard not to care about how people react to your writing.

    Fact: People are going to say mean things about you on the internet and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

    It is frightening that people can band together to enact Medieval vigilante justice online. I have heard of some scary situations. This is bad behavior and hopefully calling attention to it will make these particular people stop being idiot stalkers.

    However, maybe it is my naivete and generally trusting nature, but I don’t think a bunch of writers/readers who spend their time rating books on Goodreads are very frightening.
    But, hey, there are actually some really smart, funny women on this site whom I have always wanted to meet because we have so much in common! So I think I will start leaving nasty random attacks on their amazon and goodreads profiles in the hope that they will gather some other romance-loving friends and track me down.

    Courtney Milan, you throw like a girl!
    Jill Sorenson, you know that outfit you wore to to that dance in the 8th grade? It was really ugly!
    Jane…um…I bet you look horrible in puce?
    Now I am just going to sit back and wait for them to gather enough outrage to find out who I am, take a leave of absence from work, find someone to water their plants/feed the pets, buy a plane ticket, and show up at my house.
    Feel free to say some insulting things back at me: you call yourself a Jane Austen fan? I spit on your collection of obscure Victoriana!
    Once we have it our of our systems, I’ll open a nice bottle of wine and we can trade quips about our favorite books.

    Seriously, there are few enough people out there who love books and take them seriously enough to bother commenting on them, let alone reading them. The best way you can react to internet trolls is to laugh at them, log off, draw a hot bath, and read a book.

    In the safety of their rooms, behind the anonymity of the screen, people can be irrational assholes. Luckily, very, very few of them would ever have the courage to say what they write to someone’s face, let alone do any real damage.

  110. Ann Somerville
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 23:56:48

    “Oh, at Dear Author, you mean.”

    No, I mean in the reading community generally. For every comment or post that hasn’t got it, there have been a hundred comments and a dozen posts which do. The apologists are *irritating* but they’re a lot more vocal than they’re numerous.

    Your post laid it out as clearly as anyone could hope for. That there were 4 or 5 people determined – for their own reasons – not to get the point, doesn’t mean the sickness is deep-rooted.

    Even if you look at the badly behaving authors – they’re a tiny, tiny minority even of the self-published writer population. That’s why I get so frustrated when people look at a nitwit making a fool of herself over a review and assume we’re all doing that. Smashwords alone has thousands of authors. The number featured on, for instance, Amazon’s badly behaving author discussion are only a hundred or so, in a forum encompassing thousands of posts.

    The internet has made author-reader interactions a jungle, and Goodreads has complicated things further by selling itself as a site for readers *and* for authors to market themselves. I don’t think you can do both – which is what Amazon realised when it threw all teh self-promoters off all the forum groups but one. The very immediacy of Twitter and Facebook (with the confusing terminology of ‘friends’ and ‘likes’ for people and things you’re basically only vaguely interested in) deludes a lot of people in what is a very isolated profession into thinking they really are popular, even perfect.

    I don’t think we’re at the downward end of the arc towards sanity yet, but the cheering thing is that the SGRB site is such an anomaly that it’s got so many people talking and criticising it. We haven’t got to a point where it’s considered normal, and that’s good. It should never be ‘normal’ to do what it’s doing.

  111. Anon 76
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 00:33:43

    Okay, I came home from work tonight to find my inbox filling fast with followup responses on this post. I find that a good thing. I haven’t read every last one as my puter is old and freaking at the moment.

    What I will say is that I agree with way back post from MelJean and Linda Hamilton about the power of words and reading between the lines.

    And Charlie, the truth of the matter is this, IMHO. I’m an author, reviewer and reader. If someone absolutely adored everything I wrote and then went on to tell others about me and posted all my private info, I’d be all squigged. In my head it would be,”No, no, no. Don’t you know what you’ve just done? You’ve just crossed the line between fan and stalker and may have left me vulnerable to people with less honest (though misguided yours may be) intentions.”

    Now switch that over to a site that says “Stop the GR bullys” and posts same said information without, in your perception at this point, Charlie, “a call to arms.”

    The first scenario scares the hell out of me. The second terrifies me. What aspect of my life would such people attack and how do I defend myself?

  112. Anon 76
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 01:48:56

    @Ann T:

    I disagreed with you, but that’s okay. A valid debate has to deal with both sides of the coin.

    I hoestly don’t believe you were ever taking me to task, but how narrcisistic of me to even consider that? And that’s not a slam. Actually, that thought might sum up this whole mess in my feeble brain.

  113. Wahoo Suze
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 02:24:19

    Okay, so the conversation has probably moved on (I must go to bed, and not refresh!), but Charlie, and anyone else who’s wondering, I share with you a word I learned recently. What the StGRB site is doing is often called Doxxing. From Urban Dictionary:

    Dox, or being doxed, in terms of online forum sites, is the physical equivalent of being butt-raped irl. Just as all the greats have, when a person is “doxed”, all their personal information is made available for all users to see. Names, addresses, phone numbers and school/work are not spared, and this usually leads to the person ceasing all ties with said websites, if not the interwebs as a whole.

    They don’t have to explicitly state, “Now go, my minions, and wreak havoc!” Doxxing is itself a threat, and the intention is made clear by the action.

    It is something that ONLY THE BAD GUYS DO. If you are doxxing someone, you are in the wrong. There are no exceptions.

  114. Wahoo Suze
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 02:30:38

    Some things that have been done to harass people at work (in a venue that, if the victim leaves, causes loss of job/income/benefits):

    – sabotage of work
    – stealing work
    – workspace maliciously rearranged or messed up
    – disgusting things hidden in desk, drawers, smeared on workspace (e.g. used condoms, human waste products, dead animals)
    – insects put in food
    – constant belittling comments
    – constant personal insults
    – constant sexual comments
    – physical assault

    Things that DO NOT contribute to a poisonous workplace:

    – A bunch of strangers you will never meet making disparaging comments about your work in a venue that you will never be aware of, unless you go looking for it, and that you can leave at any time without penalty.

  115. Claire Simpson
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 06:19:06

    I’m actually sickened by this whole thing. It’s harrassment and intimidation – there was one GR reviewer who actually recieved threatening phone calls at home. This is not acceptable on any level.

    It will end up in court eventually, and the sooner the better. I don’t want to work in an industry that includes people who behave like this.

