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The market brings out the worst in people. Why do we want that?

How To Blow Up Your Writing Career – Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds:

Thing is, and here’s the real point, ultimately none of that really suggests you should go out and sandbag your imagined authorial rivals in a bigoted push to be the Highlander of Books. What happened here, in this particular situation, definitely feels like some racist shit and I don’t think “engagement farming” or “seeing writers as competition and not community” entirely explains this truly bizarre situation. It definitely seems like a soupçon of mental health issues coupled with some active (or at least poorly-concealed and realized) racism had to be in play.

Individual humans are always going to be weird and most of us don’t function great under pressure anyway. That is not to excuse in any way what this person did or whatever reasons they had for doing it; Wendig is right about all of that.

Rather, I think it is worth noting that this whole kerfuffle took place on Amazon and Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon), ecosystems created and designed to be the worst sort of competitive marketplace where everyone is pitted against one another and incentivized to use whatever tactics they think will give them an advantage. And it is all deliberately set up that way for the specific purpose of allowing Amazon to extract a profit from the mayhem.

So that means that in order for these platforms to make money, they’re basically encouraging everyone to fight it out in the Thunderdomes they’ve built. The platform doesn’t care if people get abused, or if people give in to their own worst impulses, or if the worst sorts of behavior gets you to the top of the pile, except to the extent that it might make for some transitory bad press or legal liability for the platform.

The companies that run platforms like Goodreads (or any of the others—YouTube, Facebook, etc.) keep pushing them as communities, but they are the exact opposite of an actual community. Until we confront that fact and do something about it—regulate them so that their business models are untenable—they are going to keep incentivizing awful behavior like this because it is in their interest to do so.

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