Amazon Vine

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Amazon Vine is an internal service of Amazon.com. It is a program that allows manufacturers and publishers to create "buzz" via reviews that are published on the Amazon.com site and elsewhere. Companies that use this service pay for access. The precise cost for companies to participate is unknown. Examples of companies participating and offering their products include Logitech, Microsoft, Altec Lansing, HP, Canon, and Corel.

The first wave of Vine participants were selected by Amazon in 2007. At that time, most of the reviewers were "ranked" amongst Amazon's Top 2000 reviewers.

Currently, Amazon sends the Vine members (called "Vine Voices") a list of items twice a month. Products include books, movies, electronics, food items, and other products. Members make selections from the list and Amazon sends the items to the users at no cost.

Ownership

All items sent to the members of Amazon Vine remain the property of Amazon.com. As a practical matter, however, Amazon has never been known to request the return of any item nor has the legality of their continued rights in Vine items ever been challenged or upheld. In addition, many Vine products are perishable, such as food items, which further clouds any claim to perpetual ownership rights Amazon may assert.

Membership criteria

Amazon has not revealed the criteria they use for selecting users. Membership is through invitation only. Potential members of Vine are invited into the program through email or by a special link on the Amazon.com home page.

Amazon states that members are invited "based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews" [1] however it has been noted that some reviewers have only one review on their profile when they were asked to join.

Products

Books make up the bulk of available items, and are offered to almost every member. However, there is a large variety of other products available, ranging from $1 stationery products to $5,000 treadmills. Examples of popular electronics offered to Vine members include GPS navigators, PC gaming products, netbooks, tablet PCs, NAS devices/servers, cameras, camcorders, speakers, hard drives, etc.

Items are given to Vine members free of charge. In return, members are required to post reviews for 80 percent of the received items before ordering new ones.

Vine forum

Amazon hosts a forum for Vine Voices members only. The forum members discuss a wide range of topics including the Vine Voices newsletters. Many other topics are discussed including the best way to write an Amazon Vine review to who got what on the latest Vine newsletter. The majority of Vine Voices do not participate in the Vine forum. Due to a small number of extremely vocal members of the forum, many Vine participants will not engage in discussion for concern of bringing attention to their accounts. Members who post anything that could be construed as a complaint about, or even an analysis of, the Vine program are likely to be shouted down and told to leave the Vine program, or at least the forum. It has been asserted that a small number of Vine Voices will participate in "shill" voting, where several members will collectively vote either negatively or positively in order to affect another member's reviewer rank. Although there is no official moderator of the Amazon Vine Forum, Amazon employees appear to read it. Threads that criticize Amazon may be deleted without explanation, and sometimes threads are deleted for no discernible reason. Amazon occasionally bans users from the program for participating in any tactic used to try and manipulate the review or ranking system, which practices Amazon seems to find out about from the forum. Likewise, Amazon sometimes modifies its software to technically eliminate practices after they are discussed on the forum (for example, a method formerly used to display the entire multi-page "leftovers" newsletter at once rather than having to access pages one by one).

Vine Voices newsletter

The Vine Voices newsletter is usually sent to Vine Voice members the third Thursday of each month (holidays excepted). Sometimes Vine members are offered an additional newsletter to choose from. Amazon states that this newsletter is targeted to its recipients. There are at least several versions of the targeted newsletter, which vary significantly in both the number and kinds of items offered. Members quickly select their targeted merchandise and the merchandise is promptly shipped by Amazon for Vine Voices to review.

The fourth Thursday of each month is the "leftovers" newsletter.Template:Citation needed Vine Voice members may select from a list of all available "leftover" merchandise. Each month, 2 or more items may be selected from the targeted newsletter. An additional two or more selections are available from the "leftovers" newsletter. Once or twice a year, after an excess of unchosen items has built up, Vine Voice members are permitted to choose four items from the "leftovers."

Controversy

Vine has faced criticism because it is a program where 'regular people' review a range of products. For example, Fuse#8, a writer at the School Library Journal, (aka E.R. Ramseelbird), writes: "You see, on the children's literature side of things, the people submitting reviews are often getting products for kids that require a subtle hand." [2] However, as The Washington Post and the TimesOnLine notes, such establishment reviewers are being abandoned by newspapers and readers everywhere, in favor of reviews done by peers who do not benefit for giving either good reviews nor bad.[3]

Reviews

Vine Voice members are required to write reviews for the products received. The Vine Voice program requires that 75 percent of the merchandise received by a Vine Voice member be reviewed before the member can select another item from the Vine Voice newsletter. Vine Voice members are not paid for their reviews. Also, Amazon has promised that all submitted Vine reviews will be published, allowing Vine Voice members to freely review Vine items received. However, Amazon does use automated software to reject reviews that contain "trigger words," such as anything that could be construed to be an obscenity or a racial insult. Vine Voice members do not receive any of the press releases, pre-written "reviews," or other loose marketing copy supplied by publishers and manufacturers, therefore (unlike many print publications) are not permitted to rewrite such copy.

External links

References

  1. http://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help
  2. [1]
  3. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7100928.ece