  116. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:16:53

    I see you’re still promoting the idea that I “outed” someone. She was in the habit of using her LJ name and her legal name online as early as 2002, as anyone can see by checking her profile at Whedonesque. Or, if you want screencaps of her doing the same thing on her LJ, google “the pseudo-pseudonymity of Coffeeandink”.

    Le sigh.

    It’s wrong to out people who have not outed themselves and have done no harm to others. But when people have shared that information online in the past, it’s silly to pretend they have acquired retroactive pseudonymity.

  117. Beth
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:52:25

    More unexpected consequences for the Everyone Gets a Trophy Generation.

  118. Evaine
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 10:30:46

    @Beth – OH YES!!! Exactly that! One of the underlying reasons this crazy behavior is so prolific.

  119. Ridley
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 10:46:25

    @will shetterly: Who are you talking to?

    I don’t know who you’re talking about, but you sound like a douche. If you actually thought someone’s identity was common knowledge, why would you have to post it? And if it wasn’t, why post it if not to be an intimidating douche?

  120. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:02:06

    Douche? Am I supposed to accuse you of sexist language now? Le sigh encore.

    I posted her name because people were making histories of a flamewar. She claimed she was pseudonymous, so no one should include her name. But she never was pseudonymous; she used her name on her site for years. If you really care, google it. Screen caps are available–which I mention purely because her crowd loves screen caps.

    Now, if you’re just here to be abusive, don’t let me spoil your fun.

  121. Jennifer Leeland
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:02:22

    Wait a minute. So because there are pictures out there of me (Real Me) and it’s “not difficult” to find out someone’s personal information, then it’s okay to post that information on a website that promotes calling someone up and threatening them? Seriously?
    I wasn’t going to say anything, but I’m going to. *takes deep breath* I’ve looked at some of the “bullying” cited on the STGRB site and they were ridiculous. One reviewer is held up as a child neglecting drunk because she tweets about drinking and expresses some of the frustration many of us mothers have with the demands of our children. Conversations that occurred on their own profiles were held up as examples of “bullying”. Look, let me say this. If I go on a reviewers site and start shooting my mouth off and said reviewer talks to one of their regulars saying I’m an idiot for the dumb shit I say, then that’s their right. It’s my right to get pissy about it if I’m a clueless dumbass.
    It does NOT give me the right to post personal information, phone numbers and real life CHILDREN’S names for general fodder, much less as part of some “get them” mentality. Are some of those conversations mean? Sure. But as someone who has experienced first hand what bullying looks like, it’s appalling that this is the cited examples that justifies this behavior.
    I am totally unimpressed with the arguments that somehow getting one’s feelings hurt justifies this kind of illegality. I don’t care if it’s “easy” to find out who someone is. When you post it as information to go beat up another person, it’s WRONG.
    Example: If my son is tormented at school with nasty names (which he is) and he responds by beating the shit out of one of those kids? He’s WRONG. The name calling is wrong, but to respond with violence or threats of violence goes way beyond what’s appropriate. And I know, because I’ve had to deal with just that.
    The fact is that there is NO justification for posting personal information that hasn’t been given with permission. Just because it’s you’ve got “screen shots” from ten years ago doesn’t make it right.
    For God’s sake, how is that so hard to grasp? I’m not a big fan of the slap downs that happen regularly but what the hell is next if threatening phone calls and posting children’s information is okay with you?
    All I can say is that it’s stunning how this has progressed and that the people who perpetuate the actions of these nutjobs are blind to the consequences.

  122. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:11:15

    She’d stopped using her real name quite a while before Shetterly made the choice to out her. The whole point is that he did this knowing or he should have known it would expose her to abuse and harassment.

    And I don’t mean to pick on you, Jennifer, but it’s not ‘easy’ to find stuff out about people. That doesn’t sound right but screw it, I’m not good at subtlety. People are saying over and over again that the victims should have hid this or that better. It’s not that they didn’t work at it hard enough. it’s that these scumbags are determined to be even bigger scumbags, and apparently they have all the time in the world to do nothing but try and harass more and more people. Their determination to be evil is greater than an innocent person’s ability to fathom what they might possibly do.

    You’re blaming yourself, in effect, in a way. (Hey, maybe I can make it vague! ) It doesn’t matter if you left the door open, so to speak; it’s still a theft even if you left all your doors and windows open, you know what I mean? Your stuff is still your stuff, and no one has a right to take it under any circumstances.

    So, no, to anybody justifying they’re being an asshole by outing somebody, if you justify it by saying the victim didn’t try hard enough, you’re impossibly creepy and disgusting.

  123. Robin/Janet
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:16:52

    @Ridley: I’m sure he’s referring to one of the links in the post to an incident in which he was involved online several years ago. The issue involved the ability to speak online anonymously and the question of who should be able to control one’s own information, especially when someone else isn’t happy with you.

  124. Robin/Janet
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:24:03

    @ginmar: There was also the issue of not recognizing (or refusing to recognize?) the gender dynamics (male calling out female) and the power dynamics (male author …). And the motive, which seemed to be a pivotal issue for a number of people, especially when combined with everything else.

  125. Jennifer Leeland
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:27:24

    @ginmar: I see you’re point but I will it’s not hard to find me. I’m pretty much out there if someone wants to be shitty.
    I’m just saying that even if it IS easy, it’s still wrong and Shetterly justifying it by saying this person “outed” herself TEN YEARS AGO is ridiculous. Ri. Di. Cu.Lous.
    It’s also completely ridiculous to screen shot tweets as examples of someone’s drinking habits or their mothering skills. Crap!
    I wonder if the people who are making phone calls know they’re being used. Seriously, I can’t believe that the site is considered following GoDaddy’s TOS. They’re clearly encouraging stalking and harassment and THAT is against the law.

  126. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:30:48

    Yeah, and he’s a published writer and I’m not sure what her status was/is. Certainly not as big a name. It’s kind of scary how some of these people victim blame in eerily familiar ways. “She posted it once!” means “Open season for assholes forever!” Like, either/or, no other choices. You can’t change your mind and make a new choice.

    I notice the women doing the harassing in this vicious event take great pride in slut-shaming in subtle (or not) ways, something that one can sometimes see in their books as well, in their female protagonists. So they’re definitely upholding those good old-fashioned traditional values—for women, that is.

    Jennifer, oh, good, I wasn’t sure I was making myself understood. But, yeah, it doesn’t matter how easy it is. If you aren’t asked and thus don’t give permission…’s against your will. The act depends on the actions of the offender to be defined, not the actions of the victim.

