Below is what I know of the debacle to date. I'm operating on less sleep than usual, so the events listed may be somewhat out of order.
- Sunday, the only thing Amazon would tell anyone was that it was a "glitch." This led to a new hashtag on Twitter called #glitchmyass
- A livejournal user comes up with a more plausible explanation than "glitch," but doesn't quite explain the memos some people received days and even months ago regarding the "adult material" policy.
- Dear Author explains why rankings on Amazon are important.
- Someone takes responsibility for hacking Amazon. A few more people follow suit. The code posted is apparently debunked.
- People all over the interwebs hold their breaths as Monday rolls around, waiting for Amazon's official statement. None seems forthcoming, which just adds to the Fail.
- Erastes compiles an excellent list of #amazonfail articles.
- Quietly, some de-listed books get returned to the lists, but still no official word.
- The silence with which the books can come and go makes this article even more scary
- Not a glitch! from feministing.com
- Dear Author finds some interesting patterns in Amazon's metadata
- Someone says that someone says that someone at Amazon blamed some employee in France for making a programming error. This sparks a #FranceMyAss hashtag on Twitter.
- Patrick at Making Light proposes another plausible explanation that unfortunately still ends in #amazonfail. After all, why would "gay" & "lesbian" get caught up in such an algorithm but things like "bestiality" slide right on by?
- Amazon finally speaks up. France is actually mentioned. (So is the word "hamfisted" which surprisingly does not hit the top ten trending topics list on Twitter.) Apparently, in France "adult" translates to "porn" and the changes made over there affected the global system. This sounds somewhat plausible until you start wondering how the hell "porn" OR "adult" would auto-affect "gay," "lesbian," and "transgender" works.
So that's the situation as I know it so far. Hope it helps.
UPDATE 4/14/09, 12:30AM CST -- It seems that Want Me once again has an Amazon ranking. :)
UPDATE 4/15/09 -- Looks like books are finally being re-listed on Amazon UK. As far as I can tell, still no real explanation (or apology) from Amazon, so the situation continues to = #amazonfail.
Dear Author explains that while things might seem normal now, they'll probably never be the same: http://tinyurl.com/df8fzx.
Also, there is quite an amusing #amazonfail song on YouTube now: http://tinyurl.com/dea69y.