Why oh why oh why do we have to keep revisiting the Badly Behaving Author issue?
Well, because there are still Badly Behaving Authors. Unfortunately.
While I remain a staunch believer in the "don't feed the trolls" strategy for dealing with online harassment, I also readily admit that there is a point where certain behavior crosses a line. And at that point, merely ignoring the troll is no longer an effective response.
I've been fed up with the online antics of certain BBAs for a long time. I have little personal tolerance for personal attacks on individuals, and no tolerance at all for stalking (online or in real life) and doxxing. None. And I don't care who does it or what greater "cause" they think they're serving. It's just plain wrong.
I also have little patience with those individuals, whether they are readers or writers or both, who think it's entertaining to taunt those they've labeled "trolls" to get a reaction from them. It's even worse when, after taunting the "troll" and getting a nasty bite in response, the taunter plays the victim card and begs for sympathy. They won't get any from me.
In the world of books and authors and readers, there will always be books some readers don't like and there will always be some authors who can't handle criticism. I do not go out of my way to find books to criticize, but neither do I shy away from ripping to shreds what I consider to be a badly written book. I will criticize the writing and how the author has written the book, but unless and until the author demonstrates "bad behavior" -- attacking reviewers, sock puppeting reviews, etc. -- I won't say very much about the author beyond the writing and presentation of the product.
After all, I do have a horse in this race. So it absolutely outrages me when I read a blog like Silver Thistle's http://silverthistle.booklikes.com/post/802745/the-time-has-come- in which she says she's finally giving up on self-publishing authors because the quality of the works is so often shoddy and not worth the risk of an author meltdown over it.
I don't blame Silver Thistle at all, and in fact I agree with her opinion. Far too much of what's being published by neophyte authors is absolute garbage in terms of quality of writing and presentation. Absolute rotten tripe. There's some that reaches about a C- on the grading scale, but not much that falls above that barely passing line. Why would anyone waste time reading, let alone reviewing, that much dreck? Beyond the fact that it's garbage and the time spent on it can never be regained, there's the ever present risk of attack by the butthurt author and/or her slavering socks and fans.
And that's why I pick the fights I do -- but my fights are with the badly written books,not with their authors.
If the author responds with vitriol, I will not back down. I do not give a shit about vitriol; if the author or her defender can refute my statements about the crapfest that is the writing, they are more than welcome to do so. If they feel compelled to leave retaliatory ratings or reviews on my books, they should know by now they are free to do so. I will not respond. But I will not tolerate personal attacks, not on me, not on anyone.
If you, as a reader or reviewer or author, feel that you have been unfairly attacked online, document the attack and contact the authorities at the website where the attack occurred.
Do not deliberately provoke the attacker into further harassment. If you must reply, keep it short and to the point. Don't get into a pissing match. Don't lose your temper and give them cause to report you to the website's administration.
If you've written a negative review and the author disagrees with you, leave the review alone. If you have to remove comments from a discussion thread on your review because you find them abusive, first report them to the website's administration, and then delete them. To use a metaphor I find personally painful, stand your ground, but don't become a vigilante.
Telling others about a BBA's foul behavior is not the same as starving the troll. By all means let others know that an author is engaging in reprehensible behavior. But do it in a way that doesn't make your behavior look worse than theirs.
Don't, for the love of all good books, become a troll yourself.