  127. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:36:02

    +ginmar “She’d stopped using her real name quite a while before Shetterly made the choice to out her.”

    Is that a lie, or are you not aware that she did not begin to hide her public use of her name on her LJ until a full week after she accused several people of “outing” her? If she was really pseudonymous when she made the charge, why did she hide anything afterwards?

    This is a side issue from the Goodreads business, so far as I can tell. If the people in question were always pseudonymous under their handles, they should be treated as pseudonymous. I’m only bringing it up because the post’s author did. My point is simple: you can’t decide you’re pseudonymous after being public about your legal identity.

    Well, okay, you can, but it’s silly. Really, if you want to be pseudonymous, you should make a little effort.

  128. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:39:39

    ginmar, she’s also a published writer. We both had stories in the same series of anthologies. Some of the people she attacked during the flamewar were people we have both worked with. She was very happy to use people’s legal names when attacking them, and until then, she was happy to use her legal name on her LJ. I ask you again, please, if she was pseudonymous, why did she change so many of her old posts?

  129. Meoskop
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:40:22

    Shetterly? This thread wanted only that. Dude, you can frame it however you want, but it was a douche move done with malice aforethought. I never use that word, but I will make an exception. You come here to say It’s wrong to out people who have not outed themselves and have done no harm to others. But when people have shared that information online in the past, which is douchery on display. Self justify in your own space, you won’t win any converts here. (I speak with absolutely no DA authority, but with as a fairly good judge of what flies and what doesn’t here.)

  130. Robin/Janet
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:40:25

    @ginmar: I may be wrong, but I don’t think she was an author. IIRC, the whole thing happened during RaceFail in the SF/F community a few years ago.

  131. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:43:23

    @will shetterly:

    Did you ask for her consent? No. She’s a little fish and you’re a shark. She gets to determine how her name is used. You’re acting like an open door justifies burglarizing a house. Oh, and you’re a man and she’s a woman. You have a bigger platform and voice than she does.

    Did you ask for her consent?

  132. Meoskop
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:43:46

    I’m on a mobile device, my tags are off in the post above so the quote isn’t quoted out. Apologies.

  133. lazaraspaste
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:49:28

    @will shetterly: I realize you probably came here to correct what you consider to be a factual misrepresentation of a long ago event you personally were involved in, and that perhaps you are not familiar with the context, events, and persons involved in this current situation. That being said, you might not know that your explanation of a past situation appears, in this particular conversation, to be a justification of the actions of a site that has exposed detailed personal information of some reviewers–to the extent one has received a threatening phone call. You might also not know that the person who responded to you, was one of those who is being harassed.

    I don’t know if you’ve read the post or the comments thoroughly (I’m guessing you haven’t) but if you have/do you might understand how your comment could easily be misconstrued as a defense of stalking. And how that might anger those who are suffering as a consequence of other people’s deplorable behavior because it is looks like you are coming here to defend the actions of those who are harassing them. This may not have been your intent, but is an easy conclusion to come to in light of this particular situation and its context.

  134. lazaraspaste
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:52:21

    Damnit. I took too long to reply. Well there ya go.

  135. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:54:19

    ginmar, did she ask for my consent when she made public posts misrepresenting my beliefs and blocked me from clarifying at her site? No. Her blog, her rules. Which is fair. So, to keep things straight, I answered at my blog. That’s how the internet works. Moreover, I don’t block anyone, so any mistakes I make on my blog can be corrected on my blog. I’m a bit obsessive about things like honesty, integrity, and playing fair.

    Really, if you use your legal name and LJ handle in public posts, it’s public knowledge. Ask a lawyer if you doubt me.

  136. Robin/Janet
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:55:13

    @will shetterly: My point is simple: you can’t decide you’re pseudonymous after being public about your legal identity.

    I can see SO MANY legitimate reasons someone would do this, especially someone who is a) a woman, b) a person of color, c) a member of any historically marginalized group, d) someone who has reason to believe that someone else will do something vile with their personal information, including their name, especially if e) that person is outspoken, or f) tends to express a minority opinion that s/he feels will put him/her at risk to express.

    As a relative outsider to that situation (and you and I went at it back then over this issue, although I doubt you remember that), what I really think got you into trouble was refusing to acknowledge that there could be ANY problematic issues associated with what you did. Had you shown any cognizance of why people were upset with you, I think the backlash would have been greatly and rapidly diminished. It’s like women who try to explain to men why rape jokes aren’t always so funny, and men saying that the women are just being stupid, because, after all, it’s just a joke, and they should lighten up.

  137. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:58:05

    @will shetterly – She blocked you and so you took to your blog and outed her in retaliation instead of just, um, responding to her alleged misrepresentation. High five, there, Shetterly. I didn’t realize that you could do yourself more harm by explaining, but you did. Please, though, continue on.

  138. meoskop
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:02:51

    @Jane: Don’t worry, he will.

  139. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:03:08

    That’s funny. He didn’t answer my questions, nor acknowledge the way ‘gender’ itself is a class issue all by itself.

  140. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:05:12

    lazaraspaste, thank you. I hadn’t known ginmar was one of the people being outed. No, I’m not defending outing anyone who made any effort to be pseudonymous.

    Robin/Janet, I’ve received death threats several times in my life. I do not mean to downplay how terrifying they can be. But as I remember, the people getting the threats were from her crowd, which has a history of that sort of thing. Perhaps that’s why she decided to retcon her past.

  141. Wahoo Suze
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:06:51

    Well, *he’s* never had a problem with anybody knowing who he is and where he lives, so really, why should anybody else be worried about it? Even if they are women, or a member of a marginalized group with a history of being harassed, etc.

    Seriously, dude, you are the very epitome of white male privilege.

    ETA: “Perhaps that’s why she decided to retcon her past.”

    YES. She belatedly realized that she was unsafe, took steps to increase her safety, and you un-did those steps, thus making her less safe. Without her consent. In apparent retaliation.

    That was not an acceptable thing for you, or anyone, to do.

  142. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:09:45

    Lazaruspaste and Shetterly: I’m not connected to the current case, but it happened in the past, to the point where several conservatives speculated gleefully on whether or not my objecting to torture while on active duty might be enough for them to get me court martialed. There were other actions. I got death threats and just general harassment at my house. The “you didn’t protect it well enough” was almost word-for-word what one of them said and I believe I can actually find the comment itself if I looked. I am not involved in this current case. I just know what it feels like.

