Research:Online Community Conduct Policies/Goodreads
Goodreads is a user-submitted book review and rating community, launched in 2007. The website was acquired by online retailer Amazon in 2013. The primary activity on the site is composing book reviews, or rating titles through a “five star” ratings system. Users can also create user-curated lists of titles called “Shelves”. User interaction happens on the site’s “Q&A” sections, where users can post questions about a specific title, and other users can answer them. As well, the Goodread Groups feature allows people to form groups around specific topics, genres, or authors, and interact on their Group’s discussion boards. Users can also interact with authors who have accounts on the site through the “Ask the Author” feature.
Goodreads requires registration to participate in the review and Q&A sections of the site. Experienced users are granted the “Librarian” user right, which allows for more advanced curation tools, such as the ability to alter bibliographic records about titles in the system. Staff interact with community and receive reports of problems and bugs through the Goodreads Feedback platform.
- Size of community - According to Goodreads, in 2016 the site has 50 million members, up from 10 million members in 2012.
- Gender breakdown - Alexa rates Goodreads’ visitors as “predominantly female”, with this 2012 breakdown putting their user base at approximately 70% female.
- Age of community - nine years old (since 2007).
History of policies
On occasion, some users, labelled the “GR Bullies” by a prominent blog on the subject, have used reviews to engage in harassment of writers and authors. This took place in reviews, as well as through the Shelves function, where derogatory-named lists of books became a problem. This practice led to a 2012 change in policy clarifying what type of language and criticism is allowed in reviews, and how reviews and Shelves would be evaluated. Some users protested that these changes meant that the site was engaging in censorship and siding with authors over reviewers because of commercial interests. Users raised concerns about authors themselves abusing reviewers, including aggressive posts and unsolicited emails. The site has developed a set of guidelines for authors in order to address these concerns.
Flagging an “answer” in the Q&A feature brings up the following categories:
- Spoiler Alert ("This answer contains a spoiler")
- Spam ("This answer is self-promotional")
- Irrelevant ("This answer is not about the book or the author of the book")
- Inappropriate ("This answer contains an image with nudity or excessive violence, hate speech, pornography, or a personal attack on a fellow Goodreads member. For more on what we consider inappropriate, please see our Q&A guidelines.")
Flagging for other content brings up similar categories.
Users have the ability to “block” other users if they feel they are being harassed; this function disables the ability of the blocked user to contact the user, and hides their public comments from the user’s view. Users are asked to escalate issues to Goodreads Support team if the problem persists. Creators of Groups also have the ability to control their group’s member list, and can block or re-add users as they choose.
Analysis of policy: strengths and weaknesses
- "Goodreads' Otis Chandler reviews growth". SFGate. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- "goodreads.com Site Overview". www.alexa.com. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- "Social media demographics 2012: 24 sites including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- "Review Guidelines". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- Owen, Laura (2013-09-23). "Goodreads’ growing pains: Attempt to curtail author bullying angers many users". gigaom.com. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- "Goodreads Feedback - Announcements: Important Note Regarding Reviews (showing 1-50 of 6,403)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2016-05-23.