In-Depth Reviews of Absolute Write Cyberbullying and Abuse, and Links to The Review Websites

Below are a select number of intelligent and insightful reviews by writers who have run afoul of the current Absolute Write regime, or who have observed the cyberbullying of others in their forums. Some wish to remain anonymous due to fear of their reputations and livelihoods being smeared in retaliation by Absolute Write moderators and their followers (or whatever you wish to term them).

We encourage everyone from attorneys to social psyche researchers to take time and read these reviews carefully.
-  All it takes is for one question to be asked, or one axe grinder to make an appearance, and the predators smell blood. A swarm of anonymous fairies and fops with ridiculous icons appear and begin fomenting themselves into leaps of logic, unfounded assumptions, and distortions of reality
-  The crazy power trip is ruining a magnificent concept and something that could be so good.

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It's pretty much just what you'd expect. A lot of bad-to-mediocre writers giving bad-to-mediocre advice to bad-to-mediocre wannabe writers. The site is huge and confusing to navigate, sub-divided too many times into categories that are again sub-divided. The mods are powertripping jerks, just as many of the other posters have said. I met a handful of nice people, but no reason to stick around. I never posted any work to be critiqued because honestly, so much of what was posted in the critique section was so bad and the advice that was given equally amateur... I just didn't feel like I'd gain anything from it that I didn't already know. And most of the advice from different critters was conflicting, anyway. 

- Rachel W. - The Missing Sitejabber Reviews


The main focus of Absolute Write is the "Water Cooler", a huge forum which addresses authorship of any kind. It has begun to suffer from a typical ailment that creeps in most long-standing Internet forums: the dreaded Clique Mentality. This occurs when a relatively small set of users contributes the vast majority of posts, combined with a set of unwritten rules--which are often rather unclear to anybody else than the clique itself. Hapless outsiders who violate these clique conventions will often find a mob of old-standing users pounce upon them like a group of ravenous wolves. I'm not joking--it's not a pretty sight when it happens. I have seen posters on Absolute Write being bullied merely for disagreeing with a clique member on a fairly minor matter. The mob will pull any trick to discredit an outsider: ridiculing, twisting words of out context, and fairly often rather nasty personal attacks. People with few to no publishing credentials will get told that heir opinions are unimportant and that their writing likely sucks. The irony is that most clique members are themselves writers of mediocre fare dwindling in the lower parts of the midlist, if that ...

- Anon : The Missing Alexa Reviews


As far as I'm concerned, if a site is run this way it has no value so I will ignore it and encourage everyone to ignore it. It is run by a bunch of lower mid-list (and that may be being generous) old biddies who have nothing better to do than to dictate their rules to others. Free speech does not exist on AbsoluteWrite and where free speech does not exist, I will not go. They talk a good game about "respect your fellow writer" but take umbrage at things in an oversensitive way and pull that respect from you without a second thought.

- Mark Breuer : No Irish, No DGs


If you're a member of Absolute Write, I guarantee you've seen the moderators sweep into a discussion where the topic is one of their pet peeves, use the unfortunate poster as a punching bag, invite long-time members to join them, and then lock the thread and sometimes boot the member. It's never a straightforward warning about the rules, or a request for clarification. The moderators are not there to facilitate discussion, they're there to drive the discussion. If it ventures out of the bounds they like, even if the discussion is polite, it gets locked if for no other reason than "attitude."

It took me about five minutes to gather some examples. I went to a single topic and looked through the first few pages for locked threads. To be fair, two of the threads I saw were locked for legitimate (at least, what most forum admins would consider legitimate) reasons: resurrecting ancient threads. The rest were examples of moderators treating members like garbage.


- Absolute Wrong : Silencing the Lambs


So whatever the merits of the campaign against Absolute Write, or the motivations of those behind this campaign, I have to (reluctantly) say that those in charge of Absolute Write Water Cooler richly deserve it. In the short time that I had an identity on that board, I would cringe every time that I logged on, in anticipation of the latest gratuitous, public insult that the board moderators had lodged against me, along with the warning "don't you dare talk back, or it will turn out badly for you" (their exact words).

- B.Q. : Haters Gonna Hate (Victoria Strauss Troll Battle)


This morning, we found out through a few book club members that a forum known as the Absolute Write Cooler had identified us as a fake. Apparently, this is because we don't have an "existence that isn't associated with this book blog. No one reports going to lunch with her, she didn't show her pet at a local cat show, she hasn't participated in a Walk For Life, she isn't listed in a graduating class."

