Interesting Behavior Online

First we have a rather colorful email posted for the world to see by PC Cast. Then there was the big blow up over a slew of grammatical errors with Adele Ashworth’s new book, Duke of Sin. LLB and company has since deleted parts of the thread (censorship!). Maybe everybody needs to just leave the computer alone for a week and read a book.

I refuse to get my blood pressure up or loose my mind over Internet commentary!  If I was an author and everybody was panning my book – I’d be gleeful that they bought it and are stuck with it since so many romance readers don’t believe in returning books. Seriously, I’d avoid the thread and the board like the plague.

Everybody’s a critic, eh? I’m a reader and I support readers 100%. But I know some readers are infuriating little beasts. I can’t stand the ones that must find fault with everything either but I wouldn’t waste time debating with them, they live for that shit.

Blog-wise, it’s been entertaining and very interesting week. To quote Sybil: you learn something new everyday. I have been—what’s the word—educated on the purpose of ARC’s and grammatical rules. And here I thought my college days were over.

Maybe authors and readers don’t like each other after all. Thanks to the Internet – we’ve kinda annoyed each other. However, I don’t like to see readers beat a dead horse to the ground and many times it’s the author who’s been beat down. I remember that feeding frenzy with Lisa Valdez and her run in with some nasty readers over her book, Passion.

Flame wars are much apart of the Internet as porn. No avoiding them when you have people with nothing better to do than participate in them. I’d like to give a few shout OUT’s to the author’s who’ve acted out of their ass  been rather opinionated this week.

It’s been fun. Truly. We’ve seen the worst of readers and authors this week. It must be something in the water methinks.

Anyway, I must now watch American Idol and see what the three that’s left are up to and how they did tonight. Any guesses on who’s going home? I’d hate to even guess who’s going home on America’s Next Top Model, oye.

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22 Responses to Interesting Behavior Online

  1. Maili says:

    It must be something in the water methinks.

    Nah. It’s the way of the Internet. Whenever there is a period of calmness as it’s been last few weeks, you can bet your sweet arse that there would be a storm coming up as proven this week.

    Yet the best thing about the Internet is as soon as it flares up, it’ll quickly die and by the time next week rolls around, the majority will forget all about it. Only at least two people will try to keep it going, flaming each other like some nutty duellists. We can either watch or move on.

    God, I love the Internet. Wish it’s like that in real life because I have quite a few friends who have memories like a damn elephant’s. Such as reminding me how, at one pub during lunch hour, I fell flat on my face, right next to a pub table full of the blue-rinsed brigade who then tsk-tsked loudly at me for being so clumsy. This happened two or three years ago, but did these friends ever let me forget? Nooo.

    Anyhow, you can bet that wherever you go, online or in real life, there is always someone who is dead keen to hurl a lecture at your head. I think we all are guilty of that crime, especially if it’s about something we feel passionate for.

    That’s another good thing about the Internet: once you get to know that person online, you come to learn their hot buttons, so you can either press them like there’s no tomorrow or keep well away from them. Say just one word ‘Scotland’, I’d be gabbing away like a rabbit on acid. Well, I try not to, but … 😀

  2. sybil says:

    scotla… damn I was beat

    I think it goes both ways, some of the readers make me soooooooo want to not be counted in their sandbox and some authors make my eyes hurt from rolling them.

    Either way fuck em if they can’t take a joke. For every one person who hates a book there will be five behind them to love it. At the end of the day it matters not but it is fun to talk about. It is sad when it stops being fun.

  3. Jane says:

    There is nothing like controversy that stirs up participation. It’s a little ironic because next week I have an article that posits whether polarization in a book is good thing for an author (as opposed to online behavior). To some extent, getting people to talk about your books is vital, be it good or bad. And discussion, even furious, unfriendly discussion can be good in that it brings out individuals’ voices who might not otherwise heard.

    I think that we would all agree that regardless of how we might feel personally about those voices, the more voices talking, the better.

  4. Dana says:

    I think Joanie is gonna win Top Model but I’ll laugh my ass off if Jade wins.

  5. Ames says:

    Dana, I agree. I would like Danielle to win, but her accent is going to get her kicked off. Especially since it looks like they’ll be shooting a commercial. So Joanie is probably going to win.

    I can’t wait – Canada’s next top model starts at the end of the month. And Canadian Idol. hehehe

  6. Karen Scott says:

    It’ll be back to the same old same old in no time, it’s all very interesting, but kind of zaps your energy by the end of the week.

  7. LFL says:

    I had to take a day away from AAR because of it and may take more. It’s still driving me crazy.

