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Author Topic: If you're on the fence about deactivating, read this.  (Read 1511 times)

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« on: June 14, 2020, 19:49 »
+19
I tried to make this as short a possible, but game theory needs some simple explanations. Just stick until the end, it will make sense.

There's a game in game theory called prisoner's dilemma. In short, two members of a criminal gang (Alice and Bob) are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge, but they have enough to convict both on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent. The possible outcomes are:

If Alice and Bob each betray the other, each of them serves two years in prison
If Alice betrays Bob but Bob remains silent, Alice will be set free and Bob will serve three years in prison
If Alice remains silent but Bob betrays Alice, Alice will serve three years in prison and Bob will be set free
If Alice and Bob both remain silent, both of them will serve only one year in prison (on the lesser charge).



It is assumed that both prisoners understand the nature of the game, have no loyalty to each other, and will have no opportunity for retribution or reward outside the game. Regardless of what the other decides, each prisoner gets a higher reward by betraying the other ("defecting"). The reasoning involves an argument by dilemma: Bob will either cooperate or defect. If Bob cooperates, Alice should defect, because going free is better than serving 1 year. If Bob defects, Alice should also defect, because serving 2 years is better than serving 3. So either way, Alice should defect. Parallel reasoning will show that Bob should defect.

We, the contributors, are Alice and Bob.

We can choose to either "cooperate" (deactivate portfolios) or "defect" (do nothing). If we cooperate - yes, we will lose some income, but if we defect - it's us who will get off scot-free and reap the benefits. While all the other contributors (Bob) deactivate their portfolios, we can actually profit by leaving ours on. Hence, the rational way to play this game is to actually do nothing. People at Shutterstock know this. This is what leads to the tragedy of the commons. This is why it's so easy to lose.

However, this is not just one instance of the prisoner's dilemma. There are other stock agencies that will see what Shutterstock has done and how we reacted. This can become the new norm. Hence, this is the iterated prisoner's dilemma, where cooperation plays a much more important role.

Without getting into all the details about game theory, stable equilibria and all that academic stuff, the important part is here - by not deactivating your portfolio for a week you are boosting your own sales for a week. That's true. At the very least - you're not incurring any penalty to yourself. BUT - this action has a chance of succeeding if and only if we are able to cooperate, "not snitch of each other" and collectively suffer the consequences of a one-week-long deactivation. By not deactivating, you are also increasing the chance that, in 6-12 months, you income starts to drop considerably, not just because of shutterstock - but because other agencies WILL follow. While it might be in your short-term interest to do nothing, it is actually in your long-term interest to cooperate.

So, please, if you are able to, deactivate.

If I can do it, after $150,000+ earned in more than 10 years, you probably can as well.



We have only one chance at this. Don't let it go to waste. Cooperate. We can all be "one year in the prison" for the collective good.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2020, 20:30 by spike »


« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2020, 19:58 »
+6
Thank you for this. Now on my way to deactivate!!

« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2020, 20:00 »
+10
It's only a port of 1700 but now disabled.

« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2020, 20:09 »
+11
good point. I deactivated my portfolio 11k+ video items.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2020, 21:32 by SuperPhoto »

« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2020, 20:55 »
+6
If anyone would like to tweet about joining #BoycottShutterstock, here are a couple of examples of ones I've done for other contributors (not everyone is on twitter)

https://twitter.com/joannsnover/status/1272237216329158656

https://twitter.com/joannsnover/status/1272232011646656513

https://twitter.com/joannsnover/status/1271912570899718144


« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2020, 01:53 »
+7

If I can do it, after $150,000+ earned in more than 10 years, you probably can as well.


Sorry for picking out this one sentence, but I have a problem with this point of argumentation. Just because you have earned a lot of money with Shutterstock, does not mean other contributors are in a position to deactivate their accounts. I feel like the whole undertone of this post is that the contributors who do not deactivate their accounts are "betraying" the ones who do. I am pretty sure that around 95% of all contributors, including myself, really wish they could deactivate their accounts and would do so if they were in a position that allowed them to do so. But many people depend on the income for their living. Some do Stock fulltime, others do it part time, but even for a lot of them this is not just extra money they earn with it. I myself am in a very depressing situation where my normal job is currently not bringing in enough money to pay for my living costs like rent and food. I depend on my income from Stock.
It absolutely does not matter how much you have earned with Shutterstock in 10 years. It means nothing to me, it changes nothing about my personal financial situation, unless you are willing to hand over that $150.000 to me, and it certainly does not mean that I could 'probably' deactivate my account just because you earned a lot of money. There is no logic behind that.

