Author Topic: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?  (Read 9065 times)  

Stella S. Fitzsimons

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Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
« Reply #50 on: February 27, 2016, 10:33:26 am »
It's all a big mess. They're removing reviews that are verified purchases, too. It looks like they're in the process of deciding who's qualified to review and who's not and prolific reviewers seem to be at most risk to lose their reviewing privileges.


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    Offline Alan Petersen

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #51 on: February 27, 2016, 10:52:20 am »
    Well, Amazon Publishing uses NetGalley and encourages its authors to send out ARCs, so...

    In a behemoth corporation like Amazon, the publishing company is probably run outside of the HQ realm, so perhaps even their own authors are getting reviews deleted. So Amazon publishing encourages ARCs and the Amazon engineers in Seattle are writing code to zap them.  ;D

    Hopefully, Amazon will figure out how to do what they want to do without so much collateral damage.
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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #52 on: February 27, 2016, 10:53:24 am »
    Well, Amazon Publishing uses NetGalley and encourages its authors to send out ARCs, so...

    I don't think Amazon is banning writers. They are banning reviewers.

    I read now that reviewers who were sent free coloring books to review have been banned. Some were top 1000 reviewers.


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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #53 on: February 27, 2016, 10:56:46 am »
    Content removed due to TOS Change of 2018. I do not agree to the terms.
    « Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 01:29:25 pm by Tulonsae »
    I do not agree to the terms in the TOS Change of 2018. I have removed all the content that I had access to remove. All the best to everyone!

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #54 on: February 27, 2016, 11:02:09 am »
    And yet, a five star review I reported for being a Bookbub ad (just that, no connection whatsoever to the book they 'reviewed') is still up even though I reported it.

    It's a bit absurd.

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #55 on: February 27, 2016, 11:05:16 am »
    Well, if you're sending out ARCs to hopefully get reviews, and those reviewers are then banned and their reviews removed - what is the point of sending out ARCs?

    I was actually revving up to do this. I was also going to send review copies to get more reviews for my current books. But I'm going to hold off until Amazon settles down and figure out what it's doing here.

    From that article that someone linked up-thread (from the consumerist) it appears the scammers are using the "I received this for free in exchange for an honest review" verbiage to sneak fake and paid reviews in. Pay for the review and have their person copy/paste the "free" verbiage when it's all BS. So now Amazon has to try to figure out which one is legit and which one is not.

    All guesses and speculation of course, since only the overlords of the Amazon algorithm know what they're targeting and why.
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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #56 on: February 27, 2016, 11:27:46 am »
    Amazon has access to the Kindles as well as the Kindle reading apps owned by many reviewers.  If these people are not reading or finishing the books they're giving 5-stars too, Amazon may be booting them off the reviewer list.  Some reviewers give artificially high ratings to books because they don't want to halt the gravy train of free stuff coming their way from authors.

    Amazon also has access to those hidden ratings people give on their Kindles at the end of a book as well as any enthusiastic referrals you make via your Kindle to your friends about the titles you've read.  They also have data they've crunched from Goodreads.  The company may have decided that if you give too many 5- or 4-star reviews compared to what everyone else does, or if your hidden ratings don't match your public on-website ratings, or if you make no internal referrals about lots of titles you rate 5-star when you're telling your friends about books with a lower rating, they may be going after you. 


    Offline Anarchist

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #57 on: February 27, 2016, 11:29:04 am »
    All guesses and speculation of course, since only the overlords of the Amazon algorithm know what they're targeting and why.

    Best summation of the issue thus far.
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    Offline Jill Nojack

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #58 on: February 27, 2016, 12:02:13 pm »
    They also took down all but one the reviews I'd posted under my real name, and those were overwhelmingly not book reviews. Like, I think there were two book reviews in there and maybe a hundred reviews of toddler potties and t-shirts and peppercorns and so forth. So strange.

    The last time this happened--a year or a year and a half ago, maybe? I had the same experience as you, Becca.

    Then, whatever bot that malfunctioned and wiped so many legit reviews put them all back. Mine, plus the ones from other reviewers.