    I don’t mind readers finding as much fault as they want to with a book. I think it’s far more rude for authors to act (on a reader board) like any reader who doesn’t love their books is a big old meanie. It instantly amps up the volume of any argument that’s in progress, or starts a flame war where there was none.

    In this case, I’ll grant that Robin was overzealous. But then, Ashworth invited it by posting on her website that those mean readers at AAR were criticizing her book without offering any examples. She should not have been surprised that Robin then went to town with examples.

    But to post a goodbye post publicly with Robin’s name in the subject line as Ashworth did (in violation of AAR rules, BTW) — well, she might as well have drawn Robin’s face on a bullseye. I think it’s unfair to say the least for an author to target a specific reader that way; an author has fans who will jump to please her, but a reader does not have a fanbase. She made Robin out into a villain who had caused her to leave AAR and made sure that everyone at AAR saw Robin that way.

    What I find so troubling is that the big flame wars almost always have a subtext of telling readers to shut up if they don’t have anything good to say. I think that an author should not go to readers when her feelings are hurt; she should go to her fellow authors. To go to readers immediately puts a stop to the book discussion, and I have to wonder if that’s not the intent.

    I have no problem with authors disagreeing reasonably and professionally, in a way that allows the conversation to continue, but authors who act wounded and hurt IMO often do so to cast their critics in a bad light and put a stop to the critical posting. It’s not that different, IMO, from having an Amazon review pulled.

  8. sybil says:

    How was your goodbye post any different LFL? Or was that your point in posting it?

    I don’t see your goodbye cruel world post any different than AA, I think they were both not needed. If an author or reader wants to stop posting somewhere, than stop.

    Post somewhere else. The internet is a big ol place.

    To me the omg I am outie posts serve no purpose except to say, tell me you love me and want me to stay. Even if the author of said post didn’t mean it that way.

  9. Keishon says:

    I just stopped and left. Period. I don’t care to post on message boards these days. Goodbye posts aren’t needed true but I hope LFL doesn’t disappear because I do find her posts insightful as I do many others. Plus she has similar reading tastes to moi. Do you know how rare that is?

  10. LFL says:

    LOL, Keishon.

    You’re right Sybil, my post was not all that different. These situations really do not bring out the best side of me.

    But yes, that was kind of my point, that these posts of Ashworth’s and Diana’s saying they were leaving or thinking of leaving were making me want t leave too, because they were using that strategy to censor and berate other people and *that* drives me crazy.

    I feel that people who do that are trying to turn AAR into a place I won’t want to participate in, a place where the littlest criticism is censored. I don’t want to see AAR turn into a ra-ra board. But I also hate wading into these tussles, weighing every word when I feel angry and not in the best state of mind to hit the “send” button. All that pressure that is there when authors are involved really frays my nerves, and again, makes me want to leave.

    Also, at that moment, I was not only upset that Ashworth’s tactic had worked and we now had a flame war where there had been a conversation, but I also was reacting to Diana’s post calling that conversation a “bloodbath” and calling some posters (myself among them, I thought) “the new world order.”

    I saw that as pouring fuel on the fire, and I thought she’d also made it impossible for anyone to call her on her words or defend themselves against her. Since she said she was thinking of leaving, anyone who told her she was out of line would be the person who drove her away from AAR. So, since I was in a mood to go away myself, as well as angry at being attacked, I told her how I felt and that I was thinking of leaving too. If I hadn’t said I was thinking of leaving, I would have looked rotten for opposing someone who was.

    Was it wise? Maybe, maybe not. I honestly did not expect those people to tell me to stay and although it was heartening to feel wanted, I also felt guilty when they started posting because it contributed to the snowballing and they were doing it because of my post.

    But on the other hand, I think I would have felt bad if I had not responded after what Diana said. I saw that she apologized to me and I do feel bad that I jumped to the conclusion that her post was about me, but even if it was not, IMO it was a very harsh thing to say about anyone, and I didn’t think anyone there was deserving of it.

    I would also add that to me it is different when an author says something than when a regular poster says the same thing. An author is a celebrity. They have fans, and other readers who while not fans, will still give their words more weight than they will another poster’s, becasue of the author’s celebrity and sometimes because the reader is also an aspiring writer.

    It’s a very unequal situation when an author and a poster go toe to toe, a David vs. Goliath situation IMO. I was in a heated discussion with one of the biggest names in romance publishing once, and I’ve been in heated discussions with other posters and it feels very, very different. I really felt in the hot seat with the author and her fans. With other readers, well, one on AAR once compared me to a KKK member because I liked Gaffney’s To Have and to Hold. That was a lot less stressful for me than the situation with the author. I’d actually rather be compared to a KKK member any day.

