Update:5:30 PM on May 1st. After a rewarding conversation on Amazon with Mahala Burlingame, it seems we have resolved this issue peacefully without snarky, insulting comments, and this may offer evidence that the alleged bully comments found on Stop the GR (goodreads) Bullies.com are not accurate. In fact, I offer a standing invitation to the four that were accused by STGRB of being bullies to write a guest post presenting their side of that issue. To avoid revealing IP addresses, guest posts may be delivered via attachment to an e-mail. The peace making conversation is there for all to see on Amazon.
Update: I deleted the original comments I left on the Amazon thread where this all started and replaced them with a new comment that may be found here: May 1, 2013 at 3:23:49 AM PST
If you are a published author, or planning to publish a book, and/or write honest, well-written reviews and/or opinions on Amazon and/or Goodreads of the books you read, you may want to you read this to discover two sides on how to unmask and combat the hidden bullies and trolls infecting sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. You may also learn what not to do from what I did.
You may want to ignore these bullies, or you may want to call-them-out and risk starting a battle that you cannot win. That is your decision. I’m not going to tell you what to do, and I intend to offer you both sides to this issue with most of a copied and pasted Amazon thread where the alleged bullies came out to play and I, sap that I am, stayed.
I’ve written about this topic In Defense of Authors Perceived as Behaving Badly, and John Scalzi wrote about it in Bad Reviews: I can Handle Them and So Should You. Scalzi also links to three other opinions on this topic.
And we all have opinions, and yes, some are more valid than others.
Civil Liberties says, “The right to free speech is a longstanding U.S. tradition, but actually respecting the right to free speech is not.”
And Internet Bullies and Trolls are a perfect example of individuals that do not respect the right of free speech.
Proof of that is the abuse of free speech rampant on the Internet that is easy to find on Goodreads and Amazon where some bullies think that authors have no right to reply to mean spirited, negative reviews or opinions. There is a big difference between a proper book review and a mean spirited opinion.
But first, to understand what may drive an Internet bully to act as he or she does, it helps to know what “disinhibition” means.
“An individual experiencing disinhibition may not be able to disguise some of their emotional responses, sometimes at the expense of politeness, sensitivity, or social appropriateness. Individuals under the influence of alcohol, for example, exhibit disinhibition in view of the depressant effect of alcohol on the brain’s higher functioning.
“The online disinhibition effect helps to explain the vicious attacks people frequently engage in online. Mean-spirited blog comments, threatening e-mails, and other negative comments are often encouraged by this effect. Some people troll others on the internet even if they would never bully someone in real life.” Source: Six Causes of Online Disinhibition
For example, there was a two-star review of “Tough Cookie” by M. Ruth Myers—that said, “(Tough Cookie is) Too soft and expected situations with the most probable endings, could be written by the reader himself if they had read three novels.” – nancy d. mendez
Mendez could have stopped with “Too soft and expected situations with the most probable endings” and been okay with that opinion, but she had to add that last insulting phrase “could be written by the reader himself if they had read three novels”.
I wonder if nancy d. mendez was a he. Oh well.
If you aren’t sure what a real book review is, I suggest you visit Scholastic.com and learn from a pro how to write a proper book review. I even said as much in another comment after the first of the alleged bullies appeared, who clearly does not think I have a right to my opinion.
I also later said, “Some opinions are worth more than others. It’s up to each of us to decide the opinion we agree with.” As you will see, one of the alleged bullies only quoted the first sentence and ignored the second one changing the context. At the end of this post, I have copied some of the conversation between me and the four alleged bullies.
It all started on Jan 20, 2013 at 2:09:42 PM PST, when I left a comment for mendez that said, “This isn’t a review. Learn how to write a proper review and then maybe someone that is literate will pay attention to you. I give this sorry excuse for a review one-star or an F-.”
Why did I post this?
Maybe because Myers’s novel had 54 five-star reviews, 39 four-star reviews and only one two-star and one one-star review/opinion. In addition, I’ve seen similar mean-spirited reviews for novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, and for many others books, but such mean spirited opinions always represent a very small minority.
I even spent time researching and crunching numbers to rate how many other readers might agree with mendez and discovered that about two-percent might agree — that means if 100,000 readers read “Tough Cookie”, the odds say that about 2,000 would feel as mendez does.
Now that I know what “disinhibition” means, I admit that I may be guilty—to some degree—of its use in my comment, but if it is any consolation, I was just fighting fire with fire, and there is an old saying that says if you can’t take the heat, don’t start fires.
Mendez never replied to my opinion of his/her opinion, but I did hear back from an alleged pack of Internet bullies and Trolls. In fact, I discovered that everyone in this flock of alleged Trolls is listed and blocked on Stop the GR (goodreads) Bullies.com (STGRB).
Note: if you read John Scalzi’s post you will discover that the four anonymous people behind STGRB allegedly use similar tactics against the people they identify as Trolls — like fighting fire with fire. There is an old saying that fits this situation: “two wrongs do not make a right,” that means “It is never right to wrong someone, even if they have wronged you first.”
