Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Amazon Using Category MetaData to Filter Rankings

UPDATE 1: Here is a spreadsheet of books denoting their catagory metadata along with whether the book has an amazon rank. If you are a gmail user, you can (I think) access the spreadsheet for sorting. If you aren’t a gmail user, here is a web page of the spreadsheet.

Additionally, there is a Change.org email campaign that you can join to trigger emails to be sent to Bezos and Amazon customer service.

At the suggestion of someone I looked up the category meta data provided by the publisher to Amazon.    I looked up over 40 books that had been deranked and filtered out of search engines.   It appears that all the content that was filtered out had either “gay”,   “lesbian”,   “transgender”, “erotic”   or “sex” metadata categories.   Playboy Centerfold books were categorized as “nude” and “erotic photography”, both categories that apparently weren’t included in the filter.   According to one source, the category metadata is filled in part by the publisher and in part by Amazon.   

Heather with Two Mommies included this category metadata:

Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > General
Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > Parenting & Families
Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Teens > Social Issues > Homosexuality > Fiction

A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality had this category metadata (note the lack of any reference to gay & lesbian categories):

Books > Specialty Stores > Custom Stores > Qualifying Textbooks > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Culture
Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Marriage & Family
Books > Subjects > Parenting & Families > Parenting > General
Books > Subjects > Parenting & Families > Parenting > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > General
Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > General
Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > General AAS
Books > Refinements > Binding (binding) > Paperback
Books > Refinements > Format (feature_browse-bin) > Printed Books

Lady Chatterly’s Lover included this:

Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Erotica > General
Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Erotica > General AAS

As did Jaci Burton’s Riding on Instinct:

Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Erotica > General
Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Erotica > General AAS

But Burton’s first book in the series, Riding Wild, had only this for category metadata and thus was not deranked:

Books > Specialty Stores > Custom Stores > Qualifying Textbooks > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Romance > Contemporary > General
Books > Subjects > Romance > Contemporary > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Romance > General
Books > Subjects > Romance > General AAS
Books > Refinements > Binding (binding) > Paperback
Books > Refinements > Format (feature_browse-bin) > Printed Books

Anything Goes by John Barrowman in paperback has an Amazon sales rank of 7,155.

Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Actors & Actresses
Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Entertainers
Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > General
Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Memoirs
Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > General
Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > General AAS
Books > Subjects > Entertainment > General
Books > Refinements > Binding (binding) > Paperback
Books > Refinements > Format (feature_browse-bin) > Printed Books

But the same book in hardcover has no ranking but does include this in the metadata:

Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > Biographies & Memoirs > General
Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > Biographies & Memoirs > General AAS

The Filly by Mark Probst includes these entries (among others, of course):

Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Gay
Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Romance > Gay
Books > Subjects > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Literary Criticism

Thus, as a “glitch” it was a remarkably targeted one that seems to support the emails that Mark Probst and Craig Seymour received from Amazon which was gay and lesbian works were deemed “adult” content regardless of actual content. This evidence appears to indicate that it isn’t so much a glitch but a specific policy. The question is then who implemented the policy of marking GLBT books as adult and who knew of the implementation? What kind of supervisory person signed off on it?

Alternatively, you could argue that it was a lazy programmer that decided to filter out all adult content and included GLBT for the heck of it but that doesn’t really address the emails to Probst and Seymour. You could also argue that it was a hacker that went in over the past week and inserted an algorithm that filtered out GLBT/erotic/sex content. Obviously, why the filter was implemented in such a way is a question only Amazon can answer.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

123 Comments

  1. GrowlyCub
    Apr 12, 2009 @ 21:58:19

    Also, if this was geared towards catching all ‘adult’ content then why were sex toys, and playboy stuff not also deranked?

    ReplyReply

  2. Angie
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 04:18:12

    I’d be fascinated to know what the metadata looks like for A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality which has a sales ranking despite being pretty clearly a “Gay & Lesbian” themed book. :/

    Angie

    ReplyReply

  3. Jane
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 04:21:52

    @Angie I added that one. As you can see, there is nothing in the metadata to ID it as objectionable content.

    ReplyReply

  4. Angie
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 04:27:59

    Jane — thanks for posting that. It’s crazily inconsistent (as is A Parent’s Guide to Homosexuality) but actually makes it semi-plausible that this could’ve been done with some sort of automatic system. I still don’t buy that the automatic system was “glitched” in any way, though; the e-mails Mark Probst and others got didn’t mention any automatic system or any glitch, but instead said, basically, “This is what we’re doing because it’s our policy.” They’re going to have to do some fancy dancing to squirm out of that one.

    Angie

    ReplyReply

  5. Jane
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 04:47:02

    @Angie Yeah I don’t buy the glitch thing at all.

    ReplyReply

  6. Amazon excluding LGBT material from searches! : Yaoi 911
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 04:49:05

    [...] Amazon is now claiming it’s all just “a glitch”. The Dear Author blog responds with some very compelling evidence that it was clearly targeted against LGBT. (And in that same link offers a good explanation why A [...]

  7. Angela Benedetti » Blog Archive » Amazon Update
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 04:54:08

    [...] at Dear Author looked up the metadata for a number of books, both ranked and de-ranked, and it seems the stripping of sales ranks [...]

  8. Amazonfail: A Call to Boycott Amazon : Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 05:18:47

    [...] 6: Dear Author has dug up metadata that would suggest not so much a “glitch,” but a conscious effort on Amazon’s [...]

  9. mirele
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 05:50:31

    This makes sense to me. Code was implemented to strip sales ranking from anything that was in certain metacategories. Additionally, this code also said not to display anything that was in these metacategories in a search of the entire site.

    For an example, a search of “Moab is my Washpot” (Stephen Fry’s autobiography) on the entire Amazon site will bring up the UK edition, the hardcover edition and the audio edition, but not the paperback edition. A comparison of the paperback and hardcover editions reveals that the paperback edition has the dreaded gay metacategories (Gay & Lesbian > Biographies & Memoirs > Gay and
    Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Gay ), while the hardcover does not.

    Now, the question I have is, Was this an intended result or were they trying to do something else and screwed up? I tend to believe it was the former, but that Amazon made such a hash of it that it became the latter.

