Goodreads Extinguishes FIYAH

FIYAH Executive Editor Justina Ireland discovered Goodreads has deleted the Series entry for her magazine:

https://twitter.com/justinaireland/status/1042116995439894528

FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction is a quarterly literary magazine.

An attempt to discuss the decision in the Goodreads Librarians Group was answered with “a literary magazine is not a series by GR standards,” which apparently is Goodreads’ policy. However, that did not explain why FIYAH’s Series entry was singled out for enforcement while entries for many other genre magazine Series remain undisturbed. Put pretty much any spec fic magazine in the search bar, and they’re all on Goodreads: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, Uncanny, Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, Fireside Magazine, Shimmer, Interzone, Forever Magazine, even all four issues of the new Pulphouse and the single issue of the new Amazing Stories.

When someone raised the challenge in the Goodreads Librarians Group that the decision to delete FIYAH might be motivated by racism, a Librarian Moderator closed the thread to further comments.

The FIYAH Series entry can still be seen via a Google cache file (while that lasts.) Here’s a screencap — click for larger image.

The entire Goodreads Librarians Group comment thread is screencapped in this tweet (click through to see all three pages of images).

https://twitter.com/ElleOnWords/status/1042171937844277248

Justina Ireland is understandably angry —

https://twitter.com/justinaireland/status/1042121003349016577


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51 thoughts on “Goodreads Extinguishes FIYAH

  1. Someone high up at GoodReads needs to be taking a good hard look at what happened here, and then make it right by putting FIYAH back.

    WTF. 😠

  2. This happened to Strange Horizons at the beginning of the year. Since I subscribe to the monthly emag issues through Patreon, I had at least all 12 of 2017 added to my bookshelf some with reviews – probably more, I’m not sure. And there were many other issues going back to when they started their Patreon in Sept 2015. All deleted. I couldn’t get them back so I stopped using Goodreads. I’ll stick with LibraryThing where some random “librarian” can’t completely screw up my record of what I’ve read.

    Just checking now I see some are back, but my ratings and reviews were lost to the ether. 🙁

  3. As GR are owned by Amazon, and Amazon are quite happy to sell those magazines, it seems counterproductive for GR to refuse to host them – and downright dubious for them to enforce that so selectively. If their rules don’t fit with how their users want to use their site, then fix the rules.

  4. Yeah, this is a periodic issue related to ALL MAGAZINES on Goodreads. The series pages for a variety of magazines keep getting deleted because either 1) a Goodreads librarian (which are all volunteers!) gets it into their head that magazines don’t belong on Goodreads (false, literary magazines are OK, but not Cosmo, etc.) OR 2) the definition of a series involves more than having the same editor, they have to share the same world/setting, etc. (kinda true, but I feel that fiction magazines & anthologies in a series should get series.)

    Honestly, by pointing out Clarkesworld & Uncanny, Fiyah is making it more likely for those series listings to get deleted. Last year I had to rebuild the series pages for Asimov’s & F&SF… and Clarkesworld series page actually got deleted at one time.

    That’s when I gave up and I’ve just kept my head down on the series pages.

    (And honestly, I bet if they waited a week, someone could readd the series page and that would last for at least a few months if not longer.)

  5. David H. Honestly, by pointing out Clarkesworld & Uncanny, Fiyah is making it more likely for those series listings to get deleted.

    No. Do not do this. Do not tell the black people that they need to shut up, for fear that the white peoples’ entries also get deleted.

    GoodReads needs to get their shit sorted, which means making sure that their rules about literary magazines are sensible, and ensuring that their librarians understand the difference between literary magazines and pop culture magazines, and make decisions accordingly.

  6. I’ve already tried arguing with the admins on Goodreads before, it just gets more series pages deleted.

    When other librarians on Goodreads describes magazine fans like us as freakin’ parasites on Goodreads, I had to give up for my own sanity. (And this was long before the current situation.)

  7. @David H.

    Were actual issues deleted? In this case, every issue is gone. Not just from a series page, but completely deleted from Goodreads entirely. Anyone who had them on their bookshelves will find them missing. All ratings, reviews, comments, etc. gone.

  8. @Laura, I’ve seen it happen both ways. I missed that the Fiyah issues were deleted as well, but I’m not surprised. I’ve had to readd issues before.

    For example, in 2016-17, I took on a personal project to remake the Asimov’s (!) series page and to add in all the missing issues (some issue had never clearly been added like those from the ’70s, but others had clearly been there at one point but been deleted).

