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Suggestions & Questions > Review Guidelines & Updated Author Guidelines

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message 1: by Patrick, Director, Author Marketing (new)

Patrick Brown | 907 comments Mod
Thank you to everyone who gave us feedback in the other thread. As promised, we’ve posted our review guidelines. These are the guidelines we’ve always used when looking at flagged reviews and evaluating whether they require action from us or not. What we’ve never done is make those guidelines public in an explicit way.

Please keep in mind that 99.96% of all reviews are never flagged for any reason. Of those that are flagged, each is carefully examined by a member of our team. And remember, we never delete or filter reviews for negativity alone.

We’ve also refreshed our author guidelines in order to better emphasize our standing key recommendations on having the best experience on Goodreads. This now incorporates all of the points that we’ve been making in presentations to authors.

Thanks for helping make Goodreads the great and vibrant community it is. We’re confident posting these guidelines will only make that community stronger.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Clarification on a few things:

Will we be notified if our review is 'hidden'? How?

What is the way to appeal a hidden review?

Also:
We will not tolerate abuse of our ratings system, such as rating the same work more than once for the purpose of inflating or deflating the book's average rating. Multiple ratings we determine to be abusive will be removed.

I assume this goes for Authors as well?


message 3: by Andrea (last edited Aug 06, 2012 06:24PM) (new)

Andrea (andreakhost) | 38 comments Thanks for this Patrick. One question which occurred to me, since "which may affect whether or not your review appears on the book page" appears to mean that some reviews may be hidden rather than deleted...

What kind of response will an author who notices that there are 10 reviews listed against a book, but only 8 are visible to them, receive if they contact Goodreads staff wanting to know why they can't see the other reviews?

I can see value in giving "non-book related" reviews lower rankings (though I'm worried that this will happen to any negative review rather than ones which discuss the author), but I still don't think hiding certain sorts of reviews on the book page is a good idea. To have "hidden" reviews, which only certain people can see...and potentially stumbling across comments on the pages of readers on this review you can't see...well, I can see authors finding that uncomfortable. I certainly would!

De-ranking is one thing, but creating a third class of review which is neither acceptable enough for the book page, nor bad enough to delete seems like overcomplication.

Edit: In your author guidelines you state: "Join a group around a topic or genre related to your book. If you join a group, participate as a reader first. Once people see you are a passionate and friendly member of the group, then you can discuss your own work."

I would strongly recommend changing this to something along the lines of "Do not discuss your own books unless in a group or group sub-section which specifically permits authors posting about their own books." This is an area which causes a lot of tension in the groups.

Also, it seems to me it would be worthwhile mentioning any rules about shelving. Shelving is one of the particularly contentious issues, and though not strictly part of the review, shelves are visible when viewing a review.


message 4: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (last edited Aug 06, 2012 06:07PM) (new)

Kara | 1580 comments Mod
Ala wrote: "Clarification on a few things:

Will we be notified if our review is 'hidden'? How?

What is the way to appeal a hidden review?

Also:
We will not tolerate abuse of our ratings system, such as rati..."


Yes, you will see if your review didn't pass our guidelines, but the feature hasn't been released yet. It should be soon.

Ala wrote: "I assume this goes for Authors as well?"

And yes, that applies to authors too.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

What type of notification, Kara? Will it be a message in our inbox, will our notification 'g' light up, or will we only see it from the book page?

I ask because, once I've written a review, I don't go back to it to check on it.

Also, appeal process?


message 6: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (new)

Kara | 1580 comments Mod
Ala wrote: "What type of notification, Kara? Will it be a message in our inbox, will our notification 'g' light up, or will we only see it from the book page?

I ask because, once I've written a review, I don'..."


I believe it will be a message on the review page, not a notification (though we can discuss that). If you feel your review does pass our guidelines, or if you've edited your review to do so, feel free to email support and we can take another look.


