Amazon.com a place where you can just about everything. Including books that you can’t find in mainstream book stores.
Recently they’ve become Amazon.fail. Why? Because of a stupid “glitch.” It would see that book that have same gender romance and content are being, for lack of a better term, black listed.
An author I’ve recently been chatting with has a book that has been blacklisted. Needless to say, she is not thrilled with Amazon at the moment. Ancestral Magic is Moondancer Drake’s debut book, and it’s blacklisted because of a lesbian romance within the book. Ancestral Magic has only been on the shelves for about two weeks now.
Moon’s book isn’t the only one that is suffering either. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx, pretty sure this is the book the movie was based off of. You know with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. These are book that have been on the shelves for years and years, but because they contain homosexual or bisexual content.
Amazon claims they are fixing this de-ranking glitch, but what gives them the right to do this? Who gave them the right to take anyone’s work and move it down in rankings and thus hiding it from people who might actually be interested in this? All I know is that someone should kick Amazon in the ass and remind them that the authors of these books are people not just profits.
While this could be a glitch, I don’t think it is. Slowly one by one things that people enjoy reading are becoming harder and harder to get a hold of. A few weeks ago I posted about a modern book burning with books that are being pulled off the shelves because they’re from 1985 and before. The reason was lead paint. This is another form of book burning, only this time the target is Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual content.
Even if it’s fixed, it will still set a paranoia in current authors and up and coming authors who have stories with same sex romances. So if you are against this so called glitch; sign this petition and let Amazon know this is unacceptable.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get my gay, lesbian and bisexual section of my library up to date. Without using Amazon.
Keep it real and rockin’
So, I was going to post something about today being declared (unofficially, really) as Corner Gas Day in Saskatchewan. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. But Zodi pointed out this massive debacle before I noticed it as #amazonfail on twitter. Just before lunch today, I took a look at the comments. Interesting stuff, really. I made sure to read blogs and news posts about the subject as well. One such blog post is from David Niall Wilson, who made two posts on the subject. And then I went to lunch.
It seems that going to lunch and coming back to check on the topic proved how big it was. Over 340 posts had been made on the subject. And that’s when the confusion started to sink in.
I’m the type of person that will look into something, even if I do start getting mad about it. Remember CCSPA? I found out vital information about Bill C-6 and managed to educate myself about it. So, I tried doing the same here. What I found confused me even more. Suddenly, there was a self proclaimed hacker owning up to the responsibility of starting this hoax, as he would call it. Infintile as it might be, as he went ahead with a grand scheme to hit Amazon.com, specifically targeting gay and lesbian products. Why? Here’s a quote from Gawker’s article, which in turn is quoted from the original poster’s blog, brutal_honesty.
I really hate reputation systems based on user input. This started a while back on Craigslist, when I was trying to score chicks to do heroin with. My listings like “looking to get tarred and pleasured” and “Searching for a heroine to do the paronym of this sentence’s lexical subject” kept getting flagged. The audacity of the San Francisco gay community disgusted me. They would flag my ads down but searching craigslist for “pnp” or “tina” reveals tons of hairy dudes searching for other hairy dudes to do meth with. So I decided to get them back, and cause a few hundred thousand queers some outrage.
That’s why. Pretty stupid, actually. The rest of the article details how weev went about doing it. Could it be done? I’m not a high end programmer, so I don’t know. But weev has produced at least one skeptic. Bryant comes to a couple of conclusions regarding the matter.
a) The code is buggy; I can’t get it to run as written. In particular, he uses the -dump parameter to links. That causes links to dump a formatted version of the document, which does not contain any URLs at all. (Edit: yeah, he gave Valleywag an explanation for this which does make sense.)
I went ahead and got a non-formatted version of the page he’s grabbing for the sake of completeness, and ran his grep and sed statements on it. You don’t actually get a pretty listing of product IDs from that. You could get one if you wrote better regexps, but the ones he’s providing just don’t work.
So let’s say he was just, I don’t know, obfuscating because he’s lazy. It is entirely possible to get a list of Amazon product IDs by methods similar to the ones he posted. Onward!
b) He says that URLs of the form http://www.amazon.com/ri/product-listing/ generate a complaint. However, if you go to a URL with that format, you get a 404 page. It’s possible that Amazon just pulled that functionality this morning, but there’s no sign of that URL in their help system that I can see after a quick once-over.
Edit: he is saying that the functionality was just pulled. So I dunno. Google caches of Amazon book pages don’t show the link he’s claiming was there, but they wouldn’t if that functionality is dependent on being logged in. Anyone have an old screenshot of an Amazon page showing that?
Conclusion: troll! Reserving the right to change my mind if we get some real proof, but see lengthy philosophy note that follows.
And it doesn’t end there.
Search through the vast comments about #amazonfail, and you’ll find everything. If you can keep up with the posts that hit Twitter. In a matter of five minutes, over 100 posts were made on the subject. The only thing I can caution is make some judgements after doing some research. If it was someone’s decision at Amazon to implement this, which hit every book about LGBT, then bad on them. If it was the hacker, then he proved one thing. He’s an asshat for doing it. If not, he’s an asshat for trying to grab fame that isn’t his.
I’m gonna take Mur Lafferty’s advice and shop at my local bookstore. Even though that requires me driving an hour to go to Saskatoon.
Until next time…
…I’ll bring you information on Corner Gas Day…
…and keep ‘em flyin’!
EDIT: Okay, seems there’s a new thread in Twitter, this called #sorryamazon. Why do I find this entire thing funny?
Zodi Edit: Even if it was a joke, I don’t think people found it very funny. Nor do I think it was right for the person to affect peoples lives like this. So while I am sorry for bashing amazon, I think Amazon should have stricter security on who can get a hold of that stuff. In fact hire a hacker.