  143. Janet
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:20:33

    @will shetterly: Lazaraspaste was referring to Ridley, not ginmar.

  144. lazaraspaste
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:21:58

    @will shetterly: I meant Ridley, which I should have said intially but didn’t because everyone else’s responses hadn’t posted yet.

  145. meoskop
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:22:41

    @ginmar: He had a previous interaction with Ridley, which he is choosing to overlook. He’s good like that. On a completely unrelated note, thank you both for your service and your morality. It is hard to speak up while in the military, and even more necessary.

  146. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:26:07

    Meoskop, thank you.

  147. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:26:23

    Jane, “She blocked you and so you took to your blog and outed her in retaliation instead of just, um, responding to her alleged misrepresentation. ”

    Are y’all just factually challenged? Really, please, just answer this question: If she was pseudonymous at the time, why did she make so many of her posts private a week later, and change her name in the LJ posts that she left public?

  148. MrsJoseph
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:33:12

    @will shetterly: Dude. Just some words of wisdom: You should stop now. There is no way you can convince a group of women why it was ok for you make another woman unsafe. Without her consent. At this point, it would be in your best interest to not.say.another.word.

  149. Janet
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:39:22

    @meoskop: Wait, you mean he had another interaction with Ridley previous to this thread?

  150. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:39:58

    Ginmar, I completely sympathize. When I was young, my family was involved in the civil rights movement. People called us with anonymous death threats. We couldn’t get fire insurance because word was out the Klan would burn us down. My dad taught me how to carry the shotgun to him in case they showed up; thank God, they never did. But it was terrifying, so when I say I’m sorry you were treated that way, I am very sorry.

    Not quite as terrifying was my second death threat. I wrote the first comic book about a black female superhero that was published by a major comics publisher. I got creepy mail from an anonymous white supremacist in Texas. That wasn’t as scary because the postmark said he was so far away, and because I’d learned from the earlier experience that anonymous threats are rarely acted upon.

    And then I got a death threat from someone who believed Coffeeandink’s claim. It might’ve been from the person who left a death threat in Rachel Moss’s office about Coffeeandink helped to out her. (Moss, incidentally, did not use her real name on her LJ.) Because I’d had my earlier experiences with death threats, I knew to shrug off that one. Idiots will be idiots.

    But the first one is terrifying. I’ll always remember my mother shaking after answering the phone.

    It’s why pseudonymity should not be treated lightly. If you want to be pseudonymous, you must make some effort.

  151. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:42:20

    @meoskop, I had an interaction with Ridley? When was this? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I haven’t a clue who he or she may be.

  152. meoskop
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:42:38

    @Janet: No, I meant upthread. Sorry for any confusion.

  153. Lazaraspaste
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:44:33

    I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, but . . . Le sigh, indeed.

  154. Wahoo Suze
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:44:45

    It’s why pseudonymity should not be treated lightly. If you want to be pseudonymous, you must make some effort.

    So you did what, a public service by outing her after she started to hide herself better? No, you could have done that by privately pointing out to her that she had left some breadcrumbs that ill-wishers could find.

    She came to a belated realization that she was too out there, she took steps to correct that, and you UN-DID those steps. You made her less safe. You did that knowing how terrifying it is to have strangers hate you to the point of violence.

    You’re saying any attacks on a woman are her own fault for being vulnerable. Which is exactly the same thing as saying any woman who wears sexy clothing is at fault if she’s raped. Which is exactly what this post is arguing AGAINST.

  155. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:48:34

    ….and then he ruined it all by blaming victims other than himself and his family. Jesus Fucking Christ almighty. If you judge and/or take the victims to task for what they didn’t do to protect themselves against an attack they weren’t even aware was going to happen—–careless of them not to be psychic, you know——- then you’re taking the fucking predator out of the equation entirely! Hindsight is perfect and always finds what it looks for. Nobody wants to look too closely at the predators, because the reason they’re so successful is that they blend in.

    You could take, say, a potential victim out of some place where the Fates have foretold she would get attacked somehow and you know what? That predator is still there. You just changed victims. The predator is just going to move to another victim. And you helped him by focusing on what the victim didn’t do about an attack she didn’t know was going to happen, committed by a person she had never met before! Not hard at all!

    You’re justifying stalking and blaming victims. Read this comment repeatedly until it sinks in. Bang your head against the wall if that helps.

    And don’t think I haven’t noticed that you have been conspicuously talking about everything but the question I asked you.

  156. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:54:39

    @Wahoo Suze: Ah, just noticed the invisible “reply” buttons.

    No, I’m not saying what you’re saying I’m saying. I’m saying what I’m saying. But I realize that if you subscribe to an ideology, you’ll hear people say what you think they’re saying.

    There are two issues here. Should Goodreads critics be outed, and did I out Coffeeandink? My answer is that anonymous reviewers are entitled to their anonymity, but people who want to include everyone else’s histories in flamewars should be prepared to have their own included if they’ve been public about their identity.

    Please check the facts: A woman and I were accused of “outing” her on March 2. She announced that she was hiding her history on March 23.

    Forgive me for linking to her own posts:

  157. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:00:03

    @ginmar: Have you answered the question of why she decided to change her public record *after* accusing people of outing her? You can go to her site and check this. She made the accusations on March 2, 2009. She announced three weeks later, on March 23 that she would hide her past, when she wrote, “I do not find posting under these conditions safe or enjoyable and will be locking down many public posts. I will do my best to leave public any posts which received widespread linking or discussion but may make exceptions according to my own discretion.”

  158. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:01:16

    @will shetterly – you did an entire post on her real identity and for what purpose? To prove she didn’t do a good enough job hiding her real identity? Weak.

  159. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:03:16

    I’m the one asking the questions here, dude. And you’re not answering them.

    Wonder why that could be?

    I’m under no obligation to indulge you in what’s so very very obviously a desperate diversionary tactic.

  160. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:05:19

    @ginmar: Sorry. I don’t remember your question. Please repeat it. I’ll answer it, then ask mine. If you insist on ladies first, that’s fine by me.

  161. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:07:09

    Did you have her consent? Did you ask her for permission?

  162. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:08:50

    @Jane: @Jane: Hmm. I clearly need to revise the post. The point was to point out that she had not hidden her identity, and did not begin to hide it until long after she made the accusation. You do understand that hiding the evidence three weeks later does not make a claim true?