Lobstergirl | 4263 comments Could you perhaps add a link to the Review Guidelines to the Help page, like over on the right where the Librarian Manual is?


message 8: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (new)

Kara | 1580 comments Mod
Lobstergirl wrote: "Could you perhaps add a link to the Review Guidelines to the Help page, like over on the right where the Librarian Manual is?"

Right now, the Review Guidelines are linked on the flagging page, but we do plan to add them to other locations on the site (including the help section).


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 3726 comments "Our job is to show members those reviews, and not show reviews that we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality."

This is a concerning phrase for me. Who determines "level of quality"? I read through the guidelines twice, and I see specific examples of Do's & Don'ts for "appropriateness", but level of quality is a value judgement, and seems pretty arbitrary. Can you please clarify what exactly is "a high enough level of quality" to not be hidden or buried?

"Reviews that attack other reviewers will be deleted. Statements like "Other reviews have said this book is terrible, but I disagree" are fine, but if the primary purpose of your review is to mock or harass another Goodreads member, we may give it a lower priority or delete it entirely."

This is not being enforced already. This review, which is nothing BUT mocking other reviewers who didn't like the book, is still front and center on the book page, despite being flagged 11 days ago.


Kat Kennedy (KatKennedy) | 70 comments I'm kind of concerned about this line:

"we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality. "

Who is deciding, how, what criteria are you using? This is quite vague.


Lobstergirl | 4263 comments On the Author Guidelines it says "For more information about our reviews, please check out our Review Guidelines here" but it needs a hyperlink.


message 12: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (new)

Kara | 1580 comments Mod
Lobstergirl wrote: "On the Author Guidelines it says "For more information about our reviews, please check out our Review Guidelines here" but it needs a hyperlink."

Yes, we just noticed that too! It's already slated to be fixed when we add the other links.


message 13: by Riona (last edited Aug 06, 2012 06:21PM) (new)

Riona (rionafaith) | 176 comments I think having these guidelines posted and clearly spelled out is definitely a good step. I especially appreciate the new author guidelines, which will hopefully cut down on the overzealous marketers who've been acting more and more obnoxious here lately.

I'm still not pleased with the idea of hidden reviews, though. I hope GR will try to de-prioritize the reviews they deem unhelpful rather than outright hiding them. I second Becky and Kat's questions about what exactly "a high level of quality" is. Seems like a slippery slope...


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Kara wrote: "Ala wrote: "Clarification on a few things:

Will we be notified if our review is 'hidden'? How?

What is the way to appeal a hidden review?

Also:
We will not tolerate abuse of our ratings system, ..."


Being "able to see" if a review has been hidden and being "notified" are very different.

I've written 400+ reviews; if a review I've written is hidden and I'm not notified how would I ever find out?


message 15: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (new)

Kara | 1580 comments Mod
Kat wrote: "I'm kind of concerned about this line:

"we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality. "

Who is deciding, how, what criteria are you using? This is quite vague."


The criteria are the guidelines below. Sorry if that wasn't clear!


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Kara wrote: "I believe it will be a message on the review page, not a notification (though we can discuss that)."

I'd prefer a more active notification I can see right away rather than a passive one that I'll only notice if I go back through my reviews and check them individually.


Amber (buriedbybooks) (buriedbybooks) | 5 comments " reviews that say "Don't read this book because he/she is a jerk" or something similar may receive a lower priority in our internal ranking system—and may not appear on the community-wide book page."

So it really *doesn't* matter if the review includes or is primarily about the book, then? It will still be hidden if bad author behavior is discussed? That's not what we were told in another thread.


message 18: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (new)

Kara | 1580 comments Mod
Amber (buriedbybooks) wrote: "" reviews that say "Don't read this book because he/she is a jerk" or something similar may receive a lower priority in our internal ranking system—and may not appear on the community-wide book pag..."

If the review only contains "Don't read this book because he/she is a jerk...", it may receive lower priority. Reviews about the book that also mention the author should be fine.


willaful | 765 comments There will need to be some more choices for flagging. I want to flag a plagiarized review and there's no option for that.


message 20: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (new)

Kara | 1580 comments Mod
willaful wrote: "There will need to be some more choices for flagging. I want to flag a plagiarized review and there's no option for that."

