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Author Topic: Caution: Don't Question Alamy  (Read 13677 times)

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« on: October 18, 2018, 09:07 »
+6
I have been contributing to Alamy for 5 years. Sales increasing year after year. A couple rejections early on while getting used to what they want, but ever since I've had dozens of batches of accepted images, without any further rejections. I was "stuck" at 2 out of 3 threes stars with their "QC" rating, but never thought much of it, other than it seems to take absolute lifetime of perfection to get to maximum 3 stars.

I had put Alamy on the backburner and hadn't uploaded for a bit, but I had some extra time and decided to submit a batch. To the 75 or so images in the batch, I added an image I took of a photo of opportunity taken on an iPhone. This image is available on SS, AB, P5, etc. and sells surprisingly well. Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten that Alamy does not accept images from iPhones (even though they've accepted images from far worse cameras, but I digress). So that batch, all 75+ images, all of them from DSLR's (besides the one), was blanket rejected. This I can understand, they have a policy, I violated it (even an understandable mistake) and while rejecting the whole batch over one image seems harsh, it's their company, their policy. But that's not where it ends.

They put a 10 day upload freeze on my account. They dropped my QC ranking dropped from 2 to 1 stars. Dozens of perfect batches of uploads, no rank increase. One failed image, dropped to the bottom of their QC rating and an upload freeze. 3 punishments for one little overlooked image. I don't even understand exactly what that means or how it affects my account specifically, but I realized it can't be good and it seemed like some harsh treatment to a good contributor over a simple honest mistake. So I reached out to their support for clarification.

A robotic and defensive sounding response informing me of their blanket policy of acceptable cameras and that my rank will stay at 1. That it's "not possible" to check every image (tell that to SS, AB, P5, etc.). They offered a "goodwill gesture" of unfreezing my uploads, but I again asked why such a harsh punishment for one image. No further response. I self-imposed an upload "freeze" of my own.

Since then, I've been in the longest sales gap in two years. As has been suggested, likely a coincidence. But as a general caution, watch what you say, fellow contributors.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 09:48 by Daryl Ray »


« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2018, 09:27 »
+1
Thanks for the advice. Well written, thorough article. I think its a good example of just how "automated" the business has become. Take heart. Alamy's strict policy is self-punishing. They lose a good, money-generating supplier. 

ShadySue

« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2018, 09:43 »
+3
I'm not sure how much the QC rank counts for anything, but maybe someone knows better.
A lot of things on Alamy don't actually count for anything, e.g. 'discoverability' (causes more harm than good).
If you only got frozen out for ten days, that's because of your previous good record; it can be a month for a QC failure. (Your account isn't actually frozen, your existing files can still be searched and sell, you just can't upload.)
They don't take iPhone pics but they do sell them via Stockimo. However, don't mention Stockimo on the Alamy forum unless you want to be jumped on from a height, and AFAIK, there isn't a Stockimo forum. And it's only for iPhone, not Android etc.

But indeed, you don't get anywhere by questioning their policies.
I've been years trying to get one particularly egregious policy re-evaluated and am getting nowhere. Like most, they're right even when they're shown to be wrong.

« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2018, 09:49 »
+2
I'm not sure how much the QC rank counts for anything, but maybe someone knows better.
A lot of things on Alamy don't actually count for anything, e.g. 'discoverability' (causes more harm than good).
If you only got frozen out for ten days, that's because of your previous good record; it can be a month for a QC failure. (Your account isn't actually frozen, your existing files can still be searched and sell, you just can't upload.)
They don't take iPhone pics but they do sell them via Stockimo. However, don't mention Stockimo on the Alamy forum unless you want to be jumped on from a height, and AFAIK, there isn't a Stockimo forum. And it's only for iPhone, not Android etc.

But indeed, you don't get anywhere by questioning their policies.
I've been years trying to get one particularly egregious policy re-evaluated and am getting nowhere. Like most, they're right even when they're shown to be wrong.
As far as I know the QC rating just affects how quickly you get reviewed and what proportion of images get looked at.

« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2018, 10:13 »
+3
Alamy does not have a record of being contributor unfriendly. Much by the contrary. In fact, it's the only agency that more than once has changed decisions based on contributors feedback. They're not perfect, but are among the best despite some criticism they occasionally get. So, I find it strange that they targeted you for a polite (as you describe it) conversation.

