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Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  445 ratings  ·  206 reviews
In September 2013, the Goodreads book reviewing site, which had previously operated a strict policy of free speech, began censoring reviews. The reviewers fought back, and the conflict was soon being reported in the mainstream media.

This is the story of what happened, told in the protesters' own words.
ebook, 211 pages
Published November 2nd 2013 by G.R. Reader
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Off-Topic by G.R. ReaderCivil Disobedience, Solitude & Life Without Principle by Henry David ThoreauOn Liberty by John Stuart MillPerilous Times by Geoffrey R. StoneAreopagitica by John Milton
Free Speech!
81 books — 53 voters
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony BurgessHoly Bible by AnonymousNaked Lunch by William S. BurroughsFight Club by Chuck PalahniukAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Weirdest Books Ever
1,013 books — 1,101 voters

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Start your review of Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Otis Y. Chandler
Recommended to Manny by: G.R. Reader

Available in hyperlinked PDF form from this Lulu page for $0.99. The Creative Commons license means you're legally allowed to make copies and share it with your friends.

For old-fashioned people who like real books, I hear rather specific rumors that a print version will soon be available.

A few things that keep coming up:

- You can now get free copies from several places. The book's home page gives you one link; if that doesn't work for some reason, just look at t
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
The memory of the Internet is fickle, and its attention span is that of a goldfish. It's way too easy to get distracted by the next big thing, and the next, and the next.

But some things should not be forgotten. Because no matter how trivial they may seem to some, to others they are infused with meaning and importance. Because some of us care, and that's enough.

If you have been around Goodreads for the last couple of months or so, you have probably heard of the Great Goodreads Censorship Debacle.
Steph Sinclair
I've debated on what I should write in this review space. Usually I'm a pretty sarcastic person, flinging jokes left and right to entertain during what could be a really dull review. But for this, I'm less inclined to since I'm close to the source material, witnessed the production of this book and contributed two pieces.

This is a non-profit book, so none of the contributors are making any money from this production. You can buy it for $.99 (it's the lowest price LuLu let us set it) or you can r
♡Karlyn P♡

'Off-topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt' tells the story of the hours and days that followed Goodreads sudden and unannounced decision to purge hundreds of reviews, listopias, and shelves.

Goodreads is a popular online social media site that depends on free user-generated content and its community engagement features to attract sponsors who buy advertising and promotional packages. But in late September 2013 it made a gross misstep when it deliberately targeted and mishandled a specific list
Richard Derus
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
***2018 UPDATE***Everyone now upset about the latest Authors Behaving Badly kerfuffle! Read this book. It's happened before and a lot of good Goodreaders vanished forever because of it. DO NOT KID YOURSELF! The issue will arise again and again, and you will always feel as though you've lost. Read on to find solace and comfort and some good ideas.

It's National Book Lovers Day! A day to bask in the amazing power of books to inform, amuse, educate, and alter our views and viewpoints. And in light o
I was talking to my goldfish yesterday. He said that I wasn't giving him enough fish food and that what there was had sunk to the bottom and tasted like shit. I said, well I know all about stinky fish, bottom feeders and how they can sink so low they just leave a bad taste in your mouth.

And no, this review is not off-topic at all, even though the book is Off-Topic.
Kaethe Douglas
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: beloved
update 11/6/2012: I just wrote this elsewhere, but I think it says something apropos, so I'm quoting myself, which is no doubt worst possible manners. Sorry in advance.

I've been in and around book sales and publishing since 1986. I've met authors who behaved like asses, and I'm kind of inured to it. But prior to GoodReads deleting user's reviews and shelves and lists without warning, I've never seen anyone take the side of authors treating readers badly. Orson Scott Card is widely-known as a hom
Alfaniel Aldavan
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Amazon, Inc.
Recommended to Alfaniel by: Goodreads community
This is the live document of what happened in the Goodreads community.

This book was removed a while ago from the GoodReads site itself. Some said it wasn't "a real book". That is was a story that was never told.

But the story wanted to be told. People stood up against removal of your words, arbitrary enforcements that remove your speech from sight, against the transformation of a site for booklovers in a site for marketing, against so called rules that enable unwanted thoughts to be struck down a
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the 125th book I've read this year. Out of all those books, I declare this one to be the most passionate.

