Author Topic: Inside a Click Farm  (Read 5356 times)  

Offline KateDanley

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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 »

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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

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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. :)


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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

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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.

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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.

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Offline KeraEmory

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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

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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

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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.

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Offline Word Fan

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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

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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

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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/

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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... :(

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Offline MClayton

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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

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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?


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Offline MClayton

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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.

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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.


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Offline Kristine McKinley

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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.

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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.


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Offline KeraEmory

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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

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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.


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Offline AlexaKang

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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.

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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.

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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.

Offline RightHoJeeves

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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.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2017, 11:44:49 PM »
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.


This is the Prohibition Paradox (as in, the prohibition of alcohol in the US, 1920-1933). It was so thoroughly flouted that it was far worse than allowing it--it bred crime, undermined respect for the law, and perversely it allowed underage drinking by anyone of any age, since there was no incentive for the alcohol sellers to sell only to adults.

A KU ecosystem that allows systemic scamming is far worse than no KU at all.


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Offline Doglover

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2017, 11:47:31 PM »
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.

While I agree with you, I am not sure what Amazon can do about it except to employ actual humans to vet every new publication instead of using a computer program. That would stop it, certainly, but the costs of doing this would then have to be passed on to the authors and publication would no longer be free.


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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #27 on: July 13, 2017, 01:16:18 AM »
While I agree with you, I am not sure what Amazon can do about it except to employ actual humans to vet every new publication instead of using a computer program. That would stop it, certainly, but the costs of doing this would then have to be passed on to the authors and publication would no longer be free.

Yeah I feel like there is an economy of scale problem. It would take a lot of money to root out the scammers by hand... and lets be honest, I don't think KU is really that high on Amazon's total agenda.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2017, 02:44:52 AM »
Come on, there is loads Amazon could do. For starters, it could act on the reports that it is continually sent about plagiarism, clickfarms, botted downloads, blocks of books for the same authors moving en masse into the free charts, shady authors repeatedly putting books to the top of the *paid* charts, not just free. Keyword stuffing, bonus stuffing, republishing.

Amazon always takes a softly softly approach to these guys. And then pulls down a genuine author's book for three typos.

Amazon just doesn't care about this stuff. They think the market will just sort it out - even though that belief is demonstrably false. I keep getting told by Amazon that they take this issue seriously and they want people to keep reporting stuff, but then I see them do nothing.

I used to think there were holes in the fences, but there just are no fences. It's open season. And the scammers are being paid from our pot.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #29 on: July 13, 2017, 03:25:19 AM »
Come on, there is loads Amazon could do. For starters, it could act on the reports that it is continually sent about plagiarism, clickfarms, botted downloads, blocks of books for the same authors moving en masse into the free charts, shady authors repeatedly putting books to the top of the *paid* charts, not just free. Keyword stuffing, bonus stuffing, republishing.

Amazon always takes a softly softly approach to these guys. And then pulls down a genuine author's book for three typos.

Amazon just doesn't care about this stuff. They think the market will just sort it out - even though that belief is demonstrably false. I keep getting told by Amazon that they take this issue seriously and they want people to keep reporting stuff, but then I see them do nothing.

I used to think there were holes in the fences, but there just are no fences. It's open season. And the scammers are being paid from our pot.
But surely that would take the same extra staff which would cost more money as I mentioned before. I think they are getting round to it, but it just cannot be done by computer which is why it takes so long.

We have on this forum recently seen a couple of people who have been caught out and have come here to complain, so they are getting it done. It just isn't getting done as fast as we would like and there is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #30 on: July 13, 2017, 03:36:23 AM »
But surely that would take the same extra staff which would cost more money as I mentioned before. I think they are getting round to it, but it just cannot be done by computer which is why it takes so long.

We have on this forum recently seen a couple of people who have been caught out and have come here to complain, so they are getting it done. It just isn't getting done as fast as we would like and there is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

OK, let's take that person as an example. After she had her first run in with KDP, they slapped her on the wrist and she was able to republish all her titles. Then she put them free and used (it looks like) clickfarms to put them to top of the free charts, and then clickfarmed borros to put them to the top of the paid charts. She was in the Top 20 in Canada and Australia simultaneously and in the Top 100 in the UK and the Top 200 in the US... PAID, not free. Amazon did nothing. It was reported by loads of people, readers were complaining, and Amazon did nothing.

Then some people kicked up a stink on social media and Amazon did something. They seem to have stripped her books' rankings so she doesn't appear in the charts - but the books are still up, and she has still hacked her way into Kindle Singles somehow.

So they are doing the bare minimum to avoid PR fallout.

I've been working on this issue for 18 months and I haven't seen anything other than Amazon doing that bare minimum and managing the situation in a PR sense, rather than trying to solve it technically.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #31 on: July 13, 2017, 03:41:53 AM »
Another example:

I wrote this post in April 2016 - actually a guest post from Phoenix Sullivan: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/ku-scammers-attack-amazons-free-ebook-charts/

Look at the book at #3 in the charts. That scammer is still operating, under the same author name and same book titles and covers. Still using the same tricks to crash the free charts and bounce up the paid charts and grab from the KU pot - despite being reported repeatedly by loads of people.

If you click to her author page, you will see "Customers Also By Books By.." and see the same names of scammers which always pop up over the last 18 months at the top of the charts with dodgy books and plagiarized content.

