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Messages - pet_chia

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1 / Re: Layoffs at istock
« on: January 18, 2012, 16:15 »
Were inspectors affected by the layoff?  I just got the looniest rejection I've ever received.  I've been rejected for keywords before in cases where I was reaching somewhat for the concept implied by the shot, but this is the first time that keywords were rejected for things which are blatantly, obviously visible in the image: "house", "tree" and stuff like that.

2 / Re: Another Massive Best Match Shift
« on: January 17, 2012, 13:44 »
My BME by miles (dls and $$) is still Nov 2008 (sic)

well, FWIW my two BME for both downloads and dollars were in 2011....but sales so far in January are strange. I seem to be getting almost my usual number, but they include lots of old, buried files. I guess a sale is a sale, but I prefer to see newer stuff selling consistently.
My sales this month started OK, but have tanked.
Today I'm getting lots of blank (white) pages, 503 errors, extremely long loading, and at the moment I can't get onto my profile page at all via FF, or IE, latest versions of each.

Same here ... anemic sales ... far below 1 year ago ... a few sales of files which while good images IMHO have never sold before ... lots of technical problems today.

Sometimes pages are blank, sometimes information is missing.  I was looking at stats and the graph titled "Regular downloads by file type (updated daily)" has nothing but zeroes.

3 / Re: Buyers Bailing on Istock
« on: December 07, 2011, 14:06 »
That's not the point, the point is that I can't understand someone having difficulties understanding how the slider works. Is graphic, intuitive and very simple.

The mechanics of it are pretty simple (it's a slider that gives you price ranges), but the results that it gives you can be a little confusing. Especially for illustrations. The price ranges for illustrations on each dot can vary $10 to $20. Which makes it kind of useless if you have a real budget.

It's not clear to me what the dots mean (presumably price, but what price?) and the places at which the slider stops do not correspond to the position of the dots.

I think that the slider should move to the same position as the dots, and when you move the slider or if you hover the cursor over the dots, there should be a popup text which explains what they mean - for example, 4 dots ("Include all"), 3 dots ("Exclude images costing more than 10(XS) to 100 (XXXL) credits"), and so on.  The images should also have dots to identify their price category.  THEN there would be no excuse for people not to understand how it works.  Right now I think it's somewhat confusing.

I don't know if actual customers feel the same way about the slider.  I don't know if IS did tests/focus groups of the slider with actual customers (not insiders, contributors or reviewers) ... but if they haven't then they should.

I think that no matter how the model looks, you can use them a lot if you (a) come up with a variety of interesting, commercial ideas for costumes, props, situations ... and (b) as long as they can "light it up" and make what they're doing look fun and interesting (or frustrating or whatever).

Some factors can make it harder ... like a bad haircut/dye job or bad skin.  The more handsome/pretty they are the better, but what else can you do except work with the models that you have available and which you can afford?

5 / Re: November Stats Are Up-to-Date
« on: December 02, 2011, 14:09 »
I clicked on a couple of my best sellers and they showed individual sales for the month of November.  It really baffles me why the "my_uploads" page doesn't reflect these.  It would be nice to know what's selling and what isn't, without clicking on hundreds of photos individually.  It's hard to plan new shoots and it's hard to get enthused about processing and uploading new content.

6 / Re: November Stats Are Up-to-Date
« on: December 02, 2011, 12:28 »
Mine are still stuck at Oct. 31st.

Me too ... I wonder if they're manually updating people's database entries from highest to lowest selling (or randomly).

Seems like a strange way to do things ... I've never seen an e-commerce site with such a hairy-scary, willy-nilly approach to things.  Then again I've never participated in any other e-commerce site as a vendor before, only as a consumer.

If they are unable to recruit sufficiently skilled web/DB developers in Calgary ... and if Getty still gives a hoot about microstock ... and if it's as a big a business as they claim it is ... then at some point they must surely be planning to pull the plug on Calgary and start all over again with fresh code in a fresh location.  There must be a location somewhere that has a cluster of companies which do e-commerce software development and where there is a critical mass of skilled developers and colleges/universities which train people for that industry.  Even if the salaries and office space are more expensive, it has GOT to be more cost effective than what they are doing now.