    As someone who investigates technical failures like these for a living, I’d suggest that authors, publishers and readers request that Amazon provide a full Root Cause Analysis. If a company can screw up this badly on something like this, what about accounting for book sales? Use of one’s credit card data? I’d like some reassurance here.

    ReplyReply

  10. GrrrlRomeo
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 05:52:07

    This is what I feared…the whole Gay & Lesbian category was categorized as Adult. That’s no computer glitch.

    Some suggested it was trolling, but if you look at that “Preventing Homosexuality” book, it has been since tagged with adult tags and has gotten bad reviews out of protest for being the number 1 result.

    ReplyReply

  11. ed
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 06:06:05

    So here is what must be done. We need to determine who is categorizing books like this and why they are categorizing books like this. If this is coming from Amazon, we need a direct answer from them about why this metadata is needed. If this is coming from publishers, we need to know why they would categorize books like this at Amazon, but not — in many cases — like this in their Library of Congress categories.

    Authors, agents, and publishers need to be informed that Amazon is categorizing their books like this, and they need to establish ironclad clauses within contracts to prevent this metadata from making its way onto Amazon’s system. (In fact, is there anything in the contracts between Amazon and publishers that gives Amazon the right to derank or recategorize books like this? If there isn’t, then publishers may be in the position of launching a class action suit against Amazon for breach of contract. But I leave such a speculative possibility to an attorney in the position of examining the paperwork.)

    ReplyReply

  12. Trialia
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 06:20:40

    Being familiar as I broadly am with how Amazon works, I figured it was something like this. Glad to know someone has done and published the necessary research. (I’ve been too busy watching #amazonfail!)

    ReplyReply

  13. GrrrlRomeo
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 06:24:33

    I think I lost a comment. Check out the Kindle editions that have not lost their ranking while the paperback versions have.

    Kindle editions have their own category:

    Kindle Books > Lifestyle & Home > Gay & Lesbian > Nonfiction

    In fact, the Gay & Lesbian Bestseller lists are almost entirely Kindle editions and third party seller editions.

    ReplyReply

  14. Amazon censors sales ranking of LGBT books - Page 2 - Gossip Rocks Forum
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 06:50:47

    [...] Dear Author explains how this ‘glitch’ occurred – definitely not a glitch if these books was affected and others didnt. Amazon Using Category MetaData to Filter Rankings | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry New… [...]

  15. Alessia Brio
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 06:57:59

    Perhaps redefinitions of the words “glitch” and “metadata” are now in order. Sheesh! I’m thrilled to see my primary publisher offering 25% off direct purchases in response. Wish more pubs would follow suit!

    ReplyReply

  16. Melissa
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:00:39

    I looked over mine and this seems to be the case. A Little Harmless Sex is in the erotica/Adult fiction grouping, but the sequel, filled with bondage and a menage, that is just in romance.
    The problem is, they have a whole list of adult fiction. Why strip them of their numbers if you are going to list them in bestselling form?

    ReplyReply

  17. Melissa
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:02:44

    Mirele,
    That is a very good point. If they can’t control what is happening on their site, how can anyone trust them with their personal info.

    ReplyReply

  18. Mary M
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:06:18

    There shouldn’t be ANY ranking filter whatsover. They list the book? Then it gets a ranking and shows in all lists (including bestsellers), recommendations and categories. Period. If there are still people puritain enough to be offended to see books that may contain sexual content in their lists, they can always ask Amazon to implement a option that excludes such material from THEIR searches. To complicate the life of normal adults and BUYERS who are actually searching for these books and to deny authors a visibility they need is both insulting and stupid.

    I never understood that convoluted category listing by the way. There are so any damned ways to get to say, gay/lesbian fiction it gives me a headache.

    ReplyReply

  19. Dowsabel
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:11:31

    @ed. I can’t speak for what goes on on Amazon or what happens in the US in general but in the UK publishers categorise their own books and provide the metadata to aggregators who sell it on to end-users. End-users then do their own thing (a mapping into a proprietary system, for example) with the info.

    Subject classifications are intended to enable people to find books that are relevant to their interests. They aren’t designed or intended to pass any judgement at all on the suitability of a book for a particular audience. The problem is that that’s what they appear to have been used for in this case, for reasons that are not at all clear.

    ReplyReply

  20. Kelly Maher
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:17:55

    @ed:
    Amazon, like other booksellers, uses the metadata in order at base to create searchable/browseable categories and usually uses the classification system known as BISAC. The Library of Congress also uses a metadata classification system, but they use LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings). A drawback to any kind of applied classification system is that it may miss appropriate headings or include inappropriate ones because this metadata is usually being assigned by a human being. In bookstores, they apply the ones they think will get the book in front of the most number of likely buyers, where in libraries they try to assign headings that will get people to the information it provides in as quick of a manner as possible.

    In my day job as a librarian, this kind of metadata is invaluable in being able to find what people are looking for. And really, the problem isn’t Amazon using the metadata in the first place, it’s *how* they’ve used the metadata to discriminate against certain classes of items.

    (Side note: do a search of your local public library’s catalog by subject using “Erotic stories” and see what comes up.)

    ReplyReply

  21. Genrewonk » Amazon wants to protect your fragile little brains.
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:28:35

    [...] #2: And Dear Author points out something that very strongly implies that whatever is happening at Amazon is happening [...]

  22. Will Belegon
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:37:07

    I agree that regardless of whether or not Amazon intended this to be discriminatory (and I’m inclined to agree with Jane on that) they have most certainly failed at Basic Business 101.

    The old bit about the simplest explanation often being true would indicate that this is a massive misstep by Amazon. If this is the result of a 3rd party attack, as some have theorized, it is too widespread to not have evidence emerge.

    Mary M. has hit upon a better course. Let users opt out. (not opt in. If they are the ones with the issues, they need to do the ground work, even if it is only a click or two.)

    ReplyReply

  23. Jaci Burton
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:42:28

    Makes no sense to me. And I’m just not buying the glitch thing, not with people being told that adult content was going to be filtered. But I’m going to wait for a decent explanation from Amazon. Which will hopefully be today, because as of right now my sales rankings haven’t reappeared.

    ReplyReply

  24. Barbara Carrellas
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:43:26

    You are right about the metatags, I believe. The meta tags for my book, Urban Tantra are “Sex Relations,Self-Help,Love / Sex / Marriage,Self-Help / Sexual Instruction,Sexual Instruction,Interpersonal Relations,Sex,Sex instruction,Tantrism,Sex & Sexuality”. It’s important to note that this is not all LGBTQ. It’s about sex, too.

