Anyone who has been following me and my blog knows that I like to do more than just do interviews of authors. I also like interviewing editors, graphic designers, and musicians. Pretty much, anybody whom I find interesting. Such is the case today. Now, I realize many of you are aware of what occured with me in July of 2012. I was a victim of a bully attack on a social networking website known as Goodreads. In the process, I was ultimately banned by the community website manager, Patrick Brown, indicating to me that that kind of behavior was tolerated, encouraged and endorsed by the staff of the website, and its founder, Otis Chandler. Only to discover that I wasn't the first victim of these cyber-bullies nor would I be the last.
I am one who believes that when you enter into the world of the "public eye", certain responsibilities come along with it. By that I mean, when an individual accumulates a certain amount of "fame" or "notoriety", he or she might find it well worth their time to invest themselves to a cause. While my family and I do "give back" to our community and have been doing so ever since I can remember, the cause of "cyber-bullying" fell into my lap. By being a target of some cyber-bullies, I felt it was my duty to not only bring it to the attention of the public, but my duty to also do whatever I can to combat it. I also believe it is my duty to warn others about it and to reveal the websites that allow this kind of thing to take place and of the people who participate in it.
When I was attacked, I was very fortunate to have a website dedicated to trying to stomp out cyber-bullying and more or less, "had my back" and was quick to respond in reporting it. That website was STGRB. (Stop The Goodreads Bullies)
Many of you may have heard of them by now. If you have been following me, then you are aware of them. And today, it is my pleasure to be able to present to you an exclusive interview with the founders of this website, to better let you discover more of who these people are and what they are all about.
A lot of rumors have been flying about in regards to STGRB. Some of which, I hope to qwell with this interview. And while there are some who condemn the people behind STGRB for keeping their identities a secret, I applaud them for it. Let's face it, could Batman fight the bad guys if they know he is Bruce Wayne? And that's exactly how I see STGRB. And it is my hope that by doing this interview, that everyone will see what exactly it is that they (and myself) are standing up against. That other authors who read this will know how to avoid my plight, and these cyber-bullies that are running loose on Goodreads, Amazon Kindle Boards and other places where an unsuspecting author may find themselves.
So, without any further babble from me, lets get this interview started, shall we?
Carroll: First of all, I want to start off by thanking STGRB for this exclusive interview. Now, with that being said, tell me, when was STGRB started?
STGRB: We started our blog back in early July 2012.
Carroll: Really? I was under the impression that it was started way before that. Talk about the irony of timing, that would be right on the heels of when I was attacked in mid to the latter part of July. I guess now I can understand better why so many think that I am behind it or have some kind of association with you guys. But I digress, what inspired the creation of STGRB?
STGRB: We were inspired to create STGRB after having witnessed all the horrible GR bully attacks on authors. Nothing was being to done to stop the abusers running amok on the fora, going largely unchallenged and unnoticed. So we created our blog to shed light on what was happening, catching the attention of the Huffington Post and USA Today.
Carroll: Wow! That's pretty impressive. Okay, so what is the mission statement of STGRB?
STGRB: Our mission statement can be found on our Who We Are Page
“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.”
Carroll: And what would be your goal?
STGRB: The ultimate goal is for the book community to review books they have actually read on the merits of the actual book. These reviews can be positive or negative, but would always be done for the right reasons and without the need to attack the author or attack any readers who have felt differently about the book. In other words, we’d like to see less reviews that say, “I hate this author for xyz made-up and slanderous reason, so I’ll never read this book. That’s why I’m giving it 1 star! Anyone who says they like this book is a liar or an idiot because it sucks!” and more reviews that say what they liked or didn’t like a book in an honest way, not reviews posted for the sake of trying to hurt the author (and so hurting other readers in the process).
Carroll: I see. It sounds reasonable to me. So anyway, one of the biggest rumors (or controversy) is that STGRB is owned and operated by authors or aspiring authors. Can you, once and for all, set the record straight about that?