Remember that thread about the women who commented that with Shutterstock's royality cut she would now not be able to pay for food for her and her son anymore? What do your earnings have to do with her situation? Because of the new royality payments she can now already not pay for food and now you are basically asking her to put herself in a situation where she can not only not pay for the food anymore, but maybe she will also not be able to pay her rent anymore if she gives up even on the reduced Shutterstock earnings.

For many people the money they earn from Microstock is not just some extra pocket money they can spend on new expensive camera gear with a fun side activity. Many people depend on it and Shutterstock has alrady put them in a horrible situation (on top of an already horrible situation many of us are in due to the Corona crisis) and now you are asking them to put themselves in an even more horrible situation.

I do understand that for many people the idea behind this is that they hope that if enough people deactivate their accounts, Shutterstock will change their minds, but, completely regardless of how unlikely this scenario is, many people do not have the luxury to deactivate their account and lose money even for just one single month. Even if, Shutterstock changed their mind, by the time they do so, these people might be already living homeless on the street, or might have sold their camera gear to pay for their living. These are desperate times for many people already.

Believe me, I am very frustrated about not being able to join the boycott myself and I am sure many other people are, but you also have to try to understand their possible situation. For many people even just making $100 or $200 less in a month is not a matter of missing out on that new pair of shoes, but of possibly not being able to pay for rent, gas, electricity, food or doctor's bills.

I hope as many people join the boycott as possible, that everyone who does not depend on this income or does not even make minimum payout within a month does, but I also wish for a bit more understanding and respect for people who can't. The idea of the statement I quoted seems to be "See, I am missing out on a lot of money, so you can too!". But missing out on extra income for a person who has a stable income and is not influenced by the Corona Crisis does not mean the same as missing out on income when your normal job does not pay enough to cover your costs and you need that money to break even with your bills at the end of the month.

I just wish people would have more understanding about such possible situations when trying to urge everyone to join the boycott. We are not the prisoners betraying other criminals to walk free for our (well deserved) sentences. We are the people thrown into jail without having committed a crime who are told we have to attest another innocent person did the crime, or otherwise we would be starved to death.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2020, 01:58 by Firn »


Noedelhap

  • www.colincramm.com

« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2020, 04:50 »
+3
My problem is that I currently can't afford to lose a (still) substantial chunk of my microstock revenue overnight. So I won't immediately delete my port, but I'll definitely stop uploading until I know exactly how big my losses are. Maybe I'll sit out the year and then rethink my options. 

Shutterstock is (for most of us) one of the top 3 agencies, so shutting off your portfolio has more of a direct impact than, say, deleting your Dreamstime portfolio.
We also have no guarantee that deleting our portfolios will stop other agencies from following suit anyway. Maybe this move by SS is part of an inevitable shift in the market that we can't stop. Microstock was already going down the drain anyway in terms of ROI. In that case we shouldn't focus on stopping SS, but on devising an exit strategy and finding alternative sources of income.


That said, I'm very frustrated by what SS did, and I'd love to see Shutterstock fail hard after this brutal cut. So I support the boycott spiritually.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2020, 05:13 by Noedelhap »

Shelma1

« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2020, 05:29 »
+8
Stay and get a massive drop in royalties this year, and then drop to near zero in January, or take a hit now and help send a message to everyone who represents us.

« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2020, 05:47 »
+5

If I can do it, after $150,000+ earned in more than 10 years, you probably can as well.


...
I just wish people would have more understanding about such possible situations when trying to urge everyone to join the boycott...

Any reasonable person understands this. I think OP understands that too. They were just trying to explain the situation using game theory which makes use of the prisoner dilemma. It is not a real world comparison to actual prisoners.

People can only do what they can, and any action is appreciated, even if it is just stopping uploads rather than disabling your whole portfolio.

Sadly the people hit hardest will be the ones least able to deactivate, like that single mother doing this as a way of putting food on the table or the person with disabilities discussed on the other thread. It's one of the few ways of making a bit of extra money flexible enough to accommodate some peoples circumstances.

All the more reason for everyone who can to to as much as they can. 

« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2020, 07:07 »
+2
Any reasonable person understands this. I think OP understands that too. They were just trying to explain the situation using game theory which makes use of the prisoner dilemma. It is not a real world comparison to actual prisoners.

That's right.

My wording was, like someone quoted, "If I can do it, you probably can as well."

Of course there will be situations when individuals literally can't turn off their portfolios for a week - but I believe that's a small minority of contributors. For the vast majority of us, deactivating for a week means just losing one week of income, and in that sense, people can probably incur the cost.

