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Author Topic: File sabotage or bad luck  (Read 3976 times)

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« on: March 10, 2011, 10:18 »
Hi all, this is my first post here.

Let me use this post also as a brief presentation. IS exclusive contributor actively submitting since March 2008. My port is slightly above 1.3k files, only photos. I do micro part time in the little time my everyday job gives me a rest. Still enjoy photography :).

Well, I wanted to share this experience as I think it is important to be known and can be dangerous if this kind of things begin to happen.

Let me say that the number of successful files that I have is, sadly  ;), limited,  and I track manually every DL, views, RC,  have ratios of all of them, do regular searches to see how their position on best match evolve, etc., etc.

I had these two files, subject  related, that were doing quite well. One was on page two of a relevant keyword and the other in page 3, 25 files per page. They were picking up lately, one in particular, and suddenly something happened. I was expecting that one to hit page one, it had 5 DLs since the last index update.

These files were 4-5 months old, had around 350 views and DLs were in the low 30s. They were close to that 1/10 DLs/views ratio so I assume they were pretty useful and successful for their market. One Monday I started noticing that the number of views begun growing at an incredible pace. Incredible pace for me means that Monday evening European time they had around 900 views. During that week views kept growing and today they have >1.800 views and >1.750 views. This happened the 23rd of February. They have dropped in best match significantly.

It could be that someone posted the images on a popular blog and that drove traffic to them. It could be that someone clicked on them like crazy. I don't know what happened and I have no way of knowing, I don't know if I have been sabotaged or it is only bad luck. I have seen at least another successful file from another contributor, same market, same age, that was on page 1 in one of those searches and no its way back and with more than 3.3k views. 

If gaming the system is as easy as posting a link on a blog, the message sent to the people doing it is very dangerous: you can keep doing it, it works!. If this was unintentional there is a flaw somewhere. How can it be that attracting traffic to istock can harm the files that get that traffic? If this was intentional how can it be that someone can hurt files so easily and in such a short period of time? So many questions.

No need to say that those two files could make a good difference in terms of income for a contributor like me and that the times you hit the jackpot with a file are less and less common these days.

Just wanted to share this with you.

I have no more information and I have, although I tried in several ways, no answers.

« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2011, 10:42 »
I don't have any information to share, and given how swamped they are at the moment, it may take a while, but I suggest you contact contributor relations to open a support ticket about this.

They may not be able to help you, but if there is some sort of targeting of a competitor file going on, they could probably reset the views as well as stop whatever the abuse is. I don't think that's all that likely given the overall small number of downloads (I'd expect targeted fraud to go for the super-hot sellers)

There was a bug a while back where views starting soaring on new files because of a bug (things were registering thousands of views in a day or two) but it was happening to everyone. Perhaps there is a bug of some sort causing your problem. As you probably realize, there's a lot of buggy things on the site right now :)

« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2011, 10:58 »
You could try using tineye to see if you can at least track down where the images are being used in such a way.

« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2011, 10:59 »
Hi Jo Ann,
i wanted to share this just to warn you about what happened to me. I did send the ticket the moment I saw it and tried to contact some admins.
Admins answer=0.
CR answer= they could not tell me why those images have received the amount of views that they have.
I tried again by email and although I was told that it was passed to management, also they told me they weren't sure I would get further answer.
I did use tineye and other searches to see if I could find a link directing traffic to my files but no luck at all.
I was about to post in the istock forum but given the latest censorship, warning emails to people complaining, etc, and that nobody did care about it I thought sharing here was a better idea.


  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2011, 11:13 »
unfortunately this is the type of response I too have gotten from contributor relations. I've contacted them three times with concerns about download patterns with my files. I've received nothing but packaged responses, the crux of which was basically they could not provide me with information about general downloads.

I'd think that contributors on the front lines reporting issues would be taken more seriously, especially since we're essentially doing a lot of their leg work for them. IMO the response I've received was wholly inadequate. It seems that's the case in these two situations also.

good luck. hope the views were legitimate.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2011, 11:31 by SNP »

« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2011, 11:30 »
good luck. hope the views were legitimate.

I want to believe they were legitimate although I doubt it.
My best selling file, with over 600 dls now and keeps giving me >40 dls a month, started slower than these two, so it has hurted a lot seeing them loosing best match ranking so easily and the potential earnings i could have had. I will be close to the 40k RC mark this year. These two could have made the difference  :-\

« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2011, 11:33 »
I've had this before. I was very excited until I realised that that amount of views in a short space of time was unreal (thousands). I didn't submit a ticket at the time because it wasnt a big deal > the problem persists. Such is life.

« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2011, 11:32 »
Just a small update on this.

I am so happy to announce that another file, one month old, 5 DLs already, 80 views two days ago, now its over 600 views.
By one of lifes little coincidences it is the same subject of the other two files affected.
How can i be so lucky that suddenly my files attract so much traffic but no DLs?

« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2011, 12:01 »
You bring up an interesting point about the possibility of sabotage which i think its not worth the time and effort. Have you tried googling keywords for your images? Maybe somehow it is being shown in google search and your getting traffic through that.

Most likely a bug tho. I have one file which actually is the opposite of what your experiencing. This happened before the F5 push... Its somehow isnt registering the views correctly and has extremely low views. i have a dl ratio of 1 in 4/5 views and is benefitting greatly from it. Im not contacting support  ;D

Brings up another issue about the fairness of the system. What if my one file was accidently given some sort of extra push by code that was specifically written for it.

« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2011, 12:16 »
I have googled, tineyed, etc. them but no luck.
It might not be worht the effort in very common subjects with hundreds of new files everyday. Impossible to control. But in a field where you only have 10-20 files every day, where you can spot the succesful ones pretty easily and where you have already good sellers to protect i think it can be worth the effort. And there is demand in this field.
All my last three good attempts at this field, and where I have my best seller, have suffered from this. Strange.

I think if your files are promoted in hotshots, FIOTW, etc. things work differently and views do not go against you.  But this is only a guess.


  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2011, 12:58 »
Is it possible that your file has been hotlinked by someone/s very popular? That's easy to sleuth from your own website, but not from iStock.
I've got a file with some sales but a huge number of views, and since then sales have tailed off. I don't suspect internal sabotage, as there isn't really a 'similar' file, so I'm going with the hotlinking theory.

« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2011, 13:18 »
I had the same problem with a file some time ago. It wasn't any file, it was a winner with a very specific concept of my own (that was quickly copied by others). File went to 10.000 views in about two or three weeks. Ratio wiews/downlad (I think that is one of the Best Match factors, although not sure) is, rigth now, 50/1, very low. In a 1.000 results search is now at number eight.

I wrote to support; they said they had revised the file status and that it was ok. I wasn't convinced, but there's nothing I can do about it.   


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