    For that reason, I tend to side with posters in author vs. poster arguments, even when I think the posters could have worded their posts better or been more diplomatic. For an author to act all hurt and thus encourage people to start pigpiling on the posters in response to that is like putting someone in jail for stealing a cookie from the cookie jar.

    To not be diplomatic is a small offense in my mind. To tell readers not to post criticism of a book on a reader board that was created for that purpose is a much bigger offense. Just my four cents.

  11. Bev (BB) says:

    I probably shouldn’t say this but it’s my observation that no one is changing AAR from what it hasn’t been all along and probably never will. These types of, em, flare ups have happened there almost from it’s inception. They flare up, they recede and then eventually they will flare up again. And recede, too.

    I suppose it’s a testiment to how the moderators handle things that things haven’t blown up in their faces yet but, and it’s a big but, eventually it gets old to sit through time and again. I honestly don’t know how they can stomach it time and again. Once one has seen the same basic argment flare up to the point of combustion ten times or more, it’s just quite frankly old. And tiring.

    Life’s too short and personally I’d rather actually talk about the books themselves. Does that mean I never get into discussions of other issues? No, it just means I pick my battles extremely carefully using past experience as a guide. Of course, I’m also not the type to leave strange logic and unfair practices unchallenged, either, which is why I also have to pick where I choice to do battle very carefully, too. Do I sometimes make mistakes in those choices? Well, yeah. But it’s still my choice to make them and even then it’s stilll a calculated risk, which is too much of a risk on some forums no matter how open they say they are.

    If it’s any consolation, LFL, speaking from your heart isn’t a crime and never let anyone tell you it is.

  12. Jay says:

    If I was an author and everybody was panning my book – I’d be gleeful that they bought it and are stuck with it since so many romance readers don’t believe in returning books.

    hee!

    Back to reading!

  13. Maili says:

    It’s a very unequal situation when an author and a poster go toe to toe, a David vs. Goliath situation IMO.

    It’s down to how you perceive it, doesn’t it? I have had a few debates with some authors and each time I didn’t feel it was unequal. I rolled my eyes whenever her fans jumped in to defend her without making contributions to the actual debate itself.

    In actual fact the author would feel more nervous than I’d be because a) usually for me, it took place on a readers’ message board, b) I had nothing to lose whereas she had a real chance of turning off some readers, and c) I value readers’ opinions more than authors’. Horrid, but true for me. [I am not saying that I hold authors with contempt, though!]

    Having said that, I’d never dream of debating with an author on her own message board. If I dared, then I deserve to have ‘Stupid’ tattooed on my forehead.

    I was in a heated discussion with one of the biggest names in romance publishing once, and I’ve been in heated discussions with other posters and it feels very, very different.

    That’s true. I have to agree with you on that one. Perhaps for different reasons, though. I am actually more nervous when I’m engaged in a heated discussion with a fellow reader. A lot more than I’d feel when I’m debating with an author.

    I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of yours. I love it when you make posts on message boards and blogs like this one. Just saying. 🙂

  14. AAR Rachel says:

    I probably shouldn’t say this but it’s my observation that no one is changing AAR from what it hasn’t been all along and probably never will. These types of, em, flare ups have happened there almost from it’s inception. They flare up, they recede and then eventually they will flare up again. And recede, too.

    Flare ups are a part of the game, but I actually think they’ve gotten fewer, farther between, and less virulent than they were when I started reviewing for AAR five years ago. Part of this is that staff aren’t allowed to post unless specifically addressed by a reader. I wasn’t really fond of this change as it effectively silences me personally in talking about the books I read and review, but I will admit that there are fewer flare ups between readers/reviewers, readers/authors, reviewers/authors since this change was made. I may have to saw my tongue off with my teeth if someone reams into a review of mine, but there isn’t going to be any public dustup at least.

    Honestly, I think this should be taken even further in that no one from AAR staff should comment or qualify because there are always cries of “Censorship!” when explanations ARE given (example: Ashworth threads being trimmed this week). Following a no apologies/no explanations policy might eliminate that. It seems perhaps a little harsh, but, really, these are just message board threads. Nothing is being carved in stone here for future generations to ponder. The less ammunition given, the better, in my view.

  15. Keishon says:

    I love healthy discussions about books but what turns ME OFF on message boards is the heated debates that discusses religion, race or politics. Those three topics SHOULD NEVER be discussed in relation to anything. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen. Also, the consistent beating the dead horse into the ground. How many different ways can you say I HATED THIS BOOK.