The flagging page is slated for an update too. I'll make a note of that!


Amara (AFTanith) *Reviews of the author. Mentioning the author in the context of a review is always acceptable, but reviews that are predominantly about an author’s behavior and not about the book may receive a lower priority.

*Reviews with off-topic, irrelevant comments about the author's personal life will be deleted. For example, if the author owes you money, that is not appropriate information for a book review, and it will be deleted entirely.


So, does the word "review" in the first bullet specifically refer to what's written in the review space, or does this extend to the comments, as well? And, extending on that, is the word "comments" in the second bullet being used to mean statements in the review or literal comments?


♡Karlyn P♡ (KarLynP) | 348 comments Thanks so much Patrick, you offered up some desperately needed clarifications. I have always firmly believed that the only guidelines I need to follow when posting a review is the ones set by the site on which I post it. Not a group of righteous and disgruntled ex-members who can buy a domain address and then proclaim themselves as the industry's review rule makers, lol.

I will note that I am a moderator of a popular romance readers forum, but we have a stricter policy than you posted for how authors can interact. You might want to clarify to check the forums guidelines, as some will have even more offerings for authors while others less. We have a designated thread for promotions and other author talk, but any post elsewhere that mentions theyre an author will get deleted. Needless to say, it's a very peaceful and drama free forum! Other forums are the opposite, offering up weekly author interviews and allows giveaways... Etc.

Thanks again


Kat Kennedy (KatKennedy) | 70 comments Kara wrote: "Kat wrote: "I'm kind of concerned about this line:

"we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality. "

Who is deciding, how, what criteria are you using? This is quite vague."

T..."


Thank you Kara.

I think my point is that the guidelines mention appropriate reviews and inappropriate ones. But it doesn't cover what Goodreads considers to be high quality or not - at least from what I can see.

"we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality. "

Am I reading this wrong? The first aspect of this senrence is certainly covered, and covered very satisfactorily in the guidelines below. The second? I don't see where the guidelines necessarily address quality.

They cover:

-reviewing author/author's private life
-abusing ratings system
-Attacking other reviewers
-plagiarizing
-self promotion
-blog linking
-hate speech
-spam reviews
-commercial reviews

I would deem these under inappropriate reviews. But do these entirely cover the low quality clause? Or is that something else? I would just like some clarification on that.


Kaetrin | 13 comments This is probably a stupid question but I'm going to ask it anyway. What do you mean by "commercial" as in "Commercial reviews are not allowed and will be deleted"?

Do you refer to reviews where the reviewer has been paid a monetary fee/wage (as opposed to, for example, receiving a review copy of the book)?


Ridley | 278 comments I just want to say that your new guidelines emboldened the person(s) behind the Stop the GR Bullies site to redouble their efforts to intimidate and harass those of us they've targeted. She/They took your response to my Feedback thread as a sign that her/their quest to intimidate us is indeed righteous.

You clearly won't listen to users on this topic, and I guess it's now up to me to decide if I want to continue using the site in light of this decision, but I need to express my dismay at your aiding and abetting the authors who have caused us so much distress. I don't feel safe on Goodreads anymore, which is exactly what that site hoped would happen.

I want to be angry with you for failing to protect your site's users, but all I can muster is sadness and disappointment. I will no longer sing the site's praises to my friends, and I doubt I'll much care to help the site in league with my abusers when next you need an army of volunteer librarians. You're just another profit-driven enterprise out there.


message 26: by Patrick, Director, Author Marketing (new)

Patrick Brown | 907 comments Mod
Thanks for the questions. With regards empty reviews where there are comments about the author...If a conversation starts about why you shelved a book a certain way, that shouldn't have any bearing on the review's status at all. If your post is just a "see comments" where you are essentially trying to get around the review filter, that's different. In the end, all of these are going to be looked at on a case-by-case basis by our team, so I can't say definitively that it will always be one way or the other.

