Upcoming Changes to Market Makers, Dividends and Earnings

Last week we wrote that some of our upcoming changes to Empire Avenue would deal with Market Makers, Dividends and Earnings. We’d like to delve into this topic and give those interested some insights on changes over the next few weeks.

Intro to Market Makers

For those new to Empire Avenue, the Market Makers are the algorithms that look at your social media output and engagement, along with your outstanding shares, and sets a new Share Price once a day. We tweak the Market Makers every once in a while, and as we introduce new connections to Empire Avenue.

Intro to Dividends and Earnings

For activity you perform on Empire Avenue and on every social media network that you have connected (except for LinkedIn currently), you receive eaves for what you do. We take that Earnings value and multiply it with your Network Scores to create the Dividend pool, which is then divided amongst your shareholders.

Upcoming Changes

Spam: To deal with perceived spamming of external networks (like high-frequency Twitter bots), we are implementing new spam-detection algorithms. There is no method of spam detection that is foolproof, and only humans can currently truly tell fact from fiction, true engagement from automated bots. Nevertheless, this automated system will detect and penalize offending accounts in terms of both Share Price and Dividends. Please note that as we discover users producing spam or engaging in bot usage to increase prices or engage in spam, we will take action without notice, and your investments may suffer! Ultimately, you should only invest in those who are producing real content that you value.

Clarification: As a few folks have emailed and commented that we need clarification on the “without notice” part above: In addition to our taking action we will inform the account holder at the time any action is taken. Please also note that this will not affect the majority of our users and will not affect those who schedule tweets. This is a spam policy, not unlike ones used by other social networks.

We have also noticed in the past a small minority of accounts engaging in activity which is against the Terms of Use of both Empire Avenue and the networks that they are connecting. Specific cases include illegally posting copyrighted content to Flickr and claiming it as their own. We at Empire Avenue take copyright and intellectual property laws very seriously. Effective last July 29th, we have begun disconnecting connections involved in such violations as they are reported and as our own automated monitoring algorithm discovers them.

Valuing Engagement: Dividends and Earnings calculations can certainly be improved to further emphasize engagement. As part of that, we are expanding the scope of what we have previously defined as activity, and will even include bonus earnings for users who create significant engagement (such as being retweeted).

Another complaint we have received was that Dividends and Earnings felt like you had to do something every day. Our new Dividends and Earnings formulas will look at a longer scope of activity. As we are currently working through what all this means for people, we won’t comment on specifics till we are ready to roll this out.

We do anticipate that we will be tweaking these changes a fair bit after we roll all this out, so bear with us. Tweaking an entire economy is never easy!

Blogs: Unfortunately, the most abused of the connections has been blogs. Due to continued abuse we will be further reducing the value placed on RSS-based blog feeds and their effects on Share Prices, Dividends and Earnings. Expect further changes to the blog system, and how blogs are connected to Empire Avenue in the near future, such that decreased relevance of RSS Blog Feeds will have little impact on scores and share price. As such with these changes, we anticipate RSS-based blogs will likely also not be in most people’s top 5 connections, which count toward both Share Price and Dividends/Earnings. Connecting RSS feeds will remain, so that you can fill out your profile and show off your content.

We will be introducing details of each change and especially some more details on how Dividends and Earnings are calculated per connection as we roll them out, so that you can make your investment decisions wisely!

Crowdsourcing: No algorithm is truly going to catch the complexity of human engagement. Invest wisely, report accounts you think are invalid and so on, just like many of you have been doing for these past few months. It helps us tweak our systems and certainly catch abuse, which, in the case of copyright abuse, might even hurt the livelihoods of others. Please remember that, if you report abuse, it is very helpful to provide to us as many details as possible. For example, if reporting a copyright violation on Flickr, please include a link to the real owner of the image where possible.

Timeline

As noted, some changes have been rolled out, others will be rolled out over the month of August, some sooner, some later. Some of the anti-spam algorithms will be rolled out this week.

33 Comments

  1. Pingback: Empire Avenue : Upcoming Changes to Market Makers, Dividends and Earnings « Sosimplepr's Blog

  2. 1. How do you define bot usage? There are many others who schedule their tweets as well as tweet as themselves and engage in activity. Will you be penalizing people who schedule tweets?