If that is true, then I guess I’m guilty, but I have a defense. I’m a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran that lives with PTSD, and the Marines have another method of dealing with someone that does wrong to them or their country. So being a former Marine, I will not condemn the four anonymous people that host STGRB.
I’m sure that many have heard the phrase “birds of a feather flock together” and sure enough the flock of crows that came after me are all listed on STGRB.
- Zahara Cerise on goodreads but Anna Karenina on Amazon
- Old Rocker
- Mahala Burlingame (her real name according to Amazon), who won the Amazon troll award from STGRB for the most psychotic comments.
In addition, I found an Amazon forum thread where these same alleged Trolls that came after me may gather to brag about their alleged infamous exploits.
In fact, someone called Amazing Grace said to Cerise aka Anna Karenina “Oh shut up and abandon your obsession with Marion. Get a hobby or something because Marion is a cool lady who writes intelligent posts. You are just…ridiculous and I am SO sick of you and those like you – bitter, obsessed trolls.” Source: An Amazon forum-thread called Is There Or isn’t There An Amazon Review Mafia?
What follows is the comment thread for the nancy d. mendez opinion of “Tough Cookie”. In hindsight, I probably should have never left a comment for that two-star review, but since I did, why not learn something from it.
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
bla”””!!!, January 20, 2013
By nancy d. mendez
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Tough Cookie (Maggie Sullivan mysteries) (Kindle Edition)
Too soft and expected situations with the most probable endings, could be written by the reader himself is they had read three novels.
Your initial post: Jan 20, 2013 2:05:00 PM PST
Last edited by you on Jan 20, 2013 2:09:42 PM PST
Lloyd Lofthouse says:
This isn’t a review. Learn how to write a proper review and then maybe someone that is literate will pay attention to you. I give this sorry excuse for a review one-star or an F-.
In fact, why not rate reviews?
Fail dude, fail. You’re opinion matter more then others? I can read too, don’t worry about what I think. F- back at ya. Your comment makes me believe the neg review. Pass.
Some opinions are worth more than others. It’s up to each of us to decide the opinion we agree with.
And just like you, I said what I thought about your opinion that wasn’t a book review.
A real book review is much more. In fact, most of the reviews from one star to five stars are not really reviews. Most just express an opinion.
The best way to earn a passing grade is to learn what a real book review is and to do that I suggest you visit Scholastic and learn from a pro how to write a proper book review.
It’s never too late to learn.
I decided to do a comparison between the four-and-five star reviews and the one-and-two star reviews.
We already know that there are more four-and-five star reviews. That is easy to see. No, what I wanted to know is how many reviews have these people written.
The 26 people that wrote the five-star reviews had written more than 400 between them And one of them wrote almost 200–an avid reader maybe?
The four-star reviews added up to more than 300 and one of them had 123 reviews—another avid reader I think.
The one-and-two-star reviews added up to five reviews for two people. That is not a lot of reading.
This tells me that the opinions of the one-and-two star reviews do not fit the average avid reader. Everyone that reads has different tastes. What one person will enjoy, another will not. That is for sure.
By comparing the reviews of 54 people and then checking how many reviews each group wrote, we come up with a better idea of what the average reader may enjoy and the results say the average avid reader would enjoy “Tough Cookie”.
And the results tell us the one-and-two star opinions, valid as they are for those two individuals, do not fit the norm. In fact, the results might tell us that these two individuals might want to consider therapy to find out why. Maybe what we have here are two people that may hate the world with a mind that lives in a dark place.
In fact, the results might tell us that these two individuals might want to consider therapy to find out why.
Perhaps you could consider therapy to find out why you think someone should consider therapy because they don’t fit a “norm.”
Can’t you do better than that? It’s okay not to fit the norm as long as it does not physically or financially hurt others. But it helps the normal person to understand that there are extremes and he or she doesn’t need to take the extremist that seriously. Basically, shrug, and think, it takes all kinds, and then move on.
Of course, read the extremist, and then decide if he or she has anything intelligent to say that adds to the conversation. I don’t believe in censorship. Everyone has a voice. It’s just that most people tend to ignore and stay away from mean spirited extremists avoiding him or her like the plague.
“Can’t you do better than that?”
I could, if you had done better. Not my fault your post was faulty.
You must be ten years old. Blaming someone else for your flaws is a common reaction among the young self esteem raised where nothing is ever the child’s fault.
Oh, Lloyd, you are so unable to debate rationally that you must stoop to insults. How very sad that is for you.
Oh Anna Karenina, before one can debate, there must be a topic worthy to debate. Your comments have only bashed me for criticizing a mean-spirited review that offered nothing constructive.
I have an idea. Let’s debate why so many people that write reviews or leave comments on Amazon use phony names to hide his or her identity—names like Anna Karenina. It’s so easy to be mean spirited when no one knows who you are. Are these people cowards?