Kaetrin wrote: "This is probably a stupid question but I'm going to ask it anyway. What do you mean by "commercial" as in "Commercial reviews are not allowed and will be deleted"?

That refers to pay-for-review services that authors sometimes pay for. We don't accept reviews from those services.

Ridley wrote: "I just want to say that your new guidelines emboldened the person(s) behind the Stop the GR Bullies site to redouble their efforts to intimidate and harass those of us they've targeted.

I'm sorry you feel that way, Ridley. That's not how we see it at all.


message 27: by Kaetrin (last edited Aug 06, 2012 07:26PM) (new)

Kaetrin | 13 comments Patrick wrote: "That refers to pay-for-review services that authors sometimes pay for. We don't accept reviews from those services."

Okay. Thx for clarifying.


Alicia (is beyond tired of your *ish) (OstensiblyA) | 352 comments Kat wrote: "Kara wrote: "Kat wrote: "I'm kind of concerned about this line:

"we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality. "

Who is deciding, how, what criteria are you using? This is qui..."


I'm glad you brought this up because that wording is bugging me as well. My very first thought upon reading that line was, "well, I find 'see comments' statements to be of much higher quality than 'LOVED this book!' reviews." Who determines if a review isn't of high enough quality to be on the book page and how is that determination made?

Does "full reviews that link to a blog" mean the only thing in the review space on Goodreads is the blog link or there is a full review on Goodreads but there is also a link to a blog? (Personally, I detest people not putting their reviews on GR and only linking to their blog and I refuse to click on those links. However, it was unclear to me and I figured I'd ask in case it was unclear to anyone else.)


Stefani (steffiebaby140) | 453 comments "Reviews of the author. Mentioning the author in the context of a review is always acceptable, but reviews that are predominantly about an author’s behavior and not about the book may receive a lower priority."

What exactly does lower priority mean? Does that mean the review will be hidden from the book page entirely or just that it will be de-prioritized and probably show up after the other reviews?

Because many people have stated that they are in favor of de-prioritizing the commentaries on author behavior, so I'd be pleased if that was listened to.


Amber (buriedbybooks) (buriedbybooks) | 5 comments I second Ridley's statement. Every word of it. Trying to spin this as anything other than capitulation to authors behaving badly and/or the GRBullies site is insulting to everyone involved. You have done nothing to create a safe place for users here. And I will be sure to caution fellow book lovers against using this site in any meaningful way.


The Holy Terror (theholyterror) | 360 comments Patrick wrote: "If your post is just a "see comments" where you are essentially trying to get around the review filter, that's different. In the end, all of these are going to be looked at on a case-by-case basis by our team, so I can't say definitively that it will always be one way or the other."

I feel like these guidelines were created because of this example you've given, yet you did not actually include that in your guidelines and have only stuck it in a comment. So if your stance on "see comments" reviews are not actually in the guidelines, how do we know what is actually acceptable and what is not?

I realize that it says "here are SOME of the things ..." but I think it's disingenuous to completely gloss over how you feel about "see comments" reviews in your guidelines. These types of reviews are being hidden and there's nothing there that says why.


Has (Has_bookpusher) | 13 comments Alicia wrote: "Kat wrote: "Kara wrote: "Kat wrote: "I'm kind of concerned about this line:

"we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality. "

Who is deciding, how, what criteria are you using..."



I'd like some clarification for that as well - who has the right to judge that what construes a good review - its way way too vague.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 3726 comments Patrick/Kara, I'd like a definitive answer to the question Kat and I both posed regarding "level of quality". The guidelines don't address quality at all except to say that what GR deems as "not high enough" will be de-prioritized/hidden.

Also, what exactly is the "review filter" and how does it work? Could that be causing the issue mentioned in this thread?


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 3726 comments Julie wrote: "People like me, and probably lots of others, who don't want to wade through a bunch of off-topic reviews in order to find ones that are actually about the book."