    2. For blogging, many users out there use Tumblr which the posts are basically either video/audio/photos/content. Why not create a separate network for Tumblr people and grade their activity on the basis of Likes/Reblogs?

    I agree that what your’ll want to do is good, but I hope that if any users are found guilty EA atleast gives them an email warning so the user can do the required stuff by informing shareholders and themselves disconnecting that network. Many users dont read the blog and I dont think this post would come in an email to users.

    • We won’t penalize people who schedule tweets and we do check automated results from our spam checks, we’re looking for blatant spam here. As for blogging, we agree and will be taking action to do different things with blogs, whether they be new connections like Tumblr I won’t speak to that until we have specifics 🙂 I hate getting people’s hopes up.

      As to not giving a warning, we try, but in all honesty with scale comes issues. If we see blatant copyright abuse we record and will remove the Connection e.g. removing Flickr from the account. The user will be notified when they go to add the connection again and can contact us for specifics.

  3. Dups, thank you for taking the time to respond to my plaintive, sleep-deprived missive last night and for directing me to this blog post. Having read it, I feel like it was written just to address my concerns. I know this isn’t the case, but it feels good to know actions are being taken to ameliorate some of the issues that are negatively affecting Empire Avenue. The notion of being able to play on a level field and to return to enjoying the time spent here would be welcomed by many. Thanks again. Cheers/Terri

  4. Hi guys, nice move!

    It has become increasingly difficult to maintain a decent price and people using spam bots should be made an example of, this is ‘social media’.

    I love this ‘game’ and the community involved and I’ve met some truly amazing people and that’s ALL good!

    Love the sense of community, the fun and the positive energy, just wish some features could be speeded up a little. Facing 100 notifications when my family are in need of a little attention is a daunting prospect.

    I am truly amazed at the real dedication and loyalty some people give Empire Avenue!

    Nice work on addressing the issues, more power to you guys!

    All the very best, Peter Masters (aka MarketingM8)

  5. I have to agree with several of the posts above. I schedule tweets for the hours I am at work. I also write blog post on the weekends and schedule them to post during the week. As others asked… would this be classified as a bot? I also agree there are people using unethical means to pad their stats. A warning would be more than appropriate before more drastic action is taken.

  6. Hallelujah! I’m so glad you are listening to people’s feedback.

    I realize this might mean that dividends are reduced. But people should not be automatically generating content (and sending Tweets to be Facebook post to be Tumblr posts with no change in content) nor spending absurd amount of hours to keep their dividend above 1% I even saw someone say that they would only invest in accounts with a 1.25% dividend.

    That’s there choice, of course, but expectations are so high that it’s causing people to spam or put in discouraging and artificial amounts of time generating content that they would not ordinarily be doing. So, they get burned-out and quit.

    I know these tweaks could have a big impact and you can’t please everyone. But this has been a problem for a while and I’m glad to hear you are taking action. Empire Avenue should be fun, not a chore!

  7. I agree with EA attempting to combat spam and Flickr abuse. BUT this “we will take action ___without notice____, and your investments may suffer!” is not the way to run a business.

    EA should have a warning system and then suspend or gear back with NOTICE. A company operating a secretive account manipulation system without giving users a chance to address issues is ethically and morally corrupt, especially when you willingly take their money. There needs to be a process to warn people that is fair and equitable.

    Many newbies are taught stuff and everyone I know is gaming the system. A warning system gives them the chance to correct them while EA retains a customer.

    I call on EA to disclose any other secretive manipulation its done to EA accounts. This is not good policy and I call upon EA to implement a change to this policy.

    Chris Voss

  8. I applaud EAv for taking these actions however it is extremely distubing to see your statement “we will take action without notice, and your investments may suffer! Ultimately, you should only invest in those who are producing real content that you value”.

    On one hand you acknowledge that only humans can truly detect violations like bots. On the other you are going to take actions without giving the offender the ability to challenge errors.

    Copyright and IP laws are very complex as I’m sure you know. As an example pictures from the Federal Government are not copyrighted nor can individuals claim a copyright to them.

    Transparency and due process are critical pieces to a companies integrity and moral compass. Failing to notify EAv members or providing them with the ability to contest errors is being secretive and just wrong.

