Book Chick with Kick recently posted a blog article about cyber bullying on Good Reads. The bullying goes beyond posting a negative review, and in some cases, authors have received threats from the reviewers. A variety of authors posted on a Linked In discussion that they have been the butt of this bullying, too, to various degrees. The bullying has become so common that the bullies are now being referred to as “trolls”.
“I personally have been stalked for nine years by the trolls in the Amazon Forums. They've posted my home address, false reports of criminal convictions and their latest is to try and get my social security disability cut off,” said Rick Carufel.
“Brad Thor is arguably the # 1 guy in Thrillers, and one of his books predicted the NSA scandal,” says John Trudel, author of “Privacy Wars”. “This is territory that attracts political trolls with agendas. Each non-fiction book critical of the administration has a few "duty trolls" who lurk on the Amazon review threads to bully and silence critics. Go to a popular non-fiction book like "Bullies" or "The Amateur" and you will see a pattern of 1and 2-star reviews, from trolls who've not read the books. And on the books with good reviews, you will see "duty Trolls" who lurk there to bash those who give positive reviews AND those who defend them. Some of the "5-star" reviews prompt arguments that run up to several THOUSAND posts. Brad Thor’s bestselling book, “Black List”, has attracted 61 "1-star" and "2-star" reviews. A few were sincere, but most seem to be from trolls making political rants, and in some cases, personal attacks.”
To try and combat the personal attacks taking place, a petition has been started, asking Good Reads to begin monitoring reviews. Suggestions run the gamut from having Good Reads censor reviews, to having rules about what a review must contain, to allowing readers to report reviews that contain personal attacks or foul language. The petition has a comment area that allows each signer to make a comment or suggestion about the problem. To sign the petition, go to:
In the meantime, many authors are refusing to list their books on Good Reads, either as a protest or as a means of protecting themselves.
“I've heard so many authors recently say that they are keeping away from Goodreads that I can't see it being able to sustain itself indefinitely unless Amazon takes drastic measures – and quickly. It's a sad state of affairs, though, because it used to be a great asset to authors and readers alike – I'd be sorry to see it go,” said Jenna Grey. “I definitely think that a program that roots out curse words or words that are obviously derogatory would help a great deal. It wouldn't solve the problem, but it certainly couldn't hurt and it's very easy to implement.”
In addition to signing the petition, many authors would appreciate a helping hand with keeping reviews on subject. If a reader sees a review on Amazon or Good Reads that contains a personal attack, indicates that the reviewer did not read the book, or is a one-star review that does not have a reason or explanation of any kind, a reader should press the “no” button under “was this review helpful” as well as press the “report as spam” button. These actions also serve as a means of protesting cyber bullying.
And, of course, posting a good review of your own wouldn’t hurt anyone, either.