Goodreads’ New Censorship Policy Causing a Stir Among the Frequently Reading

If there’s one thing most readers find controversial – it’s censorship. If you mix a bunch of highly literate, well-informed readers on a social network like Goodreads and tell them they can no longer express their opinions on authors of said books – well, you’re just asking for trouble because that’s censorship. Right?

We have had a policy of removing reviews that were created primarily to talk about author behavior from the community book page. Once removed, these reviews would remain on the member’s profile. Starting today, we will now delete these entirely from the site. We will also delete shelves and lists of books on Goodreads that are focused on author behavior.

According to the new policy on Goodreads, reviews focusing on author behavior, rather than their book, will be permanently removed from the site. Obviously, this decision did not sit well with users – about 3,000 comments have been left on the site’s announcement page.

GR bullies, or Goodreads Bullies , are a well-documented phenomena that has gotten plenty of press and attention, but is censorship the best way to deter negative behavior? Many users are dismissive of reviewers actually bullying authors while others have responded with concerns about harassment from authors who did not get a positive review.

In addition to removing user reviews, shelves on Goodreads that focus on author behaviors will also be removed. One thing that is worth mentioning is Goodreads’ new Amazon ownership. Whether Amazon is dictating this decisions is unclear, but they do have a stake in making a profit from selling books and negative reviews do not sell books.

Goodreads is defending their new policy by denying censorship, but let’s be clear, removing bullying or threatening comments is still censoring.

Someone used the word censorship to describe this. This is not censorship – this is setting an appropriate tone for a community site. We encourage members to review and shelve books in a way that makes sense for them, but reviews and shelves that focus primarily on author behavior do not belong on Goodreads.

For authors, it might be helpful to familiarize yourself with Goodreads’ suggestions for good behavior. For reviewers and users of Goodreads, keep reviews about the book and don’t threat or harass other users.

Reviewers have raised concerns over the policy’s lack of notifications over shelf removal have prompted an update to the policy:

Anyone else with reviews or shelves created prior to September 21, 2013 that will be deleted under the revised policy will be sent a notification first and given time to decide what to do. 

If you are concerned that your reviews might be removed, you can export your content as a .CSV file:

Go to “My Books”. On the left side is as list of links. Click on “import/export”. On the new page, upper right, is the link to export to a .CSV file. (Yes, your whole review IS in the .CSV file)