    There’s also always a big to-do about “is it a book”–for example, they keep deleting (recent) Clarkesworld issues until there’s an actual issue for sale on Amazon–if you just try to do it on the first of the month when Clarke puts out the new issue, nope. But when the issue gets is own paperback or individual (not magazine) kindle edition, then it’s “more acceptable.” (It makes no sense, but they’re very inconsistent about this–and trust me, I’ve pointed it out before I gave up entirely).

    I don’t know Fiyah’s distribution policy (are they on Amazon? I can’t find them there) but I agree that the issues at least should be on there, but the other GR librarians can be very finicky a-holes especially when there’s no ISBN or ASIN.

  9. I believe FIYAH is only sold from their own website. Strange Horizons monthly issues are only available to those who support them at a certain level on Patreon. But apparently you’re not a real lit mag if you don’t sell through Amazon. I would love to see this put a “fiyah” under Goodreads butt to stop this.

  10. @Laura: I think you’re right – I bought an issue of Fiyah yesterday from their site after not finding it on Kobo (and I don’t see it on Amazon, and don’t see links to Amazon/Kobo/etc at the Fiyah site (Fiyahplace?)).

  11. Laura says I believe FIYAH is only sold from their own website. Strange Horizons monthly issues are only available to those who support them at a certain level on Patreon. But apparently you’re not a real lit mag if you don’t sell through Amazon. I would love to see this put a “fiyah” under Goodreads butt to stop this.

    Not likely to happen as Goodreads is wholly owned by Amazon which sets the policies such as they are for that service. I think that Amazon really doesn’t give a damn what Goodreads does so long as they can use Goodreads for PR purposes.

  12. @Cat
    But it is individual volunteers at Goodreads doing this. If enough people give them grief about how they are moderating what counts as “Goodreads-worthy”, I think it could absolutely have an effect.

  13. In looking at the GR website, there are some reasons why a magazine might be deleted according to their rules. Having an ISBN seems to be one key to being appropriately listed. In this day/age, I’m not sure why they insist on “perfectbound literary magazines” as opposed to just “literary magazines”.

    Cutting off the conversation that way without offering to find out why the librarian deleted the series lends an awful lot of credence to this being something more than a well-intentioned error.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Coolidge is dead – “How could they tell? – Dorothy Parker

  14. @Cat Eldridge

    Not likely to happen as Goodreads is wholly owned by Amazon which sets the policies such as they are for that service. I think that Amazon really doesn’t give a damn what Goodreads does so long as they can use Goodreads for PR purposes.

    I actually worked with the Goodreads people a bit when I was at Amazon. They definitely operated at arm’s-length. However, if something got sufficiently bad press, Amazon corporate would likely force them to make changes.

    My guess would be that this is more a case of them treating things sold on Amazon better than things that aren’t, although it’s possible, I suppose, that someone with racist intent exploited this to go after Fiyah.

    The easy experiment would be for Fiyah to make its content available on Amazon and then try listing individual issues the same way Interzone does. (Interzone sells individual issues on Amazon but not subscriptions.)

  15. Goodreads librarians are less likely to delete something with an isbn or asin, but it isn’t suppose to be required. Individual issues of lit mags should all be treated the same — regardless of business model.

  16. And Anathema apparently features the works of queer/POC/Aboriginal people. Not a good look, Goodreads.

    How painful would it be to move to LibraryThing?

  17. Laura says to me that But it is individual volunteers at Goodreads doing this. If enough people give them grief about how they are moderating what counts as “Goodreads-worthy”, I think it could absolutely have an effect.

    Define enough. And you how express this.

    Goodreads itself as far as I can tell has No sanctions for this sort of action by one its own. I’m not sure who you’d have to give grief to. Is there an official process for complaints? I can’t find anything on the site that suggest there’s a process for addressing this issue.

  18. For LibraryThing all that is needed is for people to enter FIYAH issues into their library, and some-one to put the series in the common knowledge. I think at the moment there is just one issue of FIYAH in LT.

    TBH I don’t see what the problem is with restricting it just to literary magazines. If someone wants to catalogue pop-culture magazines or other ephemera then what is the problem. There are real world libraries that do that and I can see value in having an historic record of NME or Melody Maker or whatever.

