What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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Just to chat > Interesting article about frustrations with Goodreads

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message 1: by Rachel (last edited Sep 11, 2020 04:57AM) (new)

Rachel | 1531 comments Saw this in the New Statesman today: https://www.newstatesman.com/science-... (I closed the popup asking for a subscription and was still able to read the full article)

This summed up my frustrations with GR pretty well, and would not be a surprise to anyone who uses this site regularly. There is a great community here and the librarians and moderators are so helpful but the site itself is not fit for purpose and there is seemingly no way to get it fixed since Amazon are not maintaining it.


message 2: by Moloch (last edited Sep 11, 2020 06:44AM) (new)

Moloch | 276 comments Interesting article, but I mostly disagree with it. Not because I think Goodreads is perfect, I also think that it's a bit declining from its peak, but I think the weak points are different.

I don't share the distaste for the graphics that is "so 2007" (a criticism I've seen elsewhere too): if anything I like that Goodreads is not all images and flashy animations.

I think that many articles critical of Goodreads show little to no knowledge of one of the best features of Goodreads: groups. Maybe this is a symptom that a lot of users don't know them either? (Since the authors say they spoke to "many Goodreads users").
Groups and interaction between group members and other users, rather than the so often invoked "recommendations" (that always need to be "better"), are my favorite way of discovering new books.

I think that the worst problems of Goodreads come from its almost stagnation, technically speaking: staff and support are little present (they even moved from the site itself to create "Goodreads Help", that I can't help but see as something "other" from the site), bugs are reported but are never resolved, or it's extremely difficult to know if they are actually being addressed, new features and discussion of new features are non-existant, there used to be more communication with the developers.

In short, I think that Goodreads works fine for my purposes (I don't understand the criticism in the article toward the basic cataloguing functions; even search got better), but it seems that the site is somewhat "abandoned" and left mostly to the care of librarians and expert users.


message 3: by Scott (new)

Scott The fact that she desires a site that offers "trigger warnings" says it all, really.

While there is certainly room for improvement in functionality (and I'm still sore about the removal of a beloved feature a couple years ago) I too find that GR works well enough for my purposes, which is to log my reading. I don't think I have ever used GR for recommendations, unless seeing something interesting that a friend read counts.

I've looked at other reading sites that claim to be similar and I've either found that they do not do what I'd like, or they have a terrible design. Visually, GR is an oasis in a sea of obnoxious noise.


message 4: by Kristy (last edited Sep 11, 2020 08:49AM) (new)

Kristy Moore (llamalluv) | 97 comments GR could do a heck of a lot better on the search function.

Maybe I'm spoiled by the amazing pattern and yarn search function that Cassidy Forbes created on Ravelry when she built the site, but the search and category function in GR is nearly pointless. If I want to find a pattern with charts to knit a beaded lace shawl in fingering weight yarn in two colors, I can do that with a few clicks of the mouse. All of the attributes of patterns and yarns were entered by community volunteers or pattern authors over the past decade.

If I want to find another series with characteristics similar to Ruby Dixon's Ice Planet Barbarians (Alien Romance, Dystopian Earth Government, Stone Age Civilization, Fated/One True Mate) there's absolutely no way to select properties of stories. Nothing has been done to make the database of books searchable by attribute, topic, or theme.

Books are also categorized incorrectly. I can't even reliably browse the Romance category for a recommendation, because many times there are novels added that do not end with HEA/HFN. I mean, FFS, Romeo and Juliet is tagged as Romance. Spoiler Alert: They both kill themselves.

There's also no way to police the Listopia lists. If you create a list called Disability Advocacy, any jackhole can come on and add books that have nothing to do with that topic.


message 5: by Kris (new)

Kris | 33485 comments Mod
Moloch wrote: "...I think that many articles critical of Goodreads show little to no knowledge of one of the best features of Goodreads: groups. Maybe this is a symptom that a lot of users don't know them either? (Since the authors say they spoke to "many Goodreads users").
Groups and interaction between group members and other users, rather than the so often invoked "recommendations" (that always need to be "better"), are my favorite way of discovering new books. ..."


Interesting point. I've long felt that our group (and others) have replaced Goodreads' Community Requests feature. We're basically doing Goodreads work.
https://www.goodreads.com/recommendat... -- This link is practically hidden on the site.


message 6: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37809 comments Mod
Moloch wrote: "Interesting article, but I mostly disagree with it. Not because I think Goodreads is perfect, I also think that it's a bit declining from its peak, but I think the weak points are different.

I don..."


Totally agree with all of this.


message 7: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37809 comments Mod
Scott wrote: "I too find that GR works well enough for my purposes, which is to log my reading. I don't think I have ever used GR for recommendations, unless seeing something interesting that a friend read counts.

I've looked at other reading sites that claim to be similar and I've either found that they do not do what I'd like, or they have a terrible design. Visually, GR is an oasis in a sea of obnoxious noise."


Yep. Agreed.


message 8: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37809 comments Mod
Kristy wrote: "There's also no way to police the Listopia lists. If you create a list called Disability Advocacy, any jackhole can come on and add books that have nothing to do with that topic."

This is true, but you can get a librarian to remove books that don't belong on the list. If it's a list that sees a lot of activity, often posting a comment at the bottom of it will be enough to get improper books removed. Or, you can post a request in the Librarian Group.


message 9: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37809 comments Mod
The StoryGraph site she writes about sounds like it's trying to do the same thing Novelist does (the database that libraries subscribe to). Novelist will find book recommendations for you based on a ton of different requirements like mood, pacing, etc.

Anyone interested in using Novelist should find out if your local library system uses it - if you can log in remotely to your library's site, and they subscribe to Novelist, chances are you would be able to use it.


message 10: by Bargle (new)

Bargle | 1179 comments Moloch wrote: "Interesting article, but I mostly disagree with it. Not because I think Goodreads is perfect, I also think that it's a bit declining from its peak, but I think the weak points are different.

I don..."


Yes, agreed. I like that it doesn't have a bunch of distracting junk going on. The site works well for what I want to do.


message 11: by L J (new)

L J This article reads like advertising copy for StoryGraph using Goodreads as click bait.
Like others have commented there are problems but the ones listed in the article are mostly invalid.


message 12: by Moloch (last edited Sep 18, 2020 11:49PM) (new)

Moloch | 276 comments So, some days ago I emailed support reporting a bug, more about librarian's work than site functionality. I got an answer showing that the staff member didn't understand the bug at all. It's not the first time that I receive answers from them that show they seem to know little of how the site works from the perspective of the librarians' work (for example, I had asked to merge an author profile into the correct Goodreads Author profile, and I've been told that I could ask in the Librarian Group, when every librarian knows that only staff can merge author profiles when one is a Goodreads Author). To me this is what I was referring to as the disconnect between users and staff.
This bug I reported affects librarians, so I opened a discussion in the group too, but it was just closed by the moderator. I understand the need to keep that group tidy and on topic, but this is also somewhat telling of the lack of open communication. Other comments in which I expressed my unsatisfaction with the support's answer (by the way I've written again in reply and I hope that now they understood what I meant and are fixing the bug) were deleted.


message 13: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37809 comments Mod
Not surprised, unfortunately.


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