    I'd say there's a possibility that some of the reviews will come back after a while. They searched on a keyword that caused problems with legit stuff as well as the not legit stuff. Fortunately, it was not the same one that wiped my reviews last time.

    I expect that the legit reviews will return once they sort it out.

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    drno

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #59 on: February 27, 2016, 12:17:01 pm »
    It seems using NetGalley is against Amazon TOS. That is Amazon reps are now saying to banned reviewers that if a seller (are self-publishers not sellers?) pays for reviews they are breaching TOS.

    Oh, just adding that a reviewer was told by an Amazon rep that sellers who buy reviews through review providers are now being blacklisted. Some reviewers were trying to review products on the sellers page, but cannot do so anymore. They can leave reviews on other sellers' products. So it seems both sellers and reviewers are being penalized.
    « Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 12:25:18 pm by drno »

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #60 on: February 27, 2016, 12:28:00 pm »
    It seems using NetGalley is against Amazon TOS. That is Amazon reps are now saying to banned reviewers that if a seller (are self-publishers not sellers?) pays for reviews they are breaching TOS.

    Oh, just adding that a reviewer was told by an Amazon rep that sellers who buy reviews through review providers are now being blacklisted. Some reviewers were trying to review products on the sellers page, but cannot do so anymore. They can leave reviews on other sellers' products. So it seems both sellers and reviewers are being penalized.

    There's usually a difference between places like NetGalley, where you pay for placing your book before the eyes of potential (But not guaranteed) reviewers, and actually buying reviews out-right. With the first you might not get reviews, and with the second, you obviously paid for one so you get it.  There's  a subtle difference, even if it's hard to tell the difference between the practices.


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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #61 on: February 27, 2016, 12:43:52 pm »
    NetGalley isn't against Amazon TOS. As I said--Amazon Publishing puts all its books up on NetGalley for advance reviews. That is not "purchasing a review." It's making a review copy available to ARC readers.

    drno

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #62 on: February 27, 2016, 01:40:15 pm »
    The hardest hit reviewers are reviewers using AMZ Review Trader for discounted and free stuff. And yes sellers buy access to reviewers on that system too. Guess what, even publishers giving away free books were caught up on that system. So why not NetGalley? Why not free ebooks?

    My advice is: this is not the time for giving out coupons. Or do it! And we'll see how many of your readers get their accounts banned.

    Offline PJ_Cherubino

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #63 on: February 27, 2016, 01:59:18 pm »
    It's all a big mess. They're removing reviews that are verified purchases, too. It looks like they're in the process of deciding who's qualified to review and who's not and prolific reviewers seem to be at most risk to lose their reviewing privileges.

    Yup. The Zon is taking a meat cleaver to the whole process. I suspect this is to somehow strengthen their case in their legal proceedings. They can now claim "thousands of people are taking advantage of our system" and show proof by providing lists of purged reviewers and reviews.

    This prevailing attitude that "reviews are for whatever I want" seems to be what Amazon is trying to counter. They are reclaiming the process. Quite a few people on this board have remarked that this current situation was likely to happen.

    Because Amazon is so accessible to the customer, we tend to forget that we are accessing a private service owned by a business entity. It is not public, common ground like a park or public road. When we visit the site, we are subject to terms established by the owner.

    I've been accused of being "pompous" for saying this, but I'll say it again: reviews are not for doing anything other than offering an opinion to other customers about a product or service. They are not a means of creative expression unless that expression is to serve as information for a product or service.

    As Julie has pointed out in her mega thread, there are actual laws involved that govern this behavior. Why? Because of the impact public opinion can have on the ways people make their livings and the way people spend their hard earned money.

    I think everyone who posted to this thread has a vested interest in the Amaon Marketplace and Amazon itself has said in court filings that the review system is a core component of that of that market.

    Pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but I just wanted to put that out there. I love what you all have to say.

     ;D
     

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #64 on: February 27, 2016, 02:34:35 pm »
    The hardest hit reviewers are reviewers using AMZ Review Trader for discounted and free stuff. And yes sellers buy access to reviewers on that system too. Guess what, even publishers giving away free books were caught up on that system. So why not NetGalley? Why not free ebooks?

