Saturday, 4 August 2012
Bad Reviews, Defamation, Reviewers Reviewed
Edit: So it seems some Goodreads members aren’t getting that I’m totally biased based on the fact that I support most of these reviewers. If I have not listed proof for each reviewer’s “crimes” (against humanity, according to the geniuses at STGRB), it is because their claims suck ass and I can’t find shit worthy of analyzing anyway. This is not meant to say these reviewers (“GR Bullies”) are guilty of the offenses listed; just to summarize what I think STGRB has against them and why it is invalid.
I’m going to start off by saying that this is an extremely long analysis of the website http://stopthegrbullies.com (I do not in any way support them or their cause; I am just checking out their claims). After reading plenty of horror stories about these fellow GR-ers posting a full profile for those who they deem “GR Bullies” on their website, I had to check it out. I mean, come on, they’ve got a real live lawyer on their side (who cannot possibly be misinformed or idiotic [/sarcasm]).
Since I’ve been on their site recently they have removed addresses, full names and phone numbers from the public view, but that doesn’t mean what they found is not unofficially passed around their council of “justice”. This movement against “GR Bullies” has been founded by GR stalkers and bullies, ironically.
So I decided to review the basis of their judgment and recursive logic to gang-bully back. This will include an in-depth analysis of some of the more negative reviews of the bullies they have flagged on their site.
Here are their qualifications for GR Bullies:
To irritate or annoy persistently to the point of exhaustion or a state of torment (most common definition I could find). It does not mean that bugging someone is legally harassing them. Harassment by computer involves cyberbullying and only one count, rather than two, of stalking (much like StGRB).
Now, with reviews it is tricky as you can be harsh in a review without harassing the author. If the author feels harassed or tormented, then I suggest that they pull themselves together and get in another line of work.
Abasement of pride leading to submission, lowliness, or feeling less than you are.
Fortunately, humiliation is not illegal, otherwise my family would be in prison as well as friends who didn’t realize they were embarrassing me. Not that it happens often, but sometimes you can’t help but feel bad. I think this would also be linked to self-esteem issues.
Now bullying to cause intense humiliation is horrible, yes, but negative reviews exist for practically everything (especially on the internet). There is bound to be something that humiliates the recipient of the review if someone did not like their product or writing or work of art.
Even if a review is deliberately created to humiliate the author him/herself, it is not worth fretting over and defending yourself against. If the review exists to humiliate then why are you pushing yourself to face your hecklers, only to be humiliated more for comments you made in the heat of the moment?
3. Insults/5. Name Calling/7. Verbal Attacks and Abuse
An expression meant as an affront, put-down or degrading effect on the recipient.
Insults against one’s race, culture, sex, orientation, religion and beliefs/opinions should be unacceptable. People are who they are and should not be defined by the above categories.
An insult in a GR review often entails negative judgments on the book being reviewed or what the author could have possibly been thinking. Insults are usually expressed in frustration or disappointment (especially with writing).
Authors may not be equipped to handle insults because of the soft, cushion-y and sheltered processes they went through with their publishers, editors and agents.
4. Gossip (Libel, Lies and Defamation)/10. False Rumours/11. Destroy Reputation with Lies
Casual conversation reporting unconfirmed details about other people. This includes outright lies and the negative affect on a person’s reputation, professionally or otherwise. Gossip can be oral slander or written libel.
In my opinion, this is the most serious of accusations against “GR Bullies”. It is one thing to be name-calling (see “Insults”) and an entirely inappropriate thing to be making shit up about authors you don’t even know. That being the case, it is also inappropriate to be making shit up about reviewers you don’t even know (or read).
6. Ganging Up/8. Using Friends to Attack
A group of friends or people “in arms” who band together for mutual defense and profit. Generally these gangs or band of not-so-merry reviewers are aiming their defenses and attacks at someone singled out for a difference in opinion or trolling.
Often, in the case of Goodreads, troops are not rallied, but latch on to the side they support of their own accord. Especially if the members don’t really know each other IRL or are just fans of one of the GR reviewers.
Unless the reviewer specifically tells their friends or followers to defend them or act on their behalf, responsibility of the reviewer or “GR Bully”, in this type of situation, is nil. Sure the folks ganging up are making the reviewer look like a bully, but if they are not doing the bullying themselves then there is no proof of anything except that they hold to their opinions and have some dedicated followers.
