We, the undersigned respectfully request that the following irregularities in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest be appropriately addressed and corrected. Here are the issues that need to be addressed.
Following is an accurate outline of the Petition:
VALIDITY OF SUBMISSIONS
-- Assure that it is a complete, finalized work of fiction.
-- Assure that it follows all contest rules.
-- Assure that it fits into the category of submission (either General Fiction or Young Adult Fiction).
-- Notify, in a timely manner, those who have been disqualified, stating why.
SUBMISSION RULES FOR THE CONTEST
-- Write detailed, clear submission rules for the Contest.
-- Make the rules for submission clearly visible, and in a font size that is easily readable.
-- Follow those rules in your selection process.
THE ABNA DISCUSSION BOARD
-- Anonymity of certain functions must be removed, so abusers can readily be identified and censured.
-- Amazon.com needs to monitor the activities on their Discussion Boards, to prevent the continued abuse of posters.
-- Assure that they are competent to review literature.
-- Assure that they are not employees of Amazon.com, in any capacity; it is a conflict of interest.
-- They must be given a strict framework within which to frame their vine reviews, and they must be closely monitored by Amazon.com to maintain that compliance.
-- They must be denied access to the contestants’ discussion board, which provides confidential submission and contestant information, knowledge of which may foster bias.
-- Vine reviewer judges cannot be contestants; it is a conflict of interest.
Please read the in depth description of the Petition below.
At the end, links are provided to abusive threads as well as abusive reviews, which you may read, and judge for yourself.
VALIDITY OF SUBMISSIONS
- Vet the validity of each submission (hereinafter, “Submission”) to see that it is a complete, finalized work of fiction at the time of submission.
- Verify that each Submission follows all contest (hereinafter, “Contest”) rules.
- The submitted work must fit into the category of submission (either General Fiction or Young Adult Fiction). Works of Middle Grade and Children's fiction are not valid submissions in the Contest, as it currently stands. Amazon.com may, in future, choose to create Middle Grade and/or Children's fiction categories.
- Notify, in a timely manner, those who have been disqualified, stating why.
SUBMISSION RULES FOR THE CONTEST
- Write detailed, clear submission rules for the Contest.
- The Pitch (hereinafter, “Pitch”) guidelines, as they currently stand, request too many features for it to fit reasonably within the 300-word count allotted. Thus, making a Pitch unwieldly, choppy, and a poor representation of the Submission. The 300-word count is a reasonable length, the amount of information suggested to be put into it is not.
- The Pitch guideline video directly contradicts the written guidelines.
- Make the rules for submission clearly visible, and in a font size that is easily readable.
- Follow those rules in your selection process.
- If any judge vine reviewer (hereinafter, “Vine Reviewer”) can see any contestant (hereinafter, “Contestant”) posts on the discussion board (hereinafter, “Discussion Board”) throughout the Contest, any requirement of Contestant anonymity is moot.
The ABNA DISCUSSION BOARD
People are hounded off the Discussion Board by cyberstalkers who use the anonymity and lack of monitoring of certain functions to persecute targeted individuals.
The Anonymous “No” Vote Button:
The “No” vote button is used to “No” vote targeted individuals. If that button is selected a certain number of times, that post is veiled, regardless of its content. That is arbitrary censorship. Completely benign, on topic, posts are “No” voted as many as twenty (20) times per post.
The “No” vote button was designed to be used to tell posters when they've gone off topic in a discussion thread. Targeted individuals are “No” voted, repeatedly, for beginning a thread, so it would be impossible to be off topic in a thread of one’s own origination.
The Anonymous “Report Abuse” Button:
The “Report Abuse” button is used to cause benign posts to be deleted to harass targeted individuals. These, both, are clear examples of cyber-bullying. Cyber-Stalking by ABNA Discussion Board participants, including Vine Reviewers The ABNA Discussion Board’s abusers have, admittedly, gone to the writing excerpts of targeted individuals on CreateSpace to write vicious personal attacks, under the guise of reviews.
That is a clear example of cyber-stalking.
Lack of Oversight by Amazon.com:
The veil of anonymity must be removed from the above-named functions, so abusers can readily be identified and censured.
Amazon.com clearly needs to monitor the activities on their Discussion Boards. Any individual requests for assistance made by Contestants and posters, via e-mail, have either been answered by a form letter, with no follow-up, or completely ignored.