“Oh Anna Karenina, before one can debate, there must be a topic worthy to debate.”
Actually, before one can debate, there must be a person worthy of debating with. You don’t qualify.
Anna Karenina, your comments are perfect examples of “Disinhibition”. One shrink writes that there are six causes of Disinhibition.
Here’s the first one: 1. Anonymity—Online people feel they can’t be identified in the same way they can when they’re in public. It’s similar to going out in a costume at night with a mask on to cover the face (see research on deindividuation). That sense of disconnection from our normal personality allows new ways of behaving. People may even consider their online behaviours to arise from an online alter ego.
An individual experiencing disinhibition may not be able to disguise some of their emotional responses, sometimes at the expense of politeness, sensitivity, or social appropriateness. Individuals under the influence of alcohol, for example, exhibit disinhibition in view of the depressant effect of alcohol on the brain’s higher functioning.
The online disinhibition effect helps to explain the vicious attacks people frequently engage in online. Mean-spirited blog comments, threatening e-mails, and other negative comments are often encouraged by this effect. Some people “troll” others on the internet even if they would never bully someone in real life. The disinhibition effect of online culture also helps to encourage cyber-bullying and groupthink. This effect can cross over into real life. For example, a group of students might bully a classmate online and then feel emboldened to bully him or her in person. There have been several well-documented cases of online bullying leading to organized efforts to ostracize classmates, severe depression in victims, and even suicide.
Here are several sources on this topic:
Lloyd, your comments are perfect examples of ludicrous nonsense. (Notice how I used my own words?)
Continuing our intellectual conversation about “disinhibition” and now adding the topic of Internet Trolls:
The Atlantic Monthly ran an interesting piece on Internet Trolls. I suspect an individual with acute “disinhibition” may be tagged as an Internet Troll, a person who must control the conversation as this piece says and ignore any attempt by the person being trolled to actually have a real debate/conversation.
In the ’90s, “to troll” was to disrupt a conversation or entire community by posting incendiary statements or stupid questions onto a discussion board. Regardless of why the poster was being disruptive — for his or her own amusement, or because he or she was a genuinely quarrelsome, abrasive personality — the poster would be branded a troller (later shortened to “troll”) and denounced accordingly. In these cases, “trolling” was used as a general, condemnatory, post-hoc descriptor of an online encounter. It was — and in many circles remains — something you accused someone else of being.
Trolling as described by self-identifying trolls is a game, one only the trolls can initiate and only the troll can win.
The goal is to eliciting strong emotional reactions from the chosen target(s).
Some trolls are very intelligent, and have extremely interesting things to say about trolling, while others have no real opinion about anything they do, other than the fact that it makes them laugh.
it is simply not possible to know what exists the anonymous troll’s heart and mind, for the very simple reason that there is no way of knowing whose heart and mind it is. There are of course some basic demographic indicators …
… the majority of trolls on the English-speaking web are, white, male and somewhat privileged … They have enough free time to sink hours and hours into their online exploits, and have access to the necessary technologies to do so.
As the author of the Atlantic piece argues, trolls are cultural scavengers, and engage in a process described as cultural digestion: They take in, regurgitate, and subsequently weaponize existing tropes and cultural sensitivities. By examining the recurring targets of trolling, it is therefore possible to reverse-engineer the dominant landscape.
Lloyd Lofthouse said: “Continuing Anna’s intellectual conversation and my too-long-to read nincompoopery about “disinhibition” and now adding the topic of Internet Trolls:”
Fixed it for you.
You said “Some opinions are worth more than others.”
Wow, just wow.
(Note: what I meant was taken out of context. Here’s what I said, “Some opinions are worth more than others. It’s up to each of us to decide the opinion we agree with.”)
Posted on Feb 24, 2013 5:14:51 PM PST
Rmahala Burlingame says:
Not too interested but did Lloyd just describe himself as a troll?
(Note: Because I don’t Troll the Internet — as these four alleged trolls seem to do — looking for people to single out and insult, then by definition, no, I did not call myself a troll but that did not stop an alleged troll from putting words in my mouth.)
I don’t know. If he can’t be bothered to use his own brain to think of something to say, I can’t be bothered to read what he copies.
Amazing. My last comment was an experiment to see if what I learned from my research on “disinhibition” — that led to Internet Trolls—was true. The experts said if you mention the word “Troll” when a suspected troll is already part of a virtual conversation, that a gang of them will show up. Well, let’s see who joined Anna K.
There was Old Rocker and Rmahala Burlingame. I wonder how many more may show up. What do we call that, a trolling party?
That’s it for me. I’m going to stop feeding the trolls. You all are welcome to stay around and keep eating the cake you baked.
Note: This thread continued and may still be growing. There are plenty of links for you to click to visit if you want to join what I think is a trolling party.
What can be learned from this? Well, that no one can win an argument with a Troll suffering from disinhibition.
In conclusion, everything I write and post on-line is posted under my real name with a link to my on-line platform.
To discover more about this issue visit:
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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