Goodreads v. FIYAH, Round 2

Brian J. White, founding editor of Fireside Magazine, today pursued Goodreads’ deletion of FIYAH’s Series listing in two different forums on Goodreads. (He screencapped the entire interaction.) Thread starts here.

And there was heightened concern after Anathema Magazine, a “spec fic mag of work by queer POC/Indigenous/Aboriginals,” reported Goodreads has deleted its entry, too.

The discussion surfaced the Goodreads Librarian who deleted Anathema and some issues of FIYAH. A couple of excerpts (note, unfortunately I can’t make WordPress display only the selected tweet, so these come in pairs) —

Responses by Goodreads participants have focused on (1) Goodreads has a policy against listing publications which lack ASIN/ISBN numbers, and (2) denying that the enforcement could be anything besides business as usual, let alone an individual or institutional expression of racism.

Here are links to the discussions –

An important element of the controversy has been that Goodreads deleted these particular spec fic magazines while leaving intact the listings for many others. Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld, in a twitter thread that can be reached via Carrie Cuinn, describes his own encounters with Goodreads librarians, what rules were invoked then, and how decisions were made. Some of his tweets say —

Due to the attention now being paid, a reader contacted Brian J. White to say that an issue of his Fireside Magazine was (at some point) deleted by Goodreads –

Responses to Goodreads’ actions also include —

Bridget of SF Bluestocking wrote a thread which says in part:

Escape Artists says they will be taking down Mothership Zeta’s Goodreads listing in protest:

[Thanks to JJ and Mark Hepworth for the story.]

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60 thoughts on “Goodreads v. FIYAH, Round 2

  1. The cost of an ISBN bundle is kind of irrelevant. For one thing, as has been linked above, it’s apparently not actually a requirement to have one.

    For another, as was pointed out by many people on Twitter, including Brian White in the linked tweet-thread, the problem is much less about ISSNs vs ISBNs and much more about why these two magazines (oriented around POC and Native writers and issues) seem to have been targeted in this takedown.

  2. I do not agree. The issue of why these magazines were taken down were answered almost at the beginning of the thread. Both the PoC who removed the entries has answered and Goodread has confirmed two times that this was according to current policies and that several other magazines were removed at the same time.

    The question now is what implications this policy has and how it should be changed. ISBN is a temporary short term solution.

  3. While looking over the Manual earlier, another dimension to this problem jumped out at me. There are two relevant sections, titled “Not a Book” and “Non-Book Items,” and both address in some fashion the question of what counts as a book and should thus be indexed.

    “Not a Book” includes the now-famous language about perfectbound literary magazines.

    “Non-Book Items” flatly lists “Magazines” – no qualifiers – at the top of its “list of items that should not be added to the database.”

    Thus, it is completely possible for two librarians to look at the same entry and reach opposing conclusions about whether it should be removed from the database. I might look at the NAB section and say “this issue of Analog is booklike enough to stay” while someone else looks under NBI and says “that’s a magazine, delete it.”

    And we would both be “right.”

    Whatever else Goodreads does, those two sections need to be harmonized. That hole should not exist.

  4. Perhaps this was covered elsewhere…but it now looks like Fireside and FIYAH have been reinstated on Goodreads.

    Was the problem resolved or are fans of those magazines taking matters into their own hands?

    “We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” – M.C. Escher

  5. Dann665: it now looks like Fireside and FIYAH have been reinstated on Goodreads.

    They haven’t been reinstated, they’ve been re-added. Which means that the 150 ratings and 60 reviews on FIYAH’s six issues are lost.

    There’s no excuse for that. GoodReads damn well has the ability to reverse edits. They should have exercised it, and restored the records for those magazines. 🙁

  6. JJ: GoodReads damn well has the ability to reverse edits.

    From what I’ve been told when I emailed them about deleting Strange Horizons, they don’t. Once a book has been deleted from the database, all associated data is gone and can’t be restored. That’s what really kills me about the fact that they are so delete happy there.

  7. Laura: From what I’ve been told when I emailed them about deleting Strange Horizons, they don’t [have the ability to reverse edits].

    I’m an IT professional. I guarantee you that they have a change audit database and the ability to reverse edits. There is no way that a company that large, with that sort of IT system. does not have the ability to do so — for all sorts of reasons, including legal liability reasons.

    But they aren’t ever going to admit that publicly, because then they would have to deal with countless demands that deletions be reversed. It’s easier just to deny that the ability exists.

  8. That’s true–they undoubtedly have backups. I even managed to save a few of my reviews (for myself) by exporting my bookshelves before they managed to delete all issues.

    This is probably someone re-adding them to see if they’re deleted again.

  9. I’m an It professionnal too, and I’ve seen bigger companies than goodreads (like having millions of customers and a billion of sales (is that correct?)) doing things like storing their customer’s password in clear text. so….
    Also, book data must be splitted about 6 or 10 tables (between : book, edition, picture, change history, review, shelf storage, and so on), so if’s an hard delete (doing SQL delete rather than setting a “IsDeleted” flag to true), it’s going to be very complicated it has not been engineered at first to be undeleted
    (Having backup is good to restore a whole database, not to restore a few points of data lost a week ago).
    That’s not saying that if they really really want to restore the data, they can’t but it’s utterly plausible that the regular staff have no ability to restore deleted books, and that it would quite expensive (in time) for the IT staff to put it back.

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