  163. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:11:05

    @ginmar: No, I did not ask her for her permission to mention the name that she had been using for years in public posts on her LJ. She was making her public posts about who did what; I was doing the same.

    And now, my question: If she had been pseudonymous, why did she hide her public use of her name after making her accusation?

  164. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:12:34

    @will shetterly – here is your cognitive dissonance. You believe that bringing up and pointing out the failure of someone to “do a better job” of hiding their identity is justification for putting out her real name and other associated details in rebuttal for an alleged misrepresentation of your opinions, particularly on the issues of class and race. I believe that doing that is wrong and that the way to rebut alleged misrepresentations is to actually address those issues. The fact that you felt the need to attack her personal identity, regardless of whether she failed to live up to whatever standard of protection you deem necessary in order for people to be afforded personal privacy signals the very weakness of either the substance of the argument or your ability to argue at all.

  165. Jennifer Leeland
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:25:44

    @will shetterly: So, by your standard, if someone uses your personal identity and “outs” you, they should be prepared to have the same done to them.
    Here’s my issue with that. In a world (online or not) where bad behavior is “punished” with bad behavior, then we will have a world with revenge, not justice. If the person in question “outed” you, it would have been easier to shun her, encourage others to shun her. Instead, you retaliated, deliberately revealing HER personal information and created a situation where she would feel threatened and unsafe.
    I believe, as someone who has experience the threat of violence for one’s beliefs, that you might have risen above that kind of ugliness.
    If you’ve noticed, several people on this thread have stated that they KNOW who is running this appalling Stop The Goodreads Bullies site. Yet, even those most effected, those who have received threatening phone calls refuse to go against their principles and “out” them.
    There’s no room for wiggling here. You did it. You said you did it. You enjoyed it. You think she deserved it. In my mind, you’re like my ten year old who points the finger at his brother and says “He started it”.
    I’ll say what I say to them. I don’t care who started it. I want it stopped. Justice is when someone is held accountable for what they’ve done. Revenge is retaliation. Do you not see that by what you’ve done you’ve created a precedence for what we see now? Do you not see the consequences of your actions?
    What if someone who is not mentally all there decided to take your information and commit a felony against your target? Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t be responsible for that?
    You did not have her permission to expose her this way and her behavior, however reprehensible, does not give you that permission.
    Dude, it has to stop somewhere.

  166. MrsJoseph
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:27:22

    @will shetterly: Wait. Are you still here justifying???

    You’re acting like a troll and diverting the discussion to something that is very much in the past. You’re a douche who likes to out women’s identities on the internet. We’re a group of women who think what YOU DID WAS WRONG and you whining will not change that.

    Now, can we please go back to discussing WTF can be done about this horrific website?

  167. Linda Hilton
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:30:41

    @will shetterly: diversionary indeed.

    Regardless how public or private, how accessible or hidden, the person’s personal information was, what was your motive in publishing it? Was it to show that you could? In other words, to display your power? Was it to put her at risk? In other words, to display your power? Was it to make her vulnerable to others? In other words, to improve your power? Was it just to retaliate against her? In other words, to regain your power?

    How, when, or why she made her information public and then private again is not the issue. WHAT she did is not the issue. We already know all that.

    The issue is what YOU did and WHY you did it. Motive can be everything.

  168. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:33:04

    @Jane: And here is your cognitive dissonance: You believe that by announcing you’re pseudonymous, you enter an alternate dimension where you were always pseudonymous.

    This has nothing to do with doing a better job. Coffeeandink did the equivalent of yelling, “The bullies beat me up!” when she had actually fallen down. Hmm. That analogy is not perfect, because I don’t know whether she honestly believed she had been pseudonymous. On the one hand, she would have to be astonishingly clueless about the way Google works. On the other, there are astonishingly clueless people in the world.

    I trust we agree that it’s wrong to try to “out” someone by poking into things that are not in the public record. But how can you out someone who put her identity into the public record herself?

    Well, I suspect we’ll never agree on this, so feel free to treat those questions as rhetorical.

  169. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:35:59

    @Jennifer Leeland – I don’t think the person every outed Shetterly. Instead, she compiled a historical summary of his opinions regarding race and class and characterized them in a way that Shetterly did not like. His response was to out her not very well (according to him) personal information.

    There is actually a standard in the law that can be applied here. It’s a rule of evidence called “relevance.” The relevancy standard requires that evidence offered for admission be probative on an issue in the case. Relevancy is given fairly wide latitude, but one oft litigated use has to do with character evidence such as past drug use or sexual history in cases of rape. The question is does the proffered evidence make any of the issues more or less likely. Does occasional marijuana use have anything to do with a case where the individual’s private HIPPA information was inadvertently revealed by a hospital? Probably not. The offering of the evidence of past drug use would merely to smear the individual bringing the claim in the eyes of the fact finder.

    Similarly, Shetterly proffered the evidence of the LiveJournal’s identity but for what probative value? Did it make her characterizations of Shetterly’s arguments more or less correct? Of course not. It was offered to make her stop criticizing him.

  170. MrsJoseph
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:38:18


    Similarly, Shetterly proffered the evidence of the LiveJournal’s identity but for what probative value? Did it make her characterizations of Shetterly’s arguments more or less correct? Of course not. It was offered to make her stop criticizing him.

    So, in a (layman’s) sense…what he did was the legal equivalent of a SLAPP lawsuit?

  171. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:42:10

    @Will Shetterly “But how can you out someone who put her identity into the public record herself?”

    Answer: Easily. You did a whole post on it. Simply because someone is careless in a couple of posts or even if she choose to use her real identity several times is not justification for putting her personal information in a more accessible way to a large platform for the purpose of punishing her or to make her shut up. See below my discussion of relevancy. Her personal information had nothing to do with whether you are classist or a racist or a misogynist. Her personal information was not relevant. Thus your justifications are logical, myopic fallacies at best or underpinned with mal intent at worst.

  172. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:42:59

    @MrsJoseph – The SLAPP suit is a responsive suit to a baseless lawsuit so its more like the baseless lawsuit.

  173. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:43:48

    @Jane: This may as well be directed to you, though it was inspired by Linda Hilton’s question of motive: At the time, many histories of the flamewar were being compiled. All of them were selective, which shouldn’t be surprising—humans are selective. If this flamewar deserved to be recorded, I believed then and believe now that a full record is necessary. Coffeeandink was not a dispassionate observer. She had long histories with at least four of the people she attacked, and the only way to establish those histories was to include her name, which she had been in the habit of using publicly on her LJ for at least the last three years.