    I urge EAv to provide suspected offenders with a warning that includes a definitive timeframe that they must act within. They should also be given instructions on contesting a suspension in the case of errors.

  9. Ouch.

    This seems pretty hard on folks who actually create content. Linking to the content on twitter and the rest will still be good for dividends, but actually making it on your own site won’t.

    I don’t think that’s really a good result.

    • Arkenor, re: blogs, either we hire many many people just to read through blogs in languages across 150+ countries (and even when we did it was inconsistent and not a good solution), or we come up with a different way for blogs (which is what I think you are responding to). We sincerely hope that our solutions will be good in the end. We’re definitely thinking about the content creator in this case, but the current RSS feed system is not good for anyone – Dups

  10. Empire Avenue is FINALLY, FINALLY taking much more decisive action on a problem that has been getting bigger and bigger and bigger since in my estimate March 2011. This is a tremendously positive step. The point is YOU DON’T NEED TO CHANGE YOUR NORMAL DAILY SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY AND HABITS. The folks who are and have been engaging in normal, everyday, social media posting, sharing and networking don’t have a thing to worry about. The people who DO need to worry, know who they are. Thank you Empire Avenue for listening!

  11. Thank you!

    As a relative newbie who is fairly active across a number of networks, and one who has built true face to face engagement in my community, I can’t tell how frustrated I have been at what I perceived to be blatant “gaming” of the system.

    I work hard to create content that people appreciate – it’s ALL mine and I respect the individual nature of each network, choosing to share sparingly across multiple networks so as not to fatigue my audiences.

    I have significantly changed the amount of my online activity (this is NOT something I’ve been happy about necessarily) in order to learn the game. This is not sustainable, in my opinion.

    So, from this plebe in the Empire Avenue “salt mines” – thank you, thank you, thank you for the changes to your policies!

  12. I have had a chance to catch up on other networks with a couple of people who deleted their accounts on Empire Avenue over the last couple of weeks and while everyone’s story is different (lack of time, big project, family, new job, bored, etc) One thing appears to be consistent….the level of frustration at not being able to “win” be it share price, dividends, leaderboards, share buys, share sales, colors of stock, etc. I am of the opinion that there are several people out there that are putting ALOT more ‘stock” then they should into the value of their STOCK and thus the game. I never realized just how much some people out there take this whole EA thing so seriously to the point that it is something that eventually overwhelms them if they are not at their own individualized level of success. Wow! Like Adriel Hampton says….”It’s just social media”! I firmly believe that the influx of spammers and bots who are choking/clogging up the net simply in an effort to influence their dividends and share price has been a large element of the discouragement that many Empire Avenue members feel when they join Empire Avenue. Worse still…Newer Members are being told and taught that THIS is the way to behave…THIS is the way to interact. I am hopeful that Empire Avenue’s actions will deter and reduce this type of blatantly offensive behavior.

  13. I’m happy to see the EA team has been listening and looking for ways to improve the user experience. Plenty of good people have recently left the site due to some of these very issues you plan to address. If social media is about sharing, connection, conversation then EA should make measurements in these areas. Content is great but the engagement with that content is more valuable to know and measure. Any spam bot could put out content on Twitter, for instance, and max the daily limit of 1000 tweets. That is not engaging, yet there are accounts that are currently ranked high for doing this kind of thing.

    I understand you can’t track and measure everything people want so it will be interesting to watch these new changes unfold and how it affects the stocks that SHOULD be rising vs the stocks that sit with high numbers in any area without doing any real engagement.

    Another option could be to allow people to choose if they are content producers vs social network engagers and provide numbers and achievements specific to the side they choose. For instance, Mashable would fit both, but more content producers. So you could focus on their blog activity, Twitter retweets since they don’t really reply to others, etc. But if a person is an engagement type, you could focus on their conversation actions, tweets that get retweeted or how long a conversation rolls from a one tweet, and their Facebook conversation beyond the “like” activity. Just a thought/suggestion.

    Overall, looking forward to see these new changes inline!

  14. I’m glad to hear that changes are coming. I think the current scoring system encourages quantity over quality both in terms of content published and number of fans/friends/subscribers. IMHO, indicators of genuine engagement like retweets, shares, likes & comments is what should be measured.

