Clouds' Cloudscapes

At the moment I'm primarily a GoodReads user (also Clouds), but like so many others, due to their recent cack-handed policy change I've joined Booklikes too. I'm still in the process of importing my books and looking around, but Hi!

Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist

Why is this cover only half an image? WTF?

I'm grumpy this morning, but the site seems particularly halfbaked right now...

*facepalm*
*facepalm*

When I view my "blog shelf" - whatever shelf I view, nothing shows up.

They're all empty.

 

Booklikes... you're not making it easy for me to love you...

These Clothes Don't Fit

Sorry y'all,

 

I'm just not loving Booklikes yet.

 

Goodreads is book indexing (very good) + social network (good) + blogging (weak).

Booklikes is blogging (good) + book indexing (ok) + social network (weak)

 

Overall, it is not teh winner (yet).

 

But I'm still angry about Goodreads - so I'm still here for the foreseeable.

 

See the positives, C. Need to see the positives...

Non Censure

Non Censure - Ute Lemper
Hello there,

Your review of Non Censure was recently flagged by Goodreads members as potentially off-topic. As the review is not about the book, it has been removed from the site. You can find the text of the review attached for your personal records.

Additionally, your reviews of the following books were recently brought to our attention:

Moomins Cookbook
Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung
All Flesh is Grass
The 5th Wave
The Void
An Uncommon Whore
Unannounced
Logic: A Very Short Introduction

Please note that any reviews you post must contain your own original content (see our review guidelines). Any reviews that are copy-pasted duplicates of other reviews will be removed. Given this, the reviews in question have been deleted. We have attached copies for your personal records.

Please note that if you continue to violate our guidelines, your account may come under review for removal.

Sincerely,
The Goodreads Team

Additionally, your review of The Hydra was also removed.

Sincerely,
The Goodreads Team
------------------

When Goodreads announced their policy change I was annoyed - somewhat because I felt this represented a step towards censorship - but mostly because it was handled in such an unprofessional, cack-handed way.

But we've moved on a step since then. We've moved past the original issue with reviewers attacking authors in their book reviews. Goodreads is now specifically, systematically removing those reviews written in protest of the initial policy change. They are deleting the voice of the opposition.

I have never written a review attacking an author - it's just not my thing, and I wasn't in the firing line - but I was annoyed enough to join the protest movement. And now they've started deleting protest reviews, which puts me and a lot of good, thoughtful reviewers, right in the middle of the censor-sniper's sights. That makes it a lot more personal. That makes me a lot more angry.

I'm now amping up my involvement in the protest movement - this morning I posted 7 Hydra reviews and will be looking at what else I can do when I get home after work (this is my lunch break). They've re-drawn the battle lines, so I'm painting a target on my chest.

I'm a sci-fi reviewer - I've never caused any problems with anyone on this site - it's YOUR actions which have instigated this situation Goodreads - and I'm not leaving until you back down or ban me.


------------------

1.) Posting this protest review resulted in it being deleted.
2.) Reposting will apparently get my account 'put under review for removal'.
3.) I'd like to state for anyone 'reviewing' this that I fully intend to keep reposting every review I hear about that's been deleted - because this censorship policy is WRONG.
4) If the only response to that, you're capable of considering, is removing my account entirely, rather than engaging with your outraged users in meaningful discussion, than just hit the big delete button right now...
Logic: A Very Short Introduction - Graham Priest

Dear Censors - either leave my reviews alone or delete my account entirely, because if you keep deleting my reviews I'm just going to keep posting them right back up and this dance will go on for as long as you keep the same music playing.

This review by Paul was recently removed by Goodreads for breaking their ridiculous censorship policy - but is reposted here thanks to the good folk at Hydra Rebellions.

Another hapless Goodreads employee contemplates his in-tray. It contains reviews which have been flagged for focussing on author behaviour, which is not allowed ("we will now delete these entirely from the site"). Our poor Goodreads employee now has to read through all these flagged reviews to figure out if they do indeed contravene the policy. It's a terrible job, but somebody has to do it. The flagged reviews are pouring in to the Goodreads office. The ones shown in his in-tray above arrived while he was having a ten minute coffee break. (He'll need something stronger than coffee soon.) The thing is, what does he do with this beautifully argued review here by the brilliant Manny, which is all about the terrible Holocaust denier David Irving [link lost in deletion] or my own huffy denunciation of the homophobic Orson Scott Card's opinions [link lost in deletion] These clearly should be zapped. We say loudly that we're not going to read these books and the authors are awful. The New GR Policy was thought up to try to cool things out over there in the YA section, where reviewers and authors have at times, I regret to say, indulged in unseemly name-calling. But there is such a thing as logic and fairness. So if any reviews have been deleted entirely from GR, the above two should by the same rule. I will be posting a copy of this short introduction to Logic to the GR head office in San Francisco. It might help.