I sell an average of several hundreds of dollars every month for the past 11 eleven years on alamy. Yet, this year I had a month with no sales, especially when I was expecting a good number of sales. The first time since 2007! And I did nothing. Not even a polite conversation with them before that.

But I sold in the following months until today, after questioning about what happened in that month. By your logic I should have been punished, right?

I doubt the QC rank influences your sales and exposure on the site, but I do have 3 stars. Yet, to get them I have near 20.000 images on hundreds of batches and close to 10 years without rejections.

Install TOR browser which allows you to surf anonymoulsy and compare the results of the searches against the results on your browser. You'll see if your images are being damaged in their exposure when compared with what you see when logged in.

« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2018, 10:40 »
+7
I can't defend Alamy's eccentricities with uploading, inspecting, keyword rules, their odd discoverability ratings, rank, zooms or anything else. Or their strange way of allowing customers to use images ages before reporting their use or (eventually) paying for them.

However, unless you have a really huge portfolio and a really consistent sales track record, it could just be a coincidence that you haven't had sales reported of late.

I've been with Alamy (somewhat half-heartedly, admittedly) for over a decade and sales are enough to be worth it, but erratic (unlike via the top microstock sites). Things lurch forward with some sales and then go quiet for a month; big ticket amounts and super-cheap prices.

I've never had any images rejected, so I think my erratic sales are just erratic sales. Yours might be as well.

« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2018, 11:26 »
+7

Alamy staff is proving to be petty, easily offended and vindictive. I recommend that if you have something potentially negative or critical to say to the about their policies or behavior, that you keep it to yourself. They only represented 5-10% of my income, but it still sucks to "lose" that income over something so juvenile. I'm sure others rely on them more, so watch what you say, fellow contributors.

Hi Daryl,

Really sorry to read this - something has clearly been misunderstood in this whole process and I want to fix it.

Firstly, I can 100% confirm to you (and anyone else) that your QC rank has absolutely no effect on sales potential or search placement - or anything else for that matter - other than the speed by which your submissions go through QC (which is still quick regardless of the star rating). If you upload regularly and pass regularly the rating will go up.

I can also 100% confirm that any dip you are seeing in sales since this exchange started is purely co-incidental.

We have a very small, in house team who do our quality checks. We don't farm the process out to external staff and we work on a spot check basis. This allows us to offer a higher commission rate than those competitors you mentioned at 50%. This is why when an image is uploaded from an unsuitable camera then there is a freeze applied to the upload route for you for 10 days. This stops us getting flooded with images from unsuitable cameras and again, keeps our costs down. At the moment, it's an automated process but we are working on some changes behind the scenes that should stop this auto-freezing in the near future. I notice in this case the team had offered to take the freeze off for you.

If you only got frozen out for ten days, that's because of your previous good record; it can be a month for a QC failure. (Your account isn't actually frozen, your existing files can still be searched and sell, you just can't upload.)

This is incorrect information - the upload freeze is never longer than 10 days.

I'm more than happy to discuss further with you if you have any other questions, and if you want to email me you can do so and I'll be more than happy to take a closer look at anything.

Cheers

James Allsworth
Contributor Experience Manager
Email: jamesallsworth@alamy.com
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 11:29 by Alamy »

ShadySue

« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2018, 11:30 »
+3
If you only got frozen out for ten days, that's because of your previous good record; it can be a month for a QC failure. (Your account isn't actually frozen, your existing files can still be searched and sell, you just can't upload.)

This is incorrect information - the upload freeze is never longer than 10 days .

That has changed, then (I'm glad to hear). It's been years since it happened to me and it was either a month or 28 days.

« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2018, 11:34 »
+1
If you only got frozen out for ten days, that's because of your previous good record; it can be a month for a QC failure. (Your account isn't actually frozen, your existing files can still be searched and sell, you just can't upload.)

This is incorrect information - the upload freeze is never longer than 10 days .

That has changed, then (I'm glad to hear). It's been years since it happened to me and it was either a month or 28 days.

Upload freezing was bought in around 2 years ago and has always been set at 10 days.

You may be getting mixed up with our previous system which never had an upload freeze but there was a delay in the result notification of up to 28 days. Long gone now though so I just wanted to clarify that.