Correct me if I am wrong, but my book blog should be about books and what I want to include. If you do not see what you want to see, that doesn't make me fake.

Then came the next disturbing element of this unfolding drama. So we've been certified as fake. The forum moderator HapiSofi bashed the book club in more than one thread. She was applauded for her 'detective' work. Absolute joy, that people find so many useful ways to spend their time. But one thing, was missing. Where is HapiSofi's contact information? From as far back as 2012, three characters appear in every thread together. HapiSofi, James McDonald and AliceShortCake. Then there are names like Old Hack, VeinGlory and Torgo. Again, no contact information, no social media links for most of these profiles.


- Quality Reads UK


Ironically these “websites / authors” are doing what they claim others are doing, taking advantage of people who are looking in good faith for facts and information, truthful information about the publishing industry. Their responses are reduced to internet babble. A mix of half truths, alleged facts and very personal un-professional remarks and behavior. They tend to be abusive, Holier then thou, and totally off the mark. ALL they have to do is PROVE what they post. Just saying they have “hundreds” of complaint isn’t going to cut it. People are fed up with that attitude. Courts are leaning heavily toward companies and individuals who are entitled to face their accusers and their alleged facts.

One poster stated that they’re “reaping what they sow” how true. All of sudden people are asking them questions about who they really are, besides mutual friends.

So why don’t they just tell the truth?

- Publishing Facts


For a site that's for writers, one would think they'd go out of their way to understand what people are saying before they say they are stupid on the forum. Mods should never attack people on the forums....NEVER. Any forum that allows that is a bully place. A place where mods can push around people and expect them to fear them. It is not ok to run a website like that. That breeds cliques and makes other posters feel like there's special treatment. Absolute Write is just like that. They allow bullies to mod. They also allow cliques to control who gets into trouble.

- J.J. - The Missing Sitejabber Reviews


Absolute Write, for those who don’t know, is mostly a set of forums where writers, agents, publishers, and other sorts of folks in the writing industry chat. And of course, with the huge burst in self publishing, a bunch of posts about that started up. So they made a set of forums for self pub. I rolled across them a couple of months ago, and was pretty horrified by what I saw: a large number of folks claiming to be industry experts deliberately spreading misinformation about what self publishing was, how best to go about it, and whether one could actually do it successfully (outside a few “outliers”). So I stepped in and started pointing out the flaws in the logic.

- Kevin O. Mclaughlin


Beware. Absolute Write, in the hands of Lisa Spangenberg and her associates, is in effect a judge-jury-prosecutor platform, and one utilized on an almost daily basis to publicly humiliate, bash, defame and even scold people they have never met and do not know, as well as businesses they have never interacted with in any form whatsoever. All it takes is for one question to be asked, or one axe grinder to make an appearance, and the predators smell blood. A swarm of anonymous fairies and fops with ridiculous icons appear and begin fomenting themselves into leaps of logic, unfounded assumptions, and distortions of reality. All this would be amusing if it were not for the fact that their extensive dialogues and diatribes become public record and are ranked high in Google.

And will the average reader always understand what kind of sociopaths he or she is witnessing. Not necessarily. They appear to speak from authority quite often, give the appearance of sincerity, and there is a background history of real scams revealed by Absolute Write. Users there like Victoria Strauss, who give the appearance of legitimacy, will rush in to show support. But as we all know, the best way to maintain the momentum at Absolute Write is to mix a few grains of truth into one continuous and hydra-headed avalanche of lie. In reality, the core site is a lie on more than one level. The owner and her sock puppets and assorted gang not only shred people all day for amusement and publicity (as someone pointed out, the mediocre writers get publicity for their poorly written books each time they post) and monetary gain (huge revenue from advertisements), the site itself purports to offer good advice to writers when in fact it does no such thing. Advice is amateurish and quite often just plain wrong.

Regardless, the bullies at Absolute Write, herded there by Lisa Spangenberg (as we all now know) and goaded on by her at all times with great vigor, basically function as a Salem witch trial. Accusations are often baseless, but delivered and discussed with excessive zeal. Victims are displayed for purposes of torture, and anyone who disagrees is accused of being a witch also.