Spread the call of the Hydra!
Unannounced - George Beddingfield

Dear Censors - either leave my reviews alone or delete my account entirely, because if you keep deleting my reviews I'm just going to keep posting them right back up and this dance will go on for as long as you keep the same music playing.

This review by Jonathan was recently removed by Goodreads for breaking their ridiculous censorship policy - but is reposted here thanks to the good folk at Hydra Rebellions.

Okay, I'm totally hijacking this novel for use in protesting against the unannounced changes to Goodreads policy. But, it was a non-reviewed or read novel so I figure I'm giving it more attention than ever before! For those of you unaware of the situation: [link lost in deletion] Yeah, that's right. Rather than make a sitewide announcement they put up an 'important note' sloppily stating that any review could now come open for questioning on a group that was hidden away. Yes, none of my reviews have been affected and maybe none of yours have been. The issue is the potential the particular wording and background movements behind this which none of us are fully aware of. We need more transparency on something in which we are invested and in which we create the content which allows for Goodreads to make money. There was an analogy made in an article arguing that this was not censorship. The article suggested that this was like me using a friend's garage to store my valuables and then either later getting upset when he decided he wanted to loan out the garage to someone else or make me pay for it. It's his garage, the article said, and you've been getting a free service for it all along. That is true, but the more appropriate analogy would be to say that Goodreads are the friend that either throw out your valuables without warning or sell your stuff because it suits them. Both are highly unethical. I'm sorry, but censorship exists anytime you tell someone emphatically that there are only particular ways to respond to something. In deleting negative reviews of the book - well particularly singling certain reviewers out and driving them away - Goodreads is acting in censorship. By staying silent and not giving a sitewide announcement they reveal more and more that they know what they are doing is wrong. And regardless of what you think, censorship has historically never worked and always is shown as wrong.

Spread the call of the Hydra!
An Uncommon Whore - Belinda McBride

Dear Censors - either leave my reviews alone or delete my account entirely, because if you keep deleting my reviews I'm just going to keep posting them right back up and this dance will go on for as long as you keep the same music playing.

This review by Mark Monday was recently removed by Goodreads for breaking their ridiculous censorship policy - but is reposted here thanks to the good folk at Hydra Rebellions.

An Uncommon Whore; Or, The Story of Goodreads' Acquisition by Amazon by Belinda McBride (Goodreads Author) FLAG [I am actually quite enthusiastic about reading this one! it looks enjoyable. but I really couldn't resist using the title for my own sordid little joke.]

Spread the call of the Hydra!
Moomins Cookbook: An Introduction to Finnish Cuisine - Tove Jansson, Sami Malila

Dear Censors - either leave my reviews alone or delete my account entirely, because if you keep deleting my reviews I'm just going to keep posting them right back up and this dance will go on for as long as you keep the same music playing.

This review by Mark Monday was recently removed by Goodreads for breaking their ridiculous censorship policy - but is reposted here thanks to the good folk at Hydra Rebellions.

I heard somewhere that Tove Jansson had a lot of orgies with the Moomins. and a fat ass. well, not that she had an orgy that included an overweight donkey, but rather that baby got some back, you know? FLAG

Spread the call of the Hydra!
The Void - Brett J. Talley

Dear Censors - either leave my reviews alone or delete my account entirely, because if you keep deleting my reviews I'm just going to keep posting them right back up and this dance will go on for as long as you keep the same music playing.

This review by Mark Monday was recently removed by Goodreads for breaking their ridiculous censorship policy - but is reposted here thanks to the good folk at Hydra Rebellions.

The Void; or, what lurks at the heart of Goodreads' new policy of censorship.

Spread the call of the Hydra!
The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey

Dear Censors - either leave my reviews alone or delete my account entirely, because if you keep deleting my reviews I'm just going to keep posting them right back up and this dance will go on for as long as you keep the same music playing.

This review by Mark Monday was recently removed by Goodreads for breaking their ridiculous censorship policy - but is reposted here thanks to the good folk at Hydra Rebellions for the SECOND TIME.

the first wave was The Golden Agers and that's David and his buddies. the second wave was The Silver Agers and that's probably Nancy & Kemper & Dan and them. the third wave is just Stephen, he deserves his own wave. now he's gone, thanks a lot mean Golden Agers for driving him away. the fourth wave is Katrina Lumsden and her review for 50 Shades of Grey. the fifth wave will be all those people still to come who will write 5 stars review for all of the authors who pay Goodreads to merchandise their books and to drive away all those nasty reviewers who are mean to them and make mean shelves all about them. cause it's all about them. the sixth wave will be the Goodreads Apocalypse!

