With all that’s been going on lately in the literary world and in real life, you’d think we’d all have had enough of the reviewer/author wangst that’s been going on. But no, apparently not.
It’s still one of the most hotly debated topics of the summer, with a lot of folk weighing on what they think is right and wrong – and that’s made from some interesting reading.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I despise what the STGRB website has been doing (I won’t link because I’m not going to honor them with the traffic) but it seems their latest supporter is author of ‘Green Street’ and former football hooligan Dougie Brimson. I was kinda surprised by this, but at the same time, not really.
The discussion this week has been about trolling, and apparently, according to Brimson, it’s okay so long as it’s ‘research.’ Part of that ‘research’ basically seems to be antagonising people who use screen names (ya know, like all those people who DON’T want their personal information pasted in cyberspace for the whole world to see and abuse, therefore putting their personal safety and identity at risk) his exact statement on the matter when questioned was:
When they hide behind a keyboard and a fake name, how else can I work out what makes them tick other than by poking them with the odd stick?
I’m not sure how the ‘research’ angle is going to hold up. I mean, I don’t hear too many cases of Judges saying, ‘You murdered 150 people for research for your next book? Oh, well that’s all right then.’
I get that Brimson thinks he is part of some noble crusade, but then I’m sure he thought that when he was punching other football supporters too.
And that’s the problem – you know, I actually believe that some of those people really and truly think they are helping, that they are taking a stand against bullies. But they can’t see that they are bullies too – bullies hiding behind screen names – something they have attacked others for.
The hypocrisy is astounding.
In Brimon’s case it’s particularly sad because he’s done so much over the last few years to prevent violence, and has been very vocal on the subject, drawing attention to it. I jest feel that he’s letting himself down by encouraging a site that’s just another form of hooliganism – we don’t like what you said, we’re going to harass you and publicly humiliate and bully you?
Where has that ever got anyone?
This whole thing has developed into a situation where the relationship between authors and reviewers is so strained that it’s going to snap completely. Already reviewers are backing off and refusing to review books, long running book blogs are shutting down, people are afraid to voice an opinion and authors are getting stressed because channels are closing for them – and all because of a minority of people who don’t know how to behave in polite society.
People are afraid to engage now. Reviews are afraid to voice an opinion for fear of being dogpiled. Authors are afraid of engaging with reviewer for fear of being dragged into arguments and phuckery.
So where does it stop? Because it has to. And STGRB methods aren’t working.
I read a thoughtful blog post from fantasy author SJ Wist over on her blog Infiinty Dreamt :http://infinitydreamt.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/hug-a-book-blogger-part-2-16/#comment-201
One of the things she discusses is the matter of authors responding to reviews. In the past I would have always said no, don’t do it. But Wist makes several good points – namely, if you have asked for a review from someone, the least you can do is thank them. But she also suggests some conduct guidelines that folks would do well to follow:
It is rude to correct the reviewer and/or insult them. It is bad to advertise on them as well. This is unprofessional and intimidating to the reviewer as well as any future reviewers who come along in the future.
I understand the temptation to respond to a negative or scathing review – especially when it’s a personal attack and not a review of the book, however, as Wist points out, most sites have a report function for inappropriate material – this is NOT a means to remove negative reviews just because you don’t like them, but it’s a means to report inappropriate material that breaches guidelines.
I feel that both reviewers and authors need to adhere to some basic codes of practice, and we all need to learn to respect each other more, behave more dignity, remember that we are professionals, and learn that sites like STGRB don’t help anyone.