Mar 21, 2009

Authonomy dramaz report

Hellfire broke loose this evening on Harper-Collins's Authonomy author-networking website, when it was determined that the "glitch" that was keeping the site slow or crashing all day was none other than a tech-savvy author who posted a youtube video asking his wide network of friends to join the site and vote for his book.

The video itself, by an Irish writer, vlogger, and Starcraft afficionado, is strikingly harmless. He sounds like a nice enough fellow, and it's actually super funny to hear somebody walk you through the Authonomy process in that friendly tech-support style. But as it happens, this fellow has a lot of friends, and they're gamer friends with plenty of time to spend fiddling around on the computer, and they've come out in droves to visit the site and comment on his book.

Together with totally crashing the site all day, the concept of doing this, and being sucessful at it (the book in question has shot up the rankings and is already #1 on the weekly chart), has raised some ethical questions. Which are all being expounded, in greater or lesser degrees of coherence, politeness, and rabid fury, by pretty much everyone who's on the site right now. The author started out trying to defend himself, but faced with the onslaught of hate he's pretty well been reduced to calling everyone "jealous" and pretty much looking like a big ol' douche. But to be fair, everyone is so furious at him he'd have to be a saint to make himself look good at the moment.

The book itself... well, the first couple paragraphs were so bad I didn't keep reading, but a few people who did say it improves a lot after the first couple pages.

Anyway, he's a gamer, and he's gamed the system. Certainly, this kind of behaviour will totally sink the site and the community behind it if more than a couple people do it. But on the other hand, it's legit - he has a Starcraft-centered fanbase and he can ask all those people to vote for him, just like everyone is always asking all their Facebook friends to vote for them in whatever contest they're involved in. It's taking the contest into a whole other league, and I can really appreciate why the people who've found a really nice community in Authonomy would object furiously to this first advent of spam-warfare.

What will happen? Will the interloper be chastized? Banned? Shot?
Stay tuned.


George LaCas said...

Hi Erin,

I'll tell you exactly what will happen: either the gamers/sock puppets leave Authonomy, or the writers will.

I don't see his tactics as "legit". What he's done amounts to a DDOS attack, however he bats his eyes and says "I didn't mean to do THAT..."

HarperCollinsUK can choose.


Erin said...

Yeah, I'm with you there, George.

Or... well, I do see what he's done as legit, if crass. Unless he actually did make a program to do an actual DOS attack, in which case all bets are off. I mean, it's not his fault that Authonomy is completely unprepared for that kind of thing.

But definitely, it takes things to a whole different level, and it's a level that defeats the purpose of the site. It makes it no fun, and it hurts the community feeling. And it'll be very interesting to see how HC handles it.

Anonymous said...

In authonomy's terms and conditions of use it states

"Activity which is prohibited: interfering with, disrupting, or creating an undue burden on the Website or the networks or services that support the Website"

Clearly Krozart has done this.

Erin said...

Ooh, excellent. That rule has clearly been infracted.