One has to ask: what gives such cowardly arm-chair nerds the right to act as prosecutors, judge and jury? Nothing gives them the right. These are a bunch of losers looking for payback. I've seen it before. I've fired abnormals like this at my job because they were caught retaliating against other workers using phony online identities.

I know the type, and I sincerely hope someone is able to bring legal action against Lisa Spangenberg and her hateful crew.



"ABSOLUTE power corrupts absolutely." is the phrase that really sums it up which is funny and ironic. The head admin Spangenberg that has the sock puppet Stone is on a huge power trip over having that big board that looks great, that people want to join, but it's so insidious because it looks harmless and super fun but any of the mods that are nuts like that OldHack and Spangenberg will just randomly attack people and people can't even defend themselves their either banned or have some humiliating subnic,

And I'm not talking about the small publishers and scam publishers that they bash, I'm talking about just writers trying to talk about any issue if a mod agrees with ANYTHING on ANY topic then they can insult, belittle and degrade that member to their hearts content and the member will be banned if they say one word in their defense or even if they say anything perceived as "snarky" back and they just play these nasty little mind games that they think are so clever, but anyone can see through them, it's just that people can't do anything much about them because it is a private business, but yes, the crazy power trip is ruining a magnificent concept and something that could be so good.

She really doesn't have to act so crazy and nasty to keep control of her board and it's really hypocritical to let certain mods spew misinformation and throw around insults like that Old Hack.


- Shay Richards : The Looking Glass of Caroll Bryant


Now, if there is any environment more toxic than GR, it’s the Absolute Write Water Cooler. It’s a snake pit. And not just any snake pit. We’re talking Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark kind of snake pit. Why is it so bad? Its not just because of its members. Its moderators play a big part in it, too. Keep reading and we’ll show you what we mean.

Now before we continue, we want to show you some Alexa reviews we found  here. All of the five star reviews are legacy reviews, because once upon a time, when AW was fresh and new, it was a good place to be, but slowly over time, it became corrupt.

- STGRB : The Banning of Robin Sullivan


Yikes. I never even ended up posting. I'm one to lurk before joining in, and after watching the mods tear apart people for NO reason, then egging on others to bash those people, then carrying on long after they chased the person from the site...yeah I think I will pass on joining in. I've never seen anything so vile. There is a definite "clique" there. The site is great for them, but it looks like it's near impossible to become part of their "in club". Whether I could get in with them or not, I don't think I'd want to because I won't stand behind such poor behavior. This has to be the worst writing community I've ever encountered.

- Anon - The Complaints Board


I’ve only been a member briefly, and found this blog by searching how to leave the AWWC. It’s horrible. I thought it was an open, honest forum to exchange ideas and learn. I found myself in the middle of backbiting, condescending, bitter people (including two Mods) who were not helpful at all and hide behind screen names.

How am I supposed to take career advice seriously from someone called SuperModerator, when I can’t tell if they’ve ever published anything? I asked a specific question, and when I questioned politely but firmly the uninformed and negative advice an anonymous writer gave, she harangued and condescended like a fishwife.

On another thread, she jumped into a productive discussion and tongue lashed not only me, but every contributor! Lord, it must’ve taken her half an hour just to quote every single one of us LOL It was a ludicrous critique: she said we “had to” provide evidence for everything we said. This, immediately after telling me one of her pets doesn’t have to provide any, and I am rude for asking. 

- Anon : The Cult - Absolute Write Water Cooler


8 comments:

  1. People outside this mess just don't understand what the real victims of this website are talking about. It's like driving down the highway to work one morning and seeing that someone has overnight built a billboard on the highway with your face and name, and beside it are images of a bunch of other people you've never seen and don't know calling you a loser and a fraud and a crook and an idiot and whatever other insult they can think of. You can't get the billboard taken down because a new law prevents anyone from having to take responsibility for it even if they know the whole thing is a lie, and you can't sue the people on it because you've found out they are all fake, and every day you have to answer for these insults and hope that sane people will see this kangaroo trial by billboard for what it is and also hope you will not be fired from your job as a result.

    This is kinda what it's like to suddenly discover you have been tied to a truck and pulled through mud and glass by the Absolute Write bully mob. You can't stop them. You can't use reason or proof. They just keep on gathering and pointing at you and yellling like mean school yard children picking on the new kid or the sick kid.

