Heroic Goodreads Vigilante Or Just Another Bully?

This messed-up showdown involving Goodreads is like West Side Story, if it featured more books and less snapping. It's like that thing your mom used to say about two wrongs not making a right. It's like throwing multiple trolls into a boxing ring and watching them duke it out. Your ringside seat is ready...

IN THE RED CORNER! It's (STGRB), an anonymously run website with the stated goal of stopping certain reviewers on GoodReads who allegedly "form gangs and roam through GR like rabid animals, mocking, harassing, terrorizing, and humiliating Hell's Angels without the Toys for Tots Christmas drive." A Huffington Post piece written—anonymously, of course—by the site's founders says STGRB is "a site where victims of the abuse can feel safe ... sharing their experience without threat of retaliation." That all sounds very reasonable and noble until you hear their methods. Which leads us to the blue corner...

IN THE BLUE CORNER! Almost everyone else, including some of the authors who are being "terrorized." Huh? What's wrong with standing up against bullies? Nothing, unless the self-proclaimed defenders of justice become bigger bullies than the bullies they are fighting against, which is exactly what many say has happened. STGRB reveals personal information about snarky GoodReads reviewers, to the point that some feel unsafe in their own homes. One reviewer received an ominous phone call from an unknown woman who said, "We can find you, bitch" before hanging up. Others have been harassed on Twitter and on their blogs.

STGRB says their methods are "extreme" but that "neither we nor our supporters have ever phoned or threatened the bullies." It's awfully tough to make that assertion when your site receives 10,000+ visitors a day and has provided information such as the following (which has now been removed from the site) about writers of online book reviews...

Our sources tells us that the GR bully known as [redacted] is really [X] who lives with her husband, [X], in [X].  [X] and [X] frequent [X] and [X], usually on Sundays at 4:30 pm. [X] stays mostly indoors but our sources tell us that she and her husband have recently been seen walking along the sea wall. [X] is what we here at STGRB call a stalker.

Whole thing is cray. Some, but not all, of the reviews STGRB is fired up about are pretty damned offensive, but does any kind of online trash talk justify releasing someone's personal information to the internet hoards? Which side of the debate are you on?

Original Image via Vision2hear

Kimberly Turner

News by Kimberly Turner

Kimberly Turner is an internet entrepreneur, DJ, editor, beekeeper, linguist, traveler, and writer. This either makes her exceptionally well-rounded or slightly crazy; it’s hard to say which. She spent a decade as a journalist and magazine editor in Australia and the U.S. and is now working (very, very slowly) on her first novel. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two cats, ten fish, and roughly 60,000 bees.

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ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 23, 2012 - 1:23pm

Well, Toys for Tots is the United States Marine Corps

Maybe the Hell's Angels do work for it though.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 23, 2012 - 1:25pm

But back to the's ridiculous. While the "bullies" they are fighting are pretty nasty at times ( I've seen a little of it), they are nobodies. It's the internet. When you go away from a website and start harassing other people, regardless of how justified you think you may be--you're the asshole. 

Joan Defers's picture
Joan Defers from United States July 23, 2012 - 3:49pm

That site doesn't appear to be particularly anonymous.

JonnyGibbings's picture
JonnyGibbings July 24, 2012 - 3:26am

There is a saying 'When your arguing with an idiot - make sure they are not doing the same!'

There are two opposing issues that go about as well as a pork chop in a synagogue. Firstly, reviewers. There are so many now. Once the authoritative guide to the prospective  bookworm. These folks were held in some high regard. The opinion, printed in magazines and papers, gave the illusion of having some weight. Now, there are free review sites, blogs - millions of them. All wanting to be heard. An 'okay' review of an 'okay' book is forgotten in a nano-second. Now there are s many reviewers who want to be the reason for the visit not the review. The book just the product. So works are savaged or held aloft as the tome of the century. Reviews swinging wildly like a pendulum. Reviewers wanting to be internet celebrities. Saying they discovered the next big thing… literature in the back seat, driven by an ego. It seems okay to rip the shit out of peoples work. Regardless of how they may feel. Much of it pointless and cruel. The adage of if you have nothing good to say, say nothing seems to be lost. There are bad reviews and character assassinations. A good reviewer understands his own craft and phrases the negatives well. Because, at the end of the day, everyone is entitled to an opinion and the freedom to express it.

On the other side. I can't help think, 'if you take the slaps on the back, you gotta take the slaps to the face.' Goodreads has loads of nutters, and I think it's funny. LOADS of authors whom talk about themselves in the third person. Have a few followers and call them 'fans', Say things in publicity like "A remarkable read" about their own book… You say shit like that, your putting the cross-hairs on the back of your head. No author should ever call their own book remarkable. I have a tiny  penis - telling folks it's huge fools nobody. I was recently invited to join the 'Fan Page' of one unknown author. You'd like to think if I was a 'fan'… I'd have joined it already. The very fact he had to tell me about his page… and who he was, negates the very use of the word FAN!!! So many fragile ego's. I still hold to the 'Don't put it out there if you can't handle the feedback.'

That is why I love places like this. You can work out your shit and get feedback before you step into the ring!

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 24, 2012 - 5:30am

I have a tiny  penis

My condolences.

No author should ever call their own book remarkable.

Any book I finish writing is pretty darn remarkable.

Now, calling it a remarkable read, on the other hand...such assessments are up to the actual readers.

I think Aldous Snow put it best:

When I put together this costume, I said, "Imagine an African, white Christ from space." This is what they came back with: an African white space-Christ. Well, that's just he concept, you know. I'm not saying I'm an African white space-Christ. That—That’s not for me to say, that’s for other people. That's for other people to say if they think I'm like Jesus.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated July 24, 2012 - 6:30am

I think bullies are a good thing, if not good people. If you can't deal with someone who picks on you, you'll never be able to deal with the insane horror show life can be.

jennydecki's picture
jennydecki from Chicagoland is reading The Foreigners July 24, 2012 - 6:35am

While I don't think it's technically bullying, I do have a problem with all the Internet Inquisitions that pop up randomly - filled with hate and vitrol - all over the place.

I mean, what the hell? Why are normally intelligent people so at-risk to become part of an angry mob? Is it just because all the other people in the angry mob are like them and smart people are better at giving each other, and themselves, a pass? 

Plus, don't people have better things to do than go around putting up websites to attack people they see as bullies? I mean, don't get me wrong, every time I get cut off in traffic I fantasize about putting up that website where I take a picture of the license plates of horrible drivers...but I don't actually DO it...I have more important shit to attend to.

jennydecki's picture
jennydecki from Chicagoland is reading The Foreigners July 24, 2012 - 6:37am

Sorry for commenting twice but I just saw this on the website:

We are readers, bloggers, and Goodreads members who, inspired by those who have already taken a stand, have come together in an effort to stop the bullying we have seen on the GR fora.

Is fora plural for forum? I'm sure it's not just a typo, I just am not sure what level of smarty-pants I'm reading. Is it latin?

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne July 24, 2012 - 8:15am

Some of the stuff they posted there was defnitely pretty ridiculous. But it really should be up to Goodreads to take that kind of crap down. Nobody should be forming a website and releasing personal information on those people. Not all of it was so bad, either... some of those reviews seemed perfectly legit to me. But the ones that were obviously just trolling, laden with curses and actively pointed at other users or the authors, talking about personal interactions instead of the book itself... yeah, Goodreads needs to get on their shit and take that garbage down. I see this as a problem with GR and not so much with anyone else.