It's the same people, over and over again, using the same clickfarms. Amazon knows who they are.

Tell me again that Amazon is taking this seriously and it's just a matter of time until they... what?

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Offline Doglover

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #32 on: July 13, 2017, 03:55:05 AM »
OK, let's take that person as an example. After she had her first run in with KDP, they slapped her on the wrist and she was able to republish all her titles. Then she put them free and used (it looks like) clickfarms to put them to top of the free charts, and then clickfarmed borros to put them to the top of the paid charts. She was in the Top 20 in Canada and Australia simultaneously and in the Top 100 in the UK and the Top 200 in the US... PAID, not free. Amazon did nothing. It was reported by loads of people, readers were complaining, and Amazon did nothing.

Then some people kicked up a stink on social media and Amazon did something. They seem to have stripped her books' rankings so she doesn't appear in the charts - but the books are still up, and she has still hacked her way into Kindle Singles somehow.

So they are doing the bare minimum to avoid PR fallout.

I've been working on this issue for 18 months and I haven't seen anything other than Amazon doing that bare minimum and managing the situation in a PR sense, rather than trying to solve it technically.
Fair enough. You obviously know more about it than I do, but the singles thing did puzzle me I must say. How do you suppose that happened? I submitted to them when I first started four years ago and am still waiting for a reply!


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #33 on: July 13, 2017, 04:02:32 AM »

... So they are doing the bare minimum to avoid PR fallout.

I've been working on this issue for 18 months and I haven't seen anything other than Amazon doing that bare minimum and managing the situation in a PR sense, rather than trying to solve it technically.

That's also my take on it.  The trouble with Amazon's approach, is by managing PR and ignoring the root cause means that at some point PR control will not be enough. When that day comes the human waste product is sure to collide bigtime with the rotary cooling device.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2017, 04:34:39 AM »
Fair enough. You obviously know more about it than I do, but the singles thing did puzzle me I must say. How do you suppose that happened? I submitted to them when I first started four years ago and am still waiting for a reply!

Not exactly sure, maybe some keyword-category hack. Should be simple to determine that on the Amazon side with their internal tools.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2017, 04:51:34 AM »
Not exactly sure, maybe some keyword-category hack. Should be simple to determine that on the Amazon side with their internal tools.
I was under the impression that the singles submissions were chosen by an actual human with an actual brain, so I don't know how she got round that one unless by some strange fluke she really did get a book into it. Weird!


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #36 on: July 13, 2017, 07:33:56 AM »
This is all so upsetting. The least they could do is set a firm page payout and stick to it. Then they can pay the scammers all they want (since they don't seem to mind) but at least then legitimate writers don't have to share the pot with them. I can only imagine what this next month's payout will be. It would also be nice if they dropped the KU term from three months to one month. Three months is interminably long when the payout shrinks and you have to watch the charts get swallowed up by fake books. Or drop the exclusivity clause altogether. A girl can dream...

I still don't see why they can't have real people vet the books on the way into the store. I'm willing to wait an extra week to have my book go up if it means they are stopping the crap at the door.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #37 on: July 13, 2017, 07:42:51 AM »
This is all so upsetting. The least they could do is set a firm page payout and stick to it. Then they can pay the scammers all they want (since they don't seem to mind) but at least then legitimate writers don't have to share the pot with them. I can only imagine what this next month's payout will be. It would also be nice if they dropped the KU term from three months to one month. Three months is interminably long when the payout shrinks and you have to watch the charts get swallowed up by fake books. Or drop the exclusivity clause altogether. A girl can dream...

I still don't see why they can't have real people vet the books on the way into the store. I'm willing to wait an extra week to have my book go up if it means they are stopping the crap at the door.
But are you willing to pay towards their wages? At the moment, kdp is free to publish; if they started employing gatekeepers, they would have to charge. Mind you, that might not be a bad thing if it wasn't too much. But, do the other outlets have these scammers? I mean people like Apple, Kobo and all the rest? How do they stop it? Or don't they sell enough to attract the scammers?


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #38 on: July 13, 2017, 08:17:10 AM »
But are you willing to pay towards their wages? At the moment, kdp is free to publish; if they started employing gatekeepers, they would have to charge. Mind you, that might not be a bad thing if it wasn't too much. But, do the other outlets have these scammers? I mean people like Apple, Kobo and all the rest? How do they stop it? Or don't they sell enough to attract the scammers?

No one knows how much Amazon rakes in every month from KU alone, but we can be sure they're taking their cut from the pot before they divide it up amongst us. They also take 30-70% of our book sales. Not to mention the fact that they're now making a pretty penny off authors via AMS.

Amazon isn't some startup with zero resources to hire new employees or re-define the roles of existing ones.

These issues are cropping up on other retailers. Lately, iBooks has had problems with scammers publishing books stolen from top KU romance authors. These scammers aren't even changing the author names or covers, they're straight-up selling the books as is.

The actual authors are getting in trouble with Amazon over supposedly breaking the KU contract, of course.

iBooks has been removing the books, but I've heard:
A) it's taking them a while to address the initial reports since things are handled by actual humans (which hurts the KU authors even more)
B) there have been a few cases in which the same books that were already taken down once were allowed to be published again, presumably under a different publisher account.
C) the authors aren't sure if the scammers have ended up with payouts.