STGRB: No matter what we say, it will make certain people feel better to keep saying we’re authors. None of us are currently authors nor are any of us aspiring authors, but we’ll let you know if that ever changes. If any of us ever do start writing, though, we unfortunately won’t have as much (or possible any) time left to devote to STGRB, at which point we’d have to hand the site over to some other trusted readers or hope we’ve provided enough information on the site to help out anyone who finds it after we stop posting to it. Don’t worry, though, as none of us start to begin writing, chances are STGRB is here to stay for a long time–at least as long as needed.
Carroll: Well, that is a relief. So tell me, what would you say has been the biggest story on your website thus far? (Your best proof that these people on Goodreads/AW/Kindle Boards really are bullies)
STGRB: The biggest story has got to be Goodreads’ reaction to our site and the negative criticism of their site that ensued publicly. They had to announce the publication of their TOS and then began hiding bully reviews from their book pages. You can read about it Here. Now, if Goodreads had to take this action, this proves that they have something to hide… literally.
Carroll: Indeed it does. Could you show us the difference between a regular negative review of a book and a bully review?
STGRB: The bullies have banged the same drum over and over again, saying that all of this is about authors not being able to handle negative reviews. Nothing could be further from the truth. The STGRB site is against bullies, plain and simple. Honest negative reviews are an entirely different matter. Since the bullies have repeatedly insisted on kicking the same dead horse over and over again, let us clarify the difference between a bully tactic and a negative review (since the bullies don’t seem to know the difference or have no other argument to stand on):
An honest negative review is an opinion expressed by a reader about the book that he/she purchased. It is written with respect. Key word here: respect. To respectfully put forth one’s opinion is welcomed by hard-working authors looking to get honest feedback on their work (even if the review stings). An honest negative review does not belittle, attack, name-call, stalk, harrass, or try to ruin an author’s career. It is an opinion, simple as that. And STGRB has no problem with those. Unfortunately, no matter how many times we repeat this, the bullies who attack STGRB willfully ignore these words. They just don’t want to listen, it’s obvious, and twist things around to meet their agenda. Which, of course, makes them the bullies that they are.
A bully review seeks to defame, harm, personally attack, name-call, belittle, hurt, shame, and harm an AUTHOR. The bully review is not about the book, although it might pretend to be. It is about trying to destroy and cause harm. We have seen many examples of a bully in cyberspace who will disagree with an AUTHOR about something, and use that disagreement to try to destroy an author’s career by attacking his/her books. This is wrong. Authors work hard to get their books into the world. Every sale means the difference to their lives. They are supporting sick relatives, young children, elderly, and family members on their sales. They are putting food on their tables, or paying bills, or using the money to survive. When a bully goes after an author and hurts their sales with lies and propaganda and hate, they are, in essence, stealing from those authors. Yes, that’s right. For every disingenuous, fake bully review that harms an authors sales (and yes, they do), that is one less child’s meal to buy. It is food stolen directly from their mouths. It is also one more dream killed. Yes, there are authors who have stopped writing because of bullies. There are authors who have given up their dreams. There are real life families and human beings who have been harmed from bullies. We know, because we receive the emails from them every day. If we can stop just one bully from doing what they do, and save one more person, one more book, one more family from being harmed by these hateful people, then we will have been successful. This is a very real cause to us. We feel passionately about it because we see the pain and harm that bullies cause to real lives. That is why we do what we do.
A regular negative review of a book would be something Like This. This is a one-star review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This reviewer says that 35 million book buyers are wrong and continues to state why he thinks so. Although many would disagree with him, his review is a legit review that critiques the book and doesn’t bash the author.
This is an example of a bully review: Example One. Clearly, this individual admits not even reading the book, and attacks the author. This is another exmple: Example Two. Again, this person admits to not reading the book, and attacks the author. This is what we are trying to put an end to.
Carroll: I can see the difference. Now, just to clarify, you’re not against negative reviews of books, correct?