    It is sick. The whole thing is sick, and every bit as bad as any school bullying you've ever read about, only these are adults.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolute Write is a pest hole, no doubt of that. There are some naive new writers there who mean well and who chum around okay, but the veteran monsters are omnipresent.

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  3. Good blog post on the subject of Absolute Write tactics and behavior.

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    Replies
    1. The defender of AW almost sounds credible until she says:

      "Dan, I wouldn't spend my time on a writers' board which I felt was unfair, ill-informed, or unprofessional. I certainly wouldn't give up my time for free in order to moderate such a place, and I hope you know me well enough to appreciate that."

      In other words, as part of the AW system, she refuses to admit (no different than Melodi Mac and Spangenberg) that bullyiing, fraud and abuse take place on Absolute Write. She won't give an ounce of credibility to anyone other than herself. We'd better believe her too because her reputation is on the line.

      Delete
  4. They're like bad cops or prosecutors. They'll never admit wrong no matter what happens or what evidence is provided to prove their mistakes and rash hostility.

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  5. My favorite from PW:

    "Absolute Write, in the hands of Lisa Spangenberg and her associates, is in effect a judge-jury-prosecutor platform, and one utilized on an almost daily basis to publicly humiliate, bash, defame and even scold people they have never met and do not know, as well as businesses they have never interacted with in any form whatsoever. All it takes is for one question to be asked, or one axe grinder to make an appearance, and the predators smell blood. A swarm of anonymous fairies and fops with ridiculous icons appear and begin fomenting themselves into leaps of logic, unfounded assumptions, and distortions of reality."

    ReplyDelete
  6. These are some of our favorite comments to W.A.R. posts

    Anonymous May 31, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    "If Absolute Write were run by good people, they would have contacted us and requested an online interview and discussion in their forum, allowed us to present our side and take questions while moderating in a way that respects everyone."

    The above says it all. A witch trial atmosphere has taken over at Absolute Write, one that gets more severe and self-righteous by the year. That's why so many of us remain anonymous when we post in places like this, because we don't want our lives ruined by the mob.


    Anonymous July 23, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    They can't lock you up but they can smear your reputation into a high ranking position on google for future employers and landlords and relationships to see. That's the problem, and their power.


    AnonymousJune 19, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    If AW can't find a villain, they create one and market him.


    Jane Friedman August 12, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Look at this quite simply. You have a freewheeling chat board packed with anonymous and amateur posters, as well as poorly credentialed moderators and holier-than-thou owners. Now, add to that a hostile cultural tone feeding on ignorance and prepared to compete with itself, and what do you have?

    Absolute Write Water Cooler.


    Anonymous August 14, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    The judge and executioner attack on any small or independent press takes place as soon as Old Hack or Hapsofi or whoever set standards for the press they can't possibly meet. Lots of indie presses have become legendary and prospered over the years and not one of their founders ever worked for the New York establishment.

    Vision and taste mean far more than experience in the mechanics of publishing (which can be learned by anyone), but the hacks of Absolute Write won't acknowledge that. They set an arbitrary standard their victims can't meet, then the blood bath begins with editors and their staff smeared on Internet where everyone can see it.


    Anonymous June 12, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    People outside this mess just don't understand what the real victims of this website are talking about. It's like driving down the highway to work one morning and seeing that someone has overnight built a billboard on the highway with your face and name, and beside it are images of a bunch of other people you've never seen and don't know calling you a loser and a fraud and a crook and an idiot and whatever other insult they can think of. You can't get the billboard taken down because a new law prevents anyone from having to take responsibility for it even if they know the whole thing is a lie, and you can't sue the people on it because you've found out they are all fake, and every day you have to answer for these insults and hope that sane people will see this kangaroo trial by billboard for what it is and also hope you will not be fired from your job as a result.

    This is kinda what it's like to suddenly discover you have been tied to a truck and pulled through mud and glass by the Absolute Write bully mob. You can't stop them. You can't use reason or proof. They just keep on gathering and pointing at you and yellling like mean school yard children picking on the new kid or the sick kid.

    It is sick. The whole thing is sick, and every bit as bad as any school bullying you've ever read about, only these are adults.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So Uncle Jimbo and Old Hack are husband and wife. One can only hope they don't reproduce.

    ReplyDelete