Kindle Oasis
KB Featured Book
Wish Granted! Tips, Tools, and Templates to Write a Winning Grant
by Holly Rustick

$1.99
Kindle Edition published 2017-08-22
Bestseller ranking: 95983

Product Description
INCLUDES BONUS FREE E-DOWNLOADS: TEMPLATES FOR GRANT WRITING!

Grant writing shouldn’t feel like a trip to the dentist. Take the pain out of the process with this innovative and fun, yes fun, guide. Learn all the inside tips and tools of the grant-writing trade in this easy-to-read and upbeat book.
This book is definitely for you if:
•You break out in a cold sweat when your boss mentions the word ‘grant’.
•You’ve been tempted to throw your computer against the wall while writing a grant.
•You happily tell stakeholders there’s plenty of grants out there … but haven’t the faintest idea how to write and get one!
•You think you can send out a bog-standard letter to a bunch of organizations and get funded.
•Your eyes glaze over when you’re presented with grant writing jargon and acronyms.
•Your organization’s grant success A-game has r...

Author Topic: Inside a Click Farm  (Read 5492 times)  

Offline KateDanley

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3256
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • KateDanley.com
Inside a Click Farm
« on: July 11, 2017, 11:01:41 PM »
There's been several threads recently that have talked about click farms inflating rankings and such.  A friend just shared this article with me and I thought I would pass it along.  It has photographs of what the inside of a click farm looks like.  Really interesting to see how these are set up...

https://kotaku.com/inside-chinese-click-farms-1795287821
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 11:11:45 PM by KateDanley »

Kate Danley | Website | Facebook | Blog | Newsletter | Instagram

Will Edwards

  • Guest
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 01:12:38 AM »
Inside a click farm ... do they have clickens? :)

Offline Doglover

  • Status: A A Milne
  • ******
  • Posts: 4183
  • Gender: Female
  • Huntingdon, United Kingdom
  • If you want real love, buy a dog.
    • View Profile
    • Margaret Brazear Author
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 01:25:25 AM »
Inside a click farm ... do they have clickens? :)
Well if they do, they'd better be free range. :)


The past is another country; they do things differently there
Margaret Brazear | Website | Blog | Facebook | Readers Group

Offline Dolphin

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1925
  • Gender: Male
  • Under the Sea
  • Skree'ee--eee, eeek!
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 02:19:13 AM »
That's a pretty exotic setup for hunting pretty big game. Most of this stuff doesn't require such ostentatious hardware, or so much manual labor. Even when manual clicking is used, it'll often be distributed remotely, like Amazon's own Mechanical Turk.

Offline KeraEmory

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 809
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 05:35:02 AM »
That's a pretty exotic setup for hunting pretty big game. Most of this stuff doesn't require such ostentatious hardware, or so much manual labor. Even when manual clicking is used, it'll often be distributed remotely, like Amazon's own Mechanical Turk.

I'm admittedly a bit new to this concept, but that looked like a setup specifically for boosting 'daily active users' and pushing mobile apps up their respective App Store rankings.

Online SevenDays

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2776
  • Gender: Female
  • PNW
  • Imagine something cool and witty here.
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 05:47:39 AM »
Wow! That's really interesting ... and more than a little bit depressing. There's something so sad about the whole setup.

Alex A. King | Website

Offline KeraEmory

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 809
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2017, 05:57:07 AM »
Wow! That's really interesting ... and more than a little bit depressing. There's something so sad about the whole setup.

It's sad to realize that all of these systems are being gamed/cheated. Apps, games, music, books, fake social media followers ...

Offline Going Incognito

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1684
  • Gender: Female
  • It's always the quiet ones...
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2017, 06:40:15 AM »
Inside a click farm ... do they have clickens? :)

Well if they do, they'd better be free range. :)

Eh, I don't know. Whole thing looks a little too cagey to be free range clickens.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 06:42:26 AM by Going Incognito »

Offline gilesxbecker

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 74
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2017, 07:14:45 AM »
There's been several threads recently that have talked about click farms inflating rankings and such.  A friend just shared this article with me and I thought I would pass it along.  It has photographs of what the inside of a click farm looks like.  Really interesting to see how these are set up...

https://kotaku.com/inside-chinese-click-farms-1795287821

That's depressing. I wonder what will come of it? You can only manipulate people's minds for so long (look at all the high ratings! this must be a really good product/book!) and then nobody trusts anything. Just strange and depressing.

dystopian sounds grim but actually fun abounds
Giles Becker | Giles Becker

Online Word Fan

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1307
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2017, 07:15:08 AM »
It's all very well to laugh and make jokes, but this is the stuff that's screwing up the income, big or small, that we attempt to get from our work.

(I was going to originally say that I was almost speechless to actually see these things in action, but "speechless" seemed too tame. How much money must they be making from this in order to cover the cost of all of the equipment, let alone a profit?)

Offline Going Incognito

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1684
  • Gender: Female
  • It's always the quiet ones...
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2017, 07:40:49 AM »
It's all very well to laugh and make jokes, but this is the stuff that's screwing up the income, big or small, that we attempt to get from our work.