If someone can't, I understand and empathize. But let's not confuse "I literally won't be able to pay bills if I turn off my portfolio for a week" with "I don't feel like losing 300$". My post wasn't directed at the first group. Those guys have already made their minds and nothing I or anyone else says can change it. If they can't afford to eat, even the prettiest words won't feed them.

« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2020, 09:44 »
+7
re: firn -

I get you may depend on the stock income. (I do too).

This is for 1 week. And it's to make a statement that shutterstock needs to shape up.

If you don't do it now - then shutterstock *will* screw further down the road, and you will most likely make nothing, or close to it.
Anything from lower subscription prices, to placing image houses content above your own, etc, etc.

It's for one week.

Also - it's like the story of the frog that was boiled to death.

If you stick a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out immediately.

But if you put it in a cool pot (high earnings several years ago) - then keep increasing the temperature (lowering your commission, but still giving you a little bit) - eventually it will become so hot that the frog will just die, unaware that the temperature has been steadly increasing until it killed it.

This is what is happening to contributors, whether they make a lot or a little bit of money.

Without standing together, the stock houses can do this.

It's important to make a statement, and yes - it will also be noticed by other stock houses as well - and affect their decisions in how much they try to screw contributors.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2020, 09:47 by SuperPhoto »

« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2020, 11:03 »
+4

Sorry for picking out this one sentence, but I have a problem with this point of argumentation. Just because you have earned a lot of money with Shutterstock, does not mean other contributors are in a position to deactivate their accounts. I feel like the whole undertone of this post is that the contributors who do not deactivate their accounts are "betraying" the ones who do. I am pretty sure that around 95% of all contributors, including myself, really wish they could deactivate their accounts and would do so if they were in a position that allowed them to do so. But many people depend on the income for their living.

You make a fair point. But here's a question I would put to you.

What would you do if, in a year's time, SS decided to slash your revenue to such an extent that it would be the same as not making any income at all? Or SS decides to something extreme like say, "Sorry, you can only have 100 images in your port," or, "We'll be deleting the 100 lowest performing photos in your port to save on server space?" or "Sorry, but we are now pulling eligibility for political reasons [seems transphobic, racist, etc.]." I know it seems unlikely that SS would do something like this. But trust me--as much experience as I've had with these Silicon Valley companies, I assure you that SS would have no problems doing that to you in the future. Hell, right now as I type this, they're probably considering this very thing right now.

I know it seems like scaremongering and such, but I've seen this thing happen with so many companies. For example, on YouTube, contributors who were part of The Partner Program had tons of their videos demonetized for no real reason. One of these contributors was PizzaFlix, a huge channel that provided rare, public domain movies. It relied on this income for years and YouTube decided last year that it would be demonetized. YouTube didn't even give it a reason. It just did it.

On Flickr, people had thousands of their photos deleted because the company decided that it didn't want to host all of those images anymore. Imagine that, waking up one morning having poured years into building up a gallery there, only to be told one day, "Sorry, but we're gonna delete 5,000 of your images soon."

See, I get what you're saying. If you depend on SS for income, it's easier said than done to delete your portfolio. But looking at The Big Picture, it doesn't make sense to argue that you can't deactivate/delete your port because you're reliant on income when at any given time--today, tomorrow, a year from now, two years from now--SS can just decide to eliminate half your port or decide that you're "no longer eligible."

That's what these companies do. That's how they operate. They use your financial situation (or emotional dependency) on their platforms to reel you in, then use your dependency as leverage to use you until they decide to throw you away like yesterday's newspaper. This is the position you're putting yourself in right now by not deleting your portfolio. You're not "depending on this income" so much as having your dependency on this income used against you, so that in a year's time the company can go, "See ya! We don't need you anymore."

With that being said, since you do really depend on SS for income, people have to take this into consideration when calling for everyone to deactivate their ports. And what I would suggest for you is to start looking at other ways to monetize your images without SS (Patreon, personal website, blog, etc.) so that in the future, if worst comes to worst, you'll at least have these other sites to fall back on. But don't even consider staking your entire financial future in SS. It's a huge mistake.

« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2020, 23:14 »
0
sorry, but prisoner's dilemma doesn't have anything to do with the present situation - the form of  PD you describe is SPECIFICALLY about TWO players and their choices.  here we have tens of thousands of players, so any one player's decision has very little effect on the outcome for all the others - it's just another case of the fallacy of appeal to authority

again, w/o taking sides, just an attempt to keep arguments logically & statistically sound - make your personal decision, but don't use PD as a reason
« Last Edit: June 15, 2020, 23:21 by cascoly »


 

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