Since you're reading this on Goodreads, you are probably aware of the ongoing censorship battle with the site. This book is an excellent compilation of essays and reviews written by fellow Goodreaders who are upset by GR's abrupt policy changes and by its random deletions of posts that were deemed "off-topic" or relating to "author behavior." I described the deletions as random becaus
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
*Cross-posted on Wordpress and BookLikes.

Disclaimer: I witnessed the production of this book from the sidelines.

*Currently available from Lulu as a non-profit ebook or freely and legally download it HERE from my Dropbox account.

This is a small collection of essays and reviews, some of which were deleted by Goodreads, on GR's censorship policy imposed on September 20th, 2013.

None of my articles, posted on my blog, were included as there were some legal issues over my screenshots, opinions and
I recently read a book that encapsulates this whole debacle in a nutshell:

You see, Goodreads billed itself as a social website, building itself through (free) social networking, contributors relying on the sense of community. Suddenly, it turned business model, and started applying business structure. Needless to say, many felt betrayed.

Sadly, although I had my foot in the door on this book, I was unable to adapt to Google Groups--for obvious reasons, bu
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you're curious about GR's recent decision to censor reviews, to dictate what we are allowed to talk about, to delete at will any review that they decide is "off topic" or might "lower the tone of the site", please consider reading and reviewing this book.
It's available for free here or from Lulu for $0.99. It provides a detailed account of the whole Goodreads censorship story, plus many of the reviews that Goodreads decided were a threat--oh, excuse me--were "off-topic." I think the book capt
Emma Sea
Full disclosure: my piece on Goodreads' censorship is reprinted in here.

By the pirate code my code, I can't rate the book, 'cos my work's in it. But it does collect a wide range of responses to the Goodreads TOS debacle and I think it's worth having a look at. Although you may be sick and tired of the whole thing. Which I'd understand.

But one day I'll fire up my ancient e-reader and force my great-grandchildren to look at something called a pee dee eff. I'll show them that when the quaint 20th
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: revolution
Goodreads has always been my happy place, my little haven from life. I joined it when working in a factory 70hrs a week because I missed writing essays for school, and without the website and the great friends I met here, I would have lost my damn mind working brain-numbing jobs for endless hours. Plus it's nice to get something other than laughed at for reading books like Gravity's Rainbow on your smoke break (I got yelled at and threatened a pay cut for reading Steinbeck at work once. Because ...more
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I bought this (ssshhhhh!!!!) for Otis, Patrick, Kara, and every other Goodreads employee for Christmas, plus Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos and their children Jamenzie and MacEff. I will be mailing it to them along with my delicious pumpkin-cranberry-zucchini-raspberry beef suet scones in baskets I knitted from willow twigs. NO, you may not have the recipe.
G.R. Reader
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
[The foreword that I asked to be included, but which for some unaccountable reason got left out and replaced by some piece of nonsense by one of the junior members of the team. When I find out who was responsible for this monumental cockup, there will be trouble.]

What you hold in your hands, dear friend, is a priceless cultural document, recording one of the most remarkable events of this or any other age. It has been my unique privilege to chronicle the Goodreads revolt of 2013, already widely
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Otis Chandler
An impassioned plea for Goodreads to stop the madness. To stop arbitrarily deleting 'reviews' just because they aren't simple book reports. To stop changing the rules of reviewing without actually telling Goodreads members. To stop refusing to explain, discuss, or entertain the possibility that they might have messed up a bit here.

What started as a "complicated prank" has become a collection of essays, deleted reviews, parody reviews, personal stories and saddest of all goodbye letters. Exposing
Ian "Marvin" Graye
You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic

I am in two minds about this one...

The Manny Haka

On the one hand...

"Tenei Te Tangata Puhuruhuru
Nana i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra."

"This is the hairy man
Who caused the sun to shine again for me."

The Noise Before Defeat

On the other...

"Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight."