7 / Re: Istockphoto Down For Maintenance or Hacked?
« on: November 30, 2011, 11:38 »
Posted By joyze:

We are aware there are a number of bugs that are affecting contributors. Some of them are being worked on as I type and others are queued up to be addressed. Here is an update on the two major ones that are being worked on right now.

1. Royalty adjustments for the royalty issue we had two weeks ago - We've just received the reports from BI with all of the data. As you can imagine this was a task in itself to go through every download, look at the credits used, determine what value each credit was at, then work out the royalty rate etc. Our next step is to create a script that will email each contributor affected with a list of each download and what royalty is due for that download. Then we'll add the royalty owed as a bulk to your account. We are estimating this to occur on Tuesday of next week.

2. The 'My Uploads' page - The dev team is working on this one as well. However, they are holding off on fixing this until they get all of the bugs worked out of the DB release we did this past weekend. They don't want to create a fix on a system that is still being tweaked and adjusted. They have promised me however, that their goal is to have this bug fixed by end of next week as well.

Am I correct in interpreting the highlighted statements above ... joyze is implying that the IT team, instead of doing software development, is actually doing a lot of extremely menial bookkeeping work.  Apparently they are reading through reams of financial transactions and manually correcting them (with pencil and paper? and then updating a spreadsheet or database by hand?) ... and until they finish this menial job, they won't be allowed to actually do what they were hired to do, namely to write, test, and deploy software.

Another possible implication is that the "My Uploads" page is broken because they have a problem calculating royalties, and therefore they don't want to show anyone the specific sales per image - because if they did, contributors could immediately see that the wrong royalty rate was being used.  So when you see your "Balance" ticking upward, it may be based on the wrong royalty rate ... and they don't want you to know that until they have finished their manual corrections of the royalty rates AND THEN gotten around to "fixing the scripts".  Just speculating ...

BTW a question for IT nerds ... how could the "scripts" i.e. the programs be at fault for a royalty rate screwup.  Wouldn't the royalty rates be "data" provided by the business side of the company, which is fed into a script or program provided by the programmers and deployed by the IT operations people?  Did the scripts revert to the basic rate because the data inputs specifying the actual rates were missing or corrupted?  Or did someone provide the wrong data?

Question No. 2 for IT'ers ... does the referral to using "scripts" imply that they are using a fairly primitive programming environment?  E.g. based on Perl or some other relatively old technology.  I have no direct experience in it but I've heard people claiming that web sites based on massive amounts of Perl scripts are bound to fail eventually because of un-maintainability.  Especially when the scripts have become more and more loaded with "features" ... presumably in this case with a lot of complicated rules for prices and commissions.

8 / Re: Istockphoto Down For Maintenance or Hacked?
« on: November 28, 2011, 12:07 »
"Last DL" still not showing recent sales.

9 / Re: Sales have tanked big time
« on: November 17, 2011, 15:54 »

Hence I am wondering if something has been changed either intentionally or unitentionally, which affects portfolios like mine disproportionately. If so, is it permanent or temporary? Is it accidental or deliberate? Do iStock want to discourage part time contributors with generalised imagery in favour of professionals? I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but I hope others will share their expeiences so I/we can get a feel of what is happening and make a decision on how to proceed. I'm grateful for the responses so far, but emulating the bigger guns isn't an option for me and I would be pleased to hear from others with modest portfolios (whether or not their experience is the  same as mine).

Nobody (except for insiders) knows the real story, but we have seen anecdotal evidence posted here by people with both large and small portfolios, plus internet traffic statistics have been posted, plus we've seen anecdotes about customers (and heard from contributors who are also buyers).  All of these data points, for what they are worth, seem to show that customers are leaving IS and shopping for content elsewhere.