I don't like to wade through a bunch of "OMG I CANNOT WAIT FOR BOOK 28 IN THE SERIES!!!!11!1!" but those aren't mentioned in the new guidelines at all, unfortunately. Those are completely unhelpful to me in every way, but apparently are valid "reviews".


Chris  (haughtc) | 154 comments Emily wrote: "imagine if the government decided that you were fully entitled to freedom of speech but only in your own home...."

You mean this hasn't happened already?


message 36: by The Holy Terror (last edited Aug 06, 2012 07:50PM) (new)

The Holy Terror (theholyterror) | 360 comments "We believe that Goodreads members should see the best, most relevant, thought provoking reviews (positive and negative) when they visit a book page. Our job is to show members those reviews, and not show reviews that we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality."

So ... who is determining this? Who determines what is the best, most relevant, and thought-provoking? Who does quality control?

Oh, none of that is subjective at ALL.


Kathleen I write a lot of low-quality reviews, so that has me worried.

Otherwise, the guidelines are... well, I think, strong. They clearly affirm the site's commitment to open speech (and its driving ethos), they articulate the limited factors which could "hide" (behiden? enhidify?) reviews, they provide some useful clarity about the way reviews move up or down in the internal ranking, and the examples are clear and practical. It is no easy task to define rules in a forum like this, without undermining the pleasurable, risky, unruly openness so fundamental to the forum. I appreciate the scope of your task and the substance of how you've tackled it.

Now I can finally stop lurking on these threads and get back to flagging that Giving Tree review.


Alicia (is beyond tired of your *ish) (OstensiblyA) | 352 comments I forgot to agree with needing to be notified that one of our reviews was hidden or "given lower priority" (and I'm still unsure of what this means).

If a review has been flagged and someone is thinking of hiding it or 'giving it lower priority' it would be nice to actually contact the reviewer before doing anything with it to allow them to either the chance to explain, clarify, or change their review.

I honestly still don't think that first bullet point on mentioning authors is clear enough. Not just on the "see comments" statements (which should have been mentioned specifically), but on mentioning authors period. What is most of the review? For instance, right now some of the reviews of Victoria Foyt's book could be construed as being mostly about her. I don't believe this, I think her circumstances and point of view are quite valid to discussion of what she wrote, however someone else might not think that way. Or how much is too much mentioning the behavior of the author in a review of the book. To me it isn't clear and without specifics it's like a crapshoot as to whether or not whoever is making the determination believes a review should stay or not. Was that League of Strays example in the last post ever reconciled?


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Patrick wrote: "I'm sorry you feel that way, Ridley. That's not how we see it at all."

So...how do you see it then? Like, what's the alternate interpretation of events?

Because it sounds like you're really saying, "We're going to do what we want and ignore XYZ negative consequences."

This whole thing is a academic to me. I only pay attention to the people I friend and follow. I ignore the book pages. And I suspect that the people who pay most attention to the book pages and review order are people who don't use the site, or who are very new. Clueless authors especially, I imagine.

But I'm still bummed about it. I think it stifles a kind of conversation that's useful to a lot of people. And I think it was the wrong way to go.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 3726 comments Madame X wrote: "I think it stifles a kind of conversation that's useful to a lot of people. And I think it was the wrong way to go."

Agreed.


message 41: by Penumbra (last edited Aug 06, 2012 08:17PM) (new)

Penumbra | 19 comments Becky wrote: "I don't like to wade through a bunch of "OMG I CANNOT WAIT FOR BOOK 28 IN THE SERIES!!!!11!1!" but those aren't mentioned in the new guidelines at all, unfortunately. Those are completely unhelpful to me in every way, but apparently are valid "reviews". "


This! ^

These kind of reviews and the ones that say "I Loved It! It was wonderful!" Are useless to me. I want to read the details of the good, the bad and the ugly. Let me make up my own mind, not have GR make it for me.