    Here’s another censored title: The Ethical Slut, a book about nonmonogamy. The metatags are Sociology, Social Studies,Sex,Sexual Ethics,Family & Relationships,Love / Sex / Marriage,Family/Marriage,Self-Help / Sexual Instruction,Sexual Instruction,Ethics & Morals,Interpersonal Relations,Love & Romance,Free love,Non-monogamous relationships,United States,Marriage, Family & Other Relationships” Nothing queer in those tags either.

    We must fight this on the free speech for sexual expression level as well as the LGBTQ level.

    ReplyReply

  25. Brendan
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:49:57

    “…emails that Mark Probst and Craig Seymour received from Amazon which was gay and lesbian works were deemed “adult” content regardless of actual content.”

    Gay and lesbian content… sounds adult to me.

    ReplyReply

  26. Amazonfail « Errant Thoughts
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 07:55:11

    [...] at work here that is forcing one brand of morality onto all of Amazon’s customers. It appears that category metadata is probably being used to filter out GLBT and sex-related [...]

  27. Mark A. Michaels
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 08:15:08

    Thanks Barbara for pointing this out. Our books, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment and The Essence of Tantric Sexuality have been de-ranked too, along with other books on Tantra.

    One question that emerges is whether it’s just the publisher provided tags, or whether customer tags are implicated too. I also wonder if titles alone are a factor.

    ReplyReply

  28. Sela Carsen
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 08:18:03

    @Brendan, the fact that a book may deal with gay and lesbian issues doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily blooming with graphic descriptions of manlove (or chicklove) on every page. Autobiographies of gay individuals, novels about struggles with acceptance, even novels targeted at young adults and children, are definitely not “adult” in theme.

    However, if by “adult” you mean that people need to read them with their brains engaged, then Mein Kampf, The Metamorphosis, L’etranger, Lolita and many others should also be classified as “adult.”

    ReplyReply

  29. A silly thing and a serious thing « Regina Erbs
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 08:18:47

    [...] * Dear Author has some information on Amazon metadata. [...]

  30. Eliza
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 08:24:17

    Apparently Amazon thinks erotic literature is >>> more adult than erotic photography. Could someone explain this to everyone who’s had any interest in porn ever?
    Not even going to touch the discrimination, my brain will explode all over the keyboard.

    ReplyReply

  31. Nichola
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 08:29:58

    Gay and lesbian content… sounds adult to me.

    Right.

    Heather Has Two Mommies – that well-known porn tract. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit – yep, that’s some hardcore adult content right there.

    Or, you know – not.

    Despite the preconceptions of ignorant and prurient people, LGBT people are just, you know – people. It’s just as easy to write a book, either fiction or non-fiction, which addresses LGBT issues without being X-rated, as it is to write a book, either fiction or non-fiction, which addresses straight people’s issues without being X-rated.

    ReplyReply

  32. Amazon Rank | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:00:28

    [...] UPDATE: Just in case Amazon argues that this was a technical glitch, consider these facts: (Oh, and here is Amazon saying that it is a glitch). Also, see why I think that Amazon is deranking based on category metadata provided by publishers. [...]

  33. snarkhunter
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:05:59

    It's just as easy to write a book, either fiction or non-fiction, which addresses LGBT issues without being X-rated, as it is to write a book, either fiction or non-fiction, which addresses straight people's issues without being X-rated.

    Unfortunately, some people seem to believe that even acknowledging the *existence* of same-sex love is tantamount to plastering girl-on-girl porn on the walls of a kindergarten.

    (Teh gheys are like Candyman or Bloody Mary: say the word “gay” and they appear to corrupt your children with knowledge of their existence!!!! Nooooo!!!!!)

    ReplyReply

  34. Laura
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:16:38

    Gay and lesbian content… sounds adult to me.

    Presumably, this is exactly what was going through the mind of whoever at Amazon decided the “Gay & Lesbian” metafilter should automatically make content be deemed adult.

    I can think of two reasons behind this: they assumed that anything tagged “gay and lesbian” was gay and lesbian pornography, never thinking about the reference books, children’s books, self-help books, and just plain innocuous, non-sexual novels that have homosexual characters. Extremely stupid and reveals the extremely distorted view of homosexuality held by some people.

    Or, someone actually thought that children should not be exposed to the types of books mentioned, presumably thinking that anything portrays homosexuality in a positive way is harmful for them. I really, really hope it’s the first option because that implies stupidity but this one is just tragic and horrible and bigoted.

    Are there any other possibilities?

    I can’t speak to which assumption Brendan was making in his content.

    ReplyReply

  35. Ms Slide: Elite London Mistress » Blog Archive » Amazonfail
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:21:35

    [...] An interesting take on it here. [...]

  36. Andrea
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:24:07

    It’s not only GLBT books that have been affected but also some disability-themed books as well:

    http://textualfury.wordpress.com/2009/04/12/amazonfail/#comment-234
    http://lisybabe.blogspot.com/2009/04/amazonfail.html

    I’ve now posted the following text as a tweet. Others may please feel free to copy/paste this text as their own tweets also. It links to two blog posts on the disability angle of this mess. The hashtags are to help ensure that your tweet will show up more easily under certain keyword searches in twitter.com.

    #amazonfail on #disability too. Please RT both http://is.gd/s5I6 and http://is.gd/s5Xr #glitchmyass #glbt #disabled

    ReplyReply

  37. GrrrRomeo
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:29:49

    As someone who came out as a teenager in the 90s, I really feel it is imperative that Amazon fix this ASAP. A consequence is there are gay teens looking up books on Amazon looking for answers and help, they might be suicidal, and they are being returned anti-gay and ex-gay books when they search for “homosexuality”.

    People like Brendan do not understand that all gay people are human, and therefore there are gay kids, and all gay adults were once kids. And for many gay kids, books are their lifeline because figuring out if you’re gay is not a discussion you can have with your parents, and usually not your friends. There’s no adult content in a Coming Out to Parents book….these books are not for adults.

    Sorry for venting…but seriously…there is a reason for urgency.