Unfortunately, trolls and authors that try to “defend” themselves against a bad review fail to see the smaller aspects of the bigger picture. Yes, they are being ganged up on, but not all of those individuals ganging up are of the same opinion or loyalties. One could be ganging up on an author based on their flagrant disregard for the audience’s opinion; another could be ganging up with others simply for the misuse of the word “chagrin”.
You don’t know what you don’t know and do not assume you do.
9. Bully Reviews
So this is basically their entire premise. I’m not sure why it’s part of the rules, which are so redundant I’m convinced they don’t really know what their issue is, so I’ve decided “bully reviews” are just mean and offensive to people’s egos. The only legitimate offense they have taken is to defamation.
12. Trashing Books for Revenge
Inflicting harm on someone or a book belonging to a particular author who has wronged the “GR Bully” in some way.
I assume this is associated with ganging up and getting friends to hate on books that they haven’t even read. I would equivocate this with authors or friends of authors telling people to vote down, multiple times, on negative reviews of their book on Amazon or Goodreads:
Examples of infamous harsh reviews:
“Sentimental rubbish… Show me one page that contains an idea”— Odessa Courier on Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, 1877.
“Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer” — La Figaro, 1857.
“We do not believe in the permanence of his reputation… our children will wonder what their ancestors could have meant by putting Dickens at the head of the novelists of today.”— Saturday Review, 1858.
“Mandingo is racist trash, obscene in its manipulation of human beings and feelings, and excruciating to sit through in an audience made up largely of children, as I did last Saturday afternoon.” —Roger Ebert, 1975.
“I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.” —Roger Ebert on North, 1994.
“GR Bullies” and Dangerous Reviews
Note:I’m taking some of these bits out of context, so you’d have to read the entire review to understand what the reviewer is ranting about or criticizing.
Out of the 60 or so reviews I went through, these were the closest I got to harassment, but they seem more honest than a constant pain to the author (unless we’re talking about the authors’ egos).
- “Honestly if Melissa Douthit can get a book out there… anyone can, it is that poor. The descriptive language of a nature so simplistic that I am at a push to remember a book that was so generic that didn’t have a dog named ben as the main character. The preface is so condescending it’s painful.”—Archer communicating what appears to be disappointment in style and level of writing skill (much like myself on Twilight or The Da Vinci Code).
- “I honestly do not know what else to say other than Meyer had not only managed to successfully destroy the vampire culture, but has also destroyed lycanthropy as a paranormal condition with the introduction of her paedo-wolves later in the series. I say steer clear and read a good vampire story… namely pretty much anything by Anne Rice, hell even the 1995 Horror Spoof, The Vampire in Brooklyn, got it more right than this. It’s drivel and should be stricken from existence.”—Archer communicating distaste for writing, content, lack of content and overall message of the book.
- “I feel fucking awful. And it is thanks to this shitting book. I DNF’d at 61% because I literally couldn’t take any more of this… awful… just plain bad… terrible fucking book.
Look at that blurb… Look at it. How fucking awesome does that sound?” —Archer communicating disappointment.
- Archer also has some opinions on the Jamie McGuire debacle, which obviously was an over-reaction on the part of the author. There is no reason to flip out over a few negative reviews. So what many people do not like romance stories between obsessive, abusive stalkers and a really naive girl?
- ”Brainless drivel from the queen of plagiarism. Total crap, shallow repetitive writing and boring, could not get past page one.“ on Fifty Shades of Grey.—Although I see Autumn Rosen’s POV, I could never support the claim of plagiarism. I handle those kinds of accusations with the utmost care. Once accused, even if untrue, it could stick anyway.
I have checked other sources that inform me that the under-aged victim is actually 18, so I’m not sure how much I can agree or disagree with Rosen, but my opinion on the matter is not what is important. Bryant may be accusing her of libel, though he was found in the wrong and banned, but it doesn’t help his case when he speaks for himself rather than via lawyer:
He seems pretty level-headed in the above post, but notice below his attitude and language takes a disgusting turn.
Terms like “stupid little fucking bitch” and “self-serving bitch” sound threatening and absolutely abusive. I swear like a trucker and I am fucking offended by the trash he’s talking. Even if Rosen was in the wrong it is uncalled for and makes Bryant seem like a woman-hating asshole.
3. Jane Litte:
The only controversial review I could find was related to the blow up in early 2012 by Jamie McGuire the author of Beautiful Disaster. All the rest of Jane’s reviews negative or not are highly detailed with quotes and comparisons to other books and parts of the same book. She pays attention to the little details to a fault, because honestly, her reviews are too long and I need to skim. In short, I find not even a moderate amount of heckling.