Another piece of anecdotal evidence - I can't remember when was the last time I saw an ad for IS on another website, but yesterday I saw 2 or 3 of them on completely different websites.  Looks to me like they're trying to address the problem by doing more marketing.

Interestingly, the little thumbnails shown on the web ads were mostly my own photos.  I gather that there is some kind of web-sleuthing being done via cookies, which made the "smart" web ad software think that I was a customer who was interested in those particular photos, rather than being their author.  I guess that there is something of an ad blitz going on which is aimed at people who have at some time in the past visited

10 / Re: Sales have tanked big time
« on: November 14, 2011, 14:48 »
My guess is that they will tie themselves up in knots with an even more complex system, either adapting or abandoning the existing RC targets, in a smoke-and-mirrors exercise designed to obfuscate and confuse.

That may be, but right now I am thinking that they don't have any time for smoke and mirrors ... things are really catastrophically bad this past week.  If my own results are in any way typical then they had better be holding emergency meetings with a view to implementing a major, immediate revamp aimed at recapturing market share.

Do they actually benefit greatly from having a lot of exclusive contributors?  If they do then I think that they had better do something extremely quickly to retain them.  I was thinking of possibly dropping out in Jan. 2012 but now I'm thinking, no point hanging around for another disastrous 6 weeks, if they're only going to be dilly-dallying and (as you say) planning for more smoke and mirrors.

11 / Re: Sales have tanked big time
« on: November 14, 2011, 11:27 »
Are large parts of the world still enjoying a long weekend?  Because my sales at IS are still deader than dead, having been in the tank for the previous week.  November is on track to be my WME, since the early days when I had only a handful of photos online.

Money laundry...

I was thinking something along those lines ... or maybe a tax dodge where you buy the photo for $4M, donate it to an art museum and get a charitable donation receipt for $6M ... perhaps after waiting a year or two for the photo to "appreciate".

When I see such an absurd price being paid for something then it makes me think that something complicated and devious is going on which involves government tax laws.

13 / Re: Sales have tanked big time
« on: November 10, 2011, 13:52 »
...  It's essentially asking management to be willing to take less money for each sale, and to possibly reassess their higher priced collections. Worse yet, it's surely a pay cut for contributors, at least in the short-term, until sales volume picks back up.

I think they're well aware of what the problems are, and that survey was just a means of confirming the obvious. Whether or not they're willing to put a solution into action is a whole other story.

Besides those fairly rational reasons why management might have for not wanting to back down and lower prices, simplify the collections, etc. there are the irrational reasons.  Someone in management might have done a big selling job and convinced the decision makers that it was a great idea to raise prices, provide often similar-looking content at vastly different prices, import large collections of older content without close inspections, etc.  Or maybe it was a top management person who came up with the idea.  They may have to be beat up pretty bad by the customers and by the company owners/board of directors before they admit that they were wrong.  Or maybe they'll never admit they were wrong, and they'll simply have to be replaced.

I have witnessed stagnant, scared management before in a large company.  In my experience the biggest problem of all, the one that damages companies the most, is not an unwillingness to accept new ideas or to change the approach in technology or sales ... the really big problem is that people in responsible positions often have a very hard time holding their underlings truly accountable ... by telling them bluntly that they screwed up, by moving them to other jobs and shifting their responsibilities, or by firing them.  The more that management hangs out together at parties, on vacation, etc. the more close they become and the more slack the company becomes.  They would rather go down with the ship than make a scene with their buddy who just happens to be steering the ship onto the rocks.

Just saying ...

14 / Re: Sales have tanked big time
« on: November 10, 2011, 12:33 »
I've seen a more or less steady decrease in downloads and $ ever since early 2011.  This current month is on track to be the worst month ever, since going exclusive.

I'm assuming, based on some of the comments on this thread, that IS is losing market share and the decline is not merely because of the economic slowdown.

The obvious question is what, if anything has IS done to drive away their customers?  If the decline is as serious as it appears to be, then what are they going to do about it? 