    ReplyReply

  38. Mark A. Michaels
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:30:04

    Just to repeat, this is not limited to the “Gay and Lesbian” metafilter. There’s been a change in policy toward books that deal with sexuality in general, including self-help books, tip books and books on sacred sexuality, not to mention other forms of alternative sexual expression. If amazon backs off the GLBTQ aspect of the policy but doesn’t revert to their previous rules, a lot of authors are going to remain in the “adult” ghetto.

    ReplyReply

  39. Meredith Duran
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:30:45

    Heather Has Two Mommies – that well-known porn tract. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit – yep, that's some hardcore adult content right there.

    Oh, yeah. XXX hardcore! And what about all the saucy academic works that have disappeared from the main-page search function, like these two staples of Gender 101 classes, Foucault’s History of Sexuality Vol. 1 and Judith Butler’s Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”?

    I always did think Butler’s books were adult material, but mostly because I supposed that twelve year olds had better things to do than read books that included sentences like, “If the body signified as prior to signification is an effect of signification, then the mimetic or representational status of language, which claims that signs follow bodies as their necessary mirrors, is not mimetic at all.”

    This whole thing is mind-boggling.

    ReplyReply

  40. Amazon doesn’t want you to find gay books « Brain Ink
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:33:38

    [...] blogger investigated metadata to shed some light on the code behind the [...]

  41. Magdalena
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:38:41

    What about the books on teen suicide prevention, etc.?

    ReplyReply

  42. thom blake
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:39:32

    who did it: (not really Amazon’s fault, though it’s pretty obvious that ‘safesearch’ features should be optional)

    http://community.livejournal.com/brutal_honesty/3168992.html

    ReplyReply

  43. Rosa
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:41:15

    I don’t shop at Amazon, so I have kind of a basic question – if I wanted to buy a book, and it was deranked, would I not be able to find it by looking for the title or author? Or does it just disappear if I do a subject search (like if I searched for “Buffalo, New York” Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold would be at the bottom of the list or not on it at all?)

    I see from an earlier comment that anti-gay stuff was at the top of searches on some subjects because all the other books had been deranked…do the other books completely disappear, or are they just at the bottom?

    I totally understand that this is a big deal, but I don’t quite get how it works.

    ReplyReply

  44. Mountie
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:44:34

    I was at Amazon last night helping tag the books without rankings with amazonfail. I didn’t see some of my favorite M/M Romances/Erotica so I went looking. ZA Maxfields Crossing Borders is still ranked. It has Gay & Lesbian in it’s metadata. It is not the only one that still has it’s ranking. JL Langley’s Without Reservations and Ally Blue’s Oleander House also have rankings.

    Interesting to add when I scrolled down I found:

    Look for similar items by subject

    Fiction
    Fiction – Romance
    Fiction / Romance / Adult
    Romance
    Romance & Sagas
    Romance – Adult
    Romance: Modern

    Not one mention of gayness there.

    ReplyReply

  45. GrowlyCub
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:52:13

    So, now we know, we were all tricked by an entity that wanted to do heroin with a chick but its ads were flagged on craigslist and those for gay guys wanting to do meth weren’t, so it decided to get even via Amazon…

    Right.

    It must have forgotten to mention that it also included ‘sex’ and ‘erotic’ as tags in its campaign.

    Simple oversight of a brain fried by H?

    /end sarcasm

    ReplyReply

  46. snarkhunter
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:57:06

    Clear attempt to snatch at internet fame.

    My first thought was that it reminded me of terrorist groups (is that some kind of Godwin’s corrollary violation?) taking credit for attacks they didn’t necessarily carry out, b/c it gives them more power.

    ReplyReply

  47. >>Amazon Vs Literatura Gay | Speakorama! Cultura+Viral+Música+Cinema+Game
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 09:57:17

    [...] Gay, Lesbian Books? [Jezebel] Amazon Says Glitch to Blame for "New" Adult Policy [PW] Amazon Using Category MetaData to Filter Rankings [Dear [...]

  48. ReacherFan
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:00:54

    As a lark, I entered the word ‘bondage’ into the search field for All Amazon. I popped a whole bunch of devices and – you’re going to love this – books on how to build your own bondage equipment. Maybe the meta file for that was ‘home improvement’.

    I didn’t look past the first 2 pages of results, but there were no fiction books and no ‘How to’ books, other than several on building equipment.

    ReplyReply

  49. MichelleR
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:07:52

    Rosa,
    The results are usually there, but harder to find. If you search All Departments, you get anything remotely associated with your search before the book shows up, even with an exact title. Some authors are not appearing at all under All Departments, although they show up under Books, if you narrow it down.

    It would be easy for a shopper to think the book or author did not exist on Amazon.

    ReplyReply

  50. Irene
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:17:00

    On amazon.fr, the “glitch” is language-sensitive. Out of curiosity, I entered “homosexualité” then “homosexuality“.
    The french word search led to novels and non-fiction books on homosexuality.
    The english word search first result was books on how to “cure” homosexuality.

    Maybe they’ve decided the french are being redemption… I mean, maybe the french branch is glitchless?

    More seriously, thanks for the heads-up and the means to protest.
    Off to send email to amazon, now. I would hate to stop using that website, since it’s one of the fastest ways to get a large choice of English-written books here (Paris) but ebooks are fastest. And less discriminating.

    ReplyReply

  51. Bree
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:17:29

    If amazon backs off the GLBTQ aspect of the policy but doesn't revert to their previous rules, a lot of authors are going to remain in the “adult” ghetto.

    I just wanted to pull that out and applaud it, because I think that’s exactly where we’re headed. So many people are using the, “This is less offensive than X” where X often equals “trashy romance” or “erotic romance” and when the dust settles we’re going to be left with the GLBTQ books (temporarily) reinstated but a system in place that allows for books to disappear based on what amazon has decided constitutes “adult” this week.

    ReplyReply

  52. David Harmon
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:27:20

    And just why doesn’t Amazon have a separate keyword for pornography?

    ReplyReply

  53. GrowlyCub
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:27:29

    Yeah, can’t say I was thrilled to see romance novels held up as trash and p0rn by the Change.org petition and I did not sign it for that reason.