For Beautiful Disaster, Jane actually gave it 3 stars and a pretty good review. I found instead that after McGuire lashed out at a reviewer, Sophie, Jane decided she wouldn’t stand for that kind of crap.
This all seems pretty tame to me. Except McGuire seems to over-react to whatever Jane tweets at her. Now Sophie takes a stand against McGuire for the rights of women and not having to be with someone ten times worse than Edward Cullen. I am so with her on that, except I don’t let my feelings on the subject always cloud my judgment for reviews. I have not read Beautiful Disaster so I am unaware of the author’s feelings on the relationship or her “voice”, which usually reveals the attitude towards it all. Authors do not always condone what they write about and we, as reviewers, cannot assume they do unless they expressly say they do. Sometimes you can tell by their “voice”, but even then a story is a story and I do not believe in censorship.
- Jane also accused Cass’ “friends” of being unable to hold an honest opinion about her book based on Roth’s comments about up-voting good reviews of The Selection. I would classify this as a personal attack on the author and an unfounded accusation against the authors fans, friends and people that genuinely like her book without being coerced.
- Jane claims one historical romance author has not done her research. Okay. This is too lame to be mad about. She also claimed the author of Spoils of War promotes rape and pedophilia. Again, even if this is the content of a book, the author does not necessarily condone what they are telling you in their story.
- Put When Destiny Knocks by Heather M. White on the DNR shelf in support of her friend, Andrea Thompson, who was called a douche by the author because she gave her honest opinion, based on experience, about the setting of the book. I associate the author’s indiscretion with her young age and…oh wait, she’s only a year younger than me. I think this falls under one of the GR Bullies categories. NAME CALLING.
- Most of her reviews are positive or not as negative as the other reviewers listed so I couldn’t really pinpoint any bullying on Kara’s part.
5. Kat Kennedy/Cuddlebuggery:
- Involved in the rallying against authors sending emails to their fans to boost their ratings on Amazon.
- One decent blog went onto report that “there is nothing unprofessional about an author asking her fans to like positive reviews”. Apparently Kat is in the wrong here for assuming this is an abuse of the system.
I am starting to see a pattern. Anyone that is offended by bad reviews does what they feel was done to them (bullying, rallying fans to up-vote or down-vote), whether it is a legitimate claim or not. The result is a lot of controversy because authors become involved in the rating of their own books and the reviews on it, basically. I mean, if the author wants to control all that shit, why don’t they just review their own book and leave the rest of us out of it completely? They may look mentally unstable, but at least they’ll always only have to look forward to their own positive up-voted review and nothing else.
So I guess it’s okay for me to ask my friends to up-vote all the positive and negative reviews I like, right? Maybe I’ll even ask them to down-vote all the positive and negative reviews I disagree with on the interwebz. Yeah, that seems fucking legit.
I cannot find a single fucking thing that ties Lissa to any author blow ups. She is an author herself and friends with many of the Cuddlebuggery crew, but if that’s all then I am deeply unimpressed. That being said, if someone knows something I do not, please send me stuff.
- Lissa wrote a bad review of author Melissa Douthit’s book The Raie’Chaelia, who is apparently the founder and master”mind” behind STGRB. Doushit (or whatever the fuck her name is) then proceeded to troll like no one’s business (except it was) and created multiple accounts to give low ratings for Lissa’s book, as well as higher ones to her own. Doushit either quit GR or was kicked off for the achievement of ultimate douchebaggery, at the same time as all her friends with gang-up-and-plot-against benefits.
- Screenshots to come!
This something I found on the topic of Lissa:
As far as a I know Lissa did not outwardly ask anyone to up-vote her book over Twitter. She did not call negative reviewers assholes, bitches or douches. On Goodreads fans did not get a message telling them to up-vote the book or positive reviews.
The website GoodReads Follies is really great at calling out hypocrisy without any proof. If Kiera Cass’ husband (or wife, I do not care or know) wrote a positive review for her book, I’m pretty sure no one would give a rat’s ass. In fact, if her agent wrote a great review, I would still not care. Asking fans and followers to up-vote or openly saying over Twitter that you need to like all the positive reviews to make the negative reviews get off the top of the page is not the same thing.
If GR Reviewers are making negative comments about personal friends and family writing biased and positive reviews for an author’s book(s), then I wholeheartedly support the claim of hypocrisy.
- Negative review for Beautiful Disaster was flagged and attempted to be buried, although it is a legitimate review (and a good one).