James

ShadySue

« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2018, 11:37 »
+1
If you only got frozen out for ten days, that's because of your previous good record; it can be a month for a QC failure. (Your account isn't actually frozen, your existing files can still be searched and sell, you just can't upload.)

This is incorrect information - the upload freeze is never longer than 10 days .

That has changed, then (I'm glad to hear). It's been years since it happened to me and it was either a month or 28 days.

Upload freezing was bought in around 2 years ago and has always been set at 10 days.

You may be getting mixed up with our previous system which never had an upload freeze but there was a delay in the result notification of up to 28 days. Long gone now though so I just wanted to clarify that.

James

OK, thanks for the clarification. It certainly was over 2 years ago, and I didn't know it had changed.

« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2018, 11:51 »
+2
Thanks for the reply, James. But you have to agree, punishing a otherwise good contributor 3 or more ways for adding one iPhone image to an otherwise fine batch is overkill, no matter how you explain out the individual reasons. There's clearly a flaw in the process. I asked for clarification, and now my sales are currently in the longest gap in 2 years. I can't possibly know why for sure, but that's some severely coincidental timing.

I do appreciate your response here, however. Had my follow-up questions not been ignored and my sales not suddenly stopped cold, I would have liked to keep this between myself and Alamy. I felt like had little else to do about the situation than post a caution here.

For further clarification, Pond5 does offer 50%, and I frequently get much less than 50% from Alamy sales due to the distributors cut being larger than mine.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 12:14 by Daryl Ray »

« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2018, 12:03 »
+2
I had virtually the same experience as the original poster. I had an acceptance rate of over 99% but had a rejection for a iPhone image

My QC was dropped from 3 stars to one and frozen for 10 days.

I wrote a polite message 6 weeks ago and no reply.

Followed up with a second message and still no reply.

I have always looked favorably at Alamy but I am reticent to start uploading again when I seem to be treated with contempt

« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2018, 12:07 »
0
Thanks for the advice. I only ever upload mobile photos to SS and FT if if they are perfect sunny daylight ones.
Was very careful with Alamy and now less with 3 stars and it all goes smooth, you probably shouldn't have risked it with 2 stars.

« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2018, 12:35 »
+5
Can you just stop ego-triping? I really don't understand why such a drama because of those stars, which means prety much nothing.

« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2018, 13:12 »
0
I don't think that the stars have anything to do with sales, however I never understood their many strange rules. I never had a rejection, always with 3 stars during my 2 years as a contributor, still I got few and small sales.

I recently deleted my images mainly because of their "allowing customers to use images ages before reporting their use or (eventually) paying for them".

I also noticed a nervous tone (but not impolite) in the reply I got from support when I insisted on an unreported download.

« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2018, 13:28 »
+4
punishing a otherwise good contributor 3 or more ways for adding one iPhone image to an otherwise fine batch is overkill, no matter how you explain out the individual reasons.

Yep - I do agree with that. To re-iterate though, the 'freezing' element for unsuitable cameras is an automated process that we're working on a change for. On the whole, it works well but in cases like this, it really doesn't. This is why we had offered to unfreeze your account in this case.

There's clearly a flaw in the process. I asked for clarification, and now my sales are currently in the longest gap in 2 years. I can't possibly know why for sure, but that's some severely coincidental timing.

I can see from your post history here last year that you had mentioned that your sales occurrence with us was rare, but that was last year so things may have changed. I'm genuinely happy to look into your account in detail and see if I can spot a reason for your recent drop in sales activity but I can unreservedly say - without any doubt whatsoever -  that your current dry patch does not have anything to do with this. It's so far removed from anything we do or what we stand for - not to mention technically impossible for anyone within my team to implement.

I do appreciate your response here, however. Had my follow-up questions not been ignored and my sales not suddenly stopped cold, I would have liked to keep this between myself and Alamy. I felt like had little else to do about the situation than post a caution here.

If you felt that you had no other option than to post this then again, I'm disappointed to read that - as you shouldn't feel that way. I'd actually advise people to do the opposite as to what you are suggesting - that is, if you feel we have got it wrong then absolutely do let us know. That's the only way we can make changes. If we don't get that feedback, then we won't learn.


I frequently get much less than 50% from Alamy sales due to the distributors cut being larger than mine.