    ReplyReply

  54. Andrea
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:27:54

    Ditto to Bree, who applauds this comment:

    by Mark A. Michaels April 13th, 2009 at 9:30 am
    Just to repeat, this is not limited to the “Gay and Lesbian” metafilter. There's been a change in policy toward books that deal with sexuality in general, including self-help books, tip books and books on sacred sexuality, not to mention other forms of alternative sexual expression. If amazon backs off the GLBTQ aspect of the policy but doesn't revert to their previous rules, a lot of authors are going to remain in the “adult” ghetto.

    Some disability books have been affected also. People already stereotype people with disabilities as being asexual, uninterested in sex, unable to have sex, etc., or just think that it is completely wrong for us to have sex. If Amazon makes it harder to find factual, accurate books on disability sexuality then people who have only recently become disabled will find it that much harder to obtain information they NEED to understand their own bodies and how to adapt to their new circumstances. And HIV/AIDS educators will continue to INTENTIONALLY exclude people with disabilities from HIV/AIDS outreach programs on the EXTREMELY mistaken assumption that people with disabilities “don’t need” to learn how to protect themselves from HIV!

    More on this at:

    http://reunifygally.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/amazonfail-hurts-both-disability-and-glbt-communities/

    ReplyReply

  55. Hilary
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:45:39

    I do believe this is a troll attack. If it wasn’t Weev, or if he only did part of it, it could well be another or other(s) taking advantage of Amazon’s “report as inappropriate.” Don’t take the heroin/Craigslist at face value; it’s another level of trolling. There ARE people out there who do it for the lulz. See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/magazine/03trolls-t.html .

    ReplyReply

  56. (Jān)
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:59:14

    Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. Amazon has stated these actions as policy for at least two months. They filter books out of searches if they deem them as adult works, and these include, inappropriately, books by gay authors even though they have been told these are not “adult” works. It also has failed to include books like Playboy erotica, etc, which clearly are adult works. Amazon’s practices are at fault, and they need to change them.

    ReplyReply

  57. Mark A. Michaels
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 11:01:33

    I don’t believe the trolling story any more than I believe it was a glitch. I had a Customer Service supervisor repeat and try to defend the policy, in the same language as the original email that started this, on the phone yesterday. While there may have been a concerted effort coming from somewhere, it’s clear to me that people at amazon instituted the changes.

    ReplyReply

  58. ReacherFan
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 11:18:15

    Just an FYI

    Apparently some outraged folks have decide to start tagging writers like Ann Coulter with ‘homoerotic’ and gay porn’. Amazon’s system can work both way. :-)

    ReplyReply

  59. #amazonfail timeline of wtf « Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 11:27:28

    [...] Dear Author: Amazon Using Category MetaData to Filter Rankings [...]

  60. Robin
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 11:32:32

    Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees. Amazon has stated these actions as policy for at least two months. They filter books out of searches if they deem them as adult works, and these include, inappropriately, books by gay authors even though they have been told these are not “adult” works. It also has failed to include books like Playboy erotica, etc, which clearly are adult works. Amazon's practices are at fault, and they need to change them.

    EXACTLY!

    I’m not ready to characterize Amazon as homophobic, but I am ready to characterize what’s happened as massively paternalistic. What if this had not been caught en masse? What if the filtering OUT hadn’t been sped up to the point where it was obvious and where a network like Twitter wasn’t there to heighten awareness?

    Where I find analyses like Nielsen Hayden’s to be myopic — they ignore the ideological implications of the “adult” policy vis a vis how tags are assigned and how the “glitch” identified and caught those tags. Even if the implications aren’t conscious (and most of the time they aren’t), even if the intentions of the filter were not aimed at any particular identity issue, the fact that “gay” and “erotic” have been marginalized as inappropriate somehow, and that the Playboy “Wet and Wild” collection is not tagged that way nor deranked for it, presents a troubling issue.

    For those who have been tsk tsking the Twitter Nation over this, let’s hope you never get caught in the maw of Amazon’s monopolistic policy-setting machine, because they have a history of doing stuff like this, and IMO it’s nothing short of fabulous that the ‘unwashed masses’ are paying attention, even if we don’t catch on to every incident or get wide enough coverage on every troubling trend. What maintains corporate conscience is rarely the corporation itself, after all.

    ReplyReply

  61. she who doesn't use a name!
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 11:35:38

    Okay, that guy on LJ claiming responsibility? He’s trolling. Check it.

    ReplyReply

  62. kirsten saell
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 11:38:08

    If their goal was to derank adult material, maybe they should have tags in the metadata that actually reflect whether the material is “adult” or not. Like, oh, maybe the word “adult”? Or “NC-17″? I know, sounds so simple it couldn’t possibly work.

    I’d feel better about this whole thing if everything adult was deranked (including sex toys and Playboy–duh) and books like One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads stayed listed. Not much better, but I wouldn’t quite feel like barfing, either.

    But this is what happens when you want to take out a few specific people in a crowd and you use a hand grenade to do it. Don’t say it’s a freaking malfunction in the grenade when bystanders end up full of shrapnel and half your intended targets come away without a scratch.

    ReplyReply

  63. Amazon Alert - De-Ranking some erotic romance « Tour’s Books Blog
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 11:42:59

    [...] UPDATE 7:  An article on Dear Autor on metafile listing click here [...]

  64. Kim
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:02:34

    Customer service reps are outsourced. Their job is to read your email, choose a script, and move on. And sometimes notify management that there might be a problem. But they will never, EVER tell you the truth. So don’t take those messages to be the gospel truth.

    ReplyReply

  65. hapax
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:08:21

    My major problem with this metadata argument is that it doesn’t explain why all the Kindle editions retained their sales rankings. Every one I checked had the same metadata, including the “Gay & Lesbian” and “Erotica” headings.

    I am not a programmer, so perhaps I’m missing something?

    ReplyReply

  66. Mark A. Michaels
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:10:12

    I realize that they’re outsourced, but this was not a follow-up to an email, and it was before the glitch explanation surfaced. It’s significant that the Customer Service person had access to the policy and was giving what appeared to be the company line at the time.

    ReplyReply

  67. Jane
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:12:15

    @hapax: I think it’s pretty easy to establish an algorithm that includes all metadata with “sex” “gay” “lesbian” “erotic” etc and exclude KINDLE from those searches. Amazon probably thinks that mostly adults are reading with the KINDLE anyway.

    ReplyReply

  68. Chrissy
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:14:10

    Keep this in mind when you are shelling out big bucks for a Kindle.