These problems aren't going to go away, so all the vendors--not just Amazon--need to sit down amongst their respective teams and figure out a way to deal.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #39 on: July 13, 2017, 09:56:08 AM »
There's two aspects here that I think are key enablers - lack of control on accounts (hacked / stolen and fake accounts) and the ability to get benefits from free or freely returned content. I agree with David that there's a lot more that can be done on the Amazon side on authenticating that downloads / page reads are from real accounts and not from either fake (not a human person) accounts or accounts of real people who don't actually have kindles (buy, download, then return = no credit card charge). You'd think with all their fancy-schmancy AI they could figure this out.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #40 on: July 13, 2017, 10:24:17 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. 

I remember the tag thread.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #41 on: July 13, 2017, 11:17:43 AM »
I've just answered a survey from KDP. At the end they asked what else they could do to improve things for authors. I started with "Get rid of the scammers"  >:(.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #42 on: July 13, 2017, 12:54:01 PM »
Well then, that explains how certain books get highly ranked that obviously look like they were written and published within an hour. (Yikes...) Quality control is a difficult monster to tackle with this being a reality.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #43 on: July 13, 2017, 01:18:44 PM »
But are you willing to pay towards their wages? At the moment, kdp is free to publish; if they started employing gatekeepers, they would have to charge.

No one knows how much Amazon rakes in every month from KU alone, but we can be sure they're taking their cut from the pot before they divide it up amongst us. They also take 30-70% of our book sales. Not to mention the fact that they're now making a pretty penny off authors via AMS.

Amazon isn't some startup with zero resources to hire new employees or re-define the roles of existing ones.

I agree.  30% of every single sale on the site (or more) is hardly a free service. 

I'm not saying those are bad terms, but their cut would have to be in the single-digit percentile before I would remotely consider Amazon "free."  (I'm sure hosting costs something...and staff and tech etc etc, but not thirty percent or more of every dollar readers spend!)

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #44 on: July 13, 2017, 01:22:33 PM »
Ok...while I understand these people live in poor countries and are trying to do what they can to support themselves and their families, I have a serious issue with the fact that they're deceiving people. Under no condition should that be okay. Also, they're taking food out of OUR mouths when they push scam books to the surface and mercilessly rob authors of hard earned visibility. Nope.
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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #45 on: July 13, 2017, 01:54:23 PM »
And in the middle of it all... Lucius Fox.


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #46 on: July 13, 2017, 02:12:50 PM »
No one knows how much Amazon rakes in every month from KU alone, but we can be sure they're taking their cut from the pot before they divide it up amongst us.

No. I've never seen any data indicating that KU subscriptions are anywhere near their monthly payout. It's a loss leader for them.

Show me the subscription numbers if I'm wrong.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #47 on: July 13, 2017, 02:28:41 PM »
I may not be understanding all of this, but if Amazon is indeed paying a large amount of money to scammers, it seems to me they could take the money they are paying the scammers and use a portion of that to weed them out. it might save them money in the long run and make things better overall for the actual authors.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #48 on: July 13, 2017, 02:31:20 PM »
I may not be understanding all of this, but if Amazon is indeed paying a large amount of money to scammers, it seems to me they could take the money they are paying the scammers and use a portion of that to weed them out. it might save them money in the long run and make things better overall for the actual authors.

It's not clear how much they pay to scammers. We know of some who've been paid, and we know of some who've gotten nothing but an account closure when payday rolled around. They're taking action. They've always been taking action. I just think people don't grasp how enormous and ravenous is the horde of barbarians at their gates.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #49 on: July 13, 2017, 02:49:30 PM »
Amazon's top priority is to grow membership. Revenue and profit come second.

Given the vast amount of data at Amazon's disposal, along with the stratospheric rise in shareholder value since 2000, I assume its decisions regarding what to focus on and what to ignore are well-informed.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #50 on: July 13, 2017, 02:52:26 PM »
As long as the scammers get paid, they will have incentive to keep scamming. I hope they can put a stop to it because it seems very unfair to the honest authors.

I do agree with Anarchist in that Amazon is likely well informed of what's going on and are focusing on what they think will make them the most money.


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #51 on: July 13, 2017, 06:25:51 PM »
I may not be understanding all of this, but if Amazon is indeed paying a large amount of money to scammers, it seems to me they could take the money they are paying the scammers and use a portion of that to weed them out. it might save them money in the long run and make things better overall for the actual authors.

Ultimately, the situation boils down to the following: authors get screwed by all this, not amazon.  Amazon gets their $10 KU subscription whether it's from a scammer or not. It's the author who gets paid less per page read when the pot gets watered down by scammers collecting fat thousand dollar royalty payments that are taken out of the KU pool everyone gets paid from. 

So Amazon isn't losing anything, it's purely the authors losing. Hence why they don't care about fixing the problem. Why should they spend millions to fix something that doesn't impact them financially?

Which, if this is your first time viewing a thread like this, your next question will be: why do authors put up with such treatment?

Which will then leads into one camp of authors saying "Whatever, i still make more than if I wasn't in KU" and another camp saying "I'm wide because I refuse to be treated like crap."

So until:

A) authors start leaving KU or
B) readers start leaving KU

Amazon ain't going to lift a finger (beyond what they are currently doing) to address the issue.

It took me a long time to truly understand that Amazon doesn't in any shape or form care in the least about its vendors. Many don't see this yet and think their behavior is merely lack of awareness, or resources, or technological capability or whatever.  It's not. Amazon just doesn't care. Their policy is "If you don't like it, f*ck off. You don't have to sell through us."

