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I agree with many things said there. Including gaming of the "like" buttons being the new thing. If you cheat, Amazon will find a way to get rid of the option.
 

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Hope they are right and if so, the like button will be short lived as authors try to short cut the system with it next.
 

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The assumption that everything Amazon does has to do with indies is pretty misplaced. This ignores the real issue--the boycott of overpriced Big 6 ebook titles spurred by tags.

Edit: I love being an indie but, ya know, everything in the world is not about us.
 

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Of course nobody knows exactly whats going on, but if I had to guess it has nothing to do with the "evil" big 6. I know they are a scapegoat for everything lately. Those that tag the books boycott over 9.99 use one tag, maybe 2. They are actual customers that tag for other customers, and of course to get attention.

The difference with the Mass mob tagging by indy's that has been going on is that it involves many many tags. Its talked about all over the net on boards and its done without the mind of a customer. Its done with the mind of the seller. That is a difference.

You see books that have like 5 ratings, but then they have 20 tags with each 160 times. The tags are for fans and customers to find stuff when they search.

One thing that has bugged me most about this mass tagging is that when I search in the genre I like to read I get results that are not belonging in that genre. I look and sure enough, it had 160 tags for that genre.

Tags have become useless for customers who they were suppose to be for. They became another marketing tool for the sellers. As soon as the "like" button was introduced, I knew the same thing was going to happen.

I have seen comments from readers on the net that do not like that mass tagging either, and maybe some complained to Amazon, who knows.

All this is of course my opinion only and there might be a completely different reason behind the missing tags at the moment.

 

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JRTomlin said:
The assumption that everything Amazon does has to do with indies is pretty misplaced.
I haven't spent as much time here as I should so I don't know if this was related specifically to assumptions on Kindle Boards. Outside the boards, it's not been my experience that people make that assumption.

In my case, it's quite the opposite: publishing is a business as businesses tend to have thicker skins than individuals.

It seems to me unlikely that a site built for readers would delete a feature that readers were finding useful because suppliers, over whom Amazon has much influence, didn't like it -- if indeed they did complain.

Again, I'm not as certain as others, but it seems reasonable to me to imagine that a reader who wants a book by their favourite author is not going to be put off by mysterious tags relating to an arcane pricing model. Surely, it's much more likely to be a simple question of price that influences the decision of most readers who care about the cost.
 

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modwitch said:
evidence that it impacted search results, particularly for popular search terms. I know we believe it did - but has anyone got hard evidence of how they ranked on amazon for a particular search with and without tags?
I'm not sure I'd call this hard evidence, but I used to look at where my novel fell in the search results of specific tags I used, and as a result of what I saw, I was pretty sure they had an impact. For example, when searching for the phrase "Mystery Romance", my book always showed up higher than "Not What She Seems" (Victorine's book). The search term describes our books equally well, and by any other criteria, her book should be higher--she's sold about a bazillion more books than I have, has a bazillion more reviews, and is ranked a bazillion points higher. But the one thing she didn't have was the tag "Mystery Romance". I did, and it had a lot of clicks.

I know the search algo must include all kinds of variables we can't even imagine, and perhaps tags had been downgraded to some extent, but I believe they were still part of the equation, or I wouldn't have held that spot.

--Maria
 

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Great article, thanks for sharing Vincent! I agree almost across the board with what he said.

If you go to the Amazon forums, specifically the Meet Our Authors forum and Kindle Book forum and search for the topic "A game of tag...", you'll see numerous reader complaints because of authors requesting (and receiving) tags like "Stephen King" on their book or "Newberry Award Winner" on their children's book. The discussions get pretty intense, especially about the newbery award tag which had more than 50 tags before someone cried foul.

Within a week, literally a week, of these two things coming to light, Amazon got rid of tags altogether. As the blogger says, there's no way to be 100% sure, but the evidence and timeline points toward abuse of tags and not the Big 6. Boycot price tags were around when I started reading kindle books 3-4 years ago. There's no reason Amazon would take a stand because of them now. My money is on tagging abuse, especially when it happened on Amazon's own forums where all their readers could see and complain.
 

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I was told to go to my room, the adults were talking when I brought this up early in the tagging thread and again in the like thread. Sometimes kids say the darnedest things...
 

