Tuesday, September 13, 2016

No Thanks, No More Blog Tours, Reviews Removed, Algorithms & How Amazon Rules the Bloggers' World

Image result for loving blogI recently posted a rambling of mine, wherein I announced that multitaskingmommas Book Reviews will temporarily cease from accepting Blog Tours. In that same post, it mentioned that we are only accepting the minimum amount of Review Requests. To read entire post, just look up, its the featured post on the blog.

Someone asked how and why did we reach this decision. Well, it's really a combination of things. 
  • One, busy lives. All the reviewers in this blog are authors and when there is a deadline, we stop blogging and focus on our writing. 
  • Two, busy lives. When life sends us lifedramas, we have no choice, but to sit down and listen. 
  • Three, the schedule no longer looked fun. Truth of the matter is, the request for blog tours came to such a degree we no longer could focus on cooking lunch. Yes, I agree, we could always refuse the tours, but wow, we have received emails to the effect of why we are no longer friends. Uhm...we are friends, it's just, we don't have 48 hours in one day.
  • Four, I, multitaskingmomma, discovered some of our reviews were being summarily removed. I will focus more on this in a bit.
  • Five, Amazon. The Blogger Police came knocking on the door.

Okay, let's talk about the reviews. As you well know, we at multitaskingmomma take pride that every review we write are cross posted everywhere we can link it to. These links we send off in an email to the organizers and authors who requested them. That said, we are happy to say, we strove hard to comply with our end of the bargain. We also take pride in stating we have never accepted money for those reviews. Not a cent. Nada. Most times, not get thanked by anyone either. *shrugs*

When I noticed some of the reviews posted on Amazon were taken down, I thought it was a glitch and would reappear. Then I began to read threads of blogger reviews summarily removed by Amazon because of some weird new policy they have. Que horror! What do they remove, you ask? Well, here's a list:
  • Reviews from family members
  • Reviews from friends
  • Reviews from other authors
  • Paid Reviews

Okay, you've watched it? Good! But hold up, that is just the tip of the iceberg, peeps. 

Ever heard of Algorithms? I'm sure a whole lot of you can lay claim to saying you've heard of the term, or you've encountered it somewhere. So how is this related to your reviews? How is this related to removal of reviews linked to blog tours? How is this related to bloggers getting banned from reviewing on Amazon?

Lets do a simple definition: 

a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

I've seen statements to the effect of: that mysterious Amazon algorithm...

Yes, it is mysterious as Amazon sets its own parameters in terms of rules and calculations. This includes their bots searching tags which will link you to the authors. 

No, this is not an infallible program and it leaves a huge margin of error where many bloggers and purist reviewers fall into. 

What about the Blog Tours? How is this involved?

Simple peeps: Blog Tours are an algorithms' paradise. Think: Search Engine Optimization!
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From the titles of Blog Tour, to the schedule of the tour, to the list of bloggers involved in the tour, all the way to the file names of your images for teasers, banners, and what nots. Every single file you send off to you bloggers for the tours gets lynched in by the bots working on their set algorithms to establish these individual file names are somehow within their parameters, down your review goes.


Well, look at how the blog tours work, they each have schedules which are most likely set up in google docs. I noticed most of  our reviews taken down were linked to those tours. Although I made careful tweaks to the content that shouldn't link it, there was one set of parameter I'd missed out on: the date. 

Reviews posted within a specific set of time, frequency and such, they eventually get taken down because the bots know it was from a scheduled tour, whether or not the reviewer was involved in said tour.

Look at those hashtags!!! LINKS!
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No! Amazon is not always right in terms of this, we have no argument there. Although algorithms are what they rely on, it is still full of errors and if it calculates a targeted parameter, then it takes down the review. Unfortunately, it's what they rely on but also seek to improve daily. And not only Amazon either, the NSA does it, and you do, too. How?

Links. Links. Links. 

Back links, home links, short links–these are all link resources commonly known as network-accessible resources. This system is distributed throughout the internet and provides the resources we, its clients, uses. This includes anyone and everyone that can access them. Each resource is linked to other resources and are categorized, or typed, to bunch them together or lump them into a specified relationship. Each specified relationship is linked to others of the kind and so on and so forth. 

Bloggers, reviewers, everything you write, including what you're reading now, these are all translated into a code. I won't go further into what specifics, just bear in mind, everything is linked and somewhere along the way, Amazon bots will link the links and eventually remove what their set parameters dictate as non-compliant to their policies.

In short, links rule the internet world and Amazon has become the bloggers' police. 

How will this affect the future of multitaskingmommas Book Reviews? I have no idea.  Right now, I am caught between wanting to continue the blog and see how it goes insofar as how Amazon treats our reviews, and wanting to close it down for the futility of it all. 
Image result for amazon rules the world

Amazon, however, should not rule our world. We still have Goodreads...which is owned by Amazon. We also have the publisher sites where we can post our reviews, if only most would consider it possible to do so without buying from them for we still have other vendors we are loyal to and frankly, a lot of publisher sites make it an effort to buy from them, much less post a review.

I am also playing around with the idea of closing down the blog and be done with it all. I still am. What's stopping me? Well, this is my baby, and frankly, this is my first love. Blogging. It allows for me, as a reader, to be introduced to new ones and keep on with the old. The thing with reviews being taken down, it's not making me miserable, not at all, it's just disheartening to see something created torn down because it crept within the secret parameters a strong-arm site created. 
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It makes me wonder, what will happen to the tours if this clampdown continues? Where will the promoters go from here? And truly, we cannot even rely on readers who buy the books and post their reviews religiously because I know of two bloggers who've been banned for posting their Verified Purchases reviews.  

Right now, it is a wait and see situation for this blog to join up with tours. Promote, yes, but with the surfeit of people sending emails at the last minute and saying sorry, but emergency! it's just not working anymore. Especially as there are no thanks in return, even a simple PM would do it, but no, none. Again, disheartening.

For now, we will continue to accept the Review Requests, but it will be very limited. Promotions, if we have the time, and not working with deadlines ourselves.

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  1. Thank you so much for posting this. As a blogger as well, I've gotten to the point where my reviews are my own. I will do a spotlight for anyone but I do not do reviews upon request, even for tours unless I really want to read the book and even then, I might just do it on my own because I hate the pressure the promoters are putting on the bloggers. Also can I say to the promoters, I need more then a few hours notice because you messed up a media kit or forgot or whatever. I'm more likely to delete the email then fix the issue. We don't get paid for anything, we don't get a "Thank You", and the best case scenario is we get a free ebook if we are willing to review on a deadline with threats behind it. I've been blogging for years because I love it but I don't promote my blog and I've had lots of authors ask why and to me it's simple, I don't want the drama that comes with it. Leave me alone, let me choose when and whom I promote and don't come at me with threats. Just like any job, this is an at-will job I do for free and believe it or not, it takes just as many hours (if not more) then my RL job who pays me really well! *off the soap box* Again, thank you for posting this!

    1. Thank you for dropping by, and I totally agree with you. Many can't seem to remember that it takes a whole lot of effort and love to blog, and that it takes a lot of real-life time. I don't mind review requests, especially if the author is familiar or the new one offers up an irresistible blurb – if they don't mind my disclaimers or my current need to not be rushed or threatened if the review rank is not to their expectations.
      And again, I agree with you. We can all use some respite from the dramas, I have enough of my own. We all do.

      Much love, Jo

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