Amazon ain't no sweet little old lady with a warm apple in the window sill. They are more like the Terminator and we're just the batteries that power it.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #52 on: July 13, 2017, 07:12:14 PM »

Ultimately, the situation boils down to the following: authors get screwed by all this, not amazon.

Disappointing and probably completely true.

Which will then leads into one camp of authors saying "Whatever, i still make more than if I wasn't in KU" and another camp saying "I'm wide because I refuse to be treated like crap."

Or it leads to some authors saying, "I'm wide because KU stopped earning me money after they tweaked or broke something, and now I do better wide."

Don't confuse newbies into thinking KU is the ONLY way to earn money.  If it works for you, great.  It worked for me through the first two iterations, till they broke something or changed something.  Now it doesn't.

Not everybody earns more through KU.


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #53 on: July 13, 2017, 07:15:34 PM »
If it pleases the court, I'd like to make an argument why this actually does impact Amazon's bottom line - in fact, by millions.

When given effective tools, legit authors are able to sell the crap out of books.  I mean...  take a look at what permafree does.  It seems on paper to be nothing but a Loss Vortex.  But for those of us who have been around for a bit, we all know that the magic is once we hook readers with our first book, if it is good, they go on to buy the rest of the series, bringing in a lot of money for Amazon.  I could rattle off a list of at least 100 authors I know personally who are earning six-figures, and a few making seven-figures a year, and if they're pulling in that kind of cash, that means Amazon is earning a crapton of money, too. 

So, while these scammers are merely taking money from the fixed KU pot which mitigates the financial hit Amazon takes, it is the sell-thru that actually gets the hit.  The scammers aren't bringing in customers who are then buying a series of twelve full-priced books outside of the KU program plus an impulse purchase of a patio furniture set.  They're just taking the money and running.  Soooo... obviously the fact these folks are still around means that nothing is going to be done about it, and technically no laws are being broken... but for a scammer like the one in the article to take $2.4M from the KU pot and for them to then bring in no financial benefits to Amazon...  I don't know.  That seems like it's not a loss leader, that's just a loss and, to my mind, a couple million dollar handouts might be something a company might want to plug up so that authors who ARE bringing in money can do so more effectively.  That said, Amazon's the one controlling the world and I'm a mere cog in the machine.  More brilliant minds than mine have a holistic view of the situation, and I'm describing the elephant based upon the tail I'm holding.  But... it seems like there are ways to solve the problem better so that those of us hustling to bring in the real money have an easier time.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #54 on: July 13, 2017, 08:21:41 PM »
So, while these scammers are merely taking money from the fixed KU pot which mitigates the financial hit Amazon takes, it is the sell-thru that actually gets the hit.  The scammers aren't bringing in customers who are then buying a series of twelve full-priced books outside of the KU program plus an impulse purchase of a patio furniture set.  They're just taking the money and running.

The sell through doesn't get hit. People still find great authors and follow them. Most of these scam books aren't being read by actual readers. They're published by scammers and then bot read for page read money (and they don't climb too high in the charts and so don't draw attention to themselves). Or the other scam is a legit author will pay to have their book "bot borrowed" but not read, which doesn't generate page reads but it does boost the book up in rank (because amazon are idiots and count a borrow as a purchase).

The only thing the scammers and bots really do is steal money from the KU pot. Otherwise they don't really impact anything.

This is the biggest reason I think Amazon hasn't tackled the issue... it's not really affecting readers. They are more than happy to let authors absorb the financial cost of these scammers rather than spend to fix the problem.

Kind of off topic, but you should look at what Walmart is doing to its shippers. Truly brutal stuff going on. These big monolithic companies will stop at nothing to maximize profits. And the very first place they will turn to get the blood they need to survive are those most dependent on them (so usually their vendors and shippers).

The only thing surprising in all this has been just how willing authors have been to defend Amazon... it should be a case study in Stockholm syndrome :)

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #55 on: July 13, 2017, 08:57:20 PM »
Don't brick-and-mortar stores write a certain level of shoplifting loss into their budgets? Maybe this is the digital version of that for Amazon: something it's just not worth worrying about because the losses aren't big enough to justify the cost in additional personnel-hours it'd take to stop it from happening. When there's a PR impact, well, that kind of cost is less predictable, so they bestir themselves a little. Otherwise, not really.




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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #56 on: July 13, 2017, 09:48:16 PM »
The sell through doesn't get hit. People still find great authors and follow them. Most of these scam books aren't being read by actual readers. They're published by scammers and then bot read for page read money (and they don't climb too high in the charts and so don't draw attention to themselves). Or the other scam is a legit author will pay to have their book "bot borrowed" but not read, which doesn't generate page reads but it does boost the book up in rank (because amazon are idiots and count a borrow as a purchase).

The only thing the scammers and bots really do is steal money from the KU pot. Otherwise they don't really impact anything.

Respectfully, here's what happened to me.  A couple months ago, I landed a BookBub freebie promotion and decided to go balls-to-the wall.  This was for a permafree book that had never been advertised on BookBub before and is not in Select.  I spent about $1000 stacking ads that week.  Unfortunately, on several of the days, there were a lot of those KU scamphlets taking up the Top 20 slots on the bestseller list and my book was pushed to page two.  When the KU freebie days expired on the scamphlets, I would shoot up to #2 and #6 in the Top 10.  In total, I had about 34,000 downloads total over the week. 

