If there’s one valuable lesson a creator can learn, it’s not to engage with reviewers. With very few exceptions, railing against a negative review reflects most poorly on the reviewed, who are likely to come off as petulant, not the reviewer. Unless a creator can prove definitively and objectively that a reviewer has misrepresented their work in some way (as has occasionally happened in video game reviews where publicly available play statistics and screenshots reveal reviewers who played merely the first few hours of the game, for example), it’s better to simply ignore the review, and it should seem obvious that this maxim applies even more stringently when the source of the review is a lone fan rather than a professional.
So when Kayleigh Herbertson picked up a used, abused dime store copy of Anne Rice‘s Pandora in order to use its pages in a craft project and wound up reading it for a lark, and then reviewing it, she should not have expected to be called out by an internationally famous author who tacitly invited her fandom to harass Herbertson in the comment section of her post.
In my opinion, it is a laudable mark of a creator who really understands internet fandom in all its highs and lows when they accompany their interaction with a recalcitrant internet detractor with a gentle reminder to their following, no matter how small, not to take it upon themselves to teach the detractor “a lesson.” The tendency of groups of internet users to align themselves into a sort of mob or loosely organized campaign is well known, and like most aspects of human nature it can be used for great good and great evil. And sometimes it can think it’s doing one and do the other. Or start out doing one and do the other. That’s kind of what people do, with or without the internet’s help.
As Herbertson said herself, in the notice that she edited into the top of her review, she’s got a following of maybe one hundred. Rice’s fandom would likely never have found her review if the author herself hadn’t posted a link it on her Facebook page with the words ‘Punishing Pandora And A Surprising Opinion on Anne Rice” by Miss Articulate is a review by some one who loathed the book so much she cut it to pieces. Comments most welcome.” Welcome by whom, is the next natural question, since the first comment on the post is now an all caps scream calling Herbertson a hag and wishing that she’d contract a venereal disease. Rice also quoted from Herbertson’s bio page in the comments on her Facebok post, a tacit and well taken invitation to her followers to lambast the blogger there as well.
It should be said that not all of Rice’s fans have come to the review with their caps locked: some are engaging nicely with Herbertson, even recommending other books in the same series as Pandora that might resolve some of the issues she had with it, and casting aspersions on the folks who are being blatantly offensive in Rice’s honor. Additionally, this is not exactly surprising behavior coming from Rice, after she infamously waded into the Amazon reviews of one of her novels in 2004, calling them slander, falsehood, and lies, likened the review section to a public urinal and called the folks who’d written the reviews (or at least their opinions) stupid and arrogant. But actually inviting her following to harass a small time blogger, unmistakably her intent here, is low indeed. Rice later thanked her followers for a “spirited discussion” (according to the Daily Dot she did not, herself, comment on Herbertson’s post), saying “I hope Miss Articulate is pleased with the numbers who have discovered her blog.”
I certainly hope that Ms. Herbertson finds Anne Rice’s least polite fans to have short memories, and that her internet life returns to a more normal pace soon.
(via The Daily Dot)