Monday, April 13, 2009

AmazonFail = QualityControlFail

So, the story of what happened with AmazonFail is in, and it was, indeed, a glitch of sorts. There was no massive conspiracy to exclude certain works from rankings and searches. In fact, it seems the issue had to more with language barriers -- and an unfortunate lack of quality control administration -- than anything else.

It seems someone editing the code for (Amazon's French portal) conflated the word "adult" with the word "sexuality." All of Amazon's portals everywhere are linked, so the local change in France propagated throughout ALL of Amazon.

I can only imagine the PR nightmare this all has been to Amazon. Amazon says it will take some time to repair this issue. I kind of feel horrible for the guy who made this mistake. Once the torches and pitchforks were headed hsi way, his blood must have run cold... But it's not really his fault. This is a great lesson on why multiple levels of quality control are a fine idea. Think of the damage this person could have done if they were trying to be malicious.

SeattlePI has the whole story.


MoHoHawaii said...

OK, then explain this one.

The sales rank issue is not the only anti-gay part of Amazon. Their "search suggestions" feature is completely disabled for searches using "gay" or "lesbian" as their first word.

Normally Amazon shows you suggestions as you type characters in the search box. For example if you type "Christian m" you will see a list of suggestions including "Christian marriage". You don't have to type the full search, just select from the suggestions.

If you try this same search by typing "gay m" you get nothing. Unlike the term "Christian", the word "gay" just shuts off the search suggestions feature completely. Same for "lesbian."

I wonder what kind of "glitch" this can be attributed to.

GreenishBlue said...

I'm not so sure where the accusatory "explain this" tone is coming from. I'm no apologist for Amazon on this issue, as you can tell from my previous post on the matter: (where I also mention the related issue with search results)

I think that "glitch" was perhaps an inaccurate word for Amazon to use to describe the situation. But if indeed the problem was caused by the error Amazon described (and there's no evidence that it wasn't), the missing search results are satisfactorily explained by that... That doesn't make it okay and if Aamzon wants to save ANY face on this fiasco, they'll fix it post haste... but it also doesn't make it a conspiracy.

We still don't know all the details on what happened