I'm not going to ride this sucker to the bottom ... if Nov and Dec continue this way then I'll have to consider moving my portfolio elsewhere.

15 / Re: Truly epic
« on: March 25, 2011, 20:13 »
Oh wow.  Are they going to put in a fix, or are they really expecting us to go in and fix them ourselves?  I might fix the dozen or so on the blog page, but not on 6k+ files. 

6k files ... good gravy.

The way they messed up the links is bizarre ... it looks like they tried to insert an HTML line break tag in the middle of the thumbnail image location when they generated HTML from the file description code "(url)lightbox_link(img)lightbox_thumbnail(/img)(/url)"  The whole thing is wrapped in "div" tags that I'm not sure were there before and which frankly I don't understand.

The result is a broken image icon but with a functioning link (not that anyone would click on a broken-looking link, especially if the words "more like this" were in the image).

I fixed it by removing the line breaks from within the construction "(url)lightbox_link(img)lightbox_thumbnail(/img)(/url)".  If the whole construction is entered as one continuous line then it appears to be OK (until the next time they take a whack at "fixing" their code).  This is obviously a nightmare to fix manually when you have 1000s of files.  Probably half a day's work at least, and not very pleasant work either.

16 / Truly epic
« on: March 25, 2011, 15:25 »
I didn't read this thread for a while, then when I caught up I saw something about links to people's lightboxes not working from their blogs.  So I checked the links to personal lightboxes on my file_closeup pages and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM was broken.  Hundreds of files had to be fixed manually, because they changed the way that the text and tags in the description are translated into HTML.

17 / Re: When, where and how do ELs show up?
« on: February 15, 2011, 22:18 »
Use this link to see your ELs:

I have no idea why they still have that other page.  It is useless, and yet it persists.

Bingo!  Thank you.

The page only shows the dates on which the EL'd files were uploaded, but the link you gave above shows the more useful date on which the EL was purchased.

18 / When, where and how do ELs show up?
« on: February 15, 2011, 16:58 »
During the night or early morning my balance jumped by 30 dollars or so ... there were not enough normal downloads to account for this so I checked for ELs.  The "stats" page shows that an EL of about that much was downloaded over 1 week ago (as an orange bar on the daily chart for the month) but the "extended license" page shows nothing except the old ELs that I got - though it's hard to tell because there is no date associated with any EL, only a dollar amount.

It's been a little while since I got my last EL but I don't remember anything like this kind of confusion in trying to find out which file sold, on which date and for how much $$$.  Is this the norm, or does it sound like a bug, or is it the "new normal" i.e. "whoops it's broke we'll fix it when we fix it".

19 / Re: Buyers Bailing on Istock
« on: February 09, 2011, 16:05 »
I guess the reps are desperate to earn commission, and it wouldn't be the only industry in which commission-based reps lie to boost their own income.

I totally understand why a rep would lie to get a commission (not that I agree with it).  That's salesmanship 101.  What is surprising to me is that they would tell lies that trash part of their own company.  ???

Sadly I don't find this too surprising.  if you've ever worked a commission job with pushy sales co-workers you'll find that some of these people will trash their own mother if they felt it would get them the sale and no one else. 

Yeah you just have to follow the money.  In my past corporate days working at company 'X', one of the product managers told me that when the founder and chairman of company 'X' would accompany them on the really, really important sales trips, into the boardrooms of Fortune 100 companies, he would basically forget that he was representing company 'X' and would spend the entire meeting pushing the products sold by company 'Y'.  Company 'Y' was a subsidiary of 'X' but he had a much larger, personal investment stake in startup 'Y' than he had in parent company 'X'.  This was a 50 year old allegedly eminent and respectable corporate CEO, not a junior sales rep.  He was a former sales rep however so that might explain his behavior.

I believe that the word "synergy" as related to corporate acquisitions was invented by corporate types looking for an excuse for their insider self-dealing    ;)

Software - General / Re: freeware for hard disk data recovery
« on: February 03, 2011, 14:59 »
Many thanks for the great tips!