    Well, that covers both motive and facts. I’m assuming you mentioned me in the first place because you thought what happened then was relevant to the Goodreads issue, but it seems like derailment to me. We agree that pseudonymous reviewers should be free to say whatever they please, so do carry on without me now.

  174. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:50:48

    @Jane: I hope this’ll be the last point of fact: she was not “careless in a couple of posts”. Ask her sometime how many of her posts she changed. Beginning in 2006, whenever she was going to be on a panel at a convention, she made a public post on her LJ with her legal name, sometimes including her middle name, so anyone could find her easily.

    Out of curiosity, are you really a lawyer?

  175. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:51:55

    @will shetterly – why would it make any difference if I was or was not a lawyer?

  176. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:58:06

    @Jane: Because there’s an interesting discussion of the legalities here:

  177. ginmar
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 15:00:41

    Oh, no, sweetie, that’s not how it goes. You do not get to change my blunt question into your self-justifying version of it. I asked you very simply, “Did she consent? Did you ask her for permission?” And then when finally you ‘answered’ it, you tacked on a whole load of YOUR bullshit justifying what you did. Nope. Not satisfactory at all.

    My question was yes or no. It was not, “Explain to me how you think she totally asked for it and provoked you and so it was totes okay to do that to her.”

    For somebody who so adores handwaving racism away with classes, you sure are determined to avoid the whole gender=class thing, too. Guess that argument only works for you when it serves your purpose.

    Once again, you’re justifying stalking and no less than punching down.

  178. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 15:02:15

    @Will Shetterly – legalities of what? Outing someone? Sure, what you did was legal but the issue here is whether we condone it as a community. We don’t. We think people who compile personal information available on the internet are douchebags and assorted other less than pleasant monikers. We don’t wish to associate with those individuals, review their books, help them promote their causes. We think that those actions are shameful.

    There are a whole host of things that are legal to do such as plagiarize and yet communities disagree that the legality of such an action does not excuse the wrong.

  179. Lazaraspaste
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 15:17:59


    But even IF someone is writing under their real name, compiling their address, phone number, eating habits, walking routes, and children’s locations is not okay. So I don’t understand the point about anonymity. I feel like whether or not they were anonymous under their pseudonym is besides the point. Whether or not the harassment occurs against the pseudonym or the real person is besides the point, the point is that certain information was revealed whose sole purpose was to intimidate and silence voices that certain people did not want to be heard. They were not offering counterarguments. They were not offering factual corrections. They were not saying mean things. They were compiling information in order to prevent these people from expressing their point of view, from writing, commenting and criticising.

    THAT to me, is the issue. NOT anonymity. NOT pseudonymity.

    The issue is tactical intimidation for the purpose of silencing a dissenting or critical group who may or may not be anonymous.

  180. Madame X
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 15:24:19

    “At the time, many histories of the flamewar were being compiled” is one of the silliest, snortle-inducing things I’ve read in the while.

    A comment like that…is a whole personal history on its own. It says, “my entire vocabulary and store of idioms is compiled from SFF books, and I don’t have enough normal friends to gently chide me away from ridiculously bombastic speeches…”

  181. Ceilidh
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 15:41:47

    I’m amazed by how many people don’t understand how GoodReads works as a site. Shelving books has absolutely no effect on the overall star rating. It’s a member specific tool that makes organisation easier. If one wants to name a shelf “Will never read due to bad author behaviour” then that’s their prerogative. Doing so has absolutely no impact on the book’s site rating. Readers have the right to not read a book based on such things. Having a review receive lots of “like” button clicks also has no effect on the rating.

    If you have enough free time on your hands to pay for a domain name, compile countless personal details on people you’ve never met and launch a harassment effort based on your own egotistical delusions by encouraging others to “stop” these “bullies”, then you are nothing but a pathetic little bully. I would hate to be as sad, scared and alone as the person running that site.

  182. Madame X
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:00:58

    Celidh – I agree that a lot of Goodreads problems stem from authors who don’t understand the community. In some cases, I imagine they’re assuming that GR is exactly like Amazon, that “shelves” are like “tags” and that “likes” to a review mean it will be more prominently featured to browsers.

    I started out reviewing on Amazon and it took me a while to get the hang of the GR system. Shelves do everything that tags do on amazon but also a lot more. They’re much more personal, less about driving the site’s display algorithms. Reviews on GR are first tiered by who wrote them – a friend, someone you follow, the population in general – and only secondarily by likes. I follow enough reviewers now that, more often than not, I never need to look past what they’ve written to get a sense of how I’ll react to a book. No matter how many times the top review of the bottom tier (the stranger tier) has been liked, I rarely see it.

    A couple related points:

    * There are reviewers out there who do “revenge rating” but the “do not read” shelves are designed to be an ethical alternative to rating an unread book. The existence of “do not read” shelves is a sign of respect for the integrity of reviews and ratings.

    * Every 1 star rating that warns me away from a book I wouldn’t like is a 1 star rating that book has avoided from me. Every nasty review that sends me elsewhere is a new nasty review the book won’t accumulate from me. In that sense, nasty reviews are as good for authors as they are for readers – you have to want your book to find the RIGHT readers, not EVERY reader.

  183. Janet
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:04:12

    @Ceilidh: I think part of the problem is that there is an overweening sense of paranoia that even shelving a book a certain way will cause others to not read it or review it negatively. A projection which, in some cases, might occur more easily to those already engaged in less than ethical promotional behavior. I honestly don’t know how much of this is that kind of guilty projection, and how much of it is just pure paranoia in the midst of a growing subgenre or self-publishing flood or crowded genre marketplace, or whatever.

  184. MrsJoseph
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:25:49

    I think you all have hit the GR nail on the head.

    I would love it if Dear Author could do a post on the differences between GR and Amazon (especially the shelves vs tags and what not rating a book means).

    Maybe (am I being overly optimistic?) it might stop some of the drama.

  185. Wahoo Suze
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:32:19

    @MrsJoseph: I don’t know, I think most of the drama stems from the Nice Girls ™ who think that everyone who doesn’t agree with them, or belong to their clique, or behave in their preferred manner, is WRONG and must be punished.