Spread the call of the Hydra!
All Flesh Is Green - Clifford D. Simak

Dear Censors - either leave my reviews alone or delete my account entirely, because if you keep deleting my reviews I'm just going to keep posting them right back up and this dance will go on for as long as you keep the same music playing.

This review by Mark Monday was recently removed by Goodreads for breaking their ridiculous censorship policy - but is reposted here thanks to the good folk at Hydra Rebellions for the SECOND TIME.

All Flesh is Grass, and so are all websites consumed by greed. I mean srsly, did you check out that twitter post from that one goodreads author showing how much this website is invested in making this an author-centric website? and how little it cares about the folks who actually produce content for this website? Simak would not approve!

Spread the call of the Hydra!
Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Collected Essays) - Henry David Thoreau

I was torn between posting Carol and/or Manny's protest reviews. I've decided to plump for both.

CAROL:
Time for us to engage before we bug out to Booklikes and our various blogs.

Goodreads, you are destroying the very thing that made you popular. By censoring reviews, and allowing a policy so vague as to permit anything 'flagged' to be deleted, you have turned a vigorous community into a MiniMe of Amazon.

Understand, I've never been flagged in my life. I don't review erotica. My reviews almost always talk about the book. I rarely have a gif in site. I don't swear very often. I've stayed out of the Young Adult Fantasy wars. I've been on the Top 50 US Reviewers list for some time. So while it may seem I don't have a stake in this fight, I most empathetically do. I treasure the diversity of opinions, and I don't want that removed from my reading and reviewing experience.

This was a site that was created For Readers. Not authors. Not reviewers.

Not anymore.


MANNY:
The review below was deleted by Goodreads, along with two others. I received the following message:

Re: [#104307] Deleted Reviews
Goodreads
To Me
Oct 11 at 8:41 PM
Hello Manny,

Your reviews of the following books were recently flagged by Goodreads members as potentially off-topic:

That's Not What I Meant!
Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Collected Essays)
The Hydra

As the reviews are not about the books in question, they have been removed from the site. You can find the text of the reviews attached for your personal records.

Please note that if you continue to post content like this, your account may come under review for removal.

Sincerely,
The Goodreads Team


In accordance with the hydra principle, I am now reposting it. Maybe Goodreads will indeed retaliate by removing my account. If so, it's been nice knowing you all!
__________________________________

Along with thousands of other people here, I am appalled by the recent changes on Goodreads. They prompted me to look at the Terms of Use, something I hadn't done for a long time. I was even more appalled to find that they are so restrictive that I am breaking them all the time. Look in particular at this passage from Article 2:

You agree not to post User Content that: (i) may create a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to you, to any other person, or to any animal; (ii) may create a risk of any other loss or damage to any person or property; (iii) seeks to harm or exploit children by exposing them to inappropriate content, asking for personally identifiable details or otherwise; (iv) may constitute or contribute to a crime or tort; (v) contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable; (vi) contains any information or content that is illegal (including, without limitation, the disclosure of insider information under securities law or of another party's trade secrets); or (vii) contains any information or content that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships; or (viii) contains any information or content that you know is not correct and current.

The clauses I am most surprised by are (v) and (viii). I do not even see how it is possible to follow (v): how can I agree not to post content which "we" (who, exactly?) may deem "profane or otherwise objectionable", when these are entirely subjective criteria? I obviously don't know what some unnamed people in the Goodreads administration may deem objectionable. Clause (viii) is nearly as bad, and means that I am technically in default of the Terms of Use any time I post something that isn't a straight factual review.

Of course, Goodreads isn't deleting everything that contravenes these absurd rules. But the fact is that if they want to delet something I've written I'll be in a poor position to complain, given that I've clearly been breaking them. I dislike the fact that I've been turned into a criminal who is only allowed to carry on using the service because of the administrators' tolerance and forebearance.

