Hadrian's Reviews > Areopagitica

Areopagitica by John Milton
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's review
Sep 23, 13

bookshelves: british, politics-and-foreign-policy, nonfiction, speeches
Read in September, 2013, read count: 2

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

I had a more coherent statement available earlier but it was deleted by accident. So I'm going to spew this out and try and fix it later after I deal with other obligations. Forgive my wandering and ungrammatical thoughts.

Now I'm sure you've all heard by now about the new Goodreads policy changes and all the controversy surrounding them.

Goodreads has now officially apologized for deleting content without notification, and has stated a new policy in which they would grant advance notice before removal of content. If they keep to it, this would be a good step. If they had done this in the first place, there would have been a lot less anguish on anyone's part.

However, I suspect that there is another reason for this new push in specifically removing negative content about authors, and it is only partially related to the "Stop the Goodreads Bullies" groups and those like them. It is possible that some authors have raised the threat of libel suits.

Now, I'm not entirely familiar with internet law on defamation, but I could make a few vague gestures towards the present situation. We do know that some authors (I will not name names) have been especially picky with reviews of their work, and would attempt to silence any criticism of the books in general. This will not work.

Any book (or online product) with only identical vague positive reviews would be suspicious. No book, not even our favorites, is universally praised. A marketing group might have gotten to the reviews page first. Forbes claims that Amazon has been plagued with this for a while. The continuation of a process of censoring reviews would reduce the value of Amazon as a review site for all of us - customers and business owners alike. Negative reviews on the book should stay.

Now again, I'm making another guess here - but the majority of traditionally published authors have not engaged in this questionable conduct,although some have. It is largely self-published authors, who have written, published, and attempted to sell books outside of the traditional publishing apparatus.

It is a tremendous effort to write, package, edit and sell books on your own, and some books which would not normally be published in their present state are being pushed onto the market before they're ready, and in some cases, the confident author thinks that they could do no wrong. When some authors receive any negative feedback, they will lash out and try and counteract it. As the recent kerfluffle over the "Stop the Goodreads Bullies" website demonstrates, this will not end well for anyone: readers, authors, nor Goodreads.

Now I am against censorship in all forms, and the very rare exceptions could be things like libel suits or threats of violence. If an author or a reviewer misbehaves, compile evidence and report it. Make screenshots. What we can and should do is to be civil and try and fight back against bad behavior by authors and 'reviewers' alike.
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