Thursday, July 21, 2016
Examiner is gone (and so are all my reviews)
Well, this is frustrating.
Examiner.com was a crowd-generated entertainment/opinion/"news" site where I reviewed books. I reviewed books there since college, and while it didn't exactly make me millions I enjoyed it.
In June I got an email from Examiner after a long break from the site. It offered an incentive for returning writers through the end of June. I figured, hey! Why not? and wrote them some bitchy reviews (and few nice ones as well). What was really nice was the fact that they'd updated their quality standards since I'd left.
One of the reasons I left was the subpar content; I was putting a lot into these reviews for very minimal rewards while other people wrote 200-word, highly biased, often grammatically incorrect pieces about dog abuse or celebrities and made hundreds-and-more dollars a month. When I returned to the site, I was one of the contributors whose content was consistently high-quality. I thus wasn't subject to the new mandatory review process. I could write when and what I wanted. And after publishing an audiobook review, I got someone from a publishing agency asking if they could add me to their review email list thing.
In fact, Examiner was the main way I got attention from publishers and authors for my channel and this blog: they added me to mailing lists and sent me ARCs to review. I decided I was going to write a lot more reviews and put a lot more effort into them. It would be great.
Except that a month after they sent the email to woo former contributors back to the site, Examiner announced they would be closing. Their parent company, AXS, would turn the former Examiner into a ticket sales and music entertainment site. Music and entertainment examiners whose content categories fit the new brand have mostly been able to stay. The rest of us, not so lucky.
Which is, I guess, fine. Online news has changed, blah blah blah, get with the times, blah blah. Only I found out about this too late to save any of my reviews, and that's my work down the drain, thousands of words with no way to recover them, and I'm pretty cheesed off about it.
"Contributors should take steps to secure their content" and "Examiner is not responsible for content" well OK, maybe I should have checked my email every five minutes like everyone else on the planet. But from what I gathered from iMediaEthics.com, there wasn't much time between the announcement and the disabling of the Examiner site. In June they were promising rewards to returning writers; on July 1st, you could no longer post.
More seriously, Examiner fucked up by sending an email halfway through July reminding writers to write an article in order to retain their active Examiner status. Usually I start publishing halfway through the month when I get that reminder email. So I saw that, went to Examiner, and found it'd been changed to AXS. And that all my content is gone with no way to retrieve it.
I can go to WayBack and take a screenshot of a list of my reviews, but there's nothing more recent than 2015. I can use WayBack to find the last update to the general book review list, but the links to the reviews themselves haven't been archived. Which makes an archive of a list of content you can no longer access pretty fucking pointless for a service that advertises itself as preserving "free knowledge for everyone."* Even my grad student research skills proved useless. (If anyone has any suggestions, though, I will owe you cookies and/or alcohol, forever.)
I can at least use WayBack to get a list of the reviews I've written. Maybe try to recreate them. Who am I kidding? I don't want to do that. The thought of doing that much rewriting, some of it for books I don't even remember that well, is literally nauseating just to contemplate.
"But Laura," you say, backing away nervously as I make gagging sounds, "maybe you should calm down. You've made, like, what, 30 dollars from Examiner? Ever? Why do you care so much?"
BECAUSE I WROTE THE WORDS AND THE WORDS ARE GONE. Oh, sure, some of that's my fault and I could have prevented it had I saved my content in time. I suppose they're legally entitled to do whatever the fuck they want with contributor content. I clicked the terms and conditions box, after all. When I got booted from the ezine BrightHub.com during a spate of downsizing, they actually kept my articles. Which were still up there generating pageviews for them. Some of them on the front page of the zine. Which I think is kind of shitty.
But perhaps the Examiner thing upsets me more because Examiner has always pitched itself about being contributor-oriented, powered by local writers writing local content. Even the shittier, highly biased content was kind of inspiring, in a "we value everyone's opinion who has taken a writing 101 course and also here's this community, forums, and tutorials to help you improve because we genuinely care about writers. But when we change hands, we'll delete all your content and offer you no way to retrieve it. Oh, you were on vacation in early July like HALF OF FUCKING AMERICA? Too fucking bad! Should've checked work email instead of relaxing with your families, suckers!"**
I suppose that after a string of weird and/or bad freelance experiences that placed very little value on the work writers do, I'm particularly fed up. And not just because after June this felt like a "LOL PSYCH" moment by Examiner/AXS. I didn't make any kind of money from my book reviews, but at least I could have saved and published them elsewhere. Like here. And now I can't, and I have to change my blog's "Reviews" page because fuck me if AXS will get a single click from this website, and--
tl;dr: I'm just really pissy and pissed off about the entire thing.
*WayBack, I actually love you, even if you are a little creepy, and I'm sorry.
**Obligatory disclaimer that Examiner obviously didn't send me an email like that. This is just my imagination of the kind of logic that must have happened there.
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