So, the other day I got my first badly-behaving-author comment, on my review of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. (The comment is #52.) Which didn't have quite the effect the author presumably intended--I feel like I've finally arrived!--but got me wondering about whether the author posted her comment not just out of spite and poor judgment but in an attempt to trigger Goodreads censorship of my review. Here's why:
1) My review has been posted, and displayed in the #1 position, for months. It's unlikely that Kline saw it for the first time this week, as she has a habit of stalking reviews of her book.
2) Goodreads Choice voting starts Monday, and Kline's book is popular enough that it stands a decent chance of being nominated. Based on her comment, she certainly doesn't want my review to be the first one potential readers see when they click on it.
3) Goodreads has recently "announced" (well, not quite) a policy of censoring reviews that discuss author behavior. In practice this has even included reviews whose comment threads discuss author behavior.
4) Previously in the comment thread, another user asked me if I'd had any reviews censored. I replied that I hadn't yet, but I hadn't yet had any BBAs comment on my reviews, and then joked that GR might now delete the review since the comment thread discussed BBAs. Enough to give Kline the idea, if she didn't have it already.
5) While Kline's comment puts her in BBA territory, she hasn't had a total meltdown. Although I responded fairly quickly, she's made no further appearance in the thread, nor has she posted about reviewers on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. Almost as if she wants to do enough to provoke me into commenting on her behavior--enough to provoke Goodreads to delete my review--while doing as little damage to her own reputation as possible.
So, is Kline deliberately trying to manipulate Goodreads censors into deleting my inconveniently-placed review in time for the end-of-year awards? I don't expect to find out for sure--as they say, don't attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity--and I'm hoping that even Goodreads censors are not so far gone as to delete a review mentioning author behavior occurring in that very thread. (Out of curiosity, I flagged Kline's comment; Goodreads responded that they are not deleting it, but that I'm free to do so myself. Of course, I don't want the comment deleted--I want everyone to see Kline's childish and unprofessional behavior, which is why I've edited my review to draw attention to it--but it's more than a little hypocritical to delete reviews for mentioning author behavior, but not to delete actual instances of such behavior.)
Still, this raises an issue with Goodreads censorship that hadn't occurred to me this far: even if Kline isn't using her own poor behavior to get a review she dislikes deleted, at some point somebody is going to do it. Authors can't get reviews deleted simply for criticizing the book, but what if they can do so by attacking the reviewer, then reporting the review (or its comment thread) for discussing "author behavior"? This is a sad road Goodreads has chosen, and if the site allows that sort of abuse it won't keep honest reviewers for long.