    My advice is: this is not the time for giving out coupons. Or do it! And we'll see how many of your readers get their accounts banned.

    I've been following your posts. You make a lot of interesting points.

    For me, the takeaway on all of this is to stick very closely to the Amazon TOS. If I have to ask myself "does this comply" the answer I come up with is "don't do it." Why risk it?

    Since I'm such a rank newbie, my risk tolerance is low for anything that might impact my bottom line. I'm already risking reputation. money and a huge amount of labor in writing. The stakes are pretty high this early in the game.

    What I find interesting with indie publishing is that the Indie Author movement (if it can be called that) was supposed to be a way for Authors to get published who might not otherwise get to market. The intention was to remove as many middlemen players as possible. As the tide of authors rose, new middlemen stepped into the process.

    In the author's struggle for visibility, we feel pressure to "get reviews" which leads to mailing lists and ARCs. The prime promotional sites apply further pressure by demanding the number and quality of reviews. Because visibility is such an issue, the promotional sites become the "new gatekeepers" (not my term, forgive the lack of citation - can't recall where I read this..)

    I won't even get into the scammers who pump the market full of garbage trying to take advantage of holes in the system. They are also standing in the middle of the process as a barrier to full access.

    It seems that the process of indie publishing itself almost DEMANDS these middlemen, or at least creates them. I can see where the tradpubs have a point. This is why tradpubs lasted centuries doing essentially the same thing. If this is true, it's bitter medicine.

    The indie market has some serious issues and I think this review situation shines a light on those issues. It's not simply about the reviews. There are many factors in play here.

     

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    Offline Becca Mills

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #65 on: February 27, 2016, 02:55:27 pm »
    Did you accept free products? Free books?

    Certainly no free non-book products. For the first month or two, I accepted free books from people who wanted book reviews. Then I just started buying them. I didn't review often, and the books were only a few bucks each.

    I wonder if they nixed all the reviews of anyone who cross-posted reviews elsewhere. I cross-posted most of my book reviews to my blog and B&N.

    The last time this happened--a year or a year and a half ago, maybe? I had the same experience as you, Becca.

    Then, whatever bot that malfunctioned and wiped so many legit reviews put them all back. Mine, plus the ones from other reviewers.

    I'd say there's a possibility that some of the reviews will come back after a while. They searched on a keyword that caused problems with legit stuff as well as the not legit stuff. Fortunately, it was not the same one that wiped my reviews last time.

    I expect that the legit reviews will return once they sort it out.

    Thanks for the info. I hope you're right. If they're gone forever, it'll definitely be annoying -- especially on the non-book products, since those reviews don't exist anywhere else.

    FWIW, I didn't get a banned-from-reviewing notice on either account. Maybe that means I was caught up in the sweep.

    I've been accused of being "pompous" for saying this, but I'll say it again: reviews are not for doing anything other than offering an opinion to other customers about a product or service. They are not a means of creative expression unless that expression is to serve as information for a product or service.

    Making a blanket statement like this seems a bit silly. People express themselves creatively in lots of different ways, and what's purely informational for one person may well be creative for another. For someone flippin' burgers at McDonald's, cooking is probably not a means of creative expression. It's just producing requested calories in order to get a paycheck. For a chef at a fancy restaurant, cooking absolutely is a means of creative expression. And home cooks run the same gamut. For some people, distributing furniture around a room is a means of creative expression; for others, it's just creating a butt repository in the quickest, easiest way possible. Some people express their creativity through their clothing; others just slap something on so they won't be arrested. People write reviews for all kinds of reasons, and for some reviewers, it certainly is a means of creative expression. Reviewing is itself an art form, and some reviewers, such as Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, have become famous writers in their own right.


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    Offline PJ_Cherubino

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #66 on: February 27, 2016, 04:06:43 pm »
    Making a blanket statement like this seems a bit silly. People express themselves creatively in lots of different ways ..

    I did not make a blanket statement. I made a very specific statement. You are responding to one part of a sentence that supports the point I'm trying to make, not the point itself.

