Dear SFWA members,
We have had some productive conversations with Goodreads and wanted to update you. As some of you may be aware, over the course of several weeks, trolls created dozens of false accounts as part of a harassment campaign against some writers. We reached out to Goodreads to ask for assistance in stopping those attacks and they were, thankfully, responsive. Goodreads was as committed to solving this as SFWA was. If readers lose their faith with the site because of false reviews, that’s a problem for all of us.
During the course of the conversation, we shared with them some ideas that they might use to block this form of targetting. They are working on implementing some of those, although I hope you’ll understand that we won’t be able to share the details of those particular efforts.
The item that we immediately came away with was a channel to communicate to a dedicated Goodreads representative on behalf of SFWA members. Members who are being targetted may contact SFWA.
There are also some existing tools on Goodreads that were not immediately apparent. We offered to highlight those to our members while Goodreads puts the other measures into place.
Flagging reviews – Goodreads does not allow Ad Hominem reviews or attacks on an author. They made it clear to us that when reviews become about the author, not about the book, authors are able to flag uses of harmful language or when the intent is to harm the person, not to review the book. If an author is receiving an avalanche of those, they may send a link to email@example.com or send a link via Goodreads’ contact form.
Reporting entire accounts – Sometimes, a single actor will create negative reviews of an author’s entire body of work. In those cases, any author may send a link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SFWA members may use an intake form, which can be accessed only by logged-in members, to report false accounts and/or harassment. (With the understanding that a single negative review isn’t harassment. Doxxing, impersonation, reviews of books that aren’t available, targetted harassment, etc. are.) We have a designated volunteer who will collate the info into reports which we will then pass to Goodreads via our dedicated channel for expedition.
It is our hope that with this cooperative effort Goodreads will be a safe space for both readers and authors.
Mary Robinette Kowal