Discussion: Everything I Hate (and Love) About Goodreads

I have been thinking of writing this post for a while, and today I am finally FED UP. I love goodreads. Really, I do. But in the same way you love that perpetually obnoxious pet that is kind of stupid and mean, but you have to love it because it’s yours and occasionally decides not to be demon spawn. So it is finally time to air all of my grievances, and even make a few suggestions if I may be so bold.

1. The rating system.
Who decided that not having half stars was a good idea??? WHO? Or at least making the rating system out of 10? I am so, so tired of having to write “actually 3.5 stars” on my review and then agonizing for at least 20 minutes about if rounding up is too nice or rounding down is too mean. I’m at the point where I don’t even want to give books ratings anymore because what’s the point??? It’s not like they mean anything on this godforsaken site!

2. The friend limit
I really just don’t get the point of this one? Does anyone actually care if I want to have 20,000 friends? The only reason I can think this is a thing is to keep small reviewers from gaining too much prowess by having lots of friends and not followers. Which is pretty crappy IMO. But maybe there’s another really obvious reason I’m missing.

3. Ratings influence readers
“Duh, that’s the point”. I know. But I really wish there were an opportunity to turn of seeing the average star rating of a book. Sometimes I’m looking for a book to read but if I see anything under 4 stars, I get skeptical, and that isn’t really fair. My favorite book of all time has less than 4 stars. But the unconscious impact makes me less likely to give the book a fair shot, I just know it. And I wish sometimes I could browse without worry of bias.

4. Book lists
I’m not sure if that is the correct way to phrase this, but I’m getting at the way that when you click on a genre it will bring up the “new releases” and “most read this week” lists. What I really, really want to see is goodreads compile a list of all of the books in a particular genre, and then let users filter out how they want to see them. I think currently, it only counts books that readers shelve as a specific genre, instead of books having their genres automatically attached to them. I’m thinking “random” “top rated” and “most reviewed” would be good places to start. I get really frustrated trying to find new books on there by browsing the same 3 listopia lists that are never very helpful.

5. You can’t sort by page number
Similar to my above complaint, I would love there to be a feature where you can look at “random” “top rated” and “most reviewed” books based on their page number. Or to be able to filter by page number within each genre. I really have been getting into shorter books lately, but it’s really hard to find places that give you an extensive list of good short stories to read. And even then, it’s usually one person’s opinion instead of what the top or most recent books are.

6. What I love
Mostly what I love is the community I have been able to become a part of. I am forever grateful for finding so many people willing to gush (or rant) about books with me. I love having a place to put all of my book-related thoughts, and that I can keep track of everything I read and want to read in one place. As much as I complain, I do really love being on Goodreads at the end of the day.

I also know that some of these complaints can be remedied by using thestorygraph, like page number sorting (although in a limited way) and half star ratings. And while I do use that occasionally to find new reads, it isn’t a perfect solution. I do appreciate that they are an up-and-coming book site, and will definitely be keeping my eye on them in the future.

So, what do you guys love and hate about goodreads? Let me know in the comments!

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72 thoughts on “Discussion: Everything I Hate (and Love) About Goodreads

  1. I would also prefer a rating system that include half stars. I love using it to see what my friends are reading and what their thoughts are on the book. I don’t like having to explain myself for the rating I give though. I once gave a book 3 stars and someone was like “yea, I also thought this was a bad book”, but for me 3 stars is still above average. It’s funny to see how different ratings are between people and how others interpret it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think that’s so interesting, and maybe would even be a good topic for another discussion post! I agree— for me, 3 star means the story was enjoyable, but it had some issues. Not by any means a bad good though. I have my rating system in my bio, although I don’t think many people look at it hahah

