a possible explanation of the Amazon thing

I don’t know if this theory is correct, but I frankly consider it a more likely explanation than “Amazon’s executives got lobotomized and decided to institute a PR disaster over Easter weekend” —


Short form is, some organization (no idea who) may have mobilized to flag certain content on Amazon until an automated feature kicks in to remove it from the rankings. It would explain the bizarre selection of items hit, and also why the initial response of Amazon flacks was to say they’re de-ranking “adult” content — if this theory’s right, that’s exactly what they’re doing, but they hadn’t yet realized somebody was gaming the system.

And Easter weekend is a sadly unsurprising time to see positive LGBT* content hit in such fashion.

So. We’ll see what develops. But this makes a lot more sense to me than this being some kind of actual corporate decision on Amazon’s part.

*Or whatever form of abbrevation you prefer. Man, I hadn’t realized just how many permutations of initials that cluster of ideas had until I started seeing posts about this incident all over my flist. What the heck is the (QQI) add-on?

0 Responses to “a possible explanation of the Amazon thing”

  1. coraa

    QQI is, if I remember correctly, “Queer, Questioning and Intersex”.

    Horrible as it sounds, I hope this is some outside group gaming the system in an organized fashion; it’s better than the alternative.

    • Marie Brennan

      I had guessed the “queer” part, and after some consideration had tentatively lighted on “intersex.” Now I know what the other Q is.

      Man, though — how unwieldy of an acronym can you get?

  2. kateelliott

    Yes, I agree. I have no idea what really went on, but that explanation makes more sense (to me, anyway) than anything else I’ve seen so far.

  3. c0untmystars

    That does sound more plausible than the prevailing idea that Amazon has taken leave of its senses. The idea of trolls deliberately pitting organizations/companies/etc. against each other makes my brain hurt a little but does not entirely surprise me.

  4. wishwords

    Excellent explanation from someone who knows what they are talking about. Thank you.

  5. celestineangel

    Would that explain Mark Probst receiving an explanatory email from someone at Amazon customer service stating it was part of a new policy to remove adult material fro the rankings?

    (I love of Amazon’s now trying to say it was a glitch, despite that email.)

    • thespisgeoff

      If the material had been flagged “adult” by a consumer-driven process, then it does explain the email. First-layer customer service is almost always a “look at the file, send the appropriate response” operation, instead of an investigative one. The agent responding to the complaint wouldn’t have done anything but check the code, or the logs, or what-have-you, and report what they said.

  6. xmurphyjacobsx

    I’m wondering if that Amazon rep was spinning it out the ass, as sometimes happens in customer service — if the trolling thing is correct (and I’m not saying it is — plausible, not proven) then anyone consistently flagging a book as objectionable would set off a trigger that would remove the book from ranking as “objectionable” — which tends to translate as “adult”. That kind of customer flagging/triggering COULD be described as Amazon policy. I can see how the two fit together.

    The problem comes in when you set up robots to do a human’s job — flagging should lead to a HUMAN (preferably a few, with brains) looking at the situation and deciding if the flag is legit or just a troll.

    I’m not suggesting this, but it occurs to me that if this theory is correct, a similar ‘attack’ could be committed in reverse — that is, having many people flag some set of anti-alternative sexuality books and seeing if they, too, fall out of ranking. I do NOT suggest this sort of sandbox revenge tactic as an action, just as an imaginary experiment to test out the ‘trolling’ theory.

    • Marie Brennan

      I think people are running that experiment, actually. Because if you searched for “homosexuality” after this started, you did get some hits . . . all of them books about curing gays or what-have-you. So there was talk of flagging those “gay erotica” or whatever might be causing this, and seeing if they went away.

      But yes, automating stuff hath many dangers. As we’ve seen elsewhere, even if it turns out not to be the root cause here.

  7. kitsunealyc

    I think I’m going to start using the term “Minoritarian Sexualities”, or MS for short, since from a Deleuze & Guattarian perspective, we *all* are minoritarian sexualities positioned against a constructed, arbitrary, and non-existent majoritarian center.

    Otherwise, we’ll be left with the unwieldly LGBTSQQIBDSMPMC*


    (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual, Straight, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Bondage, Dominance, Sado/Masochism, Polyamorous, Monogamous, Celibate)

    • akashiver

      You say “Minoritarian Sexualities”, I think of labyrinths and women gettin it on w/ bulls.

      Right on.

      • kitsunealyc

        And the lovely thing about the term is, that particular permutation is included!

        Now, you say labyrinths and women getting it on with bulls, and I think of Martha Graham. The Swan will understand what I mean by this 😛

        • zunger

          Which is perfect evidence that this is the right choice of phrase. 🙂

          I recall that Stanford, at one point, wanted to build a GLBTTTQCC. Several people responded with “The Gnu Lesbian, Bisexual, and something-or-other C compiler?”

          Buncha damned geeks…

        • Marie Brennan

          I do and yet I don’t . . . as in, I think I’ve scrubbed that particular piece from my mind. All I remember is being really annoyed by parts of that performance. <g>

          • kitsunealyc

            The first piece in the show was “Errand into the Maze”. It was the one with the string, the bare tree thing, Ariadne, and the guy as a bull with the pole he kept across his shoulders/back.

            Now, that’s some kinky stuff!

      • moonandserpent

        I am so glad I wasn’t the only person thinking that.

    • Marie Brennan

      Oh, come on. Your unwieldy version left out time-travel, fanfic, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the kitchen sink. Don’t be an excluder!

Comments are closed.