Telephone calls made directly to Amazon.com’s Corporate Offices have been repeatedly rerouted, by the Corporate Offices Receptionist, back to the Customer Service line, where callers are told Amazon.com’s Customer Service Center has no connection to the ABNA Contest.
Vine Reviewers are not necessarily qualified to review literature, as the current rules stand. They need to be selected according to stringent criteria as to their ability to perform the functions of their positions. They must have a proven competency to review literature.
The original literature of unpublished writers are not Amazon.com products, to be reviewed by someone whose qualifications are that he or she has reviewed miscellaneous products, including toilet cleaners and back hair shavers for Amazon.com, in order to receive free products.
Employees of Amazon.com Cannot Be Contestants:
Vine Reviewers are enticed to review Amazon.com products, and are monetarily compensated for their reviews, with free (sometimes expensive) Amazon.com products that they are then asked to review.
Vine Reviewers are also specifically compensated for serving as Vine Reviewers in the Contest, with a $350.00 gift certificate.
Both forms of compensation define Vine Reviewers as Amazon.com employees/contractors and, therefore, should disqualify them from being Contestants in the Contest.
Lack of Oversight by Amazon.com Regarding Their Reviews:
Vine Reviewers need to be given a strict framework within which to frame their vine reviews. This seems to be in place, in some form, but is not necessarily followed by Vine Reviewers. Since there, clearly, is no overseership by Amazon.com of these reviews, scathing, personal attacks against the writer, not the writing, are passed on to Contestants as if they are legitimate reviews.
Unmonitored Access to Confidential Contestant Information:
Vine Reviewers have full, unmonitored access to the Contestants’ Discussion Board throughout the entirety of the Contest, in which contestants post their identities, their Pitches, and their synopses, and discuss their Submissions in candid detail. In addition to which, they conduct other personal conversations.
In a Contest that requires the anonymity of all Submissions, such “eavesdropping” by judges violates the anonymity of the Submissions (for which a Contestant would be disqualified), and allows judges to form biases regarding certain Submissions and/or Contestants.
Past/Present/Future Judges should not be Contestants:
Vine Reviewers, who have access to the Vine Reviewers’ discussion board, and insider information pertaining to the Contest, could potentially be secret Contestants in the Contest; there is nothing but their own honor to prevent that. And proof of this dual activity has, in fact, been revealed, in previous years.
In this Contest, in which Submissions may be the same from year to year, former Contestants, have insider information regarding repeat Submissions, and their authors, that are required to be anonymous, of which should preclude these former Contestants from being judges in a current, or future Contest.
Alternatively, former Vine Reviewers, may reasonably be expected to have made personal friendships among fellow Vine Reviewers, as participants of the Vine Reviewer discussion board, which should preclude former Vine Reviewers from being Contestants in a current, or future Contest.
Contestants' Discussion Board—Samples of Abusive Threads:
Thread titled: BAD REVIEWS - http://www.amazon.com/tag/amazon%20breakthrough%20novel%20awards/forum/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx6TTNZ0V5TDQ5&cdThread=Tx13KGFE9EJ770B&displayType=tagsDetail
Look at the threads titled below. You will have to page through several to see the conflicts and harassment, but they are there.
1. important to abna admin.
2. A thought about negative reviews
3. Thoughts from a random Vine Voice (look at the last few pages)
4. FYI: VIne Reviewers have their own forum. It is private. It should be public.
5. Harkius, quit stalking me....
6. Reviews on Create Space
7. Vine Reviews/Schmine Reviews
Vine Reviewers' Discussion Board—Samples of Abusive Threads:
Look at 1-9 pages starting with newest post first: http://www.amazon.com/gp/forum/cd/discussion.html/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg7?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx3BD3BKVVQOQXK&cdPage=7&cdSort=newest&cdThread=Tx2LDMIWCDAZWXE
Review older posts in that thread. Harkius as well as others have deleted their inflammatory posts which show how they make fun of the writers and discuss how much they enjoy crushing the writers' dreams as if this was all some big joke. You can find copies of these particular posts in the Contestants' Discussion Board where they were copied and pasted before the Vine Reviewers had a chance to delete them.
Frequently Asked Questions:
By electronically signing this Petition, I respectfully request that the above-named irregularities in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest be appropriately addressed and corrected.