Laugh, cry, or rage, it has the same result.

Offline KateDanley

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3256
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • KateDanley.com
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2017, 07:59:06 AM »
I shared this article in another thread, but it is worth sharing again in case folks missed it.  This one guy's master account has earned $2.44M since he started it from those low quality books:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/exclusive-inside-a-million-dollar-amazon-kindle-catfishing-scam/

Kate Danley | Website | Facebook | Blog | Newsletter | Instagram

Offline brkingsolver

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3870
  • Baltimore, MD
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2017, 08:02:23 AM »
I shared this article in another thread, but it is worth sharing again in case folks missed it.  This one guy's master account has earned $2.44M since he started it from those low quality books:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/exclusive-inside-a-million-dollar-amazon-kindle-catfishing-scam/
And here I'm wasting my time trying to write a good book... :(

BR Kingsolver | Author website

Online MClayton

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 130
  • Gender: Female
  • Florida
    • View Profile
    • Website
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2017, 08:16:53 AM »
That's depressing. I wonder what will come of it? You can only manipulate people's minds for so long (look at all the high ratings! this must be a really good product/book!) and then nobody trusts anything. Just strange and depressing.

We're already there. First, readers couldn't trust book tags on the product page (anyone remember those?). Then it was reviews. Now it's ranks. Authors shooting authors in the foot, over and over again. 

Offline Doglover

  • Status: A A Milne
  • ******
  • Posts: 4183
  • Gender: Female
  • Huntingdon, United Kingdom
  • If you want real love, buy a dog.
    • View Profile
    • Margaret Brazear Author
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2017, 08:36:21 AM »
We're already there. First, readers couldn't trust book tags on the product page (anyone remember those?). Then it was reviews. Now it's ranks. Authors shooting authors in the foot, over and over again. 
What are book tags?


The past is another country; they do things differently there
Margaret Brazear | Website | Blog | Facebook | Readers Group

Online MClayton

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 130
  • Gender: Female
  • Florida
    • View Profile
    • Website
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2017, 08:40:25 AM »
What are book tags?

Several years ago readers could "tag" a book on the product page with a keyword. The way it started out, the keyword was usually related to genre, so if I read a cozy mystery I liked, I'd tag it with that phrase. I have no idea how long that system was in place before I first published, but it disappeared shortly after because it was first abused by authors tagging books with the names of famous authors and best-selling books, and then readers retaliated by tagging books with "badly behaving author," etc. Eventually Amazon just did away with tagging altogether.

Offline Doglover

  • Status: A A Milne
  • ******
  • Posts: 4183
  • Gender: Female
  • Huntingdon, United Kingdom
  • If you want real love, buy a dog.
    • View Profile
    • Margaret Brazear Author
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2017, 08:52:20 AM »
Several years ago readers could "tag" a book on the product page with a keyword. The way it started out, the keyword was usually related to genre, so if I read a cozy mystery I liked, I'd tag it with that phrase. I have no idea how long that system was in place before I first published, but it disappeared shortly after because it was first abused by authors tagging books with the names of famous authors and best-selling books, and then readers retaliated by tagging books with "badly behaving author," etc. Eventually Amazon just did away with tagging altogether.
I see, thanks. There's always someone wants to ruin things isn't there? I can see if things go on the way they are, Amazon will do away with the all star bonus as that seems to be what these scammers are after. they might even do away with page reads altogether, which spoil things for a lot of people.


The past is another country; they do things differently there
Margaret Brazear | Website | Blog | Facebook | Readers Group

Offline Kristine McKinley

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 494
  • Gender: Female
  • Raleigh, NC
    • View Profile
    • K. McKinley Website
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2017, 09:04:07 AM »
The people that do things like what was mentioned in the second story aren't doing this to be successful authors, their main objective is money. He hired people to write crap just so he wouldn't have to worry about copyright, he didn't care what he was publishing just the length. Applying our same thought process to them is the wrong way to understand them. They don't care if it ends up killing a legitimate way for authors to make money or if customers stop trusting, they only care about making large sums of money.

Online Bill Hiatt

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2335
  • Gender: Male
  • California
    • View Profile
    • Bill Hiatt's Author Website
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2017, 09:17:40 AM »
I see, thanks. There's always someone wants to ruin things isn't there? I can see if things go on the way they are, Amazon will do away with the all star bonus as that seems to be what these scammers are after. they might even do away with page reads altogether, which spoil things for a lot of people.
Just for the record, there also used to be page likes on the product pages. I'm not sure how much they affected purchasing decisions, but people started gaming them, and they vanished.