    I don’t get the sense that the instigators of the drama are big on critical thinking. How the rating system actually works is probably irrelevant. They just want people to behave like, I don’t know, church ladies or something. (By which I mean, smile and say nice things while you’re stabbing people in the back. Not real, actual ladies who enjoy church, but the SNL version.)

  186. Lazaraspaste
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:38:13

    @MrsJoseph: I don’t think it’ll help. The paranoia stems from a belief that a critique of their book or a criticism of their behavior as an author online and in the community is tantamount to an attack on their identity. An attack on their very being. It’s not just their job, their art. It’s their life in their minds. There’s no separation, no boundaries. So they react as if any negative review or response to them is a threat to their existence. That’s why they got so vicious. That’s why they attacked these reviewers in the way they did: because in their own minds a negative review is exactly the same as posting the home address of someone.

    You cannot reason with madness.

  187. Madame X
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:42:24


    I think it would help a lot of the authors who tumble into the scandals by accident, which happens often enough.

    The thing about GR is that it makes no sense if you don’t use it. When I first joined I was bewildered – I had no friends and I kept thinking the site was useless. It took months for me to experience its best features, because they’re social – which Amazon isn’t. In a lot of ways, as a book-recommending-tool, it’s the precise OPPOSITE of Amazon.

    “Tags” and “featured” reviews are *extremely* important on Amazon. Self-pubbed authors in particular work hard to collect tags and game the featured reviews (reviewers do likewise, incidentally, since featured reviews gather more votes and that ups your reviewer ranking…).

    But GR is more of a social network. Personally, I only browse a person’s shelves if I’m thinking of friending/following them (to figure out if we have similar tastes, in which case I only care about books we’ve both already read), or if I’m already friending/following a person, to pick up a new rec (in which case it’s the person’s taste, not the shelf title, that is most important).

  188. Susan
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:43:24

    I’m lost. Who is Will Shetterly? What the heck is this all about? Relevance to original discussion??? (I’m being serious. I’ve been following the discussion, but now feel as if it’s veered into some unknown–to me–territory. Sorry.)

  189. Courtney Milan
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:44:55

    @will shetterly: Why was her actual identity of relevance to the flamewar you were having?

    There are times when someone’s actual identity is relevant–for instance, if someone comes on a review and starts arguing about how the reviewer totally misunderstood it, “outing” that person as the author may serve a valuable purpose.

    What I do not understand is how this person’s actual identity, instead of her history of posting, was in any way relevant to your discussion.

    So this is what I’m looking to see from you:

    “I needed to include actual evidence about her identity because it would have proved _______ point in an ongoing argument.”

    So far, all your justifications boil down to, “She pissed me off and she wasn’t telling the truth.” Even if I take your statement as absolute truth–that she was, in fact, a liar who manufactured multiple false statements about your past history of posting–I do not yet understand why your post needed to include her actual identity instead of a response setting the factual record about yourself straight.

    Can you provide that explanation? What purpose did you think it would serve to include her real-life identity?

  190. Meljean
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:55:47

    @Wahoo Suze: I agree. Not that a post on Goodreads vs. Amazon and reviews wouldn’t be informative for many authors and readers, but honestly, I don’t really think that’s the issue here. There are lots of authors who might do all of the big no-nos on review sites (arguing with reviewers, mansplaining, swooping in to defend friends, gaming systems) that would never in a million years think of outing someone. So understanding the Goodreads environment might help a few people from venturing into ‘behaving badly’ territory, but it’s not going to make a bit of difference to people who think outing someone is a legitimate way to shut them up. And I suspect that even if Ridley never called anyone a douche, if Kat Kennedy never snarked, or so on — as long as people are reviewing honestly, there will be others who will think it’s okay to post their personal information, because those honest reviews/readers calling out bad behavior are hurting them, and — again — they just want the readers to shut up. Calling out the tone and language is just an excuse.

    I’m seeing this discussion framed as “How to handle negative reviews so you don’t become like the GR Bullies” in many other places … but this doesn’t feel to me like that’s the issue at all. Even if most authors don’t know how to handle negative reviews, they won’t react by creating something like the GR Bullies site. It should be more like, “How not to go on a power trip of bullying and intimidation.”

    Which, I think, most of us already know. Of course, the GR Bullies know it, too — they just apparently don’t care. And there aren’t enough blog posts in the universe that can make someone care when they are determined not to.

  191. Ann Somerville
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:00:13

    I just want to clarify, in the wake of what has been insinuated and the appearance of someone who uses ‘outing’ as a weapon, that when I said I would ‘name’ the person behind the SGRB site if I had conclusive proof, I meant I would name them by the name they are best known by – ie their screen name, writing pseud, lj handle or whatever. So, for instance, if the crazed allegations above by AoV were true (which they are NOT), I would say ‘Jane Litte and Janet’ are behind the site, not the real names of either, though I know them (and they know mine too). Unfortunately for the prime suspect, she uses her real name, and attached it previously to egregious behaviour. Even so, some on GR use a nickname for her, partly to avoid her swooping in as someone else has done here to derail, but partly because they know she’s in for a shitload of hurt as a result of her own actions. Personally I don’t think she deserves such kindness, but there are many people on the planet kinder than me – on which fact, sadly, trolls and psychos rely.

    And that’s all I want to say to or about the man who’s turned up here to make it all about him. I urge everyone to realise this is a common tactic on his part and he will keep going until Jane shuts this down in defence.

    Janet said ” there is an overweening sense of paranoia that even shelving a book a certain way will cause others to not read it or review it negatively”

    Unfortunatley, some readers choose titles for their shelves which are deliberately provoking – things like ‘author is a crazy bitch’ and the like. I had this happen to me because I defended reviewers from being attacked over the TJ Klune nonsense, and yes, it hurt a good deal (GR declined to do anything about it). The sensible thing for an author who can’t shrug this kind of thing off easily is to avoid GR, and that’s the solution I chose. I can’t predict how I’ll react emotionally on any given day to a provocation, and removing an easily removed source of pain is the best thing to do.

    If only certain other people would do the same instead of spewing their ids all over the internet.

    The important thing is that people know who’s being talked about, not that we know *who* they really are (unless of course we have to sue them, in which case it’s a matter for lawyers, not bloggers.) The aforementioned fan of weaponised outing could have easily have made all his posts justifying his outrageous behaviour referring to ‘coffeeandink’ and everyone would have known what he meant and where to look for cross reference. I’d read that woman’s LJ on and off for years and only knew her first name, and had no interest in the full real name. The outer of her identity wasn’t interested in just giving people a cross reference – he wanted her to be afraid. Kathryn Cramer did the same thing for the same reason – it wasn’t about clarity, it was about revenge.