Steph Sinclair (Stephaniesinclair) | 266 comments Thanks for the guidelines, Patrick. I don't really have an issue with them except for:

"we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality. "

What does high level of quality mean? Seems rather subjective. I hope you guys are ready for the flagging wars because I can see a certain deranged group of individuals having a field day with that statement.

Just to clarify: GR isn't hiding, just deprioritizing the "see comments" reviews? As long as I can find them if I wish, I can be happy.


Kala | 6 comments The guidelines seem a little vague in the areas that are most under contention. This whole thing seems to be pandering to the few authors who are upset about bad reviews and got called out on their temper tantrums.

I still believe that the readers are more than capable enough of deciding which reviews they want to see (or not see).


message 44: by Rose (last edited Aug 06, 2012 08:25PM) (new)

Rose (Rosepetals1984) | 123 comments Julie wrote: "People like me, and probably lots of others, who don't want to wade through a bunch of off-topic reviews in order to find ones that are actually about the book. In all but extreme cases, they are not restricting freedom of speech anyway. You can still write such a review and it is still there, just not necessarily on a page that is supposed to be about the book."

If I may be blunt, it's really not that much effort to go through reviews on the site generally speaking. I end up wading through more "to-read" tags than I do tags that may say that they won't be reading a certain work or squee reviews, so I personally don't mind that either one of them are there for whatever reason. I don't think it's as pressing enough of a concern that it require such odd efforts to de-prioritize them when I think focus on other aspects of the site are needed.

I would like to see how the notification system for de-prioritization/hiding will work and how the appeals process is, so I'll sit on my hands with that, but I'll admit I'm concerned about the quality controls and how that'll play on what reviews will stand. I write a lot of pre/post reviews and non-reviews and some of them can be as expansive as my rated reviews, though some aren't. I'd hate to be notified that my review's hidden if I write something like "I don't like this particular book's content because of A, B, and C" and give two cents about not reading it. I'll argue, again, it's a different experience than writing in a discussion thread. Sometimes you just want the space to personally expound/reflect.


❂ Jennifer (reviews on BookLikes) (jennevans) | 897 comments Patrick -
Both sets of guidelines seem very clear, concise and reasonable. Thanks!


Steph Sinclair (Stephaniesinclair) | 266 comments Julie wrote: "Stephanie wrote: "What does high level of quality mean? Seems rather subjective. ..."

Kara clarified in post 15 that it means those reviews that meet the guidelines in the sections below that sent..."


And this is where I direct you to Kat's reply in comment 23.

The guidelines mention what it inappropriate, but does not clarify what it deems "high quality."


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks. I'll add to the request for notification if one of my reviews is hidden. By the end of this year I'll probably be up to a thousand posted reviews, so I'd need to know if GR had hidden one.


♡Karlyn P♡ (KarLynP) | 348 comments Patrick wrote: "I'm sorry you feel that way, Ridley. That's not how we see it at all. ..."

I realize you probably can't address that site straight out, but in reading the updated author policies, I have to at least believe you don't align with their diluted 'author-friendly-only' review policies. The vast majority of the reviews clipped and posted out of context on that site are actually considered acceptable on GR, even with the updated guidelines. Thank you for that. I don't doubt that they're fervently writing their next article spinning this as some win, but I wouldn't expect anything less from those bozos.


Ridley | 278 comments Patrick wrote: "I'm sorry you feel that way, Ridley. That's not how we see it at all."

Your staff doesn't have to worry about the ramifications of your policy, just us users, so there's no problem. Gotcha.


Amber (AmberLin) | 2 comments I really can't figure out who this new policy is supposed to be helping. I don't feel helped as a reader or an author. If a review violates your terms, it should be removed, otherwise left alone. The concept of hidden reviews seems like maybe it was intended to appease people who would have cried censorship, except they're doing it anyway and now it's confusing.

Even if I concede that you guys weren't trying to support Stop the GR Bullies ... what are you doing to stop them? Surely the safety of your users is more important than the validity of such a, as you said, tiny percentage of reviews. Sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere and I've somehow missed it, but Goodreads continued silence on this is troubling to me.


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