Time recently ran a piece on review bombing on Goodreads: writers being extorted and bullied, told they will need to pay for good reviews or deal with a barrage of 1-star ratings.
Regular bloggers at YA Outside the Lines weigh in--on review bombing, bullying, and the culture of Goodreads:
Sydney: I've used Goodreads for more than a decade, following the mom-advice policy: if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I rarely use the star ratings because it feels odd to reduce a complicated book--and my subjective feelings--to a few stars. Instead I write a couple of sentences about the book. What might someone else find helpful?
Obviously, the idea of review bombing horrifies me. I wish the online world demanded more accountability from all of us. We should all have to stand by the words we share in public spaces. I'm also growing increasingly skeptical about group sourcing so-called expertise. We are growing too dependent upon emotional reactions rather than fact-based decision-making. If Goodreads got rid of the simplistic star-ratings and relied upon written reviews, review bombing would be obvious and easily ignored, and we could make decisions based upon the facts of the review. I AM in the mood for a predictable YA romcom!
Cindy: Many authors I know refer to Goodreads as "Mean-reads" because the reviews tend to skew negative and you can one-star a book without needing to write anything (I've noticed recently Amazon is doing this too which is a shame). There are negative reviews on Goodreads that basically say "I don't like YA and this is a YA book." Why yes it is, so why did you read it in the first place? Or "there were scenes of bullying in this book." YES, because it's a book about overcoming bullying.
One reviewer that many authors who write women-loving-women books, particularly romance, are upset about is the person simply named "Charles." He one-stars every queer book even before it's released. All pleas to Goodreads to get rid of him have gone nowhere because apparently he's not violating the Terms of Service (which then obviously need to be changed). So someone brilliantly created "The Anti-Charles" who automatically gives 5-stars to every book that the evil Charles has rated. Of course, that only rounds out to a 3 but it helps in the overall rating.
If Amazon sends me an item and it arrives broken or the order is incorrect, I can contact Amazon and, no questions asked, they replace it free of charge. Yet, Amazon-owned Goodreads is unable to stop the Charles' of the world? I guess the detergent I ordered is a higher priority than the books I read and write.