In our last post, we said we were going to make a big announcement about Goodreads and why they keep protecting the bullies at the expense of readers and authors. Well, this is it.
In light of what happened recently to Nathan Bransford and his utter shock at the GR bullies’ attitude and sense of entitlement to double standards:
We thought this would be a good time to address this issue.
And it’s not what you think.
Ever since we started our blog back in July of 2012, we were flabbergasted at the hatred directed toward our site for shedding light on a growing problem on GR. No matter how much evidence we published on our blog, Goodreads ignored our requests and the requests of their members to put an end to the bullying. Instead of enforcing their TOS, they chose to silence and delete not only authors, but also readers. They have allowed the bullies to do pretty much whatever they want. They’ve allowed them free reign to stalk, bully, harass, libel, threaten… et cetera, et cetera. As more and more of us witnessed this happening, all we could do was step back, scratch our heads in shock and wonder: why? Why is GR blatantly censoring people to protect their abusive members? Why are they NOT enforcing their TOS?
You agree not to post User Content that: (i) may create a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to you, to any other person, or to any animal; (ii) may create a risk of any other loss or damage to any person or property; (iii) seeks to harm or exploit children by exposing them to inappropriate content, asking for personally identifiable details or otherwise; (iv) may constitute or contribute to a crime or tort; (v) contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable; (vi) contains any information or content that is illegal (including, without limitation, the disclosure of insider information under securities law or of another party’s trade secrets); or (vii) contains any information or content that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships; or (viii) contains any information or content that you know is not correct and current.
Well, fortunately, one man figured it out. Thanks to the genius of MT Dismuke, we finally know why they are doing this. And thanks to some insider information we managed to obtain, we were able to verify his theory.
In order to show you the origin of the problem clearly, we need to go back in time to 2006 and tell you a little story about a man named Otis Chandler and his vision for a website called Goodreads.
(Note: below we use the terms reviews and ratings synonymously. When you are rating a book, you are also reviewing it and vice versa.)
Anyhow, with this new site, Otis envisioned a place where all book lovers could come together and discuss their favorite books. He wanted to “help them find good books and help them share those books with friends”. In order to grow the site and make money, he did a couple things:
- Being a computer scientist with an eye for the media business, he knew the value of data. He knew that he would have to build up a “critical mass of book reviews” so he encouraged users to join the site and ensured that they would be safe to say WHATEVER they wanted. He grew his review database under the guise of “freedom of speech” and “not censoring”. Hence, GR’s open review policy.
- Then, he launched a “Netflix level book recommendation engine” or an API through which phones, websites, libraries, online bookstores, etc. could link and access GR’s “critical mass of book reviews”. In other words, he wanted literally MILLIONS of people and websites to be able to link in to these reviews through the GR API.
In this Digital Reader article, it says:
Here, Otis is celebrating the big-name websites using their API:
GR’s message to its members was clear:
Don’t like a book? Review it.
Don’t like a book cover? Review it.
Don’t like an author? Review him/her.
Even when people first create an account on GR, it prompts them to rate/review at least 20 books, regardless of whether or not they’ve actually read a book.
In other words, GR wanted its members to review, review, review! It didn’t matter if it was fake, they just wanted people to keep reviewing!
This laissez-faire approach is what created an ideal environment for bully gangs. They began to emerge and start stalking, threatening, bullying, libeling, etc., anyone who stood in their way or who didn’t play by their rules, especially authors who didn’t have the right to fight back. These gangs actually helped GR increase its membership numbers and draw more attention and people to the site.
The idea was build, build, build, build!
And why? So that GR could MAKE MONEY! Otis and his staff wanted to build up the site and sell it to the public as a legitimate book review site. Again, you see why he used the term, “critical mass of book reviews” and why he implemented the API. He learned it from Amazon. On this page, Otis says:
And ironically, the site was just recently sold to Amazon for 200 million as this article at Goodereader.com says:
So, you see, when GR silences authors and readers who speak out against the bullies, they are not protecting the bullies per se. They are protecting the “critical mass of book reviews” within their database. And once you understand that, EVERYTHING starts to make sense.
It makes sense now why our site was greeted with so much hateful opposition. It makes sense now why, when we brought national attention to the problem, GR started HIDING author-bashing reviews instead of REMOVING them from the database (like they should have). It makes sense now why the best-selling author Athena spoke to over the phone last year was deleted from the site even though she didn’t break any rules. If you don’t remember that, we published it in our Thinking of Joining Goodreads? post:
Athena just recently spoke to a best-selling independent author over the phone and what this author had to say was shocking. A few months ago, Patrick Brown approached this author to ask her if she would endorse Goodreads. Because this author had read our blog, she told Patrick that not only would she NOT endorse Goodreads, she would tell the media that the information found on GR about books and authors is unreliable and she would tell them why. The following day, this author’s GR account was deleted from the site.
