AmazonFail seems to have been squared away reasonably well, with, as I understand it, most of the blame going to someone toggling something in a database somewhere and 50,000+ books losing their sales ranking all of a sudden. The company’s fixing that, which is nice, and I have to say I’m not entirely surprised to discover that it had more to do with a technical screwup than an otherwise generally tolerant corporation experiencing an atavistic twitch of homophobia or whatever.
As for people getting worked up and demanding explanations and threatening boycotts on an Easter Sunday, well, you know, look. People really do need to accept that while outrage happens at the speed of someone banging out 140 characters on Twitter, fixing corporate-level problems is going to be slower, especially on a weekend, especially on a holiday weekend, and especially if the people trying to respond to outrage want to actually find out what the hell happened, so as to possibly a) give a coherent explanation to people demanding the same, b) avoid having the same or similar screw-up from happening again. All of which is to say that people leaping straight to a boycott because a large corporation has not answered to their satisfaction questions on a complex and confusing issue late on the most holy day in Christendom may possibly have unrealistic expectations.
That said, I don’t think there’s any question that Twitter having a fit on the matter certainly gave Amazon a goose to address the issue, so I wouldn’t say the AmazonFail uproar was all bad. It wasn’t. If only there were a way to have to have thousands of people on Twitter go “Hey this looks bad; you might want to explain that” instead of FOAMY FOAMY FAIL FAIL BOYCOTT GAAAH. But people rarely freak out in a moderate sort of way.
This also brings up a point which I think it worth airing, which is that I and at least a couple of authors I know got e-mails about AmazonFail — not the “did you hear about this?” e-mails, which are fine, but the “you need to speak out about this now” ones, which are pretty much not. First, of course, I don’t need to do anything about anything, other than what I decide I need to do. Random people e-mailing me about what I need to do have a grave misunderstanding about their powers of persuasion regarding me. Second, even when I’m inclined to do something, at this point, what I’m inclined to do first is make sure I have an understanding of what’s actually going on, and to use my own judgment regarding whether I need to know more before making a substantive comment.
In the case of the Amazon thing, for example, I recognized that something was going down on a holiday weekend, and that I wanted to hear what the Amazon brass had to say about it. Which is essentially what I said in an earlier post on the matter. As it turns out, the situation seems largely what I expected it to be, i.e., technical foul-up, and since Amazon seems to be busily rectifying it, the various shifting excuses laid out for the sake of PR are largely immaterial. In short, I’m happy to have been a moderate on this one.