Given that the rules are utterly stupid, it seems to me that the most constructive thing I can do is to follow them. Until they are changed, my policy will thus be to flag anyone who appears to be ignoring Article 2, in particular clauses (v) and (viii). I have for example flagged Paul for his brilliant but non-factual review of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle:

See original review for screenshot (until it gets deleted - again)

I have similarly flagged Ian for his creative but implausible review of Mein Kampf:

See original review for screenshot (until it gets deleted - again)

And I have taken particular pleasure in flagging Mark's brief review of An Uncommon Whore (now deleted), which was not just factually incorrect but also insulting:

See original review for screenshot (until it gets deleted - again)

If you want to start playing this game and aren't sure who to flag, you're more than welcome to start with me. As already noted, I am a serial offender. For example, I freely admit that all of the following reviews contain "information or content that I knew was not correct and current":

My review of Fifty Shades of Grey: there is no such thing as the "Goodreads Center for Bodice-Ripping, Bondage and Twilight Studies".

My review of Quicksilver: I have not been visited by a time-traveler from the 25th century.

My review of The Martian Way: I have never constructed an anti-gravity machine from spare parts bought at a CERN garage sale and used it to fly to Jupiter.

My review of Emmanuelle: Bertrand Russell did not write a book called Principia Sexualis and try to sell the movie rights.

I'm just scraping the surface; there's plenty more.

Happy Flagging!
Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung - Mao Tse-tung, Lin Biao

This one really makes me laugh.
1) Jonathan posted a protest review on this book.
2) I liked his protest, so I posted my own (whimsical) different protest review.
3) Goodreads deleted Jonathan's review.
4) I added Jonathan's review onto the bottom of mine as a Hydra.
5) Jonathan re-posted his review as a Hydra review.
6) Goodreads deleted both of our reviews.
7) I repost mine as a Hydra.
8) You post mine as a Hydra!

To make life easy for you, I've put the pre-formatted review on my blog - HERE - so all you need to do is cut and paste and add your own notes (if you wish to do so).

Hate censorship? Hug a Hydra!
(Thanks Ruby for that catchphrase, it put a big smile on my face.)

Hugz for all!
-C
--------------------------------



I have no intention of ever reading this book because the author is a super-douche who:

1) Thinks He-Man is better than Thundercats
2) Regularly wears denim on denim combinations
3) Drinks black tea with sliced lemon in it
4) Doesn't like cats
5) Never calls his mother just to ask how her day has been
6) Itches his balls in public, and then shakes hands with people
7) Has never seen E.T.
8) Doesn't like my poetry
9) Gets a little ball of spit on the corner of his mouth when he's angry
10) Bought a fish bonker for it's intended purpose

EVEN THOUGH I HAVE NOT READ IT I HAVE RATED IT TEH ONE STARS!
(thus skewing the 'true' ranking of this book, which is, like, SO unfair to the author)

//Flagged, yes please?

In support of this protest review by Jonathan.

If a review gets taken down - the hydra reviews will post it back up. If a shelf gets taken down - the hydra shelves will come up in replacement. How many heads does the hydra need before the censors drop the sword?

THIS IS BRILLIANT! The very protest post I wrote this in support of has now been taken down by Goodreads' censorship patrol! Can anyone else hear the Hydra coming?

--------------------------------



This review by Jonathan was recently removed by Goodreads for breaking their ridiculous censorship policy - but is reposted here thanks to the good folk at Hydra Rebellions.

So apparently Goodreads want to remove, without warning, any review that doesn't actually talk about the book (well more or less) but attacks the author. Not hide, not ask the author nicely to change, just a total removal. So I'm not actually going to write a review about this book, I'm testing the waters (inspired by certain friends) to ask whether we can all show Goodreads just a little how ridiculous and unprofessional the sudden changes to its terms of service are by posting reviews and shelves like this. I mean, really, what kind of grey area are we going into? Are some of the excellent humorous reviews out there just going to disappear, hence removing some of the fun of this site? If this review still stands by the same time next week as it is (including shelves). Well, I'll take it that Goodreads are making empty statements and that is that - more for the sake of legalities. Also, Chairman Mao was a rather vile dictator who killed off millions of his people. More of his own people than Hitler committed genocide. I can't see his ego getting stroked from beyond the grave... Which is why I want to further add. Why are Goodreads making this effort to stoke author egos? I see more directed at readers here. Yes, maybe some shelves are pointlessly rude. But not giving people a chance to save content and change (doing a backflip) is just unethical. And Mao is still evil. UPDATE: Still nothing from Goodreads on what they've done so unprofessionally. An amendment and apology couldn't be that hard right

Spread the call of the Hydra!
The Hydra (Monsters of Mythology) - Bernard Evslin

Manny posted his Hydra rebellion concept - and I thought it was a great idea, so I re-posted it under the Hydra banner. Manny's original review was deleted and soon afterwards mine was too. Manny has now re-posted his own Hydra copy - and this is now my second copy of the review too.