    ReplyReply

  69. (Jān)
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:14:51

    @Kim, That’s true, except that any script they’re reading was approved by Amazon as a part of company policy. If they are working for Amazon and reading scripts that state something is Amazon policy, you can bet that it’s Amazon policy.

    That said, it’s worthless to argue with lower level customer service reps. They can’t change policy, only pass along complaints. If they say they can’t do anything, move up the chain of command until you get to someone who can.

    ReplyReply

  70. Rebecca Ore
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:19:18

    My publisher said that she’d told Amazon that my book, Centuries Ago and Very Fast, was glbt and sf, but didn’t classify it as erotica or gay romance. Someone at Amazon had to have read the book to come up with the suggested tag “gay cop” as there’s no mention of the profession on the jacket copy or promotional material.

    So, they were either reading things to suggest tags or at least skimming.

    ReplyReply

  71. hapax
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:32:04

    I think it's pretty easy to establish an algorithm that includes all metadata with “sex” “gay” “lesbian” “erotic” etc and exclude KINDLE from those searches. Amazon probably thinks that mostly adults are reading with the KINDLE anyway.

    I’ll buy that, but … but … but … that wouldn’t do anything about the soi-disant “problem” of having pure and innocent eyeballs corrupted by viewing indecent evil books in their “results” lists, would it?

    Or is my mistake in wanting any of this to make sense?

    ReplyReply

  72. ReacherFan
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:35:28

    The first line of this posting is priceless.

    “It must be really tough being a stupid company on the internet.”

    Read the full text at

    http://neteffect.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/04/12/amazonfail_and_the_politics_of_anti_corporate_cyber_activism

    and see what the Christian Science Monitor has to say as well.

    http://features.csmonitor.com/books/2009/04/13/furor-over-amazon-ranking-system/

    ReplyReply

  73. Amazon Glitch NOT Solved - Irrelevant Events
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:40:13

    [...] ANOTHER new link analyzes it and makes it seem more like an actual policy. So the truth remains to be seen. [...]

  74. Rose
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:45:07

    What I’m curious about is why many of the “turn your child straight” books haven’t been targeted for Amazon Ranking. There’s quite a few of those that turn up in a search, whereas far too many others have been removed.

    ReplyReply

  75. GrrrRomeo
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:48:57

    @jane @hapax

    Kindle > Gay & Lesbian > Romance

    is a totally different category than

    Gay & Lesbian > Romance

    Database wise, and code wise. These do not work the same way as tags. They have the same name, but they are totally separate cateogries because they are in different “trees” or hierarchies.

    I.E. if someone puts their book in a Romance category, it is not automatically put in every Romance category but in that specific one, in that hierarchy.

    It’s likely that the algorithm is inclusive, not exclusive….Kindle was not excluded, but rather it wasn’t included.

    In other words….it just supports the theory that someone deliberately included the Gay & Lesbian categories that were included in the adult filter algorithm for no other reason than it’s Gay & Lesbian.

    ReplyReply

  76. Sage Burnett
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:50:48

    I don’t buy that it is a glitch.

    By targeting Gay and Lesbian, they also wiped out erotic m/f romance books as well.

    And why has Amazon suddenly become the censors of the reading world?

    What are the roots of this censorship?

    This whole debacle with Amazon makes me extremely uneasy.

    ReplyReply

  77. Caty
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:05:48

    Article in the Guardian newspaper, and a Guardian comment column that links here.

    ReplyReply

  78. Veronika
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:08:16

    That makes a lot of sense. I was wondering earlier why a lot of gay-themed fantasy books were not deranked when they were all tagged ‘gay fantasy’, ‘gay romance’ ‘gay’, etc. – much more so than, e.g., Maurice – while the completely untagged (and pretty unknown) Two Girls by the Turkish author Perihan Magden was.

    It also explains why some books by or about Derek Jarman were deranked while others weren’t, and only two of Mary Renaults novels.

    ReplyReply

  79. GrrrRomeo
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:12:49

    @sage You have it backwards…they were targeting erotic and sexually explicit, and included Gay and Lesbian in that.

    I’m not opposed to there being an adult filter. But I am opposed to it being imposed on everyone automatically, and books being removed from Bestseller lists so no one can see them.

    I understand the need for an adult filter…sometimes you’re at work, or at home in the living room with the kids and you don’t want certain things to come up. In the case you should have the option to turn a filter on. It should be like the SafeSearch on Google’s Image search.

    LGBT people like myself are just angry that once again LGBT people have been defined by sexual practices. Being gay is more than who I happen to have sex with.

    I put up with constantly being recommended erotica based on my purchases of LGBT History, Politics and Biographies because I’m used to it. I’m not opposed to erotic fiction, it’s just not what I’m interested in…and shouldn’t be assumed just because I’m gay. What I’m saying is, it’s actually likely that I would turn on an adult filter while searching for LGBT titles to make my results better.

    ReplyReply

  80. Jamie Craig
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:21:14

    How does using Booksurge affect the metadata tags? Publish America, iUniverse, Create Space are not affected by this at all. Furthermore, publishers like Amber Quill Press, who print through Booksurge, were not deranked.

    Pepper

    ReplyReply

  81. Yokai
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:23:49

    @GrrrlRomeo: That’s just the thing. It IS (probably) a glitch.

    There’s a metatag marked “Gay & Lesbian”. There’s also a metatag marked “Erotic”. They’re probably marked down in code as something like #83297487 and #98712398. Or maybe #1234567 and #2234567. So you accidentally type in the wrong tag identifier, or choose the wrong tag from a drop-down menu, and *BOOM!* instant shitstorm.

    As for the issue in February… well, if the same ‘wrong tag’ thing happened, then… well, you can understand not doing a potentially drastic system revision when it was a minor mistake affecting a small number of items…

    if you want to look at it in slightly bizarre terms, the February incident was someone forgetting a ‘.’ in $100 and costing their company ninety-nine dollars… in a billion-dollar-a-year company that’s a drop in the bucket. If it is the same glitch, what happened this weekend was the same missing ‘.’ … only this time it’s in $1000000, and the same mistake of missing a ‘.’ goes from costing ninety-nine dollars to costing nine hundred, ninety-nine thousand.