    Robin has already thrashed this out back in 2009 and I suggest anyone interested in the precise arguments for and against, give this post of hers a look.

  192. karlynp
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:13:24

    @Janet: I agree. I think some of these authors simply do not like the amount of control a reader now has online. In addition, try as they may, they cannot find a way to FORCE readers to only write reviews using their preferred standard of what we should/shouldn’t write. , i.e…we should never use profanity, we must always include positive statements not just negative ones, always speak polity like we are in church, and most importantly we must remember this is the author’s baby and we don’t EVER want to hurt her delicate sensibilities…blah, blah, blah. (Sorry, but I laugh every time I see authors seriously debating how to enforce their standards among us readers. It will NEVER happen.)

    In truth, these authors are simply fighting the progress of today’s digital age. The old ways of controlling reviews are done. over. kaput. A decade ago Amazon freaked authors out when they first started posting reviews, so this is just more of the same paranoia, IMHO. The old school authors need to get over it and learn to adapt, and lastly quit blaming the reviewers for using these consumer based features.

    I am glad you guys are also pointing out that many of these features on GR are not as dire as some authors fear. If you see cases of real abuse, report it. GR will not tolerate author-bashing either.

    GR has over 9 million users, so I don’t underestimate the value it serves the reader community to make informed decisions. I also believe most readers are smart enough not to let a few snarky comments sway their buying decision.

  193. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:23:34

    @Lazaraspaste: I agree. Frankly, I don’t get why Janet included me in her post, but clearly, she thinks there’s some parallel here.

  194. Madame X
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:34:42

    @Ann Somerville:

    Serious question: why did you protest to Goodreads or try to have the shelves changed?

    You seem to have a pretty decent grap on the idea that your personality is going to win you some fans and also lose you some fans. And you’ve named a case where I presume both happened, but you at least tried to curb the negative reaction some people had.

  195. Janet
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:45:58

    @karlynp: And it’s not just the new or self-pubbed authors, either. In fact, when the Cassie Edwards situation hit, there was one veteran trad pubbed author, in particular, who uttered a phrase on SBTB that became infamous and indicative (fairly or not) for how some authors seemed to feel about readers revealing a long-time pattern of making use of other work without attribution.

    I am not accusing any authors of anything, and I know there are some wonderfully sane and congenial authors around, but I do think that the more “space” reader voices gain in the online community, and the less effusively positive those voices are, the more it has disrupted and threatened long-time perceptions about the reader-author relationship.

    In fact, one of the strangest ironies here (to me, at least), is that there are quite a few readers who will say that so much of this craziness has arisen because authors are so much more involved in the reader-book relationship in places like Goodreads. Readers want to engage with the book and with other readers *about* the book, and authors somehow (and sometimes innocently or clumsily or carelessly) stumble into those relationships, which some readers find problematic. And when they make their feelings known, authors feel that is a personal attack, when the whole problem started because the author was NOT intended to be part of the equation. And then the authors complain that readers are attacking them instead of focusing on their books and striking back, creating the very effect they claimed not to want. And that begets readers who will avoid certain authors’ books, and authors who find sites like STGRB okay, etc. And so it goes.

    Now that readers are not just fan club members who want nothing more than an autographed book and a picture with the author, the culture is changing, and some of the growing pains are truly painful (for all).

  196. Susan
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:58:57

    @Ann Somerville: Thank you for the link to the 2009 post. Dang–there’s a whole history of previous blowups of which I was totally unaware. Guess I need to catch up.

  197. azteclady
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 18:02:18

    @will shetterly: You really need this spelled out?

    Well, then here it is: you wanted to shut someone up, and compiled her personal information in one handy dandy place in order to do so. The StGRb are doing the same thing.

    And both you and them are justifying the indefensible with, “the other side started it!”

    It’s all clear now?

    Oh and legal doesn’t always means right, in case you still don’t get it.

  198. will shetterly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 18:11:26

    @azteclady: Ah. Let’s see: she compiled public information about me. Then I compiled public information about her, which was indefensible. It’ll take me a while to fully appreciate the logic, but I thank you for clearing that up.

    Did someone compile information about the StGRb first?

  199. Ann Somerville
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 18:26:42

    @Madame X:
    “why did you protest to Goodreads or try to have the shelves changed?”

    (Note:I’m giving reasons, not excuses here.) Because it was unfair, just as the flyby ratings on Heidi’s and other authors books was unfair. I and they hadn’t behaved badly – we had *protested* about bad behaviour. In my case I’d told Kaje Harper to shut up because she was harrassing a reader over her opinion on whether TJ Klune had plagiarised his ‘Bear, Otter and the Kid’ book.

    It wasn’t just a shelving label either – she went into detail in comments on her ‘review’ of one of my books (which I can’t find now because it’s either been deleted or it’s private) about what a cunt I was and so on. This person could have emailed me or commented on my blog, but she chose to attack me – not my books, but me as a person – on GR.

    Yes, I should have left it alone. But because of events in my personal life and the attacks over the Klune business, I wasn’t feeling particularly well-grounded, and I’m no more immune to emotional distress than anyone else.

    So what I’m saying is – I understand how shelving labels can hurt. I understand the need to make them go away. But I also say – learn from my mistake and walk away, don’t engage. You won’t change the mind of someone like that, and it’s better for your own mental health to not see deliberate attempts to provoke (whether they really are, or you just see them that way.)

    ETA: I’ll repeat what I’ve said before – hurtful though this was, and however irrational or smallminded the person doing things like this, it’s NOT BULLYING. I could and did walk away from it. It didn’t follow me offline, and the only repercussions were that a few of this person’s equally meanminded friends got a laugh at my expense. I didn’t lose readers because they weren’t readers of mine, and no one I cared about – or for – was involved. Being obnoxious, being unpleasant isn’t being a bully. Nothing I’ve said above is meant to offer any justification or support for the behaviour of the people at SGRB or their moronic supports.

  200. Meoskop
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 18:30:20

    She compiled a list of your public views, which reflected poorly on you and pissed you off.

    You compiled a list of her personal RL information in a snit.

    Douche move. Simple as.

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