How many Hydra reviews do you think we're now up to?

----------------------------------------


Manny Rayner wrote the original text portrayed below. It is reposted with his express permission, along with his report regarding the Goodreads deletions that he has experienced:

*****
The review below was deleted by Goodreads, along with two others. I received the following message:
Re: [#104307] Deleted Reviews
Goodreads
To Me
Oct 11 at 8:41 PM
Hello Manny,

Your reviews of the following books were recently flagged by Goodreads members as potentially off-topic:

That's Not What I Meant!
Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Collected Essays)
The Hydra

As the reviews are not about the books in question, they have been removed from the site. You can find the text of the reviews attached for your personal records.

Please note that if you continue to post content like this, your account may come under review for removal.

Sincerely,
The Goodreads Team
Since several other people have already posted copies, it seems illogical for me not to repost. Maybe Goodreads will indeed retaliate by removing my account. If so, it's been nice knowing you all!

__________________________________

In the shower just now, I suddenly had a Eureka moment. The aspect of this current censorship war that's been upsetting us most is the feeling of powerlessless. Goodreads can arbitrarily change the rules, and they hardly even bother to respond when we complain. But we are not powerless. There are twenty million of us, and only a few dozen of them. We just need to get a little more organized, and we can easily resist.

So here's one concrete way to do it, based on the legend of Hercules. You will recall that Hercules had a difficult time against the Lernean Hydra; every time he cut off one of its heads, ten more grew back. We can do the same thing if we adopt the following plan:

1. Back up all your reviews, so that you have a copy of everything you have posted.

2. If you think that one of your reviews has been unreasonably deleted by Goodreads, repost it with an image of the Hydra at the top.

3. If you see someone else posting a Hydra review, make a copy of it and post it yourself.

We can improve this basic scheme with a little thought; for example, it would be better to have a place where we keep HTML marked-up source of reviews, so that they can immediately be reposted with the same formatting, and we need a plan for duplicating deleted shelves. But we can sort that out later. Without getting too bogged down in the details, I'm sure you see what will happen. The net result of Goodreads unreasonably deleting a review will be that it immediately comes back in many different places.

People who know their Greek mythology will be aware that Hercules did in fact defeat the Hydra, and Goodreads can use the same method if they dare; they can close down the account of anyone who participates in the scheme. That will work, but I am not sure that anything less drastic will be effective. I think Goodreads will be reluctant to escalate to this level. A large proportion of the most active reviewers are now part of the protest movement, and they would be losing much of the content that makes the site valuable. Even more to the point, the media have already started to get interested (maybe you saw the article in the Washington Post). They would love the story, and it would create a mountain of bad publicity for Goodreads and Amazon.

I'd say the odds are heavily in our favor. Why don't we try it? I promise now to respond to any Hydra calls.

Latest Censorship News: Goodreads Can't Take Criticism, Badly Behaved Social Network?

Reblogged from Literary Ames:

Reviews are being deleted for being “potentially off-topic” – code for “being critical of GR” and for being “non-original content” despite permission given from original reviewers.

 

 

Read more

Animals Scare Me Stiff

Animals Scare Me Stiff - Babette Cole
Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my BEDTIME STORIES list.

I have a little boy and love reading to him, so this reading list will cover the classic (and new) children’s stories we’re enjoying together.


My wife is the oldest of three siblings - each six years apart - so her little brother is twelve years younger than her. He's now a teenager, which means he doesn't want his kiddie-books any more - but because he's not too old they're still in good nick. My mother-in-law (she of the Samurai tea-spoons) dropped off a big box of books for my baby son, Fin a few weeks ago.

Most of them are really too old for Fin (he's currently 16 months) but nobody's told him that, so he loves to pull them off his shelf (he has his own bookshelf at ground level) and wave them at us to read for him. Amongst them there are some great additions - Dr Seuss, Meg & Mog, Q-Pootle, Gruffalo, etc - but also many that I'd never heard of before (such as this).

Fin has recently become fond of Animals Scare Me Stiff - it's running third this week behind the noisy monkey book (you press a button, it makes monkey noises) and Room on the Broom (which I really like reading to him). I'm not quite so enamoured with this one - it's not bad - but I'm a sucker for fun, rhyming read-aloud like Room on the Broom (which this is not) - but Fin really likes the pictures in this one.

It's a story about a little boy who's scared of animals and page by page more and more animals start following him - a dog, a horse, a bull, a snake, birds, spiders, and bats - until eventually our young hero takes... 'drastic action' and scares them all away. Fin likes to point at all the animals on each page - especially the horsey!

After this I read: H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus 2