The distribution scheme is an opt-in, so we don't enforce our contributors to include their collection in that. The split is 30% to you, 30% to us and 40% to the distributor. Of course I can appreciate the frustration at being at 30% when you are accustomed to higher but I would recommend all contributors opt-in as on average it will boost your overall revenue for the year by 15-20%. Again though, this is an optional thing.

I've been unable to fully check the details and the exchange between yourself and us as it looks like you may be registered with us under a different name compared to here. If you want me to take a deeper look or continue the conversation on email (or even the phone) just get in touch via jamesallsworth@alamy.com and we can take it from there.

Cheers

James
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 13:36 by Alamy »

« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2018, 13:32 »
+5
I had virtually the same experience as the original poster. I had an acceptance rate of over 99% but had a rejection for a iPhone image

My QC was dropped from 3 stars to one and frozen for 10 days.

I wrote a polite message 6 weeks ago and no reply.

Followed up with a second message and still no reply.

I have always looked favorably at Alamy but I am reticent to start uploading again when I seem to be treated with contempt

Hi,

We never ignore emails so I'm very surprised to hear this! I want to find out what happened.

Can you drop me a PM or email with your Alamy details so I can check?

Also, quick question - are you getting the auto-reply from us when you email? If not then it will suggest our emails are being blocked in some way.

Cheers

James Allsworth
Contributor Experience Manager
Alamy

« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2018, 14:07 »
0
Thanks James,

I have sent you a PM with details.

Me


« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2018, 14:13 »
+6
Good to see management from an agency coming on site to communicate and provide information

« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2018, 02:18 »
+10
Good to see management from an agency coming on site to communicate and provide information
and people wonder why agencies have stopped giving feedback on this site ..too much unprofessional unsubstantiated whining. James from Alamy has gone above and beyond in his response in my view.

« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2018, 04:31 »
+2
Been with Alamy since 2004. I've had a few bans through the years - personally prefer the Alamy way over other places where the shoddy stuff is accepted/refused without any consequence, at least for me it works as a bit of pressure to make sure everything is in order before uploading. I can't say hand on heart that I've ever had an incorrect rejection, an image could have been just on the brink, it could have been accepted elsewhere, but it didn't live up to Alamy's standards. Unfortunately they only spot check, wish it was more comprehensive to stem the flood and also as a measure to increase quality over quantity.

Also, if anything, with Alamy I've always had prompt, swift and timely communication if I had questions or issues. Recently James Allsworth personally saw to that an issue of mine was resolved - that happens like nowhere else, that someone "personally" takes responsibility and ensures that it gets resolved. So in terms of customer/contributor service satisfaction they are bar far the best one I've been dealing with during the last 16-17 years - IMHO of course.

- Re. discoverability score - don't really care about the actual score/color, but helped me catch a few images that had uploaded without captions and keywords - so it does have it's place.

- Re. QC stars - can't say that I care. Got three, inspection and on-line within 24hrs (bar weekends), I guess I've been a good boy.

- Re. sales - find them to be more stable than other outlets and actually the one that shows improvement/growth YOY 2017-2018.

Have a nice weekend!

« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2018, 06:40 »
+2
An update on my not receiving replies.

James found that replies were made and forwarded copies. I don't know why I didn't  receive the originals and they are not in my spam folder. However I am satisfied that they were sent.

My thanks to James and Alamy for quickly examining the problem

« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2018, 08:17 »
+3
Good to see management from an agency coming on site to communicate and provide information
and people wonder why agencies have stopped giving feedback on this site ..too much unprofessional unsubstantiated whining. James from Alamy has gone above and beyond in his response in my view.
Can you just stop ego-triping? I really don't understand why such a drama because of those stars, which means prety much nothing.

These kind of responses to someone sharing their experience prevents other contributors from sharing theirs. I've certainly noticed a decline here. Some of you just want to be disagreeable and argue. Nothing here anywhere near drama, ego, whining, or being unprofessional, until you guys chimed in. I pointed out an issue that a rep from Alamy agreed shouldn't be like it is, while you guys were busy mischaracterizing my post. It's the difference of attempting to be helpful to our fellow contributors or trying to tear each other down.

punishing a otherwise good contributor 3 or more ways for adding one iPhone image to an otherwise fine batch is overkill, no matter how you explain out the individual reasons.

Yep - I do agree with that.

Thanks again, James. I know you don't need to respond to anonymous concerns here, but it sure does look good on Alamy that you did anyways. I'm gonna leave this alone for now, but I'm happy to have brought this to your attention and grateful for your acknowledgment. I hope to get back to working with you guys in the future.

« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2018, 09:34 »
0
Alamy is not the only one. Envato is really bad for that, and so are a few others.

Unfortunately just sounds like you accidentally stepped in doggy doo doo. You could try apologizing for questioning them. May or may not make a difference.

I have been contributing to Alamy for 5 years. Sales increasing year after year. A couple rejections early on while getting used to what they want, but ever since I've had dozens of batches of accepted images, without any further rejections. I was "stuck" at 2 out of 3 threes stars with their "QC" rating, but never thought much of it, other than it seems to take absolute lifetime of perfection to get to maximum 3 stars.

I had put Alamy on the backburner and hadn't uploaded for a bit, but I had some extra time and decided to submit a batch. To the 75 or so images in the batch, I added an image I took of a photo of opportunity taken on an iPhone. This image is available on SS, AB, P5, etc. and sells surprisingly well. Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten that Alamy does not accept images from iPhones (even though they've accepted images from far worse cameras, but I digress). So that batch, all 75+ images, all of them from DSLR's (besides the one), was blanket rejected. This I can understand, they have a policy, I violated it (even an understandable mistake) and while rejecting the whole batch over one image seems harsh, it's their company, their policy. But that's not where it ends.

They put a 10 day upload freeze on my account. They dropped my QC ranking dropped from 2 to 1 stars. Dozens of perfect batches of uploads, no rank increase. One failed image, dropped to the bottom of their QC rating and an upload freeze. 3 punishments for one little overlooked image. I don't even understand exactly what that means or how it affects my account specifically, but I realized it can't be good and it seemed like some harsh treatment to a good contributor over a simple honest mistake. So I reached out to their support for clarification.

Big mistake.

A robotic and defensive sounding response informing me of their blanket policy of acceptable cameras and that my rank will stay at 1. That it's "not possible" to check every image (tell that to SS, AB, P5, etc.). They offered a "goodwill gesture" of unfreezing my uploads, but I again asked why such a harsh punishment for one image. No further response. I self-imposed an upload "freeze" of my own.

So here we are, months later. Zero sales since the inquiry. I was getting regular, predictably reliable and increasing sales month after month. But since I dared to (politely, mind you) question their over-reaction to my rejected upload, I have somehow offended them and triggered someone there into handicapping my portfolio. Years of being a solid contributor, growing sales, hours and hours of time to conform to their uniquely convoluted key-wording / tagging process. All I get is a big ol' F-U.

Alamy staff is proving to be petty, easily offended and vindictive. I recommend that if you have something potentially negative or critical to say to the about their policies or behavior, that you keep it to yourself. They only represented 5-10% of my income, but it still sucks to "lose" that income over something so juvenile. I'm sure others rely on them more, so watch what you say, fellow contributors.

« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2018, 03:41 »
+2
Good to see management from an agency coming on site to communicate and provide information
and people wonder why agencies have stopped giving feedback on this site ..too much unprofessional unsubstantiated whining. James from Alamy has gone above and beyond in his response in my view.
Can you just stop ego-triping? I really don't understand why such a drama because of those stars, which means prety much nothing.

These kind of responses to someone sharing their experience prevents other contributors from sharing theirs. I've certainly noticed a decline here. Some of you just want to be disagreeable and argue. Nothing here anywhere near drama, ego, whining, or being unprofessional, until you guys chimed in. I pointed out an issue that a rep from Alamy agreed shouldn't be like it is, while you guys were busy mischaracterizing my post. It's the difference of attempting to be helpful to our fellow contributors or trying to tear each other down.

punishing a otherwise good contributor 3 or more ways for adding one iPhone image to an otherwise fine batch is overkill, no matter how you explain out the individual reasons.

Yep - I do agree with that.

Thanks again, James. I know you don't need to respond to anonymous concerns here, but it sure does look good on Alamy that you did anyways. I'm gonna leave this alone for now, but I'm happy to have brought this to your attention and grateful for your acknowledgment. I hope to get back to working with you guys in the future.
"Alamy staff is proving to be petty, easily offended and vindictive." is not a phrase I'd use on an open forum in my first post about a subject without more than circumstantial evidence that somehow my sales had been hobbled and absolutely discourages agencies from coming on here to explain their actions.


 

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