STGRB: No. We are against hate. Bullies = hate. Nothing good comes of hate. The bullies have left wasteland of harm in their wake. Maybe some of them truly do not know what they do. We suspect most do. We suspect most are sadistic individuals who get off on harming the people around them in real life as much as they do to the people in cyberspace. They are not being held accountable and we feel our site aims to do just that. We are shining a bright spotlight on these harmful individuals so authors will know who to avoid. We do this, of course, in an ethical way, without revealing an individual’s private information. The bullies, of course, don’t have those same ethical standards as they have no problem making every attack personal.
Carroll: So the evidence would suggest. Thanks for those examples. It's like that old saying, "Proof is in the pudding." And that is some pudding. Now, allow me to ask you this, do you plan to go the distance in this battle against cyber bullying?
Carroll: If these bully attacks were to stop, what would STGRB do? (Hypothetically of course) Would you remain and hang around to ensure the attacks were over or would you fold up the tents?
STGRB: We’d leave the site up as a record and a reminder, and would only reactivate it if any new bully attacks emerged. We are here for the long haul. As long as there are hateful people in the world who are looking to harm others, we will be around.
Carroll: Same basic question except, what would you think would happen with STGRB if GR and the rest finally took a stand against cyber bullying on their sites?
STGRB: Same answer. We’d leave the site up as a record and a reminder and would reactivate it if anything new emerged.
Carroll: Got it, but if GR or any other site wanted to work with you in cracking down on the problem, would you work with them?
STGRB: Of course.
Carroll: And of course, none of them have come forth to do that nor would I suspect they ever will. That is a shame. And finally, what percentage would you give that this problem of cyber bullying taking place on GR and other sites will be addressed by these sites? Be stopped? How hopeful are you that it will be resolved?
STGRB: Not hopeful. Determined. We are 100 percent sure that the bullying will stop someday. Eventually some author or a group of authors will decide they’ve had enough and will get their attorneys involved. Goodreads is not a library. They do not lend out books. They are a social networking site for bibliophiles and therefore do not have the right to post authors’ books and profiles on their site without those authors’ permission. All an author has to do is have their attorney point this out to GR (or to a judge if it comes to that) and then GR will have a huge problem. They won’t be able to stop authors from demanding their books be removed from the site.
Carroll: That is an interesting note to end on. Did you other authors get all that? Goodreads does not have the legal right to post your books on their website WITHOUT your permission. If you do not wish for them to display your books, you may send a request to them (Via Patrick Brown, I assume) and ask them to remove them. If they fail to do so, consult a lawyer. Their refusal to remove your work and or profile from their website and forcing you to contact a lawyer would be even more proof that Patrick Brown and Otos Chandler condone, endorse, foster and maybe even perhaps participates themselves in cyber-bullying on their website. I know I have sent a request asking that very thing and I have been ignored. This si why I believe they are the true ring leaders of the "gang of bullies" on Goodreads. And why I could never endorse that website.
I want to thank STGRB for taking the time to do this interview. Fighting against cyber-bullying is the cause that I have taken on for myself and it is also the cause that the good people over at STGRB has taken up as well. To learn more about them and what they do, and to see for yourself what has been going on over at Goodreads and other websites, just go visit STGRB and read the many fine articles that they have posted.
As for me, I will continue with my fight as well. Mostly on my Carroll's Youtube Channel where I have already put up some interesting Vblogs regarding my situation. Meanwhile, if you see bullying going on over at Goodreads, then don't be afraid to stand up and say something. Don't let these bullies win. Let them, and GR staff, know that this kind of behavior has to be addressed, and stopped. Don't be intimidated by them. Demand that Goodreads staff step up, and man up, in the fight against cyber-bullying. It is my contention that the only way to bring an end to this kind of childish behavior is to use good old fashioned "public pressure".
Thanks again to the people over at STGRB and thanks to you, the reader, for taking time out of your life to read this article. Here's wishing everyone a wonderful 2013. (And putting an end once and for all to cyber-bullying) Take care!
UPDATE: (Jan. 17th) - Within the past 24 hours, an attempt was made by someone to hack into the STGRB website. An investigation is on-going. You may read about it here. Bully Crime. I will keep you all posted on any new developments.