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Putting on my moderator hat ... I recognize that the situation with Playster touches on many other areas of LGBT+ rights and resistance thereto, but due to KBoards' no-politics policy, we need to keep our focus on Playster. A couple posts that were getting too far afield have been removed.
 

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Discussion Starter #142
Becca Mills said:
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And hopefully Playster is the kind of company that is glad to have been told their business partners perceive its behavior as discriminatory (because now they can fix it).

...
Put much more succinctly than I could've.

Markus Croft said:
Firstly, thanks everyone for the thoughtful posts. Coming to a thread like this, I don't usually expect to see measured, thoughtful responses. I didn't see pitchforks, I saw real talk. Moving on...

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Marginalized communities get stomped on and undercut all the time. People are not drawing conclusions that that may be happening here for no reason. While it may or may not be true in this case, and we may never know for sure, allies are certainly not the problem and I question anyone who would frame a narrative that would cast them as such.
Echoing Linda here: THIS.

linda reeves said:
THIS! THIS! THIS!

I registered so I could say THIS, and that's all I have to say because you said everything else for me. Loved the bit at the end about allies. So true and well put!
Possibly OT, but: Welcome to Kboards!

Becca Mills said:
Putting on my moderator hat ... I recognize that the situation with Playster touches on many other areas of LGBT+ rights and resistance thereto, but due to KBoards' no-politics policy, we need to keep our focus on Playster. A couple posts that were getting too far afield have been removed.
Understood!
 

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Markus Croft said:
Firstly, thanks everyone for the thoughtful posts. Coming to a thread like this, I don't usually expect to see measured, thoughtful responses. I didn't see pitchforks, I saw real talk. Moving on...

Where is the smear? First of all, you give one thread on kboards and a few blog posts an awful lot of credit if you're going to equate it with a smear campaign. For someone who keeps arguing we can't know the motives of this vendor based on their actions and first hand accounts of the authors who submit to them, it's interesting you continue to characterize the motives of people in this thread in a similar manner. From what I've seen, you're way off base. People want answers, they see patterns and they've spoken out. They are speaking to their experiences, and while it's critical at times, it's not bullying.

I really wish people would stop labeling everything as bullying. It's beyond tired. I don't see any schoolyard kids around here, do you? Seems to me that labeling people as bullies who speak up for groups that are smaller and easily marginalized is just another lame attempt to shut people up who are willing to push back and discourage discrimination. I repeat, where are the bullies? ::)

"Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others."

That's a bit of a reach, wouldn't you agree?

Okay, you win. It's completely unfair, as is everything in the world we live in. What does that have to do with anything? You've argued ardently that businesses have a right to choose what they stock, fair or not. Seems hypocritical to turn on the independent contractions and business owners that provide content and say it's unfair for them to have an opinion about it based on the only thing they will ever know: first hand and second hand experiences. No one would have to guess at Playster's motive if their response to the experiences shared in this thread made one lick of sense.

No one is benefiting from the resolution that Playster may be incorrectly targeting LGBT fiction for reasons stemming from archaic and false negative myths about gay people (As Becca noted). When did business negotiations take place? All they wanted was answers (clear and logical, preferably). The answer they got didn't make sense, so they're left to draw their own conclusions and take the appropriate steps moving forward for them, their work, and their business. And they have just as much right to do so as Playster. It's a lot less dramatic than what you describe, at least from where I'm sitting.

On another side note...

Marginalized communities get stomped on and undercut all the time. People are not drawing conclusions that that may be happening here for no reason. While it may or may not be true in this case, and we may never know for sure, allies are certainly not the problem and I question anyone who would frame a narrative that would cast them as such.
It will probably come as a surprise, but I don't disagree with you on most of what you said. The big difference between us is perspective. You seem to see it as a justice issue and a community issue where the reactions on this thread are the voices of allies and should not be questioned. I understand that stance. But I look at this is as a business problem in need of a business strategy, where the aim is to get the books back on Playster.