    Here are the important points I'm trying to express (maybe not well enough) without the distracting parts:
     ;D


    This prevailing attitude that "reviews are for whatever I want" seems to be what Amazon is trying to counter....

     ...unless that (creative) expression is to serve as information for a product or service.


    Of course, I understand creativity and the forms that it takes. I understand creativity is subjective. I'm not arguing that reviews should not be creative, or that they can't be a creative outlet.

    The fact that reviews are intended by Amazon (and by law) for purposes of product information is not subjective.
    « Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 04:08:15 pm by PJ_Cherubino »
     

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #67 on: February 28, 2016, 01:15:40 am »
    I know that Amazon are really cracking down on reviews when left by someone accessing the product via a keyword search or "super URL" as that is seen as gaming the system (it improves the books' algorithm ranking, I think).

    Also, I was talking with someone this week, one of those services that gives access to reviewers rather than promising reviews, and they said they do not post "reader reviews" as it's now against Amazon's TOCs, but their reviewers post on their site, which can be added to the "editorial reviews" section.

    Perhaps, because of the glut of people using fake reviews, we are now going to find promoting genuine social proof even harder than before.

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #68 on: February 28, 2016, 04:16:26 am »
    It is fair to say that Amazon have to be seen doing something other than having TOCs. Legislators are currently looking at the review process in Europe and no doubt elsewhere. Amazon is not the only one under scrutiny. The legislators are also looking at such as Trip Advisor. Perhaps they should also look at the Amazon's own  'Vine Program'

    Vine program reviews.     Don't have to say they recieved the book free, or any product for that matter.

                                        Shows as a "vine review'" in green as if it is a badge of honour.

                                        Readers have to click on the link to find out that the product was recieved free.

                                       Suppliers have to pay Amazon for vine reviewers to get their product free.

                                       Vine reviewers are chosen by Amazon.

    Just saying.

                          Amazon imprints use this service and it guarantees them considerable reviews at publication.

    As regards Amazon deleting genuine reviews, it's no wonder it is now harder to get genuine reviews, and it will only get harder in the future. This will hit indie authors more than publishers and Amazon imprints, who have a free pass to reviews/ paid for/ via the likes of paying a fee to NetGally and the Vine Program for inclusion, which is clearly within the Amazon TOC as you are not paying the reviewer.

    With NetGally. The author/publisher gets to pick and choose if they consider a reviewer worthy of reviewing their book. With Vine, Amazon has already done that for them. Those NetGally reviews have to mention they got the book free as an ARC, usually stating they got it via NetGally.

    I now use a service in the UK which is free, where an anonymous reviewer requests an ARC via the site. I am given an email as to where to send the ARC. There is no guarantee even then that the reviewer will leave a review. If those reviews get deleted... well, best not use expletives to explain how angry I would feel.

     
    « Last Edit: February 28, 2016, 05:24:48 am by Decon »


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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #69 on: February 28, 2016, 06:33:35 am »
    Within the past few days I started hearing from dozens of reviewers who are having their reviews removed. It started with a few here and there, and then Amazon issued a violation of their ToS form letter, without further explanation. This week 3 heavy reviewers were all banned from reviewing further. Before you try to figure out what they did, there was no obvious violation. I've been talking to a group of 3 dozen (not all are my readers) who are having this issue. Many are book bloggers, and others aren't. Verified and unverified purchases were removed. No links, no promo, nothing obvious. The only commonality at this point is the reviews were all for books. Reviews for other products were left intact on several accounts.

    Needless to say, having 100's of reviews wiped was very upsetting for these readers. That was a massive amount of work and something they took pride in. One had nearly 1000 reviews, which are now all gone. Is anyone else hearing about reviews being struck and reviewers getting banned? I'm not really in the blogging/ review community, and was wondering if there's chatter over there? I would have thought they'd be seething about it.

    It is upsetting, however i can see the challenge that Amazon has. There are a lot of scammer authors out there who are playing tricks to get reviews

    Offline Anarchist

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #70 on: February 28, 2016, 06:49:35 am »
    For those of you who have lost reviews, have you noticed any effect on your weekly sales?
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    Offline Becca Mills

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #71 on: February 28, 2016, 10:55:07 am »
    This prevailing attitude that "reviews are for whatever I want" seems to be what Amazon is trying to counter....

