That hands-off approach ended today when Goodreads admitted to hiding reviews and announced "new guidelines" for why they would be hidden.
In the thread started by Ridley titled, Why Has My Review Been Hidden, Community Manager Patrick explains in detail about new changes to a (supposedly) existing policy.
"Our philosophy is that your review is yours to write as you see fit and we're happy to have you express whatever opinions you like in those reviews. They'll always be shown on your profile and be on your shelves, but the book page is ours to curate, and that's something we've been doing since the start of Goodreads. We want to make sure that we're showing the most relevant and most useful reviews on that page. "
I don't know of other reviews being hidden before. It's possible. But call me skeptical given Goodreads' previous hands-off approach.
He also states
"We'll be posting our review guidelines, which clearly spell out what is likely to get a review hidden, in a couple of days."
Nice that they've been working on these guidelines but are enforcing them before making them public.
My favorite one is perhaps this one:
'One of the points in our guidelines will be "review the book and not the author."'
This one gets my goat probably more than anything else in his response. And the reason is because this is the "be professional" mantra of the poor authors complaining about bad reviews. It's straight out of their playbook and gives me a clear indication of where these new rules are headed. And it's not in the direction of open, sincere communication among readers.
If Goodreads wants to sanitize their book pages in order to monetize them, that's their business, obviously. But it seriously undermines my trust in the site. I want to see ALL of the comments about a book on the book page. Not those that Goodreads deems "relevant and useful." Without that openness, the site loses much of its value for me.
I admit to being disappointed. Goodreads has started a practice that will only grow more cumbersome, more fraught with drama, more irritating as time goes on.