  19. @Lis Carey

    Yeah. With the tales above of other magazines also getting grief I was starting to wonder if it was just an outbreak of the same occasional problem, but if someone’s targeted both magazines at the same time then that’s a bit too much of a coincidence.

    —-

    Re: issues sold via amazon being allowed. If the criteria – official or unofficial – is that the magazine gives business to GR’s owners then that’s a stonking great big red flag IMO.

  20. Lis Carey,
    For you personally? I think there are export and import options at both sites. I know there was a big influx of Goodreads people at LibraryThing when Amazon bought them.

  21. Greg Hullender note that The easy experiment would be for Fiyah to make its content available on Amazon and then try listing individual issues the same way Interzone does. (Interzone sells individual issues on Amazon but not subscriptions.)

    It’s fairly easy to sell your product on Amazon and a very wide variety of publishers do so including LOCUS which I purchase there. F&SF I’m reasonably certain can be purchased there too. I buy a number of UK magazine there because the digital edition edition are far cheaper than the paper ones are these days.

  22. If it’s coincidence that it’s those two first, then it’s a coincidence with terrible optics. (I don’t think it’s a coincidence).

    If a bunch of other magazines (without the same focus) follow right now? It will still be terrible optics that they started here. If they blame those other magazines disappearing on these ones complaining? It will be terrible optics crossed with “look what you made me do” victim blaming.

    There is ONE way out of this for Goodreads without looking bad. Restore both immediately, apologize at a corporate level (following the standard and proper apology format as often cited here by Tasha Turner), and find out who did it, get them to do the bulk of the dreary data entry AND to apologize (as above), then remove their librarian privileges for a while. Put up clear guidelines what constitutes a suitable magazine that have to do with percentage of pages devoted to fiction, and apply that rule consistently. Make it something that an individual librarian cannot decide by fiat or by subjective opinion.

    And even that won’t erase the damage already done, it will just make them look like they recognize that it is damage.

  23. FYI — Online bookseller AbeBooks which is now owned by Amazon bought a 40% share in LibraryThing in 2006. LibraryThing Is headquartered here in Portland, Maine and the founder still has a majority ownership in it.

  24. I’ve now exported my library from Goodreads; it took me a few minutes to figure out how to find the file. Now I can try out LibraryThing and see if I find that a comfortable replacement.

  25. And, news of the strange, weird, and delightful: LibraryThing offers classification system choices, and one of them is Cutter Expansive Classification (Boston Athenaeum).

    I used to work at the Boston Athenaeum.

    I love Cutter.

  26. JJ,
    Wow, that person has declared a personal mission to delete all the magazines…get ready to say goodbye to Andromeda Spaceways next.

  27. Wow, this Cassandra person is really on a rampage against magazines.

    She also has it in for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, but that doesn’t make the other deletions look any better.

  28. Long thread from Brian J White of Fireside on his interactions with GR librarians & staff. That link drops you into the middle where the person responsible for deleting both FIYAH and Anathema confirms that they did indeed delete both, but says it’s a coincidence.

    ETA uh weirdly it doesn’t seem to be the same person as JJ identifies above.

  29. JJ, I just went hunting for that issue of Fireside Magazine. The only place that Issue 52 exists is on their website. In fact, there’s only three issues for sale there with issue fifty two going for just two dollars.

    Having read the link you provided, I can’t tell who decided what, so please explain who it was there that made that decision.

    I repeat what I said earlier: Goodreads has no coherent policies on decision making what-so-ever.

  30. Cat Eldridge: Having read the link you provided, I can’t tell who decided what, so please explain who it was there that made that decision.

    I don’t know why you’re asking me who decided what. I don’t have any insider information at GoodReads. I just pointed out the person who is requesting deletion of specifically black-themed magazines and issues, and the fact that they did indeed get deleted.

  31. I says to me that I don’t know why you’re asking me who decided what. I don’t have any insider information at GoodReads. I just pointed out the person who is requesting deletion of specifically black-themed magazines and issues, and the fact that they did indeed get deleted.

    I’m asking for a clarification because Mark has a link to a Gooreads Editor who is not You who identified as responsible for this action who says she did it. Reading your linked to material doesn’t show me a responsible part so I’m asking you to identify one.

    Right now I’m willing to state that I think that you’re wrong in your identification and that the Mark has indeed got a link to the responsible party who made it very clear that her decision had nothing to do with racism but with a long standing rule that ISBNs must be used. Is this a silly rule? Possibly, but it’s their rule.

