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Announcements > FAQs about Reviews & Shelves on Goodreads

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message 1: by Kara (new)

Kara | 1580 comments Mod
Hi everyone,

Over the last week, we have received a number of questions about what is allowed in reviews and on shelves. In response, we’ve put together some answers. We’re sorry about any confusion, and we hope this is helpful and clarifies our policy.

Can I still talk about the author in my review?
Yes, you can talk about the author in a book review – the author is often a relevant part of a book. If it’s an autobiography or memoir, then you might end up expressing an opinion about the life of the author and the behavior described in the book. And, in fiction, often it’s relevant to understand an author’s background and how it influenced the story, the characters or the setting.

However, there is a line between relevant criticism and unhelpful, ad hominem attacks or off-topic reviews that single out individual readers or authors. Reviews-- or shelves--that cross this line are not allowed.

Can I still be critical in my book reviews?
Yes, you can be critical about books in your reviews – this hasn’t changed. We love the passion that our members bring to their book reviews and welcome all opinions of a book, good or bad. If you take a look at our review guidelines, you'll see under "what is allowed":
We allow harsh critical statements that apply to the book or the writing in it, such as "This guy can't write a lick," or "This book is absolute trash." Again, honest opinions about books are always going to be welcome and encouraged on Goodreads.

So what has changed?
We are making some changes to better enforce our existing guidelines with the goal to help Goodreads work better for all our members. In the past, if we found a review that was an ad hominem attack or an off-topic comment about a reader or author, we removed it from the community reviews section of the book page, notified the reviewer, and kept the review on the reviewer’s profile. Now, these reviews will be deleted entirely from the site.

In addition, we are now applying this guideline to shelves. If a shelf functions as an ad hominem attack or off-topic comment about a reader or author, we will delete it from the site.

What happens when you discover a review or shelf that needs to be deleted?
If we determine that something does not fit within our guidelines, we will send the member the content of the review or shelf for his or her personal records and delete it from the site. For reviews or shelves that were created before the updated guidelines were announced on September 20, we will also give the members advance notice before taking action.

What if I see inappropriate behavior from other members?
The best way to handle any behavior that you think is inappropriate is to flag it for us to review or email us at We will deal with it promptly.

Right after you made the recent changes to how you handle reviews, did you delete any shelves or reviews without advance notice?
Yes – as we put these moderation guidelines into place, we began to delete reviews and shelves that were not within guidelines and sent notifications to the members in question. In retrospect, we should have notified the members before removing their reviews/shelves and provided them with a copy of their content. We will provide the deleted content to those members for their own individual records.

At one point we also mistakenly deleted a shelf called “Due-to-author”. We know that this caused confusion to people and we were not clear in our previous response about this. “Due-to-author” is a shelf that is allowed on the site. We’ve apologized to the member in question and will provide the member their data.

What are examples of shelves that will be deleted?

Can you give me some examples of what kinds of author-related shelves are allowed?

The overwhelming majority of shelves on Goodreads are already within our guidelines. Some examples of shelves that are allowed are:


If you have any questions about whether one of your reviews or shelves fits with our guidelines, please email and we can take a look.

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