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Janitor On Duty

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January 18th, 2008

8:49 PM

This website isn't going to be a community anytime soon


I have been asked many times whether I would ever enable comments on the reviews of my website. The answer is no. The main reason is that my website is a purely HTML one apart from the gallery and I will have to pay someone to convert the 5,000+ pages on my website into something like a blog to enable comments. I don't have the time to do this on my own - nor do I have the expertise - and I certainly have better ways to spend my money. Even if I have the skill/time or the money, I also won't enable comments because I know I find it hard to separate interpersonal relationships with someone commenting from the task of reviewing the books. 

It's not that I am unable to be unbiased once I begin corresponding with an author on a regular basis. Hey, if I can write unfavorable reviews of books by authors I'm pretty much a fangirl for (see: Connie Brockway), I am definitely capable of saying that a book by an author I have corresponded with isn't up to scratch in my opinion. The problem is, the author I am corresponding with may not be so sanguine. I don't want to name names since email correspondences are, after all, between me and the persons involved, but a few authors who have me blacklisted from their Christmas parties, so to speak, used to corresponded with me regularly on an informal basis until they had this feeling that because we were buddies, I had grievously offended them by not giving them joy, love, and free publicity on my website. In my experience, it is tiresome to deal with these people, which is why I often try to keep a distance between myself and authors - at least, a minimal amount of distance so that both parties will understand that when it comes to my reviews, it's not personal. It's like... a job, I guess, even if I'm not paid for the job. I may not get paid, but I personally believe that I should say how I feel without having to sugarcoat it because I have exchanged emails with a certain author. Of course, not all authors feel this way. Having comments enabled, I believe, will only make things more muddled up where the whole reviewer/author relationship should be concerned.

Enabling comments will also create a possible situation where the community that frequents the website will cause the setting up of Untouchable Authors. I have no comments about other websites, but I personally don't want any author to be seen as untouchable on my website. See: Connie Brockway, I love her books to pieces but I have shredded a few that I feel aren't up to her usual standards as well. See also: Judith Ivory. I've noticed that in some online communities, some folks will feel stifled or even alienated from the others when the vast majority constantly sing the praises of a resident visiting author who is treated as a VIP. I do agree that it is tough to voice a dissenting opinion about a book by such VIPs when everyone else is gushing about that author. I've heard opinions that such VIP authors on so-and-so website/blog actually damage the discussion at such places because inevitably the presence of the VIP will attract a flood of fangirls that will prevent objective discussions about a book. I quite agree with that, actually. That's why I won't enable comments on my website - I don't want such things to take place at my website.

Bottom line is, I'm a chicken because I don't want the drama associated with authors and readers believing that I owe them more than a review of a book and I believe this is what will inevitably happen if my website becomes a community. I don't have the energy or inclination to constantly thread the fine line between being a VIP's favorite and her hated enemy and a community environment is just begging for such associated drama to happen. I also dislike any possibility of publicly put in a situation where an author may start to take me to task for being a "bad friend" should she start having this idea that just because she and I have a good off-site relationship I am obligated to be her public cheerleader. I'm not saying that these authors are wrong - it's just human nature at work, of course, and I may feel similarly if I ever am an author, who knows. I just prefer that such drama take place between me and the author - as it should be - so that we can hash things out to our mutual agreement (or agreement to disagree, as is most often the cases, heh) without letting any random Joe or Jane the opportunity to take part in the drama and making things worse.

And finally, I won't enable comments because I don't want the website to be about me. Okay, that doesn't make sense. I don't want the website to be about me because I want it to be about my opinions. I don't want people constantly criticizing or praising me in the comments thread because that makes everything about me instead of what I think about a book. I started the website, but I don't want it to be a website about me as much as it should be about my opinions. It's my website, but it's about my thoughts. I'm narcissistic enough to subject people to my opinions, but I don't want the website to be about people paying attention to me as if I'm Perez Hilton. Someone please shoot me if I ever turn into such a drama queen. And I'm not arrogant enough to believe that I may not go out of control and become such a personality if people start making it all about me, my brilliance/stupidity, and treat every thing I write as an extension of my desire to be at the center of attention. In this case, disabling comments is a form of self-defense against any weakness I may have that allows fame to get to my head!

6 comment(s).

Posted by Shiloh Walker:

I don't think that makes you a chicken... I think it makes you smart.

'Communities' generally require moderation of some sort and for that reason alone I wouldn't be interested in doing it.

Not everything needs to be interactive.
January 18th, 2008 @ 9:22 PM

Posted by Leslie Kelly:


FWIW...I know firsthand not to expect anything because we've emailed about our mutual love of Hugh Jackman and Big Brother. :)
January 18th, 2008 @ 11:17 PM

Posted by Book Utopia Mom:

You're not a chicken; you're smart enough not to want to get dragged into the drama. You're actually better than I am, because there are one or two authors I'm familiar with on a personal level and I am very reluctant to review their work because I don't want to look unbiased.
January 19th, 2008 @ 12:04 AM

Posted by December Quinn/Stacia Kane:

Is this your subtle way of saying you hated my latest book?

*shrug* Business is business, Mrs. G. It's not personal.
January 19th, 2008 @ 12:18 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

I haven't had a chance to read any ebooks in the last few days, so I can't say if your book sucks or not at this moment. I'll get back to you by Sunday! :P
January 19th, 2008 @ 12:28 AM

Posted by sallahdog:

I actually had this conversation on a blog the other day, that if I had a reader review blog that I wouldn't want authors to come on the blog... I have seen this scenario happen a few times on various blogs, blogger writes gushing review of book, author of book comes on and says thank you, they begin chatting on the blogs about random stuff, the next book comes out, author sends advance to blogger, blogger hates this book... Well, whaddya do? Do you write a THIS SUCKS review(which pisses off author), sorta kinda "forget" to do a review of the book (which has kinda sorta seemed to have happened on a few sites recently) or do you write a review that is dishonest?

As a reader, I check out reviews because I want a HONEST opinion. I rarely agree with Mrs G on your reviews, but because they are honest I can usually decide whether or not I am going to want to read a book, by your opinions (even negative ones have made me buy the book, heck, its usually the negative one that gets me to buy the book.)
So keep being a reader blog. I admit, I love a good flame war, but your smart to avoid it.. I think its good you know where your focus is. I think its important for all bloggers to know.
January 19th, 2008 @ 1:48 AM