     ...unless that (creative) expression is to serve as information for a product or service.

    Of course, I understand creativity and the forms that it takes. I understand creativity is subjective. I'm not arguing that reviews should not be creative, or that they can't be a creative outlet.

    The fact that reviews are intended by Amazon (and by law) for purposes of product information is not subjective.

    I just don't buy this argument. If Amazon were truly concerned with making reviewers see reviews as no more than an exchange of product info, the first reviews to go would be the joke ones on products like this. These are, after all, the most creative and least informative reviews of all. But Amazon doesn't delete those. Quite the opposite, in fact: it keeps a page listing products with funny reviews, so that people can find them. Because, you know ... folks coming to the site to read funny reviews is a big 'ol YES PLEASE!

    According to my understanding, the FTC doesn't regulate reviews because they can convey product information but because there's an opportunity for deceptive endorsement. If an ordinary customer reviewed a serving spoon on Amazon and said it was sterling when in fact it was only plate, the FTC would have nothing to say about the matter. It's just someone making a mistake or lying. Amazon could either take the review down because it's incorrect or leave it there and let other customers point out the error in comments. It's not a legal issue but a matter of the site-owner's preferences. But if a reviewer had been given the spoon free in exchange for the review and didn't disclose it, that would be of concern to the FTC in and of itself, whether or not the review's info about the product were accurate. So far as I understand the issue, this is the only legal matter surrounding online customer reviews of products -- whether or not there is an unexpected relationship between the reviewer and the seller/manufacturer. This tells us nothing about what reviews are supposed to be, other than that they're supposed to be honest on the matter of reviewer-seller connections.

    Neither does Amazon state that customer reviews should be about "product information" in some strict or limiting sense. Rather, they invite reviewers to "Tell us about your experience with the product or service you purchased." If your "experience" of a product is that it prompted you to explore in-depth your memory of a horseback-riding adventure you had as a child, then you can go on about horseback-riding at length in your review, even if the product in question is a bottle of olive oil or a package of thumb tacks.

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    Offline Alan Petersen

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #72 on: February 28, 2016, 11:15:13 am »
    Of course, I understand creativity and the forms that it takes. I understand creativity is subjective. I'm not arguing that reviews should not be creative, or that they can't be a creative outlet.

    The fact that reviews are intended by Amazon (and by law) for purposes of product information is not subjective.


    I just don't buy this argument. If Amazon were truly concerned with making reviewers see reviews as no more than an exchange of product info, the first reviews to go would be the joke ones on products like this. These are, after all, the most creative and least informative reviews of all. But Amazon doesn't delete those. Quite the opposite, in fact: it keeps a page listing products with funny reviews, so that people can find them. Because, you know ... folks coming to the site to read funny reviews is a big 'ol YES PLEASE!


    Exactly. Those joke reviews are considered benign by most everyone, they generate traffic which a percentage turns into sales, Amazon and the vendor are happy.

    Amazon uses reviews as a selling tool not to offer a consumer reports type review. When it gets out of hand and they get publicity then they react (like they're doing now).
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    Offline Becca Mills

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #73 on: February 28, 2016, 12:28:59 pm »
    Exactly. Those joke reviews are considered benign by most everyone, they generate traffic which a percentage turns into sales, Amazon and the vendor are happy.

    Amazon uses reviews as a selling tool not to offer a consumer reports type review. When it gets out of hand and they get publicity then they react (like they're doing now).

    Seriously. I actually bought that three-wolves-howling t-shirt for my father-in-law. He's been peeling off the babes ever since.  8)

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    Offline Wired

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    Re: Anyone hearing about Review Issues and Amazon?
    « Reply #74 on: February 28, 2016, 12:51:37 pm »
    If your "experience" of a product is that it prompted you to explore in-depth your memory of a horseback-riding adventure you had as a child, then you can go on about horseback-riding at length in your review, even if the product in question is a bottle of olive oil or a package of thumb tacks.

    Too funny! :D

    KBoards.com

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