    I understand a lot of the concerns people have noticed about the statement that people will be penalized without notice. The current scoring system encourages people to play in the gray areas. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the top EAv players were producing low-quality content just to increase their EAv scores. EAv is in a difficult position of potentially penalizing and offending its most loyal users, so it is in EAv’s best interest to privately warn people.

  15. I’m so glad you’re taking these steps. I was getting more and more discouraged at the fact that it seemed only people with huge amounts of (spam) would get they’re prices/div’s up. Specially after just being not as active for 2-3 days due to my work my price went down and I realized this is not normal behavior that is encouraged. Normally my soc.networks would know this because they engage with me and won’t hold it against me, but on EAv suddenly I felt I got punished for it. I’m happy you with the changes you’re planning to make, but do think you should give someone a fair warning/notice before taking action.

  16. Thanks for the update. I think you’re applying logic and wisdom here.

    My first thought was that the emphasis on winning retweets is long over due (actually, I thought you were doing that already!) and is a big step up. Influence isn’t measured by volume but by authority.

    I wonder whether your changes are moving Empire Avenue towards a system more like Klout or PeerIndex. These measure social media movers via their networks, not by their content. I’m in two minds as to whether Empire Avenue shifting towards Klout is a good thing or not.

    I see your hand is being forced with the blogs. In many ways it’s a shame but I fear your course of action is the only one you can take. It did occur to me that you might be able to use RSS subscribers as a quality metric – or even count the blog posts of people with higher network/Klout scores as more trusted/important than others (since they’re less likely to be sblogs).

  17. Unfortunately, blog spam has ruined it for the rest of us. I am sure there are many people like for whom the blog is the primary source of activity, and I don’t really like that it’s relevance is decreasing. So I have an alternate proposal:

    Increase the threshold for a blog/rss feed to be counted to 10 endorsements, and charge a nominal amount of eaves as “endorsement fees”. In fact, you could also have a limit of giving x endorsements (whether absolutely, or per month) and upgrades to this limit can be purchased. This way, the peer-review system will work, and people will be less likely to endorse spammy blogs. I really liked it when blog were counted the most towards activity…

  18. Some hugely welcome changes . . . thanks so much to Dups and the EAv team for listening to the community at large and taking bold action quickly . . . those of us who absolutely love the game and the networking opportunities it has created greatly appreciate your understanding of the fact that we all have “real worlds” and “real lives”, including the enjoyment of outdoor activity and summer vacation.

    Most importantly — THRILLED that you’ll be instituting spambot algorithms and downplaying RSS-based blog feeds — this brings the entire experience to a much more even keel . . . can’t wait to see how this affects some of the big players!

    Onward and upward,
    Rob Nielsen / (e)HOST

  19. Thank you, Dupes and EAv for bringing this long-time needed changes! I agree with Omar, Nakeva, Inger and some others about importance of creating quality content and adding value to Social Media and to the World at large. This is THE reason I joined EAv – to gain and develop my SoMe skills. And your platform provided me with tremendous amount of motivation to take the time and to make the effort to learn to produce better content, to learn to engage, to learn to be social, etc.! It has also been a source of many great friendships and connections which otherwise would have never happened. I am grateful for that! You guys are doing a great job! Looking forward to tomorrow’s #EAvChat with you!

  20. This is music to my ears!!! I’ve had a lot of good friends leave over the frustration of not being able to compete with accounts that are engaging in abusive behavior to manipulate the system. It will be nice to see that EAv is taking steps to reward content that contributes to the overall social media experience be it original content, engagement, or a combination of the two.

    Thank you also for the clarification regarding scheduled tweets vs. spambots and the issue of no notification. I now see nothing that is out of line with ANY OTHER social media platform…in fact I still see some wiggle room compared to other sites, but any action to correct the abuse is welcome!

    Let’s get back to having fun! =)

  21. Pingback: Empire Avenue: Changing the Changes - Scot Duke | Scot Duke

  22. I’m glad to see that you are aspiring to do a better job of recognizing real engagement.

    I wouldn’t write to you to report anything, however, because your support site is a nightmare.

    Not once, in connection with the 12 or so tickets I’ve opened with you, have I been able to log into your support site to observe the progress of my ticket.

    You have a real problem there, and are not likely to get meaningful input from people who can’t get into the site.

  23. Pingback: Empire Avenue Spin | Iceburner Rules

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