Now, a buddy of mine who writes in the same genre, also non-Select, she scored a BookBub ad around the same time, stacked her ads, and managed to luck out and hit when there weren't these low quality KU books in the Top 20.  She had 70,000 free downloads.

Of course there are variables, but it would appear that books on page two of the bestseller list take a visibility hit vs. books on page one.  Phoenix has done a great job tracking figures and can address the overall specifics far better than I can, but it would appear the days I was kept off of the Top 20 by those scam KU books kept potentially 36,000 copies of my book... heck, let's say my friend is a better writer than I am and has a better cover and a better blurb and I would have only had 1/3 of the people interested in my book... 12,000 additional copies from being downloaded by real, non-Select subscribers, who may have gone on to purchase book two in my series, who would have brought money to Amazon coffers.  Even at a 1% conversion rate, that's a lot of sell-thru copies which were lost because of visibility, visibility that was given to books who will never show a return because they are being read by robots (robots who also happen to be making money flipping through pages.)

I dunno.  I am sure that Amazon has the math all figured out.  But as folks upthread who have been tracking certain books and reporting said books and say that those books continue to earn... it just seems like a problem that could use some new solutions.  And, listen, I love Amazon.  Amazon has given me my life.  I am pro-Amazon and want them to do great things and succeed and if that's Stockholm syndrome, then buy me a first class ticket to Sweden.  But I would love to figure out how to operate my business effectively in this reality.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #57 on: July 13, 2017, 10:32:18 PM »
Respectfully, here's what happened to me.  A couple months ago, I landed a BookBub freebie promotion and decided to go balls-to-the wall.  This was for a permafree book that had never been advertised on BookBub before and is not in Select.  I spent about $1000 stacking ads that week.  Unfortunately, on several of the days, there were a lot of those KU scamphlets taking up the Top 20 slots on the bestseller list and my book was pushed to page two.  When the KU freebie days expired on the scamphlets, I would shoot up to #2 and #6 in the Top 10.  In total, I had about 34,000 downloads total over the week. 

Now, a buddy of mine who writes in the same genre, also non-Select, she scored a BookBub ad around the same time, stacked her ads, and managed to luck out and hit when there weren't these low quality KU books in the Top 20.  She had 70,000 free downloads.

Of course there are variables, but it would appear that books on page two of the bestseller list take a visibility hit vs. books on page one.  Phoenix has done a great job tracking figures and can address the overall specifics far better than I can, but it would appear the days I was kept off of the Top 20 by those scam KU books kept potentially 36,000 copies of my book... heck, let's say my friend is a better writer than I am and has a better cover and a better blurb and I would have only had 1/3 of the people interested in my book... 12,000 additional copies from being downloaded by real, non-Select subscribers, who may have gone on to purchase book two in my series, who would have brought money to Amazon coffers.  Even at a 1% conversion rate, that's a lot of sell-thru copies which were lost because of visibility, visibility that was given to books who will never show a return because they are being read by robots (robots who also happen to be making money flipping through pages.)

I dunno.  I am sure that Amazon has the math all figured out.  But as folks upthread who have been tracking certain books and reporting said books and say that those books continue to earn... it just seems like a problem that could use some new solutions.  And, listen, I love Amazon.  Amazon has given me my life.  I am pro-Amazon and want them to do great things and succeed and if that's Stockholm syndrome, then buy me a first class ticket to Sweden.  But I would love to figure out how to operate my business effectively in this reality.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #58 on: July 13, 2017, 11:17:36 PM »
I dunno.  I am sure that Amazon has the math all figured out.  But as folks upthread who have been tracking certain books and reporting said books and say that those books continue to earn... it just seems like a problem that could use some new solutions.  And, listen, I love Amazon.  Amazon has given me my life.  I am pro-Amazon and want them to do great things and succeed and if that's Stockholm syndrome, then buy me a first class ticket to Sweden.  But I would love to figure out how to operate my business effectively in this reality.

It's a problem that's been around for a long time. They aren't going to fix it... ever. If you want to love on them that's your call. I'd suggest viewing them the way they view you, as a business arrangement. And I used the term Stockholm syndrome because it reflects someone who held hostage long enough begins to sympathize with their captors... and for many sp authors that's exactly what is happening, they have nowhere else to go so they end up loving on Amazon even when treated horribly.

You just lost half the value of your bookbub because Amazon doesn't care about fixing its system. They'd rather people like you simply eat the cost of having scammers around. I know you think if they only knew how many more books you could have sold if not for the scammers that they'd fix things because they'd make more money also.... but this is what I'm saying... they don't have their *(&^ together as a business and are doing just fine regardless. Their attitude is "This is how it is, take it or leave it." They don't care in the least if they cost you hundreds or thousands of sell through sales. It's truly inconsequential to them.

I'm on Amazon, but I'm fully aware that I'm being treated like livestock :)  I'm not in KU, so it's not as bad, but I still acknowledge that Amazon as a company cares far more about squeezing me out of profits than helping me maximize them. That's what KU is all about at the end of the day, squeezing the content provider down to razor thin margins (with the promise that they "might" make it up through greater quantity of readers).

I guess, I'm just saying they don't care about the scammers the way people think they do. You eat the cost, not them. And more over, they don't care about the author in the least, they care about their profits.