    It is possible that what happened was malicious, but I doubt it. From an economic standpoint it’s just a bad idea.

    ReplyReply

  82. kirsten saell
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:25:02

    @GrrrRomeo

    So just because you maybe bought Heather has Two Mommies, or a gay history textbook you’re getting email promo suggesting you might like Gobsmacked or My Fair Captain?

    That’s about the dumbest thing ever. *shaking head*

    ReplyReply

  83. Lisa Spangenberg
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:29:49

    What made me start looking closely at the metadata I could see in the source was noticing lesbian was consistently mispelled as lesbain in a small group of books.

    If we take as given (and I’m not sure I want to) that Amazon intended to remove “offensive” and “adult” material from front page searches–

    This is a totally lame ass way to do that. The Supreme Court has wrestled with trying to define adult, erotic, pornographic–this is not a thing Amazon can do.

    The smart thing to do would have been to use the already in place infra structure for user preferences, and add the ability to filter searches using neutral third party data from LoC and other national libraries.

    This? This is stupid, all the way. And the “glitch” argument makes Amazon look even more technically incompetent–do you want someone like this having your credit card data?

    And the patterns of metadata do look like some moron decided queer=dirty, or whatever.

    And still no official apology on the front page, no Amazon person on Twitter, no “we screwed up and we’re sorry and we’ll fix it.”

    It’s stupid all the way down.

    ReplyReply

  84. spikewriter
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:33:27

    @kirsten saell: Buying a copy of “Firefly” brought up the recommendation that I might like “Dallas – Season 1″ or “The Three Stooges.” Buying the “Thin Man” once recommended a salad spinner for me. There truly doesn’t seem to be logic there.

    ReplyReply

  85. Kelly Maher
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 13:53:16

    Just want to destroy the belief that Kindle books are not unaffected :) The only non-anthology stories I have available on Amazon are only in the Kindle format as they’re short stories. If you do an “All Departments” search for my name, I don’t exist. Yet, I’m the first four results when you search my name in “Books”. I do have screenshots showing the lack of a ranking and the subject Amazon categorizes all four under: “Kindle books > Fiction > Erotica”. And those screenshots were only taken an hour ago.

    ReplyReply

  86. Julia Sullivan
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 14:04:54

    I don’t see how this “metadata glitch” explanation works in the case of the disability sex books, though.

    If you look at, say, Enabling Romance, which was de=ranked, it’s hard to imagine what “metadata” is different between that and the still-ranked The Joy of Comfortable Sex.

    Except that one book was written by disability advocates, and the other was written by a back specialist. So the issue isn’t the “glitch”, ultimately, it’s the tagging.

    A book for people with disabilities about how to have sex safely and comfortably is “adult”, whereas a book for people with back and neck pain about how to have sex safely and comfortably is not.

    Similarly, Ron Jeremy’s autobiog, which is very explicit, is not “adult”, while a scholarly biography of Ellen DeGeneres is “adult.” THIS REFLECTS EXTRAORDINARY BIAS.

    ReplyReply

  87. Barbara Saunders
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 14:21:15

    To be honest, I don’t put too much weight on what was said in the form letter. The person whose job it was to respond is likely out of the loop about metadata. I once worked in a publication department where we’d sometimes have to re-do entire series of books due to political battles happening in another department.

    ReplyReply

  88. Lydia
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 14:41:30

    What does AAS stand for?

    ReplyReply

  89. debauchette | amazon. and pornocracy.
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 15:09:12

    [...] made me think of this is a post at Dear Author, in response to the Amazon disaster.  Right now, if you go to Amazon and search [...]

  90. Sexerati | Amazon coder: “someone internally” tagged thousands of titles “adult”
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 15:31:08

    [...] Dear Author has this started rounding up metadata on the affected titles: “Playboy Centerfold books were [...]

  91. Uly
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 16:10:03

    Rebecca, the “gay cop” tag could’ve been put on there by a user. I add tags to books all the time as I review them.

    ReplyReply

  92. ed
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 16:14:20

    Amazon’s Patty Smith just responded to my queries. Sure enough, it looks like it was indeed a metadata problem.

    http://www.edrants.com/amazonfail-amazon-responds/

    ReplyReply

  93. Ken
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 16:15:32

    Anyone feeling moral outrage at Amazon should pause to consider the possibility you’re being (meta-)trolled. Extremely cogent analysis here:

    http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=71180908530&h=oYzS0&u=hFVBc&ref=nf

    ReplyReply

  94. Lisa Spangenberg
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 16:26:29

    From the Seattle PI blog, quoting Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener:

    This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection. It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles–in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search. Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future. You can find the original here
    ReplyReply

  95. Stewardess
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 16:41:16

    Ah yes the metadata! Now I get why my book was de-ranked; it had only one tag, “gay romance.” But the metadata I submitted to the publisher was “gay & lesbian, literature & fiction, fiction, gay romance, gay, erotica, adult, contemporary, soldiers, special forces, military.”

    Whether or not there was a glitch of some sort, there is no doubt Amazon built a mechanism to remove books from searches by stripping sales rank, and it has been doing so for months, if not longer:

    teleread.org/2008/08/28/amazon-hiding-sales-ranks-of-naughty-books-e-book-standards-and-drm-angles/

    The question is: will Amazon completely stop the practice of stripping sales rank? It should. Breaking your website search function is a grotesque way to net-nanny.

    ReplyReply

  96. Amazon Offers Up MetaData Error As Excuse | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 17:23:37

    [...] from Amazon seem to directly dispute the idea of a hack or external tagging issue, but rather an internal cataloguing error. I don’t think that Amazon’s explanation is any explanation at all. It doesn’t [...]

  97. (Jān)
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 18:03:06

    This tells me that this has been an ongoing thing that isn’t going to go away, because they want to be like Walmart. What a thing to aim for. :-/

    http://www.feministing.com/archives/014797.html

    I don’t want anything to do with them if they take that attitude, because they’re going to continue to relegate works *they* consider to be adult to the back room, and we’ve seen this weekend that that means anything they want it to.

    ReplyReply

  98. VQR » Blog » Censorship in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 19:20:30

    [...] of the word “adult” may have contributed to a legitimate glitch, as well as an informal investigation into how metadata (keywords associated with web pages) may be used to categorize-’and discriminate against-’certain [...]

