Posted Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:50PM
Folks, I'm going to add a series of links and quoted posts from the numerous conversations we have had over the last week. I'll start with the communication we received from Rebecca. I will add additional posts from some of the other discussions over the next few days. I'm going go take a quick nap.
Posted By rrockafellar:
We've been thinking for some time that we need to make changes to how we communicate to the contributor community at iStock. We created the iStock HQ alias to post from last year, because we thought it would be a good vehicle through which many different people could contribute. And frankly, I had watched the forums for some time and was not excited about getting myself or other key members of our team pulled into conversations that often carry on well beyond their useful life and end up wasting valuable time for all parties involved, even sometimes ending in personal attacks.
In the ensuing year or so, things have gotten even uglier on the forums. I accept that part of the problem is that we aren't communicating enough, and another part of it is that there have been a variety of issues that have you worried about iStock performance. I don't want to turn this into a revenue thread, so will just say that any rumors of iStock's impending demise are incorrect. We are still, by far, the number 1 microstock site revenue-wise. That said I'd like to continue on the subject of communications…
To dispel one more rumor, we do read the forums, in fact there are many people across Getty Images who read the forums every day. On the worst days it is like watching a car-crash – something horrible that you cannot look away from.
We get it, you guys are mad. And reading the forums for the past year has made it clear that some of you think we are lazy, incompetent, greedy or uncaring. The reality is that there are a few hundred people across Getty Images working as fast and as hard as they can to drive iStock forward. I can't easily convey in a forum post how hard it is to do that, how complex this business is, but presumably that's why you have chosen us as your distributor, so you don’t have to worry about things like marketing, ecommerce, localizing into eleven languages, search engine relevance, global website scalability (the list goes on and on). We’ve got that end of things.
IMO, if we could to step back together and do a collective reset, we would return the forums to a more productive place for sharing of information about the iStock business, be that HQ to the community or peer to peer. It is not a very civilized place at the moment. I'll take part of the blame for that since we changed our communication style this past year and aren't sharing enough information, but I will need all of your help to turn the tone around.
It is a well known internet phenomenon that people are more rude from behind a computer because it is easier to be rude to someone you have never met, particularly if they are posting from an alias. We're going to come out from behind the HQ alias, as it were, by having some of the key people that are working on the programs that you care about log in with their own membernames and start to directly communicate with you. We feel this is the right thing to do to help change the tone. We may also be sharing things with you that our competitors would find interesting. I cannot see any way around this, but there are guaranteed to be times when you want more information than it would be wise for us to give. And we're just going to say that, and ask that you understand this reality. Your part in this reset is to listen, ask sensible questions, be patient as we tackle any issues that arise, and try to take the vitriol and hyperbole down a notch.
Over the next few weeks you will see various Getty Images employees participating in the forums on the topics on which they are experts to provide first hand information where it's needed. As always Lobo will be there to provide additional support and to help us keep the conversation productive.
I don't expect I can reassure everyone here that we have your best interests at heart, but we do. That's because our interests are aligned – when iStock is successful we're all successful.
Very much looking forward to some civilized and constructive conversations with you all.
Posted By rrockafellar:
Hello all. Just a quick note to say that I'm in here, reading all of your thoughtful and thought provoking posts.
You have made one thing abundantly clear - we have to prove it. Duly noted.
More from me when I've had time to process all of this - later today. And I do mean today, unless I am hit by a bus.
And this is even a weekend!
Posted By rrockafellar:
I said I would reply with more thoughts later today and here I am. I have read every post on the thread a few times now. Despite the flinching that I've had to do, I truly appreciate your candid feedback. We have a lot of work to do to get things back on course, and you have provided many valuable suggestions here which will inform the process a great deal.
That said, some of the things you raised are large and systemic and I can't speak to nor change them quickly. So give us some time to work out how best to proceed with responses from here.
One key topic: Is BM broken? We don't think so, but we haven't stopped digging into whether it might be. Please keep sending in specific examples of what you are seeing and we will keep using them in our investigations. Single keyword searches that seem broken are the most useful. If you have any screencaps that show previous results vs. current results for the same search that would be extremely helpful. Please put your examples over on the BM thread, not here.
You've said loud and clear that we can only make things better with action, so I thought I would also tell you what our priorities are:
Getting to the bottom of Best Match sorting
Site stability and performance
Marketing iStockphoto around the world
Improving the site for customers
You will see movement and improvements in all of these areas in the coming weeks, and we will keep you posted on progress here, in the forums, as well as providing responses to the bigger issues that you've raised.
Posted By rrockafellar:
Hello all, just a brief note to let you know that I am still in here, reading and listening. You have raised a myriad of issues, both big and small, so we're trying to get our arms around how to address them.
That said, the #1 priority for today, as it has been all weekend, is Best Match, which Mary and the engineers are looking at and working on as we speak. Please stay tuned.
Posted By rrockafellar:
547 replies and counting as I write this. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts, frustrations, and new ideas. Hopefully you can already see the new approach to communications in the updates we've shared in the last few days on things like Best Match, the return of Zoom and some other new features, and the ASA. We have a lot going on and will continue to share more proactively and listen more closely via these forums, which was the primary thrust of my original note.
You have raised some big questions in this thread, so for avoidance of doubt, I would like to try to bring the overarching conversation to a close by saying the following:
The biggest issue in this thread is the charts that show diminishing downloads and royalties over time. All I can do is tell you once again that the overall business is meeting our expectations. The reality, as some of you have pointed out, is that there is an ever increasing number of contributors over time, and more content in the collections. This is why I maintain that the primary focus of most of the people who work on iStock should be on bringing more new buyers in the door. And that is what we're focused on, growing the overall business. We will share more on these plans as they come to fruition, because I am sure you understand that we cannot broadly share future plans in this open forum.
And, to your point, it is all about action and not words, so I'm going to get back to moving the business forward. I'll still be reading the forums, and posting when it is appropriate for me to do so rather than a subject matter expert.
In response to a great question raised today in this thread, a couple of folks from the content team are writing up a post that addresses what you, as an individual contributor, can do to drive your business forward on iStockphoto. We have some good thoughts on this and will share ASAP.
Posted by Lobo:
Alright, folks. I'm going to make a few quick points and then provide a series of links. Take a gander:
1. It's been a while since there has been any kind of discussion and I can tell you it's nice it's starting again. Some of you might expect that immediately after the discussion starts we would see a bunch of changes. Well, there are a bunch of changes. Most of them are going on behind the scenes so we can continue to facilitate dialogue between the many layers at HQ and the many layers of the Contributor base. You've got their attention. I can assure you.
2. Clearly from the list of things we have been discussing there is no quick fix. We had some rough months and we are finally getting through them. For everyone wondering why HQ has come in here over the last week it's because we can safely say we are over a few hurdles. They might not be in line with ALL the issues pertaining to the Contributor base, but there has been some progress. The last week brought many new voices to the forums that you can expect to see in the future. So try and be nice.
3. The title of this thread: "Changes in the way we communicate to the iStock community"
4. Im not an Avatar. I'm a real boy!
So folks, here we are. We have some momentum and a bunch of attention on the contributor base. There are new resources bringing their expertise to the forums which will hopefully help the contributor base inform HQ in a more effective way and vice versa. In time I suspect we will see additional improvements to the communication offered by HQ. I'm hoping it helps. We are all hoping it helps.
I don't suspect people will be happy to have this thread locked right away, so I'm going to let it roll for a while. People will still be watching it, but it won't be open forever. If you want to discuss a specific issue we had talked about in here there are a couple of threads for you:
The Return of the Zoom - TechVeep
Rate Schedule/What does NET mean?
Refunds - iStockLawyer
We will have some additional information available through out the week. There will be some additional guest moderators coming in to stoke some new discussions.
If you are spending lots of time posting mad in here I understand. I hope you also undertand that it's going to have to come to and end too. Try and be civil, folks. It's not as hard as the alternative.