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route t
You have to love the passion that GR users have to retain their rights to rate, review and sort their books (in any way that they damn well please) in the book database that they used to love. The censorship that has now been put in place by the GR powers-that-be has (for many of us) killed the pleasure that visiting this site used to have. GR of today is no longer the GR of six months ago. Kudos to the author for her continued fight!

I voted for this book as a write-in vote for the GoodReads 201
Note that this is not currently available on Lulu, but you can still get - free, and legally - here:
(If you want to know why, see Manny's review:

Sad that this had to be written, but in the circumstances, good that it was.

It describes the background and response to GoodRead's sudden change of policy which resulted in some reviewers having allegedly "off-topic" reviews deleted without notice. It's a better read than
Josephine (biblioseph)
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Note: this book has been removed from - you can still read it online, legally, for free. Link is in the book description.

It was overwhelming chaos that met Kara Erickson's announcement on the 21st of September, 2013. Tensions have been high since April, when uncertainty of the future began to stain our horizons following the acquisition by Amazon. I don't think anyone was quite prepared for the reckoning with which Mr. Reader's first words, under a different name, began to appear on the
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I've always taught my kids that I would never censor or ban books as long as they were interested in reading. Imagine my horror that Friday afternoon when I log on to my book escape website and find out that now they are doing that very thing to us? The readers. Have I logged onto the wrong site? Nope. It's really happening. I know that a lot of people say not to take things so personally but it does feel personal. This was my home, my escape, my I don't ever think it will be the sa ...more
Linda (un)Conventional Bookworms
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Goodreads Users!
Recommended to Linda (un)Conventional Bookworms by: The 1%
This book is available for free download here

I am one of the readers who added this book to my TBR and became a fan of G. R. Reader when the book was first added to Goodreads database. Imagine my surprise when suddenly the book was gone from my shelves, and the author had disappeared?

I am very happy the author(s) has been able to get the book back into the database, and I look forward to reading it.

Remember that you can vote for this book in the Goodreads Awards for 2013 - it can be added both
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
When this ebook first came to my attention I admit I was intrigued. Being the type of reader I am I knew that I had to purchase my own copy to read....and I did just that.

I've been browsing through it reading snippets here and there that catch my interest and I'll go through it more thoroughly later on. At first glance it is well written and events as they have played out are presented in a logical sequence. It's easy to follow and understand. I also appreciated having a history of what is happe
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I apologize for the star=rating. You know how little it would usually mean. HOWEVER, in this case, my FÜNF=STERNEN will participate in an algorithm for nomination for the gooreads=IDOL contest which is the kind of travesty of democracy which AMERICANs are really good at. VOTE EARLY AND VOTE OFTEN

I have only one thing to say ::

I was right ;

; in demonstration of which I quote myself (why not?) ::

"I am a member of a Literary Collective, OUR corner of goodreads, which has a habit of
Mike Puma
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, anyone, you
Shelves: 2013
Compelling history lacking only an audio version
Christine PNW
I was witness and, mostly, observer to this book's creation. This was a tremendous amount of work, the burden of which fell disproportionately on a few of the - other - active contributors. It was my sense in watching the process that the moving forces behind it persevered out of a sense, not of spite, but of sadness and loss.

I suppose that it was inevitable that the Goodreads debacle would end in a book. There is a fearful symmetry to that, really.

This book will be interesting primarily to peop
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Of all the many, many books written about the Synod of Whitby great Goodreads controversy of 2013, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. In concise, often even witty, prose, drawn from sources in the Vatican library reviews on Goodreads itself, the editors have compiled an authoritative narrative of the attempts by Goodreads to censor its reviewers' reviews for such things as being "off-topic" (hence the title), being concerned with authors' behavior, and even being overly influence ...more
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Thank you GR Reader for putting together such a succinct collection of articles and posts about the Great Goodreads Censorship debacle.

This book is available for free here.

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G.R. Reader was born on a Friday afternoon, when her parents thought nobody would notice.

Life at home in her early days was turbulent, but she was mostly ignored and her cries fell on deaf ears.

As she grew up, she engaged in a number of forms of civil disobedience, with varying degrees of (i.e. no) success.

G.R.'s books include Off-Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt and the forthcoming Yes, I F

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