- Defended Wendy Darling against Kiera Cass’ agent, Roth, claiming that though Cass did not call Darling a bitch herself she still took part in “screwing with the rankings”. She also threw around the name of Leigh Fallon, infamous for her screwball nature as well.
- Recognized as a “minion” and part of the “GR Bullies” pack. Apparently a coward and extremely negative (though that remains to be seen, IMO).
- I did not find anything to support the claims made by STGRB, especially after they threatened her and had people locate her physically and by phone. This woman was harassed and exploited by the so-called heroes of GR. If that is what a hero is I’d rather gut myself and be eaten by a hundred starving pigeons.
- Accused by a GR community manager and others of reviewing author Cassandra Duffy, rather than the book itself. I am not sure if this is true since it has been deleted. Not that it matters to Cassandra though, she’s rolling in dough:
- Spat this out in a rage when his review of the author, rather than book was hidden from the book’s page: ” This author is a piece of shit who doesn’t respect the ground that we reviewers walk on. She had the fucking temerity to express an opinion that we don’t FUCKING agree with, and I really really regret that I could only get 200 of my closest GR buddies to shelve her book as a bratty-author-to-avoid because, like fucking 1200 would have been much better. But I did get a lot of them to blog about her and Twitter about how shitty she is and just let everyone they know that you should avoid this author at all costs because I think she’s a shitty meanie. [lather rinse repeat several times] Oh, and I hated the heroine’s first name.”
I think the above just goes to show that some reviewers make other reviewers look bad too. And I don’t mean the part about the author not respecting reviewers, because that is actually true. It’s the part where she says she regrets not influencing her friends’ choice to read the book. I mean, sometimes I do that too, but I’d never stop a friend from reading what they want to. In fact, if I hate a book I usually want to know whether my friend hates it too (sometimes they do not and I feel like I need to show them the light).
- Attacking James Austen via Twitter. Pretty sure she be trolling, dudes. And it’s kinda hilarious.
9. The Holy Terror:
She does fairly decent reviews, I think all the drama revolves around the fact that she lives up to her chosen name.
- Accused of attacking James Austen for fun, with the help of Ridley. I saw plenty of out-of-context posts, so I feel uncomfortable posting them up here without more information, especially because they don’t actually appear to be bullying anyone. They appear really horrid out of context, but it just looks like your basic trolling and encouraging authors to behave badly so they can catch them at it. Internet trolling is something I feel authors should be taught about and guard themselves against by ignoring rather than calling some random reviewer a “retard”, which is misplaced (since he mixed Kat Kennedy up with The Holy Terror and Ridley) and politically incorrect.
- I have nothing else on The Holy Terror because her reviews are fine by all standards and it seems to be the comments after that get her in trouble with the StGRB crowd. Or something like this:
They are talking about sex scenes in a book and I don’t see anything wrong with that, so I’m not sure why this was screen-capped, in fact.
10. Wendy Darling:
I actually find this the most absurd accusation of “GR Bullying”. I do not agree with Wendy on some books/reviews, but I absolutely enjoy every last word of them. She’s eloquent and puts down books in the nicest way. Seriously.
So what if she didn’t read all of The Selection? She clearly stated she hadn’t and her review was based on x number of pages she read.
- Many of Wendy’s friends accused Kiera Cass of calling her a bitch, when it was really her agent. The fact of the matter is Wendy did not ask her followers and friends to attack Cass, just like Cass did not ask her fans to attack Wendy.
- Melissa Douthit is the worst of bullies, in this case. In fact, she used whatever pathetic stalker resources she had and got the dish on Wendy, revealing her identity to the public. The information may have been taken down, but the damage has been done. This hard-to-believe-she’s-human woman should be sued. Wendy is predatory? Please, this is absolutely unacceptable:
- After all this craziness, I’m quite proud Wendy is still reviewing on GR. She is not letting the bullies get to her (as much as before), like some authors let reviewers get to them.
- Recently added to STGRB due to her unacceptable (STGRB standards, of course) resistance to the updated review guidelines (which were enforced before actually being made clear) and whether they will be featured on the first part of the book’s page.
- These seem like legit concerns to me and Amber deciding not to trust Goodreads is her own prerogative (I too support open and honest platforms with little censorship). I don’t get why STGRB have to get their panties in a twist if she decides she doesn’t want to use Goodreads anymore or if she opposes the mods’ reasoning.
Here are some great blogposts that people should read about handling bad reviews.
Stop the STGRB Bullies (awesome name too: STSTGRBB :’D)