Bullying is a serious issue, one that sadly has a strong hold in the online community, but the term is being thrown around a little too much these days. STGRB is one such group that needs to be careful they don’t cry wolf.
For those of you who don’t know what STGRB stands for (and I didn’t until recently either), it stands for Stop The GoodReads Bullies. From what I’ve read, they are a group of people who have banded together to stop reviewers ‘bullying’ authors in their reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and other writing/book forums.
Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t some reviews out there that are obvious attacks on the author, those do need to stop, but my pickle is with the use of groups like STGRB to back up people who have hurt feelings over not getting a shining 5 star review.
I have witnessed some heated debates over what an author should do if they get a review they don’t like on Goodreads or Amazon and it seems that the general consensus is that you should leave the reviewer alone, but if you feel strongly about it, contact the administrators of the site and ask to have it removed.
The instance that has been thrust into the spotlight this morning occurred on Thursday, 30th August 2012 and involved one of the top reviewers on Goodreads for Australia.
I believe that this satirical review of the book, is creative and would have taken some time to craft and it is obviously an attempt at a unique review style. Is it pushing the boundaries – yes. Is it punchy and highlighting a controversial point of the book – yes. This is how Elle became one of the top reviewers on Goodreads, by creating funny, interesting and witty reviews. What it isn’t about, is personally attacking the author (it is clearly not a real interview with the author), nor a slight on Mexican/Hispanic people (merely highlighting one of the foibles of the characters), nor do I believe it is bullying.
Bullying by definition is repeated, aggressive behaviour intended to hurt another person either, mentally, physically or verbally.
So, on that note, you can see this review here.
I’d like to point out, that upon being contacted privately by the author asking that she remove the review as it violates the Goodreads terms of service – (ix) impersonating another person or otherwise misrepresenting your affiliation with a person or entity, Elle added a disclaimer at the top of the post highlighting what was pretty obvious: this is not a real interview with the author and is intended to be taken as humorous fiction.
To clarify for people who have not read other reviews by Elle, she frequently uses sarcasm and wit in her posts, often drawing a lot of traffic to the books she reviews regardless of if the review is in favour of the book or not. Now, if you take the above review at face value – someone’s opinion of the book, their use of an obviously fictitious interview with the author and the fact that they didn’t overtly attack the author, this is just another review, a funny and clever way to highlight some of the points in the book.
Some of the other commenters on this review made a point that rang true with me, if Elle’s style of review had been used for a glowing 5 star review, you can bet your bottom dollar that there wouldn’t have been a complaint from the author. Let’s also not forget here, that this is a 3 star review, which means Elle actually likes the book, she didn’t hate it, if she had, it would have a 1 star review. Also, Elle herself points out that her review would have hardly made waves if the author had of left well-enough alone, but she didn’t and now there’s a huge scandal.
Regardless of how this turns out, if the Goodreads administrators ask Elle to remove the review, or not, I’m appalled by how personally some people take reviews. I understand that getting a review like this may rankle, it may make you cry or want to punch a hole in the wall, but we don’t need to hear or see it! Grow up and stop pointing fingers.
Isn’t the age-old adage: Any publicity is good publicity?
Sadly, I think that because of the impulsive and emotional responses from the author this will result in a large number of the reading public seeing this as one more ‘Author behaving badly’ and will discount her books from their library. Do I agree with this assumption? Quite frankly, yes.