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After Years of Relative Silence, Goodreads Vows to Combat Review Bombing

Review bombing on Goodreads gradually made the book-centric social cataloging platform lose credibility. The act of negatively reviewing a book that hasn’t even been released affected Goodreads’ ecosystem terribly, and so far, there have been little to no measures against review bombing. Hopefully, that’s about to change.

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In a recent statement, Goodreads claimed they want to ensure that the reviews found on their site are “trustworthy, relevant, and authentic” for the community. They finally acknowledged that there has been an issue regarding review bombing, which artificially inflates or deflates the value of a book through reviews. Although owning up to the problem is a solid first step in the right direction, what measures will Goodreads put in place to prevent these incidents?

According to Goodreads, they’ve already limited the amount of reviews and ratings on a book and look out for unusual activity. Per their statement:

“We continue to invest in improvements to quickly detect and moderate content and accounts that violate our reviews or community guidelines. For example, we’ve strengthened account verification to block potential spammers, expanded our customer service team to accelerate our response time, and added more ways for our members to report problematic content.”

They are also “currently in the process of removing ratings and reviews added during times of previous unusual activity that violate our guidelines.”

Goodreads has made it clear that they are against review bombing and that it will no longer be tolerated. It’s better late than never, but some from the writing community on X (formerly Twitter) seem to be skeptical about how effective Goodreads’ policies will be.

PEN America, which is part of a worldwide organization that protects freedom of expression within literature, has previously had this to say about the problems facing Goodreads and its users:

“At their best, sites like Goodreads function as channels for engagement and debate, driving sales and helping authors reach new audiences. But when they are used to pressure authors to change or pull their books, or to demand that readers avoid certain books altogether, users can chill the space for disagreement and unorthodoxy and discourage writers from taking chances in their work.”

Will Goodreads’ new preventative measures work? We’ll just have to wait and see.

The ironic thing about Goodreads is that although they were acquired by Amazon in 2013, the site doesn’t have the same protection mechanisms in place to prevent review bombing the way Kindle does. Although Kindle review bombing does exist, it’s not on the same massive scale that happens on Goodreads.

Several book influencers have shared alternatives to Goodreads throughout the years. Anybody familiar with the great Twitter and Reddit migration to Tumblr, as well as bookworms and bibliophiles, would know that there was a push to move from Goodreads to The StoryGraph. Overall, The StoryGraph’s interface is objectively better in terms of aesthetics and functionality. The best part is that The StoryGraph lets users migrate their Goodreads library to their app, which makes the process of transitioning easier if Goodreads just isn’t working for you anymore.

Goodreads is taking a step in the right direction. Let’s just hope it’s enough.

(featured image: Goodreads)

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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.