I said a few months ago and I still say it, I predict a .038 per page KU read out before year end. Eventually people are going to wake up that Amazon has zero interest in fixing anything and will expect authors to eat the cost for a long time to come.

Offline Going Incognito

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #59 on: July 14, 2017, 12:22:58 AM »
...but I still acknowledge that Amazon as a company cares far more about squeezing me out of profits than helping me maximize them. That's what KU is all about at the end of the day, squeezing the content provider down to razor thin margins...


He's never even tried to hide it, either. "Your margin is my opportunity."
Hard to get any clearer.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 12:24:36 AM by Going Incognito »

Offline KittKatt

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #60 on: July 15, 2017, 06:14:15 AM »
Another example:

I wrote this post in April 2016 - actually a guest post from Phoenix Sullivan: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/ku-scammers-attack-amazons-free-ebook-charts/

Look at the book at #3 in the charts. That scammer is still operating, under the same author name and same book titles and covers. Still using the same tricks to crash the free charts and bounce up the paid charts and grab from the KU pot - despite being reported repeatedly by loads of people.

If you click to her author page, you will see "Customers Also By Books By.." and see the same names of scammers which always pop up over the last 18 months at the top of the charts with dodgy books and plagiarized content.

It's the same people, over and over again, using the same clickfarms. Amazon knows who they are.

Tell me again that Amazon is taking this seriously and it's just a matter of time until they... what?


David I appreciate all you do to draw attention to this issue. It is so frustrating to work hard and find scammers taking a large chunk of the pot over and over.

I know this has been reported to Amazon KDP but have people written to Jeff B. directly?

Offline KittKatt

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #61 on: July 15, 2017, 06:17:24 AM »
Don't brick-and-mortar stores write a certain level of shoplifting loss into their budgets? Maybe this is the digital version of that for Amazon: something it's just not worth worrying about because the losses aren't big enough to justify the cost in additional personnel-hours it'd take to stop it from happening. When there's a PR impact, well, that kind of cost is less predictable, so they bestir themselves a little. Otherwise, not really.

But if it has been reported and many of the same folks are the culprits...why wouldn't they crack down. If for no other reason than to show respect for their platform. I just find it hard to believe that Amazon does not care about their customer's experience. And surely many of these books are not providing a good experience.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #62 on: July 15, 2017, 06:38:28 AM »
Don't brick-and-mortar stores write a certain level of shoplifting loss into their budgets? Maybe this is the digital version of that for Amazon: something it's just not worth worrying about because the losses aren't big enough to justify the cost in additional personnel-hours it'd take to stop it from happening. When there's a PR impact, well, that kind of cost is less predictable, so they bestir themselves a little. Otherwise, not really.

I agree.

Amazon probably has thousands of projects in the works at any given time. And it likely has hundreds of business analysts who prioritize those projects according to resource availability (funds, bodies, server capacity, etc.), customers' needs, revenue potential, economic climate, and cohesiveness with other projects and project teams.

The general sentiment on KB seems to be "Amazon makes oodles of money. The fact that this problem [insert scam here] still exists means Amazon must not care about it."

This sentiment betrays a lack of understanding about how large companies tackle issues.



 
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Offline anniejocoby

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #63 on: July 15, 2017, 06:59:55 AM »

I said a few months ago and I still say it, I predict a .038 per page KU read out before year end. Eventually people are going to wake up that Amazon has zero interest in fixing anything and will expect authors to eat the cost for a long time to come.


A .038 per page? That would be AWESOME! :) Sorry, just wanted to lighten up the proceedings a bit. I know what you meant.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #64 on: July 15, 2017, 07:11:53 AM »
I agree.

Amazon probably has thousands of projects in the works at any given time. And it likely has hundreds of business analysts who prioritize those projects according to resource availability (funds, bodies, server capacity, etc.), customers' needs, revenue potential, economic climate, and cohesiveness with other projects and project teams.

The general sentiment on KB seems to be "Amazon makes oodles of money. The fact that this problem [insert scam here] still exists means Amazon must not care about it."

This sentiment betrays a lack of understanding about how large companies tackle issues.

Many of us have the understanding - and some have the proof - that they've known about the scams for ages and have not done much to put and end to them. Whether it's a large or small company, there is this old fashioned notion of doing the right thing - a notion that anyone can understand... if they really try.

 


Offline PhoenixS

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #65 on: July 15, 2017, 07:22:32 AM »
I agree.

Amazon probably has thousands of projects in the works at any given time. And it likely has hundreds of business analysts who prioritize those projects according to resource availability (funds, bodies, server capacity, etc.), customers' needs, revenue potential, economic climate, and cohesiveness with other projects and project teams.

The general sentiment on KB seems to be "Amazon makes oodles of money. The fact that this problem [insert scam here] still exists means Amazon must not care about it."

This sentiment betrays a lack of understanding about how large companies tackle issues.

But large corporations divvy up their internal divisions and make each responsible for their own division's profit-loss. Now, there may be pooled resources, such as programmers that the divisions have to compete for, but KDP seems to have a dedicated tech team too.

We use the terms Amazon and KDP synonymously a lot, but while "Amazon" may not care about KU scammers or about KU in general, KDP and the team that runs KU should. They may have to fight for resources, but those teams aren't concerned about problems outside their division any more than authors care about whether Birkenstock abandons Amazon or not. It's mildly interesting and something to consider, but has no impact on our goals or KDP's goals.

