Curious About GoodReads Reviews and Bullying

Posted on August 13, 2015 by Richard Goulter
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Preamble (Bullying is Bad, Try Telling the Bullies That)

Amazon and GoodReads are both prominent places to review books. – My Humble Opinion is to prefer GoodReads, since I don’t use Kindle.

I’ve written before about GoodReads: Wondering if people who read books more were less impressed by good books than people who weren’t as well read; and looking at GoodReads’ lists, remarking hwo snobbish some of the lists were. (Guess which books came under “didn’t finish”, “most hated”?).

So. Recently there’s been some controversy in romancelandia.
A quick glance at the GoodReads page for the book shows the reviews filled with at least a dozen 1-star reviews written since August (i.e. after Wendell’s letter.). Many of which even openly admit to not having read the book. – I don’t care how righteous your cause: if you review books as 1-star, without having read the book, you’re a bully.
– Fortunately, at the time of writing the book still has an average of 3.9/5, which is at least par for “really good book”, and about as high as many authors (in the romance genre, at least) are able to achieve. (And somewhat higher than the more mainstream unpopular books.).
– Counterpoint: What about if you borrow a book from a friend, read 1 page, then 1-star it; would that still be bullying? I do think “hate reading” is a thing: reading something knowing you’re going to hate it. Surely you’ve got to be pretty bitter to do that. – But even more simply, if you’re going into a book with that much prejudice.. I think you misunderstand the point of “books let you understand different viewpoints.”.

More importantly: does your giving a 1-star review benefit the community? Is it constructive to the community?
Of course I think there’s room for people to give 1-star reviews. The usual expectation is that they’ve read the book.

– Maybe worth noting is I couldn’t find this book by searching for its title. It’s unclear whether the name was too obscure, there’s a bug in the algorithm/index, the book was unlisted automatically for receiving 1-star reviews(?), the book was unlisted on request (for being too hateful, or for being a target of hate). Or it could just be me.

Questions; Can Reviews Tell Us Anything?

In any case. It would be fascinating to visualise some of this stuff.
Numbers don’t lie. (Interpretation of numbers does, but that’s a different issue.).

But, I mean, I’m not just curious about this controversy. Things I’d love to see:

…Do these things vary by genre? (Clearly I care only about Romance Novels here; and even then only some sub-genres.).
I’m not saying these questions are well-formed or anything. (And I clearly have suspicions about some things). But it’d be interesting to see some data related to this. (Though, if you have better questions, I would be interested to hear them.).

Trying my best, I think those who I disagree with might be curious about things like:

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