  32. @Cat

    Uh, you’re coming over as a bit demanding there. I think it’s fair to say that the situation is quite confusing and we’re trying to tease out the facts of the matter.

  33. Cat Eldridge: I’m asking for a clarification because Mark has a link to a Gooreads Editor who is not You who identified as responsible for this action who says she did it

    I didn’t identify anyone as being the person who performed the actual deletion. I identified the person who requested the deletion.

    As far as I can see, both of those people would fall under the definition of “responsible for the deletion”.

    I can believe that the person who performed the deletion might have simply been responding to what they considered a legitimate request.

    The person who requested the strangely-selective deletions? I’d say that their motivations are much less easily attributed to coincidence.

  34. We (FIYAH) only sell through our website for the time being, but will likely be putting annual anthologies on Amazon in the near future. We won’t be actively seeking reinstatement at Goodreads, though.

  35. @Cat

    Define enough. And you how express this.

    More than those of us complaining about Strange Horizons in January. I used a contact form on the website. I was told that I was welcome to add the deleted issues back even though they didn’t have isbns or asins. They offered to add them for me if I gave them titles, pub dates, and authors/editors. I said I could do it — not realizing that my re-adds would be immediately deleted again. After that, I just let it go. Went back to using LibraryThing.

    I would have thought that someone like the editor of the magazine, who is also a Goodreads author, would have more influence. But from the link Mark gave it looks like I might have been too hopeful.

    The thread JJ linked to is for requesting deletions. Another person (a “super librarian”) then follows through on the actual removal.

  36. Laura says I would have thought that someone like the editor of the magazine, who is also a Goodreads author, would have more influence. But from the link Mark gave it looks like I might have been too hopeful.

    I don’t think there’s any binding rules as to who can remove material which means that every decision can be undone at any time without any reason being given. I know that LibraryThing has a much better set of rules. All I’m saying is that Goodreads sucks in that you don’t know why something is been done and worse yet there’s no way to correct it.

  37. Pingback: Goodreads v. FIYAH, Round 2 | File 770

  38. They definitely need to re-think their rules. From the screenshot above, 58 ratings and 18 reviews on the first issue shows that this is something that people really want to engage with at Goodreads. And it’s funny that the person I was in contact with about Strange Horizons didn’t have a problem with adding magazine issues without isbn/asins. I don’t know if they were a “super librarian” or not, but they weren’t aware of that rule.

  39. Laura say They definitely need to re-think their rules. From the screenshot above, 58 ratings and 18 reviews on the first issue shows that this is something that people really want to engage with at Goodreads. And it’s funny that the person I was in contact with about Strange Horizons didn’t have a problem with adding magazine issues without isbn/asins. I don’t know if they were a “super librarian” or not, but they weren’t aware of that rule.

    I fully agree. If they want to build a community of book readers, than they don’t need most of the structures that now exist. Unfortunately it is more geared to selling product than to building community and hence the Really Dumb Rule sbout ISBNs.

    LibraryThing is designed to build communities of book readers and as long as Amazon doesn’t get majority ownership it’ll remain that way. So how LibraryThing handle pubs like the one we’re discussing here? I know it’s geared towards books, but can you easily add periodicals as well?

  40. From the thread Mark linked, something with 5 adds (someone putting it on their own shelf, regardless of rating or reviewing) requires a Goodreads super librarian to delete.

    At LibraryThing you can add anything you want to your catalog. No isbn required. And no one can delete it. I assume things no one has in their catalog any longer eventually get automatically cleared from the database. But nothing’s to stop it from being added again.

    I really don’t see Amazon getting a majority of LibraryThing. The creator Tim Spalding has always made a concerted effort to keep it as Amazon-independent as possible. For example, there are many other sources to add books from…in addition to adding manually.

  41. Why the hostility to asking to the process of community building that some of you are showing? I’ve had a long and deep interest in network building having been the coordinator of Action Linkage, a network of social action mail based many to manys probably some thirty year ago.

    It really does interest me how you create and maintain Goodreads groups as there doesn’t seem to be any way to create these groups within this corporate structure.

  42. I have info and opinions on this situation, but rather than add them to this comment thread, I’m heading over to the “round two” post. The only reason I’m posting this comment is as a “yes, I’ve read this post and these comments” affirmation and because I know at least one Filer is aware of my participation in the GR discussion of the issue.

    More (on the other post) in a bit.

Comments are closed.