So yes, the company has a ton of pressing issues and KU is likely low in importance on the company's radar. But the way it was being pushed on Prime Day seems to assure us it is of high importance to KDP, the overall Books division and to the teams running it. Their focus is not on Chinese knock-offs and affiliate scammers, but on book sales in their ecosystem, and how to make the customer experience *in the books section* flawless. That's a vastly more manageable landscape.

Offline Art Covers

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #66 on: July 15, 2017, 07:29:56 AM »
Click farms are the worst thing ever!

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #67 on: July 15, 2017, 08:05:48 AM »
Many of us have the understanding - and some have the proof - that they've known about the scams for ages and have not done much to put and end to them. Whether it's a large or small company, there is this old fashioned notion of doing the right thing - a notion that anyone can understand... if they really try.

Opinions vary on what "doing the right thing" is. I don't believe Amazon has a moral or legal obligation to make the KU platform conform to what others think is appropriate. I believe its obligation - and its directors' fiduciary responsibility - is to serve the best interests of the company and its shareholders.

That might conflict with what some folks perceive as honorable, just, proper, etc. But these notions aren't codified in corporate law.



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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #68 on: July 15, 2017, 08:29:47 AM »
Opinions vary on what "doing the right thing" is. I don't believe Amazon has a moral or legal obligation to make the KU platform conform to what others think is appropriate. I believe its obligation - and its directors' fiduciary responsibility - is to serve the best interests of the company and its shareholders.

That might conflict with what some folks perceive as honorable, just, proper, etc. But these notions aren't codified in corporate law.

Ah yes. Good old corporate law.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #69 on: July 15, 2017, 09:57:34 AM »
Ah yes. Good old corporate law.

Don't blame me. I'm an anarchist. ;)


Edit: removed a sentence to avoid running afoul of the "no politics" rule.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 10:15:25 AM by Anarchist »
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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #70 on: July 15, 2017, 10:24:30 AM »
Don't blame me. I'm an anarchist. ;)

The trouble with you anarchist is you lack organisational skills!

 :P

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #71 on: July 15, 2017, 10:32:53 AM »
The trouble with you anarchist is you lack organisational skills!

 :P

Ha! I've got jedi-level organizational skills.
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Offline cadle-sparks

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #72 on: July 15, 2017, 11:18:14 AM »
And here I'm wasting my time trying to write a good book... :(

I honestly believe, in my heart of hearts, that it is not a waste of time. Not only is it the right thing to do, and the moral thing to do, and important to our souls and artistic integrity, but it'll win through in the end as a business strategy.

Sign me "pollyanna" I suppose, but I do believe it.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #73 on: July 15, 2017, 12:28:02 PM »

So Amazon isn't losing anything, it's purely the authors losing. Hence why they don't care about fixing the problem. Why should they spend millions to fix something that doesn't impact them financially?


If anything, they probably benefit more. They can lure in more readers with promises of "millions and millions of books", while authors are forced to pay more and more for keywords and advertising to combat the illicit methods used by others. Of course it will reach a critical point where the store is filled with nothing but trash and they lose tons of readers and authors, and they'll have to spend millions cleaning out the junk, banning people left and right, trying to win back the trust of customers and the writing community.

A similar thing happens on Steam (gaming platform). There are hundreds of thousands of people that cheat at games, buying programs that allow them to win. Valve (company that created Steam) allows this, because every so often, they do a mass banning that bans maybe 50K+ of these players. Are the players banned from playing? No, just banned from that specific copy of the game, so they just buy another copy. For a little while, things are better for legitimate players, but it all builds up again. Valve benefits because every so often, they can get 50K people to buy games all over again (the cheaters don't care, some of them have bought games 3, 4, 5+ times, spending hundreds of dollars on one video game just to keep cheating).


Offline Eric Thomson

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #74 on: July 15, 2017, 12:35:02 PM »
Ha! I've got jedi-level organizational skills.
Which isn't saying much, considering the ease with which Palpatine wiped out the Jedis in Episode III.  8)


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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #75 on: July 15, 2017, 12:54:30 PM »
Which isn't saying much, considering the ease with which Palpatine wiped out the Jedis in Episode III.  8)

That's an excellent point. I now aspire to develop Palpatine-level skills.
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Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #76 on: July 15, 2017, 05:34:15 PM »
Quote
I'm assuming KU subscribers end up buying other things while they're onsite.

Hence the lack of care Amazon has about the scammers. So long as the customers keep coming and buying all the things, it's good. Authors? We're a penny a gross. Really. For every one of us that leaves KU, I bet at least a dozen sign up. So what's Amazon lost? Nothing. Well, maybe those whiny authors go away, but there's always new suckers -- er, enrollments.

My evil plan is to write good books and pay to have them botted up the charts. Win-win!
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Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #77 on: July 15, 2017, 08:18:06 PM »
Hey, folks, the comparisons between staying in KU or not are getting a bit over the top.  Let's bring it down a notch, okay?  Respect differences of opinion.

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Offline Going Incognito

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #78 on: July 15, 2017, 08:35:07 PM »
...even with that shift, 99% of the authors who are upset will stay in KU. So why would Amazon rush to fix something no one is bailing on?

So in a certain light, everyone in KU is getting what they deserve. If your spouse beats you up over and over and you stay because making a change is too hard to fathom... while you aren't to blame, you share some of the blame for your situation by sticking around.