      Like

    2. I 100% agree about the 3-star rating. If 5 stars are supposed to be “the perfect book” and 1 star is “utter and complete trash”, in my mind a 3-star rating is “this was a good book and I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn’t the best book and I’m not going to rush to read it again.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your number 4 is what bugs me too. I feel like there’s a lot of wrong tags in terms if genre…or bot wrong, but not quite right either. It would be best if books would be categorized by default by Goodreads. And then sure, readers can place them however they feel like.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on Crossing the Pond Reviews and commented:
    EVERYTHING you say in this blog is absolutely and undeniably valid, true and shared by quite a few GR reviewers. You put so beautifully exactly what I have complained about for YEARS. Goodreads is owned, of course, by AMAZON. I don’t hate Amazon: I don’t waste my time spouting rhetoric about specific corporate raiders. One is just as bad as the other: it is the GREED ethic that I despise. We have sold ourselves to our possessions. I am just as guilty. I try my best to recycle, reuse and give away my clothes, furniture, collectibles when I no longer have a use for them, but some things I do buy online or at Costco, etc. We have all succumbed to the digital lifestyle. Even donating my clothes to charities is problematic. These charities ship unwanted clothing to developing countries, which are bought in huge lots, and in turn resold to the population. The garment industries in those countries have been completely wiped out in some cases. This is progress. We have little or no say in this progress, it seems. I often feel that ranting about it is futile, but then I realize that this is “wrong thinking.” We DO need to write about these backwards practices, get the word out and change the way things are being forced down our throats. I would love to back you up on these thoughts by adding my name to your list of supporters for this article. I suspect you can send this article to Goodreads’ Admin. I have contacted them directly when I have suspected that Bots have infiltrated the GR friends pool. I was getting weird comments on some of my posts on GR talking about miracle cures with voodoo doctors. There was another weird comment going the rounds about syphilis cures – I didn’t get that one, but other GR reviewers did. I was able to track it down to one of the top reviewers who had zero friends, zero likes, but had posted a whopping 300 plus books in ONE WEEK. I pointed out this out to Admin and two of the three Bots that I pointed out to GR Admin have now been dealt with. There is one more very suspect Bot still operating, but I am sure they are keeping an eye on “her” (I suspect these fake GR profiles are there to try to get free ARCs and pdfs of books that they can pirate.)
    Okay, end of my rant, but please let me know if I can support this excellent article in any way. Together, we can make a difference. Yours should not be the only voice addressing these very serious issues! I am proud to be your GR friend, as well as your follower here on WordPress!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh wow, I didn’t even know there was a bot problem on GR! I know my post probably won’t do anything to change their minds, but you’re right that hopefully if enough of us voice what we want to see on the platform, it will be incorporated. I appreciate the support!

      Like

  4. I have to completely agree in regards to the rating system just let us have half stars! It makes all the difference when rating a book. If I’m being honest I still don’t understand the site 🤣 and rate a book and leave!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The ratings totally influence the readers 100%. Everytime I want to place an order for a book online, I always check for reviews on Goodreads and like you said anything under 4 stars never make it into my basket🙁💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Same! And sometimes I do want to know what the community thinks. But like I said, I would have missed out on my favorite book/not given it a fair shot (it has about a 3.8) if I hadn’t read it before it was reviewed on GR so much. I just wish we had the option

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the community too! And you are so right!! I wish they had some sort of system to hide the avg rating. Even my fav book is below 4! And the listopia sometimes has really unrelated books 😂🤦 and y do we still get lists from 2010 and not 2020-21?? 🤦

    Great post j!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The lack of half stars is my least favourite thing about Goodreads! I have the same need to comment with my actual rating (i.e. 3.5 stars) and I worry too about rounding up or down. I also hate the terrible search engine, which won’t bring up a book you’re looking for unless you type out most of the title and spell it correctly instead of accurately predicting the most likely title or author you’re going to type in. As a personal pet peeve, the goodreads choice awards are always just a personality contest where the best known author too often wins.

    I agree that the average rating can sometimes unfairly sway me, but usually reading a few two star and a few five star reviews of a book helps me to see if it’s going to be something I’ll enjoy or not. I love the sense of community I get on goodreads and the fact that you can see what your friends are reading, which might interest you in books you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. I also love being able to track my reading, create shelves, and go back and see what I read in each year, as well as what I’ve read in a genre, etc.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I think my main complaint (aside from there being no half star rating) is the vast difference between the app and the desktop site. The app should allow you all the features of the site, but it doesn’t, and it’s very frustrating!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. The rating system is flawed for many reasons especially because they allow people to review who haven’t even read the book! I know that it’s impossible to tell after a book has been released but I’ve seen some of the bigger authors Maas, Rowell, etc the minute a book is announced get a ton of 5-star ratings because “I’m so excited!”

    So far I’ve been having a lot of luck with Storygraph!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah that is true! The only time I’ve done that is with a super problematic book. But I never assume that I’m going to like something and rate ahead of time, that could definitely skew books! I have high hopes for the,, although I was sad about the premium plan ): I get it, but it also sucks

