Monday, July 23, 2012

what should Goodreads—or anyone—do about pseudonymous jerks?

From my comments at Stop the GR Bullies - Goodreads Doesn’t Care:

1. Goodreads shouldn’t care. They’re a forum for free speech about books. So long as no one does anything illegal, they should stay as far away from this entire business as they possibly can.

You’re entitled to share information about the people you think are bullies, so long as those people have made that information public. The bullies are entitled to be vicious and slag books without even bothering to read them. Free speech is messy, but it’s better than the alternatives.

The best thing to do is to keep calling for kindness and honesty. If Goodreads had a solution to the problem of abuse on the internet, I’m sure they would’ve shared it with Youtube by now.

2. More moderation seems like a nice idea, but moderators tend to take sides. Sometimes they make a problem worse.

I like systems in which people can downvote comments, but that has problems, too. People will downvote comments for fun, or because they’re on vendettas.


  1. GR employees, for the most part, seem to be on the side of the bullies, based upon my experience. I'm not sure how long that will last, with the bullies now attacking *them* for unpopular decisions (or what they consider to be unpopular decisions, since the decisions go against the bullies)

    1. When free speech is an issue, not taking sides often looks like you're supporting the people who are in the wrong. The ACLU runs into that all the time. But bullies almost always go too far eventually, and then things quiet down until the next generation of bullies show up. I don't expect anyone to come up with a great solution, but I'm glad they're having the debate.