As long as authors stick around, Amazon is in no rush to fix things. They're all going home each day millionaires and billionaires, so it ain't hurting their personal bottom line.

True, as I plan on staying in, but it's more like- as long as Amazon keeps mostly ignoring me over and over and over again cause he's too busy hanging out and spending all his time, money and attention on his mistresses and going to the track and the casino and the topless bars and such, which are bleeding him dry almost faster than I can, but he keeps throwing all this, yes overtime decreasing, cash at me, then I'll stay cause I've tried other husbands/companies and at least this one's jet still flies and he can still get it up when he needs to.

Online hopecartercan

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #79 on: July 15, 2017, 08:52:03 PM »
True, as I plan on staying in, but it's more like- as long as Amazon keeps mostly ignoring me over and over and over again cause he's too busy hanging out and spending all his time, money and attention on his mistresses and going to the track and the casino and the topless bars and such, which are bleeding him dry almost faster than I can, but he keeps throwing all this, yes overtime decreasing, cash at me, then I'll stay cause I've tried other husbands/companies and at least this one's jet still flies and he can still get it up when he needs to.

That pretty much describes the WHOLE situation.  ;D :o :(

Offline Donna White Glaser

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #80 on: July 16, 2017, 07:45:23 AM »
True, as I plan on staying in, but it's more like- as long as Amazon keeps mostly ignoring me over and over and over again cause he's too busy hanging out and spending all his time, money and attention on his mistresses and going to the track and the casino and the topless bars and such, which are bleeding him dry almost faster than I can, but he keeps throwing all this, yes overtime decreasing, cash at me, then I'll stay cause I've tried other husbands/companies and at least this one's jet still flies and he can still get it up when he needs to.
*sighs at the perfect summation of my feelings*
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Online Marian

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #81 on: July 16, 2017, 02:29:14 PM »

Then some people kicked up a stink on social media and Amazon did something. They seem to have stripped her books' rankings so she doesn't appear in the charts - but the books are still up, and she has still hacked her way into Kindle Singles somehow.

So they are doing the bare minimum to avoid PR fallout.

I've been working on this issue for 18 months and I haven't seen anything other than Amazon doing that bare minimum and managing the situation in a PR sense, rather than trying to solve it technically.
Positive PR is a #1 priority for Amazon.

No. I've never seen any data indicating that KU subscriptions are anywhere near their monthly payout. It's a loss leader for them.

Show me the subscription numbers if I'm wrong.
KU subscriptions are the fuel that feeds the machine. Amazon's last quarter topped estimates, making $35.71 billion. Analysts thought the big profits would come from AWS (Amazon Web Services), which didn't do as well as they expected. According to a WSJ reporter, Laura Stevens, "The company's retail subscription services segment experienced a big jump in 1Q vs. 4Q, and the largest piece comprising it is Prime memberships. But membership growth rates were largely consistent, CFO Brian Olsavsky says, so the jump happened due to other subscription services like audio books, e-books, digital music... 'The volatility is in those other items. So I'm not quantifying Prime membership or commenting on the growth rates other than to say it's been very strong and Q4 strength has continued into Q1.'

The nominal fee Amazon charges for KU is meaningless, it's the carrot at the end of the stick. Prime memberships is what Amazon is aiming for, because Prime members spend on average $500 more on Amazon than non-members. It's all about business. As long as Amazon can lure customers into Prime memberships by first hooking them into KU, the company will continue to grow and make more billions every quarter.

The KU subscriptions aren't a loss leader, at least not in a traditional sense. KU subscriptions are bait. The CFO acknowledged that e-books were a factor behind Amazon's tremendous fiscal quarter. Books in Select made this possible, and as long as authors keep their books in Select, the Amazon system will continue running like a well-oiled machine.

I'm not posting this to complain: my books aren't in KU. I had books in there at one time and had grief, so I got out. I can understand why those of you who are in KU are upset, but I don't see anything changing unless there is a large and noticeable exodus of the most popular authors in KU, which I doubt would happen. The only other possibility is that the scamming would get the attention of the press. Amazon does not want negative publicity.

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #82 on: July 16, 2017, 02:36:45 PM »

So yes, the company has a ton of pressing issues and KU is likely low in importance on the company's radar. But the way it was being pushed on Prime Day seems to assure us it is of high importance to KDP, the overall Books division and to the teams running it. Their focus is not on Chinese knock-offs and affiliate scammers, but on book sales in their ecosystem, and how to make the customer experience *in the books section* flawless. That's a vastly more manageable landscape.
It's my guess that KU is of high importance on the company's radar. It was being pushed on Prime Day to get people to join with the eventual goal of getting them to join Prime.

Offline Stephen Burckhardt

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #83 on: July 17, 2017, 06:25:10 AM »
I have to admit I was saddened but not shocked to find out these things exist. People never seem to want to take the long road and earn things anymore. Too many people just look for the easy path to what they want. For me, it would mean so much less when I reach my goals if I knew I didn't actually earn it. But maybe that is just me. However, I have a feeling there are others here who would agree.
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Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Inside a Click Farm
« Reply #84 on: July 17, 2017, 01:51:31 PM »
I think it's pretty much human nature to look for the easy way. We can understand that, though not agree with it, but when the company many depend on to earn at least a partial living just allows blatant scamming to go on, it's hard to just accept it. This sort of thing hurts us, and there's no need for things to be this bad. There just isn't.
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