  99. Katie
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 22:08:06

    This sounds like a definite possibility of what happened, but I’m still left wondering what else went into the “glitch.”

    One example of the de-ranking is Bell Hooks’ book Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics. In paperback it has been stripped of its Amazon Rank, but not the hardcover.

    The category metadata for paperback, currently with delisted ranking:

    * Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > African American > Hooks, Bell
    * Nonfiction > Politics > General
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Discrimination & Racism
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Gender Studies > General
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Race Relations > General
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Special Groups > African-American Studies
    * Nonfiction > Women’s Studies > Feminist Theory
    * Nonfiction > Women’s Studies > General

    The category metadata for hardcover, currently listed as #3,444,978 in Books:

    * Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > African-American & Black
    * Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > General
    * Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women
    * History > Americas > United States > General
    * Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > African American > Hooks, Bell
    * Nonfiction > Politics > General
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Discrimination & Racism
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Gender Studies > General
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Social Groups
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Women
    * Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Special Groups > African-American Studies
    * Nonfiction > Women’s Studies > Feminist Theory
    * Nonfiction > Women’s Studies > General

    There may be a difference between the two sections of metadata categories, but neither use a “Gay and Lesbian” or “Erotica” subcategory, for example.

    ReplyReply

  100. Nicola O.
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 23:49:09

    Damn, I love a woman who gives good spreadsheet.

    This is the best article I’ve seen yet for analyzing exactly what happened.

    I’m not holding my breath that we’ll ever learn the how or the why, though.

    ReplyReply

  101. Chris
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 06:09:18

    plastering girl-on-girl porn on the walls of a kindergarten

    That would be quite funny, though.
    .
    .
    Why don’t you kids all use independent booksellers?

    ReplyReply

  102. Amazon Fails to Understand Convergence « Digital Observations
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 10:18:41

    [...] Dear Author A blog about genre fiction which explores how this “glitch” happened to some books and not others by reviewing the metadata: “Thus, as a “glitch” it was a remarkably targeted one that seems to support the emails that Mark Probst and Craig Seymour received from Amazon which was gay and lesbian works were deemed “adult” content regardless of actual content.” [...]

  103. amazonfail « local nudist
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 14:18:42

    [...] or the result of “an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error.” What appears to have happened is that books categorized with the terms gay, lesbian, etc. lost their sales rank data, and would [...]

  104. Guest Post: Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch | American News World - News And Technology
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 18:52:33

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  105. Trade Jim News » Guest Post: Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 18:54:43

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  106. infoyourway.com » Guest Post: Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 19:20:30

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  107. Guest Post: Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch | Spin Valley Post
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 19:30:46

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  108. Guest Post: Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch | Techcom for dummy
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 20:12:11

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  109. Speakeasy » Blog Archive » #amazonfail overview
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 20:14:02

    [...] Amazon stripped the sales rankings from over 57,000 books within specified "adult" metadata categories, effectively making the books invisible unless searched for by exact title. Problem was, the [...]

  110. Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 20:19:07

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  111. Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch | Spin Valley Post
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 20:31:02

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  112. infoyourway.com » Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch
    Apr 14, 2009 @ 21:43:47

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  113. Stephan
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 04:46:50

    Amazons ‘explanation’ if anything has me more worried than the actual ‘glitch’ in many ways. If the book data is held in one place but used by all Amazon sites, then they can, by way of a ‘glitch’ censor the reading material and accessability of every Amazon customer worldwide to match the US centric ethos, laws and rulings.

    ReplyReply

  114. #amazonfail FTW! » the billblog
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 05:23:38

    [...] post: : Amazonfail on twitter search: Dear Author analysis: Girl with a One Track Mind: One claim of responsibility: And a rebuttal: No related posts [...]

  115. The Far Edge » Blog Archive » Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 15:53:25

    [...] Also, see Dear Author's excellent documenting of Amazon's classification of books, placed in Amazon's da…. [...]

  116. #amazonfail « I Feel Beautiful
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 16:20:16

    [...] actually happened, instead of forming opinions based solely on speculation. I was dismayed at the results, but didn’t hate Amazon, and was open to explanations that exonerated them [...]

  117. Why Amazon Didn’t Just Have a Glitch
    Apr 15, 2009 @ 16:50:42

    [...] Also, see Dear Author’s excellent documenting of Amazon’s classification of books, placed in Amazo…. [...]

  118. #Amazonfail | Ramblings
    Apr 16, 2009 @ 13:03:34

    [...] Dear Author analysis [...]

  119. Christian A. Young’s Dimlight Archive |
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 14:08:03

    [...] Dear Author… talks about whether Amazon is using MetaData to filter [...]

  120. Some Thoughts On Amazonfail & Some Finalish Stats « afterthree.net :: rachelle saunders
    Mar 10, 2010 @ 13:52:12

    [...] Was it a glitch? I think that’s mostly spin. (And so does most of the rest of the internet.) At the very least I think this was probably and badly thought out attempt to "protect the children" without fully understanding their own complicated and increasingly irregular tagging and category structure. As an e-commerce professional specializing in usability, I can say in my professional opinion that it’s a good thing most (if not all) people use Amazon’s search tools to find what they’re looking for, because their catalogue hierarchy is nightmarishly inconsistent, with different editions of the same book having different tags (some examples of which have been highlighted in this excellent post on Amazon’s meta data). [...]

  121. Amazonfail: Day Two « afterthree.net :: rachelle saunders
    Mar 10, 2010 @ 13:53:41

    [...] Dear Author looked at the metadata of each book and discovered the probable data links are exactly w…: I looked up over 40 books that had been deranked and filtered out of search engines.  It appears that all the content that was filtered out had either “gay”,  ”lesbian”,  ”transgender”, “erotic”  or “sex” metadata categories.  Playboy Centerfold books were categorized as “nude” and “erotic photography”, both categories that apparently weren’t included in the filter.  According to one source, the category metadata is filled in part by the publisher and in part by Amazon. [...]

  122. #amazonfail Afternoon Roundup « Publishing Industry Consultant – Where books and technology meet.
    May 14, 2010 @ 13:28:23

    [...] Dear Author gets under the hood of the metadata and tries to figure out exactly how it could have happened. [...]

  123. The Amazon Insult Continues… | Jaci Burton's Muse
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 20:21:04

    [...] Dear Author [...]

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: