Is Goodreads dying? That seems to be the million dollar question right now. The consensus says that it is. The recent indications of all the problems they have been having would tend to agree with the consensus. That and the fact that just from my friends list alone, people are deleting their accounts like it’s going out of style. I have lost about a half dozen people off my friends list in the past month alone. A few of them have been members for well over a year or two.
That can’t be good.
The thing is, if they are losing steam, why? What could be causing the problems? This is what I am going to try and explore today. Now, ironically, this May will mark my unofficial one year anniversary of being on Goodreads. Unofficial because yes, I did join in May of 2011. (Actually, to be a bit more precise, I joined around mid April but moments after joining, I signed off and didn’t return until mid May to start promoting my first published book. It didn’t take long for me to pretty much find my way through the GR maze.
However, in mid to late June, I deleted my account there after discovering that I had inadvertently published my un-edited version of “Children Of The Flower Power”. In my embarrassment, my first thought was to cut my losses and move on. I mean, of all things! Right? Anyhow, no sooner did I do that was my email inbox swarmed with pleas from some of the sweetest people that I had met during my brief time on GR and then I realized, a couple of days later, that I had given my word to someone to do a Q and A session with them in their group. As I am one who hates to back out of my word, I re-joined and did my Q and A.
Basically, I ended up starting over.
During that three day period of this Q and A, I was talked into staying and convinced that I could pull my first edition off the E-book shelves and release my second edition, the edited version. (The one that should have been released to start with) And so, I stayed. And I am pretty glad that I did. Of course, during the wait time from pulling my 1st edition and to the time of the release of my 2nd edition, I met HER!
Double edged sword here.
Anyhow, during this time, GR was about as active as I have ever seen it during my first year as a member. The summer months of June, July and August, and well into the months of September through December, it was pretty active. A lot of complaints about the girl in the chair reading a book, but other than that, one just figured that GR was working out some new kinks from their upgrades. Now, this leads me to a whole other point, I live by the creed of “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!” - But that’s just me. I must be the only one who lives by that creed. Or at the very least, nobody at GR lives by it.
Still, I understand the lure of ’New And Improved’! Some city slicker dude comes gallivanting into your world with fairytales stories about how “upgrading” is going to make everything run smoother. Five years later, they are half right. Meanwhile, during all the chaos and malfunctions, you lose a good portion of your members because the appearance of it all is that of “They don’t know what the hell they are doing.”
Which leads us to the current topic at hand. They don’t know what the hell they are doing.
Okay, hold on now, let’s be fair. Let’s take a look at some potential things that could be going on that is causing GR to look like a bunch of amateurs. First, one thing I have noticed (and gone through) is there seems to be some strange forms of cyber-bullying happening. Most of it directed at independent authors. For every group that opens its arms up to independent and self published authors, there are about three groups who shun them. I could never understand this to be honest. I mean, it’s a book reading site. Authors write books. How difficult is it to see what I am trying to say here?
Then it happened - I started getting promotional messages from authors about their books. As an author, I found this to be a slight turn-off. Imagine if you’re a reader and you go into your GR account and you have several of these messages in your inbox? Yeah, I could see how that could get annoying. I learned early on that people respond better when you truly reach out as a friend and not as a salesman. Yet, I also understand the other side of it too. I mean, for some authors, selling their book is their livelihood. They rely on the sales of their books as part of their income. To live off of.
I guess I am lucky in the way, I don’t have to rely on it. But I did see the negative effect this kind of tactic by some authors was having on the general population. Thus, explaining why some people may have decided that they didn’t want to deal with it anymore. And why I am glad that I decided not to do it.
Then there is this thing called bloggers. But not just any kind of bloggers, book bloggers. I also noticed that some of them really do not give GR authors much attention. Even a few have been blacklisted from their blogs. And these bloggers become such good friends that they often follow one another not only from one blog to the next, but in their actions also. Meaning, if one blogger shuns a particular author, the rest, like sheep, follow. (This is what happened to me) And for authors, it can sometimes be enough for them to perhaps just ’give it up’ and move on or whatever. (This almost happened to me)
It’s not an in your face kind of bullying, but more like a behind-the-scenes- let’s ignore them - kind of bullying. But it’s bullying nonetheless. So, these are a couple of reasons why readers, authors may decide to delete their account or stop coming on so much. Groups and blogs shunning them while with readers, author self-promotions through messages in the inbox. Or spam in groups. But this would be but just small potato’s if you ask me. (Except maybe the bullying part) Still, that alone wouldn’t be a reason why so many have decided to leave or delete or cut down severely their participation.
(And don’t even get me started on all the group invites!) Haha
Then there is this thing called “A real life.” Some people, I have noticed, are between the ages of 13 and 17. Meaning of course, when they get closer to graduation, they actually get closer to having a real life. So many of them stop showing up or delete themselves. You got college, jobs, real friends, and maybe when they move out of mom and dad’s, they can’t afford to get online anymore because now they have to flip the bill.
Adulthood, gotta love it!
Then comes boyfriends, marriage, children of their own, and maybe in about ten years, when they have settled back down to a point, they will return. Then again, there is always a new flux of young people to take their place, one would think. But let’s face it, reading books isn’t the most popular activity in many a young persons life. So you lose ten members and maybe gain a few in their stead. This would drop the numbers also.
All of this sounds reasonable.
However, I also got wind of some major problems that GR is suffering through right now. One rumor has it that somebody has planted a virus inside the site. And it is this that is causing all their recent problems of late and not all of these upgrades that they have been adding. This rumor would be enough to frighten many people off. Either delete and say to hell with it or stop coming online as much from fear of getting a computer virus.
That would be reasonable too.
Annoyance, author promotions, bullying, upgrades, viruses … who can say for sure what the primary reason is for so many people to decide that they no longer want to spend their online time on GR. Hell, it could be all of those reason put together. As for me, I have cut down the amount of time I spend on there. Most of it has to do with the fact that I am always writing. Now I am very busy with my blog. (Like I needed to add anything more to my list) I got engaged.
One thing is for sure though, I tried to get online earlier to GR and I thought I was transported back into the late 1990’s and was using dial-up. (That’s how slow it was working) And then I got a bad gateway when I clicked on something. I just clicked back to the previous page, and then signed out. I was on GR for about a whole five minutes at best. And I am not looking forward to getting back in anytime today. I just have better things to do right now than to watch paint dry while I am online.
I might pop in from time to time to do a quick posting of a poem or two. That’s about it. Maybe exchange a few posts in my group and check some messages. (Which included another author self promotion message. (Annoying) But other than that, it’s just too wishy-washy for me right now to deal with. But that’s cool, because now …. I got my blog. I am having a grand time with that. I never knew blogging could be so much fun. I should have just done this right from the start. (A year ago) LOL
Good luck GR, I hope you get the problems worked out before everybody else finds other ways to spend their online time. Out of sight, out of mind.