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modwitch said:
You still do outrank her in that search :). Search is about relevance (not sales or reviews), and relevance that a search bot can understand. Your books might both fit the description "mystery romance" - but you use both words in your product description. Vicki doesn't. I don't think it's as simple as that, but I do think your result here can be explained without tags.
Burden Kansas is #6 if you search for "weird west", a mashup genre of the western and usually horror. It is the first result that doesn't have the words "weird" and "west" in the title. It has it nowhere in the description, except the tags. It is currently #95,375 overall.
 

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I do think tags help if a reader is looking for something specific, such as "beach read". It's not a true genre category, but most of us have a general idea of what that would include. I don't think it's fair to say indies were trying to game the system by listing tags that are relevant to their books and having others agree. But when an author lists something like the award mentioned above when the book has not won that award, well, that's just lying. Unfortunately, some authors may have done something like this, but it's just as possible that a reader listed it (I've had tags show up that were completely irrelevant to my book and gone, "huh?").

I freely admit that I was guilty of asking others to tag my book in return for doing the same, but I wasn't trying to be dishonest, simply using a tool that Amazon offered. And I never tagged a book indiscriminately - if the tag was something that didn't go with the product description, it wasn't something I clicked. I would never ask for a review from someone who hadn't read my book, but tags weren't an opinion, they were (I thought) a search engine optimizer. The tags I specified directly related to my novel (I definitely would never claim to be a RITA award winner or something like that). Major corporations use Google pay-per-click and they buy search terms that may even be proprietary to someone else (such as "Adidas" when they're actually a Nike store) so they show up in a search for a similar product. Is this dishonest? Only if they're misrepresenting themselves as something they're not (like naming themselves "The Adidas Store" when they only sell Nike--but who would do that? Does this make sense?). But in the first example of buying relevant search terms, they are optimizing the chance of being seen by using another similar, relevant product (they both make athletic shoes). That is what companies do, woo customers by comparing their wares to a comparable, but maybe more popular, product. So if an author writes in a genre and style similar to a more popular author it isn't being dishonest to use a tool that says, "Hey, if you like blank, you might also like blakety-blank." That's business.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we don't know why they're gone. It could be a million different reasons, but I highly doubt that a few tags in a pyramid tagging thread caused Amazon to pull the plug completely. Hey, maybe Amazon is reading this thread now and if so, I have a way for them to make more money...charge indies to buy tags...it works for Google :eek:
 

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WriterGurl1 said:
I highly doubt that a few tags in a pyramid tagging thread caused Amazon to pull the plug completely.
More than a few. As of now, 15,622 have posted to the Author Tag Exchange thread.

As for the rest of your post, I admire you stepping up and revisiting your participation in the pyramid scheme. No one else seems to be.
 

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WriterGurl1 said:
I freely admit that I was guilty of asking others to tag my book in return for doing the same, but I wasn't trying to be dishonest, simply using a tool that Amazon offered.
But were you tagging books you had not read? If so, you didn't truly know if those tags fit those books, you may have believed the author, but you didn't KNOW.. that's why it IS gaming the system.

I agree with intinst on this, and the "Like" button clicking going on now. That "like" button is for people who have READ the book and actually LIKE it, so they can SHARE it via FB, Twitter, & email. If you haven't read a book, and are just clicking Like because someone said "scratch my back I'll scratch yours", you don't know that you would like the book or not.... And what if you read the book and didn't like it, but you feel obligated to click that LIKE button because the author clicked yours? Are you still going to SHARE it on your FB/twitter? if not, your "like is doubly pointless, because A you didn't like the book and B, you are not telling anyone that you DID like it.
 

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Mike McIntyre said:
I got pummeled on KB in March for equating participation in the Author Tag Exchange with posting fake reviews:
It does seem to be something people get most emotional about. I couldn't agree with you more. As I said in the blog post, tagging a book with keywords someone else tells you are relevant is fake, as is "liking" a book because the author said s/he will "like" you, too.

Amazon is a site for readers, as it should be -- it would be a less profitable place for us all if it weren't!
 

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It's human nature to game the system, whatever it is, and it's the nature
of the system to respond to the gaming to try to bring things back into
the proper positions.  Look at the US tax code, it gets bigger every year
as the bureaucrats change the rules to bring in more money and the
tax lawyers think up new ways not to pay taxes.  It's the same thing here,
authors are going to try to find ways to get their books more prominence
and Amazon is going to try to negate the effect so that readers can
find what they want more easily.  I suspect that years from now
authors will be cooking up new ways to game the system,
Amazon will be reacting to bring things back into equilibrium,
and authors will be complaining that Amazon is out to get them.
 
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