Wednesday Bag o’ Wrongness

wrong_bag_luggage_tag-r2305af9b93e8495bb58a0fc820f5b501_fuy1s_8byvr_325Amazon-Owned Goodreads Deleting Reviews Wholesale. So reads the scare headline at Making Light.

I joined Goodreads three years ago. I’d been using a shitty online book application called Visual Bookshelf to catalog books I’d read and reviews I’d written. I’ve been delighted with Goodreads, a large, active community of readers, writers, and reviewers, and to date have used it to catalog almost 500 books and 300 reviews.

According to the conversation threads Making Light’s headline links to, Goodreads recently changed its terms of service and has begun deleting members’ book reviews. The wording of the headline implies Goodreads is going after negative reviews, ones that might affect Amazon book sales, but the conversation threads indicate otherwise: good reviews have been deleted along with bad ones, and members who’ve been affected don’t understand why. Other members, alerted to the problem, are using Goodreads’ export feature to make backups of their cataloged books and reviews before they too are deleted, and some of those members are complaining that it takes too long to download backup files.

My goodness! The cool kids are abandoning Goodreads! Whatever shall I do?

Goodreads made me a “starred reviewer” a few months ago, meaning, I suppose, that I write a lot of reviews and that a lot of Goodreads members follow them. You’d think that if Goodreads was looking to delete book reviews, they’d turn first to the accounts of their starred reviewers. And boy, have I written some negative reviews! I called Cory Doctorow a talentless hack and accused Neil Gaiman of recycling the same ideas over and over. Surely if Goodreads was pulling a Yelp those reviews would be long gone. Nope, they’re still there., along with all my four- and five-star reviews. Just in case, though, I decided to download a backup file of everything I have on Goodreads. It took about a minute. What the hell?

Obviously, if Goodreads ever does delete my reviews, good or bad, I’ll be gone in a New York minute. And you can be sure I’ll be checking my reviews frequently now, making sure they’re all still there. I don’t know what’s going on with the Making Light headline or with the Goodreads members in the comment threads, but everything seems to be fine as far as I can tell. False alarm? For now, I’ll keep calm and carry on.


Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

So say the editors of the Popular Science website, who are no longer accepting comments on articles they post there. I only wish other media outlets would stop giving equal time to science deniers. The “debate” between truth and falsehood is not a 50/50 proposition, but most of the press seems to want us to think so.


Two headlines from yesterday’s Mediaite website:

  • Fox Host Grills Ex-CIA Official on Kenya Attacks: ‘Where’s the Muslim Outrage?’
  • O’Reilly Goes Off on Kenya Attack: Muslim World Doing ‘Nothing’ to Stop Horrible Violence

I wonder if, in the Muslim world, they’re reading headlines like this:

  • Al-Jazerra Host Grills American Secretary of State on Mass Shootings: ‘Where’s the American Outrage?’
  • Hassan Rouhani Goes Off on Koran Burnings in the USA: Christians Doing ‘Nothing’ to Stop the Violence


Some of my friends love to test the limits of Facebook’s policies on nude photos. I understand the impulse, and yes, it does strike me as ridiculous that Facebook allows photos of battered women while disallowing photos of women breast-feeding their babies. But look at the recycled garbage 90% of Facebook users post now, and then imagine how awful it would be if they could post animated GIFs and naked ladies and porn. A reasonable person can sort of understand why Facebook tries to police itself. I don’t want Facebook to turn into Reddit. Do you? Really?

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