A guest post by Ashley at Nose Graze
Hey folks! My name is Ashley and I have a book blog over at Nose Graze. Huge thanks to Jessi for letting me stop by today.
I’m going to address a topic that literally scares the pants off of me. I feel like it’s so touchy and so controversial, it makes me nervous to even think about it too loudly. But it’s time to put on my big girl pants and just get it out there.
I’m going to talk about finding the perfect middle ground that allows you to give people “free speech” but still avoid harassment and bullying. Then I’m going to tie that idea into a new book cataloging site my husband and I are building, LitRate.
Deleting reviews and shelves on Goodreads
One of the big reasons people are unhappy with Goodreads is the fact that they went on a “let’s delete book reviews” rampage. Goodreads deleted many reviews that they considered to have “author bashing” or bullying. Some people say, “Good riddance! Those reviews were rude and unhelpful anyway!” but other people say, “What about our free speech? This is censorship!” And then there’s the grey area of, “Were those reviews really bullying in the first place?”
Sigh, it’s a very fine line. Having been an administrator and moderator of a very popular website/forum with millions of users, I know exactly how hard it can be to find that happy medium. You don’t want users to be allowed to go on rampages, calling each other names and harassing people. But at the same time, you don’t want to be too restrictive or you’ll push people away. How can you let people speak their minds without letting them cross the line?
I’m hoping I can find that happy middle ground in a new and upcoming book cataloging site, LitRate.
Introducing a new book community: LitRate
My husband (the Coding God) and I have a VERY ambitious project on our plates. We want to create a new book review/cataloging site called LitRate. You will be able to search for books, discover new reads, categorize your books, and chat with fellow book lovers. That’s right: we’re taking on Goodreads.
We don’t just want to create a Goodreads clone. We want to simplify their idea, then reinvent it. We want a site with less of a corporate/marketing push, and more of a personal, individual feel. Imagine a site with better searching capabilities, less drama, less spam, and a place where YOU have more control.
How we’ll balance “free speech” with moderation on LitRate
When creating a site like this, we have to decide how we’ll handle the idea of “free speech”. Can we let people say whatever they want without penalty? If someone posts a review that calls the author hurtful, racist, or otherwise offensive names, how do we react?
On LitRate, we’ll have a few priorities:
- Only take action against the worst possible offenses (such as hate speech).
- Never delete content. Even if something needs to be removed from view, it won’t be deleted or inaccessible to the creator.
- Let the community decide what should be removed.
Okay let’s tackle these points in order!
When it comes to moderating being done by the staff members, we want to only remove content that’s truly horrible. This would include hate speech, racism, and really inappropriate name calling. But even when we have content like that, we don’t want to ever remove this content from a user’s account. We want users to be in charge of their own reviews and always have access to them. In order to achieve this, we’ll adopt a “no deletion” policy.
Let’s say someone posts a review that’s riddled with racist remarks and hate speech directed at the author. It’s cruel, horrible, and not even really considered a book review (it’s more like a “let’s be extremely offensive towards the author” note). Instead of deleting it, we would hide it from public view and inform the creator. The review wouldn’t be visible to anyone searching the site, but the person who wrote that review still has access to it on their account. They can still read their own review and edit it, since it hasn’t actually been deleted. They can even choose to remove the offensive content, and then the review would be un-hidden.
For everything else that doesn’t qualify as “horrendously hateful and inappropriate”, we want to let the community decide what should be visible or not. In order to do this, we’re going to implement a “vote up/down” system. Instead of “liking” a review, you can vote it up. Or, if you think a review is inappropriate, unhelpful, or just bashing the author, you can vote it down. Once a review reaches a certain amount of “down” votes, it will be hidden by default. However, you would still have the option of “click to unhide” the review if you choose to see it. Think like YouTube or Reddit comments.
We want to give our community as much freedom as possible, without turning it into a breeding ground for harassment and insults.
Like these ideas? Help LitRate succeed!
What you see here is just a small taste of our vision for LitRate. If you’d like to learn more and help make this idea happen, please check out our Kickstarter campaign. We’re very excited about this site and can’t wait to get it there into the world. We just need your help getting started!