Yeah, I didn't notice patterns until the 26th or so, but apparently I had a ton 12/20-24, lots of V/A files - *insult removed*.  It started 12/16 tho.  I only thought I was hit for $1k.  The $3.4k completely surprised me.  I felt my sales volume was within acceptable normal values.

I don't know how online credit card transactions work w.r.t. the interactions between credit card company and online vendor.  But I am surprised that the use of a fraudulent or stolen credit card# apparently did not become known to IS until something like 10 days after the first occurrence.  I wonder if the credit card company attempted to notify IS sooner than that, but the message was not received because of the extended time off that people were taking at HQ.

The one time when someone fraudulently used my credit card # - a suspicious-looking online purchase in Europe - I think I was notified by phone within a couple of days at most.  If the first fraudulent purchase occurred around Dec. 16 (Thursday) then were the phone calls and emails unanswered from that weekend through the next week until around Dec. 26?  I'm thinking it's either that, or else the credit card company was negligent at detecting and sending notification suspicious purchases.  Or maybe the credit card company was swamped and too busy handling the Christmas rush to get around to notifying merchants of cases or fraud.

My sympathy to those who had major losses.  I had only a single file affected and one part of me was thinking, woohoo some pirate out there thinks that my file is valuable!

(edit - I didn't notice my balance going down by the amount stated in the email however)

My main regret is that IS appeared to be somewhat slow to recognize the fraud, and then responded to the attack with ill-considered countermeasures.

Speaking of ill-considered site changes, am I mistaken or is the sidebar containing "My Uploads" and other links coming and going from the contributor page randomly from day to day?

Software - General / Re: freeware for hard disk data recovery
« on: February 03, 2011, 12:23 »
I had an entire hard disk die last month ... when I turned on the computer it did not even detect that a drive was present.  Am I correct in guessing that this kind of recovery software would be of no use in this situation?

From a little bit of reading, I gathered that one possible fix would be to locate an identical drive and change the bad circuitry for identical, working circuitry using heaven-knows-what cutting and soldering, but I balked at anything this elaborate and expensive.

In any case, all of my valuable stock photos had been backed up to DVDs long before, all except for the processed versions of the last 2 shoots I had made before the crash.  The raw versions were backed up.

One thing I should probably do is make duplicates of all my photo backup DVDs and store them in another location.  If my house burns down I would have to buy back all my bestselling pictures if I ever wanted to move them to another stock site.

24 / Re: iStock hires new vice president
« on: February 02, 2011, 15:02 »
King will spearhead the companys international development and will focus his efforts on reaching new customers and markets around the globe.

Would this be a fair translation?

Traditional portfolio sales are stagnating and the new collections are not selling well enough among our existing microstock customer base to justify their expense so we need someone to help find new customers to buy them (but not existing Getty customers).

I wonder if the new guy will be based in Calgary ... I would guess "no" because selling internationally would be difficult from such a remote location, and if the guy is truly a superstar then I don't think he would relish the thought of moving there.

Sometimes these new, rising stars are being groomed to eventually take over the top management ... notice he's described in the press release as "president, international" and "CEO level".  But I guess that depends on how much new business he can rustle up.  If he is being groomed and he isn't based in Calgary, that might signal an eventual move of the HQ elsewhere.

General Stock Discussion / Re: Stuffed toy copyright, etc.
« on: January 31, 2011, 22:43 »
If it's a style that is easily recognized, ie: Vermont Teddy Bear, Boyd's, Beanie Babies, then it could be rejected but they are fairly generic, and in the background, it may be OK.  As a bear on a shelf or on a bed in a child's room I think it could pass.

Not a famous brand at all, generic looking, but not in the background either.

Thanks for the tips.  I will try uploading a few and see how it goes.  If it's like the last time when I uploaded a series of practically identical classic car pictures (taken from different angles), some will be accepted, some will be rejected for trademark/branding, and some will be rejected for "lighting" ... and that was from just one site, LOL

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