      Like

    2. This makes me so nuts! I read a lot of ARCs, so I get that people are reviewing the book ahead of release to hype it up. But if someone is putting in a 5-star rating, their comments better not be “This should be great!”. How are you rating the book if you don’t know that it’s great already?! There has to be a way for GR to work with the publishers and galley providers to determine who is actually reading the book in advance so that only those people are the ones leaving reviews before the publishing date.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. One of my biggest grievances is the lack of info about what type of book I’m reading. Is it fast-paced, character-driven, plot-heavy, etc.? Are there trigger warnings I should know about? I have to sift through reviews to learn those things, and sometimes reviews can sway my opinion and make me lose interest in the book. I’ve started using Storygraph too, as it has so many features GR will probably never even consider adding, but I don’t know that I’ll ever actually stop using GR either because I’m so invested.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is SO TRUE! I didn’t even think of that because I always put content warnings on my reviews, but that does really annoy me having to supercharger through reviews or use the trigger warning data base /: I hate being surprised with sensitive topics in books. I wish the story graph and GR could combine, that would be perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely discussion post! I agree with every single aspect you mentioned especially the half star system which in turn influences the ratings. When I see less than 4 stars ratings, I get the idea that the book is badbut books less than 4 stars are not even bad! The interface is not attractive at all! I’m really considering getting Storygraph but I can’t commit to two platforms! 🥰

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I don’t select a star—I explain that I don’t in the review part (I don’t mean it’s “zero stars”), then hope people will read my words about the story and go by that.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great discussion. I was wondering just yesterday what happened to the half stars? What I like about Good Reads is it holds you accountable if that’s what you want. Reminders about writing reviews for the books read and how many are left to read for the year. So far, the friend limit hasn’t affected me; I just plod my way through. The ratings really don’t influence me about a book. Although shiny things initially catch my attention, it’s usually the reviews left that get me interested.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I recently started using Storygraph(but I still can’t give up GoodReads), and I think the feature I love the most is how it lets you know if a book is fast paced or plot/character driven. I found myself always looking for that type of info, and it’s almost impossible to find on goodreads. That’s something I wish GoodReads had.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I don’t know if you know this but probably a month or two back, they was this notifs problem WHICH DROVE ME FREAKING CRAZY LIKE I GOT NOTIF FOR A TOPIC WHICH WAS LAST ACTIVE FOUR DAYS AGO. FOUR DAYS AGO. I AM GETTING THAT NOW! (Well, not ‘now’…)

    The notifs were all ded so annoying🤦🏻‍♀️

    You totally forgot to mention the comment limit or the character limit🙂🔪

    Even though story graph exists, it’s hard to move awa from gr🥺 I do hope the stupid dumb gr algorithm is improved by the richest man in the world who owns Amazon and also apparently own goodreads. It’s not like they don’t have the money to fix it…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Wait, there’s a friend limit? I didn’t even know that. I’m clearly nowhere near it! :p

    I agree it can take a while to figure out how to “interpret” the rating system. I saw an author on Twitter yesterday asking whether a 4.15 average on GR is good. Uh, yeah, I would say it’s amazing! I think it’s hard to get over a 4 if a lot of people have read the book. I only start thinking the rating is bad/low if it’s under 3.5.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I completely agree with you! Goodreads frustrates me in a lot of different ways but I keep failing to move onto something else. I think part of that is because a lot of Goodreads alternatives aren’t as community-focused, and that’s the one thing I do like about it

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Honestly all the points above are so true! I have found myself keeping track of my books on my own and hardly using goodreads lately. I did start a storygraph and I do really like all the stats it shows you.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. My biggest pet peeve is probably not being able to filter my search results! If I’m looking through a list it would be nice to be able to sort by publication year, avg rating, or number of pages. Not being able to give out half stars is super annoying too

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Awesome Post!! Whenever I delete a tag, all those books end up on my Read shelf. Some of those books weren’t released so it was so annoying to put it back to my TBR. I’ve been waiting for years to see the .5 star rating and not one update has made it possible yet.

    Like

  21. There is a feature not fine to me: see how you progress in your reading. Honestly, I really don’t care if you progress 4 or 20% on your book. Maybe it’s good to know what book you added to your list. But, when you start, progress or finish a book is not a useful info for me.

    At the other hand, the book challenge is perfect to record your reading goals. It is perfect to have a very quick list at the end of the year and see all your read bookshelf.

    Thanks for the article and the discussion space

    Like

  22. I love this discussion! I agree with the half star ratings and the rating influence on readers. I have tons of books which I rated with half stars and it gets annoying because I mark it with 3 stars but then I have to include in the review that it’s actually 3.5 and not 3. I’ve been a victim of the rating influence on readers. There are tons of books which were hyped so much and had an average rating of more than 4 in Goodreads which I gave 1-2 Stars and just didn’t like. On the other hand, most of the books in my Desert-Isle-Keeper List had an average rating of below 4.

    Thanks for this article! I hope GR will consider the half-star ratings.

    Like

  23. Interesting. I’ve occasionally considered getting a Goodreads account, but at the moment I mainly stop by to look at book descriptions and reviews. It’s good to know a little bit more about its quirks as I consider!

    Like

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