I think you have to choose one objective or the other. I'd be willing to contribute to the business solution, if I can, but it's now clear to me that this has become about getting justice, and I don't see what I can do, especially when it's not obvious that an injustice has been committed. So all I can say is good luck, but I'm walking away from this.
 

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But I look at this is as a business problem in need of a business strategy, where the aim is to get the books back on Playster.
More than one person has said this, in essence. No one has brought out the tar and feathers, no one has been bullied, or threatened in any way. If we decide we no longer want to do business with this company, that's what the much-vaunted free market is about, right?

All anyone is asking for is a clear, honest explanation and potential clarification of intent of not only this company, but D2D as well. Is someone adding an erotica tag to certain types of books? That needs to stop. Is someone only targeting LGBT books for removal/further review? Then that needs to stop. If a company doesn't have enough trained staff to handle this issue, then that's their issue, not their vendors. Hire and train more people (hey, Amazon, get a clue) so that this sort of thing doesn't happen again. Make policies crystal clear (Amazon, are you listening?). Enforce them evenly.

For the record, when D2D announced they would distribute to Playster, there was a pretty big thread about the companies practices (I believe they may have had some name changes along the line?), and I decided not to have my work go to them. I have books with sexual content, non-white characters, non-straight characters and the like, so I'm glad I don't have to deal with this. I have a SF novel in the works that is just filled with people who are not white, straight, cis-gendered, Christian and so on. It doesn't have explicit sex in it (not yet, anyway, but who knows what the muse has been working on), but going by the uneven removal of books, it likely wouldn't fly on some sites.
 

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Discussion Starter #145
WHDean said:
It will probably come as a surprise, but I don't disagree with you on most of what you said. The big difference between us is perspective. You seem to see it as a justice issue and a community issue where the reactions on this thread are the voices of allies and should not be questioned. I understand that stance. But I look at this is as a business problem in need of a business strategy, where the aim is to get the books back on Playster.

I think you have to choose one objective or the other. I'd be willing to contribute to the business solution, if I can, but it's now clear to me that this has become about getting justice, and I don't see what I can do, especially when it's not obvious that an injustice has been committed. So all I can say is good luck, but I'm walking away from this.
she-la-ti-da said:
More than one person has said this, in essence. No one has brought out the tar and feathers, no one has been bullied, or threatened in any way. If we decide we no longer want to do business with this company, that's what the much-vaunted free market is about, right?

All anyone is asking for is a clear, honest explanation and potential clarification of intent of not only this company, but D2D as well. Is someone adding an erotica tag to certain types of books? That needs to stop. Is someone only targeting LGBT books for removal/further review? Then that needs to stop. If a company doesn't have enough trained staff to handle this issue, then that's their issue, not their vendors. Hire and train more people (hey, Amazon, get a clue) so that this sort of thing doesn't happen again. Make policies crystal clear (Amazon, are you listening?). Enforce them evenly.

For the record, when D2D announced they would distribute to Playster, there was a pretty big thread about the companies practices (I believe they may have had some name changes along the line?), and I decided not to have my work go to them. I have books with sexual content, non-white characters, non-straight characters and the like, so I'm glad I don't have to deal with this. I have a SF novel in the works that is just filled with people who are not white, straight, cis-gendered, Christian and so on. It doesn't have explicit sex in it (not yet, anyway, but who knows what the muse has been working on), but going by the uneven removal of books, it likely wouldn't fly on some sites.
WHDean, what solutions might you have? Because I've tried to direct discussion that way and you've continued to accuse authors with complaint of bringing out the pitchforks. Nothing is really getting accomplished if we keep going around and around this.
 

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After careful investigation of each step of our content ingestion process for self-publishing platforms, we discovered that our restriction on the 'erotica' category had unintentionally affected other tags and genres, including LGBTQ+ fiction.  We are extremely sorry for our mistake and any hurt it may have caused - it was never our intention to block these titles.

What happens now?  The books that were wrongfully declined are currently being added to the Playster catalog where they will join our existing collection of LGBTQ+ titles previously delivered by our other major publishing partners.

Playster takes an extra cautious approach when it comes to self-published fiction because we do not have a large in-house team that is able to thoroughly read and review all titles that are submitted.  However, we accept that, in this case, our efforts to solve one problem inadvertently caused another.

We strongly encourage authors to contact us if they have any further problems submitting books to Playster or notice that any titles that should be present are missing.  They can do so by emailing us directly at [email protected]
 

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I'm glad to hear LGBT+ fiction wasn't intentionally banned and will now be accepted. I have to admit, I remain curious about exactly how Playster's restriction on erotica came to affect other tags and genres.
 

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Becca Mills said:
I'm glad to hear LGBT+ fiction wasn't intentionally banned and will now be accepted. I have to admit, I remain curious about exactly how Playster's restriction on erotica came to affect other tags and genres.
I think that's a very easy answer.

Erotica has tags containing LGBT. So, they stomped on tags with LGBT. It's simple. Unfortunately, that also effected genres outside of erotica that included the LGBT tag. I've held my peace on it, but I saw this a couple days ago when people were wondering how it could have happened.

Is it really that hard to see?
 

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Laran Mithras said:
I think that's a very easy answer.

Erotica has tags containing LGBT. So, they stomped on tags with LGBT. It's simple. Unfortunately, that also effected genres outside of erotica that included the LGBT tag. I've held my peace on it, but I saw this a couple days ago when people were wondering how it could have happened.

Is it really that hard to see?
I guess an automated process could glitch that way, but it could also have been a manual error involving some kind of bias. Regardless, it sounds as if Playster will rectify the situation. If the books in question do in fact get added to the catalog, that will show that the company is acting in good faith.
 

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Bill Hiatt said:
I guess an automated process could glitch that way, but it could also have been a manual error involving some kind of bias. Regardless, it sounds as if Playster will rectify the situation. If the books in question do in fact get added to the catalog, that will show that the company is acting in good faith.
My thoughts exactly. How it all happened may still feel skeevy to me, but if they're taking action to fix it, that says something important. I'll be tracking this thread to see if those books do get retroactively accepted.
 

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Good lord, I totally missed this.

Nice to hear the company say they will rectify. Now, does anyone know if we have to do anything on our end?

Like others, my books have been "publishing" since June. Should I soon expect them to be accepted on their own? Do I need to contact D2D to resubmit them?

And yeah, to be clear, no underage characters. No erotica.
 

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I wanted to let people know that my book was published to Playster without me doing anything. Hopefully others will too.

Thank you to Playster for coming to a thread that wasn't happy with them and fixing things. That couldn't have been easy or comfortable.

I wanted to thank Elizabeth again for this thread. Raising awareness of what was happening confirmed that gay and lesbian books were being excluded based on their tags. I know that some people called this a witch hunt. It wasn't. It was an accident but it was real. Without her bringing this out though it wouldn't have been caught.



 

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Laran Mithras said:
I don't know if Playster is owned by Mormons. I might have caused someone to believe it is, but I was just using Mormons off the top of my head without trying to connect them to the industry or even in being too straight to accept MM. It was just the first religion I picked. Insert any religion/denomination in their place.[...]
Ahahahaha! I see! I got mightily confused for a moment thinking I missed something earlier in the thread! TBH tho, I'm not a 'good' mormon. I don't live in the 'bubble' and I won't condemn those that love the same sex -- or gender... or non-gender... asexual? How about, as long as you love and you love with a pure heart it can't be evil. That's what I live by anyway. :D Luckily, as a Mormon, I don't believe in hell with fire and brimstone, so I can't go there for my opinions on this hahahaha! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #155
Playster said:
After careful investigation of each step of our content ingestion process for self-publishing platforms, we discovered that our restriction on the 'erotica' category had unintentionally affected other tags and genres, including LGBTQ+ fiction. We are extremely sorry for our mistake and any hurt it may have caused - it was never our intention to block these titles.