Amazon is in a bind on KU. It's a fruitful source of scams, probably the most vulnerable spot in their whole book ecosystem. On the other hand, Amazon clearly wants to hold onto it. I'm assuming KU subscribers end up buying other things while they're onsite. Also, at this point, what could Amazon really offer in exchange for exclusivity if KU goes away? Free days and countdown deals, particularly since there are so many of them at any given time, don't really do for visibility what they once did. It's significant that a lot of people on this forum use KU and Select interchangeably. That's because the only real reason to be in Select is KU.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | education website | Facebook author page | Twitter

Offline KeraEmory

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 809
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2017, 09:23:34 AM »
I've mentioned this in other threads, but indie game devs have the same problem over on Steam:

https://www.geek.com/culture/internet-gutter-steam-shovelware-1687323/

(That said, since this article came out, apparently Steam shut down their 'Greenlight' program, which was vaguely akin to Kindle Scout, and is now relying on community curators, I guess.)
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 09:25:19 AM by KeraEmory »

Offline Doglover

  • Status: A A Milne
  • ******
  • Posts: 4183
  • Gender: Female
  • Huntingdon, United Kingdom
  • If you want real love, buy a dog.
    • View Profile
    • Margaret Brazear Author
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2017, 09:24:30 AM »
Just for the record, there also used to be page likes on the product pages. I'm not sure how much they affected purchasing decisions, but people started gaming them, and they vanished.

Amazon is in a bind on KU. It's a fruitful source of scams, probably the most vulnerable spot in their whole book ecosystem. On the other hand, Amazon clearly wants to hold onto it. I'm assuming KU subscribers end up buying other things while they're onsite. Also, at this point, what could Amazon really offer in exchange for exclusivity if KU goes away? Free days and countdown deals, particularly since there are so many of them at any given time, don't really do for visibility what they once did. It's significant that a lot of people on this forum use KU and Select interchangeably. That's because the only real reason to be in Select is KU.
I think a variation on the original system of payment per borrow. The problem with that was that they were paying the same for short stories as they were for 400 page novels, so a way of grading it or making it exclusive for full length novels might work. Of course, they are still going to get people putting up rubbish and click farms borrowing, so I don't know what the answer is really.


The past is another country; they do things differently there
Margaret Brazear | Website | Blog | Facebook | Readers Group

Offline AlexaKang

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1908
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2017, 10:01:45 AM »
Well if they do, they'd better be free range. :)

From the looks of it, this is in no way free range. The chickens are trapped in cages of eternal darkness being forced to click away until they drop.

Seriously, while these shady practices are nuisance, a lot of people in poorer countries are working at these very depressing jobs where you couldn't pay us enough to do.

Offline Dolphin

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1925
  • Gender: Male
  • Under the Sea
  • Skree'ee--eee, eeek!
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2017, 03:24:07 PM »
(I was going to originally say that I was almost speechless to actually see these things in action, but "speechless" seemed too tame. How much money must they be making from this in order to cover the cost of all of the equipment, let alone a profit?)

Depends on who we're talking about. If you're in charge, it's ostentatious parties at the Playboy Mansion and late-model BMW money at the very least.

This stuff has been happening forever, and will continue to happen forever. The universality, the sophistication, and the scale of the problem is what makes me more sympathetic to Amazon than most (or an apologist, if you prefer). We'll always be in competition with bad actors, but how is that different from any other field? Chefs compete with McDonald's. Doctors compete with microbes and charlatans. Soldiers compete with terrorists. Scientists compete with lobbyists. Lawyers compete with...well, other lawyers.

There's no reason to be precious about it. There's no reason to get caught up. We can't fix it any more than Amazon can wave their own magic wand and fix it, so the most productive thing we can do is go about our own business and accept that the scammers are going to go about theirs.

It's fascinating stuff, though. Scammers are clever, industrious, tenacious people. You don't have to like them or even respect them in order to appreciate aspects of their work. Also helps to follow what they're doing so that we can anticipate impacts on our side of the business, like the shift from KU1 to KU2. Just don't get bogged down in it, especially at an emotional level. That story doesn't have a happy ending.

Offline Seneca42

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 978
    • View Profile
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2017, 09:48:52 PM »
I see, thanks. There's always someone wants to ruin things isn't there? I can see if things go on the way they are, Amazon will do away with the all star bonus as that seems to be what these scammers are after. they might even do away with page reads altogether, which spoil things for a lot of people.

The scammers aren't ruining things, Amazon is.

If a police officer says "It's against the law to drink and drive, but then never pulls anyone over or gives them a ticket or arrests them... then it's not 'really' illegal to drink and drive in application." A "rule" is only as good to the degree it's enforced. So the fault lies with the police for not enforcing the law.

Amazon created a system knowing it would be abused. They continue with a system knowing it is currently being abused. They catch hardly anyone. I'm still watching books that are bot-borrowing for rank bump for like 5 months now. The only ones following the rules are authors who are genuinely authors and genuinely afraid of getting in trouble.

But Amazon has failed so badly at stopping scammers I'm now seeing genuine authors who should be afraid of getting punished, gaming the system anyway. And these authors aren't even being smart about it. It's clear they are paying service to bot them up in rank.

So it's hard to blame the scammers when Amazon does almost nothing to stop them.

Online RightHoJeeves

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 932
  • Gender: Male
  • Perth
    • View Profile
    • Lawson Copywriting
Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2017, 10:17:07 PM »
I must admit I'm disappointed because I always pictured a click farm with thousands upon thousands of dropper/drinking birds.

James Lawson