[personal profile] elsajeni
Well, I was going to write a post about how Amazon has been CAUSING TROUBLE and TICKING ME (and the rest of the internet) OFF, what with this whole "removing adult content" business -- which in effect removed a bunch of GLBT-themed fiction, autobiographies, picture books (we all know about the graphic gay sex in "Heather Has Two Mommies"), textbooks, and a ridiculous number of other things that had anything to do with sex or sexuality in an even vaguely non-completely-vanilla way, and left all the porn and dildos (you can buy dildos on Amazon!) still sitting there in plain sight -- but then I got a response to the cranky letter I wrote them yesterday, which opened, "This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection."

So, at least they're admitting it was embarrassing and stupid. I'm still not entirely convinced it was all a matter of error/sloppiness/whatever, although I'm willing to believe that was the better part of it -- more things can be attributed to ineptitude than to malice, really. But at least they seem to have grasped that it was dumb, and are apparently trying to fix it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mudpuppy83.livejournal.com
Yeah, I'm pretty convinced that it was a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

Which is good, because I like amazon and i want to be able to forget this and move on.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] red-edison.livejournal.com
FWIW, there's a troll who's taking credit for gaming the Amazon "flag as inappropriate" system:

http://i.gizmodo.com/5210424/hacker-claims-he-shoved-amazon-into-the-closet-using-inappropriate-flag-exploit

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 02:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mudpuppy83.livejournal.com
Also, wait, you can buy dildos on Amazon? What department do you have to search to find those?!

Please tell me it's "Toys & Games", oh please...

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 05:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elsajeni.livejournal.com
It should be! But no:

Grocery, Health & Beauty > Health & Personal Care > Sexual Wellness

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mudpuppy83.livejournal.com
That's....wow.

I suppose that's an accurate assessment of the purpose of a dildo, but it sounds an awful lot like they're going by the original function of a vibrator to cure women of "hysteria"...

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quincunx.livejournal.com
They say it was a glitch, but I'm wondering what kind of a glitch it was that left all the right-wing books on "curing" homosexuality untouched.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elsajeni.livejournal.com
Oh, it's totally bull that it was a "glitch," which implies computer error. This is absolutely a human-error situation. This (http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2009/04/12/amazon-possibly-using-category-metadata-to-filter-rankings/) post lists some of the category data for some of the books that were affected and not affected, including Heather Has Two Mommies (every subcategory includes either "Gay & Lesbian" or "Homosexuality") and A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality (mostly listed under "Parenting" and "Religion & Spirituality") -- my guess would be that someone went "Hey Steve, go flag all the adult content for delisting" and then failed to explain to Steve what "adult content" meant, and that combined with Steve's failure to recognize how wide-ranging some of these categories are resulted in critical failure.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quincunx.livejournal.com
I hadn't seen that assessment of the situation, so thanks for sharing a well-written piece that addresses how this could have happened. I've only seen stuff that could basically be boiled down to "this is an outrage," and while it definitely is, I don't really need help filling that in. I think it's always possible that someone within the company decided to do a bit of moral vigilantism, which would go beyond incompetence and into malice, but as long as this wasn't someone implementing Amazon's policy, I wouldn't be too upset about that. Hiring processes can't necessarily weed out crazy people who will use access to protected data irresponsibly, so if it was just one person doing what they thought was best, that wouldn't be so bad.

I think it'll be pretty interesting how transparent Amazon is about fixing this problem. Normally, big companies will only use the vaguest language about their internal goings on, but I think that might make this situation much worse for them.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] incoherent07.livejournal.com
My theory is that someone on the business side of the company made the decision to do this, word got out to the press, word got back to the (somewhat boisterous) Amazon internal mailing lists, and the mailing lists raised such unholy hell that eventually word got back to the higher-ups that everyone hates this idea and that you should change it. Cue CYA press release where it's called a "glitch".

I'm convinced that this sort of scenario is an inevitable result of putting engineers and businesspeople in the same company.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-15 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thromulator.livejournal.com
Huh. This had passed under my radar completely. Weird. And so soon after Iowa and Vermont (like I'm the first person to make *that* observation).

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Liz

July 2009

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