Thursday, August 25, 2011


originally posted on LJ 4-12-09

So it seems that Amazon is ranking my book again. I checked it on Sunday night and it was de-ranked at the time. But it seems to be back up now...

For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, here’s the deal:

On Sunday (i.e., yesterday, April 12) news broke that many LGBTIQ books were no longer being "ranked" by due to their "adult" content. Apparently, this ranking is crucial for determining how books come up on searches. So if a book has no rank, it doesn't come up in searches for keywords, and thus is effectively censored to a certain degree. The LA Times ran a big story on it and lots of bloggers went to town on it (some of the more informative posts I found about it include: Jezebel, Meta Writer, tehdely, Jessica at Feministing). In the Twitter-dome, people referred to the incident as "amazonfail," a term that has apparently become the official name of this debacle. Amazon now says that the whole thing was due to a "glitch," but as many of the aforementioned blogposts discuss, this seems unlikely. Also discussed in the aforementioned blogposts, the de-ranking especially affected books about LGBTIQ issues, feminism & gender studies, rape survivors, and so on (read: subjects the "religious right" abhors), while blatant hetero-porn (e.g., Playboy) was not affected. tehdely offers this explanation for this discrepancy:

It's obvious Amazon has some sort of automatic mechanism that marks a book as "adult" after too many people have complained about it. It's also obvious that there aren't too many people using this feature, as indicated by the easy availability (and search ranking) of pornography and sex toys and other seemingly "objectionable" materials, otherwise almost all of those items would have been flagged by this point. So somebody is going around and very deliberately flagging only LGBT(QQI)/feminist/survivor content on Amazon until it is unranked and becomes much more difficult to find.

This seems to make sense to me. It would also explain why Kindle versions of many de-ranked books were not de-ranked (as such pages are relatively new and have not accumulated enough "flags" yet.

Anyway, while the incident seems to be somewhat over, there is a petition I encourage you to sign.


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