    Flame wars are here to stay and most readers need to learn to either participate/add something useful to the discussion or just don’t post at all. Think before you post is excellent, excellent advice and to say nothing at all speaks volumes, too. From me it means I don’t give [deleted].

  16. Bev (BB) says:

    It’s not the different ways people say how they hate a book that gets me, Keishon, but the seemingly infinite number of ways that those three taboo topics you mentioned can sneak into discussions that always leave me slightly dazed. It’s truly amazing how creatively determined some posters can be along those very lines.

    Okay, I’ll be good. (G) Actually, I’ve been sitting here for the last hour while working on some other things trying to decide whether or not to post something to my blog about this new wave of online reader attitudes I’m seeing lately. Anyone else noticed how testy many of us are towards author/writing discussions?

    That’s not quite the right term to use but it’s the only way I can think of at the moment to describe it. And it is something new, unlike the topics of many of these other flare-ups that I’ve seen countless times over the years. Or maybe it’s always been there under the surface and is now becoming visible. Whatever, what is up with that?

  17. LFL says:

    Bev, you are wise to choose your battles carefully. I try to, but at the moment that an argument is taking place, it is not always easier to know what to do.

    Maili, that’s really sweet. I enjoy your posts too; you are so knowledgeable about the genre and its readers, and I love hearing your opinions on Outlander / Cross Stich since I’m one of the few romance readers who didn’t love that book.

    I agree, Keishon, re. thinking before you speak. But it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

    And Rachel, I really don’t envy you being in that position of being unable to defend your opinion. It is probably a wise choice, though.

    I didn’t mean to imply that AAR was changing or had changed. What I think though, is that there are authors who would like to see it change and become more like author boards — a place where praise is heaped and most conversations revolve around how sexy the heroes are.

    I feel that the freedom to criticize books is something that needs to be defended in the romance genre, and I wish that it weren’t so. But since it seems to be the case, I am grateful to readers who stand up to authors for the right to post their opinion even if the author doesn’t like to hearing it. If everyone just fell silent or apologized every time an author displayed her hurt feelings publicly, authors would do it more often and readers would post their honest opinions less and less. So in a way these flame wars serve an important purpose.

    But it’s exhausting to watch them over and over again. I get to feel that there’s this endless battle over the right to criticize books going on, and that many in the genre feel that it is wrong for its readers to hold the books to a high standard and to have high expectations.

    There’s always some reasoning offered — if it’s an examination of the forced seductions in romances, well, it’s just a common fantasy, there’s no need to explore its popularity. If it’s a malapropism that is being discussed, it is wrong to quote out of context (never mind, that, as someone pointed out to me offline, it is done all the time with other fiction). Once, when I brought up sloppy POV shifts, I was told that only wannabe writers care about POV shifts.

    I find it sad that readers who want to take books seriously and reward quality are so often told, sometimes directly and sometimes in more indirect ways, that they are being rude, unfair, overly intellectual, or outright mean.

    It just seems like the same argument over and over, the same flame war over and over. And it boils down to “Shut up.” I’m tired of it and sorry that we have to fight over it at all.

  18. Bev (BB) says:

    But it’s exhausting to watch them over and over again. I get to feel that there’s this endless battle over the right to criticize books going on, and that many in the genre feel that it is wrong for its readers to hold the books to a high standard and to have high expectations.

    This is going to either sound a little like Yoda in Star Wars or slightly zen or maybe even a tad naïve, but I’ve tend towards thinking there is no battle.

    Are there individual authors who get dogmatic on certain things? Yes, just like there are individual readers who do.

    When one thinks about it, just how many authors are we really talking about behaving this way? For that matter, how many authors are really an online “presence” much less get noticed for bad behavior?

    I would suspect that it’s a lot like online readers being a small percentage of a much larger number, although I will grant that publishers seem to be encouraging authors to get websites. That only means that there are going to be some who are complete newbies to the Internet.

    This in no way is meant as an excuse for bad behavior. I just wonder how many we’re actually talking about sometimes, though.

  19. LFL says:

    Excellent point, Bev. I think there is a silent majority of romance authors, many of whom do read messages on AAR, but don’t post. It is easy to forget about them, and hard to know which side of these arguments they fall on. I was so impressed by Donna Lea Simpson’s post on the Potpourri Board in which she said that as an author she feels it’s better for her not to post about reviews of her books, so that readers can feel more comfortable sharing their honest opinions. Mary Reed McCall also sounds very sensible on the subject. So it is good to know that authors like these are out there too — I sometimes forget about them.

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