It makes sense now why GR brushed Mercy Pilkington off when she pointed out that FAKE data was being passed through their API:
Mercy was talking about all the fake reviews/ratings on Lauren Pippa’s book. It has 186 ratings and 52 reviews to date and the book is NEVER going to be released. Mercy was also talking about all the fake one-star reviews the bullies place on targeted authors’ books.
But we’re going off onto a tangent. Getting back to GR’s API, you may ask: why are we even mentioning it at all? Because for all those authors out there who’ve been attacked on GR and had their books trashed with literally dozens of FAKE one-star reviews, this isn’t just hurting them on the Goodreads website. These fake reviews/ratings, even if hidden on the site, STILL SHOW UP through the API on MILLIONS of phones, websites, online bookstores or in general, any site AROUND THE WORLD that uses GR’s API to link to their information on books and authors. People can even check their local libraries. The API will more than likely be there. And this is not just doing incredible damage to bullied authors, but also to consumers who are getting BAD information and to the API users who are linking into a database that has CORRUPT data.
Even Otis admits the data is invalid but dismisses removing it under the phony banner of “not censoring”:
We all know this is a pretense because of the blatant censoring done to the readers in the Mysteries & Crime Thrillers group when they tried to protect themselves from abusive members.
Furthermore, if you read the page that advertises GR’s API, there is NO disclaimer stating what Otis says above — that the data is invalid and this is really vital information to leave out. People need to know this!
By not placing a disclaimer on the API that states that the data in their database has the potential to be unreliable, fake, or invalid in any way, and by not placing this disclaimer next to the logo on all of the millions of phones, websites, libraries, online bookstores, etc., linking into the GR database, GR is doing A LOT of damage to A LOT of people. And unlike what Mike Mullin claims, dozens of fake one-star reviews on a book DO NOT help that book’s sales. It damages them. And this is only going to get worse when Goodreads integration with Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite kicks in.
In short, GR is deliberately, recklessly, and fraudulently deceiving consumers. And don’t think that authors aren’t consumers here either. In this video, Otis says:
“We’re in the media business today. We’re in the business of helping authors and publishers market their books to readers. And that’s where we make our money. We sell book launch packages to authors and publishers and really help accelerate, build that early buzz that a book needs to succeed when it launches and accelerate that growth through ads on the site.”
You see that? Selling to authors and publishers is how they make their money. Which is why they actively recruit authors to their website:
So… at this point, has anyone been able to spot GR’s crime? Do you see how they are breaking the law?
If not, we’ll tell you. The crime against consumers that GR has been committing ALL of these years is called FALSE ADVERTISING. In other words, it’s DECEPTION and it’s a violation of the FTC’s rules and regulations governing commerce and e-commerce within the United States. What they have been doing is advertising a CORRUPT database as if the data within it has integrity and it doesn’t. They’ve even admitted that. And by not putting a disclaimer on their API, they are breaking the law. They are fraudulently making millions of dollars each year at the expense of bullied authors, consumers who are getting bad information, and developers who are linking into GR’s review database through the GR API, which in turn is providing even more advertising for GR through the logo and name that developers HAVE TO include. On the page that discusses the developers terms of service, it states:
Up to this point, the only thing that has really been done to persuade GR to fix its internal problems are the petitions started during the whole Lauren Pippa affair. What else can be done? Well…
Report their crime to the FTC.
Report it to the BBB.
And report it to IC3.
For the FTC complaint, you will need GR’s phone number and address:
785 Market St (4th St)
San Francisco, CA 94103
The people who are organizing and working to bring these allegations against GR (that we mentioned in our post here) have already filed complaints. We encourage others to do the same. If enough people do this, the FTC will investigate and GR will be fined and forced to act.
There have already been successful investigations like this. Example: the FTC’s investigation into Facebook when they used members’ private information without their knowledge or consent.
Reporting GR’s crime is the first phase. Once criminal charges are brought against them, this will pave the way for a civil class action lawsuit. MT Dismuke of Authors Against Abuse is spearheading this effort. If you wish to join Gail, MT Dismuke, and the AAA team in fighting against internet crime and cyber abuse, just click the link to AAA above.
PLEASE PASS THIS INFORMATION ON.