What happens now? The books that were wrongfully declined are currently being added to the Playster catalog where they will join our existing collection of LGBTQ+ titles previously delivered by our other major publishing partners.

Playster takes an extra cautious approach when it comes to self-published fiction because we do not have a large in-house team that is able to thoroughly read and review all titles that are submitted. However, we accept that, in this case, our efforts to solve one problem inadvertently caused another.

We strongly encourage authors to contact us if they have any further problems submitting books to Playster or notice that any titles that should be present are missing. They can do so by emailing us directly at [email protected]
Playster, I really appreciate you looking into this and fixing the issue. Thank you so much!

My book was automatically published to the Playster store, and a few other books that had apparently been in limbo were published, too (they hadn't been rejected but hadn't been accepted, either). Incidentally, one of the titles in limbo has LGBT characters. The other is a m/f rockstar romance.

I'm glad to see that other authors' LGBT titles that were rejected are now back in Playster's catalog, too. This is an outcome that I'd hoped for, but wasn't sure we'd receive. Thank you to everyone who came forward and worked with me to reach a solution. I know sometimes it's not easy to speak up, but when we all work together, our voices can be heard and we can make a positive impact.

For the sake of full disclosure, I do have to mention that in the midst of this I decided to enroll AOL in KU; I just unpublished it on Playster until my KU term ends, but fully intend to re-publish there in December. I'd already been considering going into KU after having been wide for a couple of weeks. It just seemed like a good time to do it.

I can't stress enough how very pleased I am with this outcome.
 

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Discussion Starter #156
IreneP said:
Good lord, I totally missed this.

Nice to hear the company say they will rectify. Now, does anyone know if we have to do anything on our end?

Like others, my books have been "publishing" since June. Should I soon expect them to be accepted on their own? Do I need to contact D2D to resubmit them?

And yeah, to be clear, no underage characters. No erotica.
I'd reach out to D2D and just let them know your books have been in limbo. If they're LGBT, it may be more efficient to contact Playster directly at [email protected]
 

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veinglory said:
Equating non-straight content with sex or kink content (based on implicit bias) is a common enough error that my blog has a tag for it. It comes in the forms of retail coding, publisher "hotness" scales, reader expectation bias leading to bad reviews, school libraries banning kids books with gay content on they assumption that the content is "adult"--it's pretty pervasive. I think this potential cause became the front runner very quickly in this thread.
Yeah, agreed. I see it in how some of my kids' classmates' parents talk nervously about introducing the existence of LGB people to their kids. It's like because the issue of sexual orientation is involved, they're going to have to talk to their kids about having sex.
 

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WHDean said:
You've created an adversarial relationship where you might have had a cooperative one. You've also drained part of the well of sympathy from outsiders because now it looks like you've used a real problem that people sympathize with as leverage in a business negotiation. So, yeah, working great.
To piggyback, this is also "crying wolf" before the wolf is sighted. It exhausts the general pool of good will and ends up leaving those with proven discrimination problems with fewer resources, less sympathy, and less help. Those opposed to, say, LGBT+ rights get free ammunition "proving" that group will "smear the innocent to advance their agenda."

If you want to watch mob mentality form in realtime, keep reading KBoards--but remember, next time the mob may be coming after your "tribe."

(this is in no way a threat--just a caution).
 

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As to how it happens, right or wrong, we have a default to "straight" in the categorization of things. Nobody labels romance "straight" or "cis" or whatever, but they do label everything else that's not the default, just like we don't have (in most western countries, in English) "white" or "Caucasian" fiction, but we do have "black" of "African-American" descriptors in some categories.

I'm not saying this is right, but it is how things are currently done--and that gives rise to situations like this, where the Venn diagram of categorization creates some unexpected overlaps and connections--but those will only ever happen when there is a positive (non-absent) descriptor. It's always the difference that is spotted, even by machine algorithms.
 
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