The rigged "community pricing" system...

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jun 30 2020 9:21 AM

Jason Harris:

David Wanat:
And when somebody points out that a system might not be "rigged," but be operating under a different mode of thinking, perhaps that's a sign one should step back rhetoric?

Stop acting like we can just pick a "mode of thinking" that suits and insist people not question it. There is such a thing as an above board, honest, transparent mode of thinking. And Christians are obligated to find one.

The system is rigged.

This is only one of the ways it is rigged. Another way it is rigged is that the lowest possible bid is set very high. On many projects, the lowest bid is $20 or sometimes much more. You cannot claim to be letting the community decide the price based on bids when you only let them make high bids. That's rigging.

Are their motives wrong? I won't presume to know. But when a lot of people raise the issues again and again over a decade+ and the practice is changed, but only to fine-tune the fine print, it doesn't speak well of the motives.

In moral theology, we call that rash judgment. In logic, we call that begging the question.

I don't see the point of continuing this.

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Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jun 30 2020 9:56 PM

Denise:
Seattle: just south of Bellingham Washinton, where your 'shadowy' organization is HQ'd

Shadow: from all their (your questions) questionable practices

Masters in Accounting: your quote: "I'm raising the issue because it is a valid, real issue. I have a masters in accounting to back the claim. And I'm very, very happy to argue the maths or the ethics here as I have already done quite happily."

So you were just ridiculing me?

David Wanat:
In moral theology, we call that rash judgment. In logic, we call that begging the question.

I don't see the point of continuing this.

I think you're missing the point. You're acting like this is an attack on their motives primarily. It's not. It's a criticism of a system that is mathematically unjustified. Would it be rash judgement/begging the question to say I know their motives are wrong? Maybe. I don't know that for sure. But objectively speaking, the facts are that the system has been created, mathematically speaking, to benefit them. They have erred on the points I raise. And in their favour. I am questioning/challenging their motives, yes, but only subsidiarily. That doesn't mean I know for sure. But it does mean they need to address it substantively.

Myke Harbuck:
Jason,

I hope you can see how your original argument, that may indeed have some validity, or at least some need for further discussion, has gotten lost in the mud of emotionalism, debate, and the need to have the 'last word.'

So, I'm not sure that you've served your purpose well here at all (I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you disagree with this statement). I get that you say this OP wasn't intended as a personal attack on the character of the organization, but that's exactly how many, myself included, have perceived it.

As such, perhaps you could have better worded your OP? Perhaps you could have just objectively stated your concerns and the math that supports those concerns? Injecting words like "integrity" and "rigged" into the OP drew the argument away from the math, whether you intended it to or not, and towards the issues of morality and intent.  In the future, consider a less inflammatory and polarizing way to express your concerns. Perhaps use less hyperbole and just stick to "the facts man" (Sgt Friday's words, not mine).

Another thing to consider. In addition to the OPs nonconstructive language, the incessant need to fire off retaliatory responses to every single opinion expressed in the replies is also counterproductive. You're simply adding more fuel to the fire, which, in turns, causes your main concern to get further lost in the mix. As I read this, it seems to me that before you've even finished reading replies, you're ready to fire off your own reply to them. Take a moment [breathe] to ponder not just what others are saying, but WHY they are saying it. Perhaps they are ALL wrong in their facts and their assumptions, and you are 1000% right. But, again, WHY are they saying what they are saying? Could it, again, point back to the way in which you framed your original post? Just something to think about.

I'm still a rookie here, even after 1000 posts and 10 years, but one thing I've learned from others in this forum is that the WAY you voice a concern or criticism is important. It makes the difference between people listening to you and wanting to stand with you to make a difference and people being alienated by you and indifferent to your cause simply because they don't like your rhetoric (irrespective of the accuracy of your facts).

Can you at least take just a moment and consider why you've offended some, and what might have been the results had you framed your concerns differently:

.

Title:

Perhaps "Concerns with Community Pricing" would have worked better

"Rigged" conveys only that you are emotional over the issue, and does more to cause loyal customers to defend FL rather than consider your concerns. Again, inflammatory language.

Whether you think so or not, you ARE attacking the character of the company when you say that something is "rigged." Oxford defines rigged as "to conduct something fraudulently to produce a result that is advantageous to a particular person." So your choice of words is a direct attack on the character of the organization and those that lead. I get that it wasn't your intent, but you're basically accusing them of fraud. That's not necessary, and actually violates the forum guidelines. You seem to me to be a highly intelligent guy, so I don't get the need to inject the inflammatory and accusatory language here.

OP

"It's not a transparent, or ethical, approach in my view."

"Logos, please address this. It's frustrating. But worse, it brings into doubt the integrity of Faithlife."

Note how omitting just a few words might lead to a more constructive conversation. Sure, it's not as satisfying emotionally when you're passionate about an issue or upset about what you perceive to be a serious injustice on FL's part, but in the end it's less constructive, as this thread well demonstrates.

.

.

I'm sure you ready to fire one off at me, and have likely already formulated your response before finishing this reply, but at least attempt to look at this from 30,000 feet and see what you might can learn here, instead of just what everyone else needs to learn from you. And remember that we are a "community" here [hence: community.logos.com]. As such, we have a responsibility to use rhetoric that is fair to all and that isn't insulting to others in the community. The position, "I'm sorry you are offended, but this needed to be said" really doesn't work well here, especially when there were much better ways to say what (perhaps) needed to be said.

Perhaps I am naive, but any posts that call into question the integrity of the FL organization, or that accuses them of a conspiracy (not you, other OPs), or that call their business practices "unChristian" (not you, other OPs), or that accuse them of "lying" because they didn't meet an obligation or misscommunicated something (not you, other OPs) only cause me to defend FL. Sure, they are not perfect. But we're operating on their servers, using their forums, and have the audience of their staff in these forums, so why should they be subjected to character assassinations or other unnecessary attacks? They shouldn't.

I hope you can step back, take a breath, and see how this could have been handled a little differently.

Blessings to you brother.  I do hope your CP concerns can be properly addressed to your satisfaction.

Myke,

I appreciate your feedback. I think you're trying to be charitable and helpful and I appreciate that. I think you assume some things about me that aren't true as well. Mostly that because I use language you view as emotive that I'm responding primarily emotionally. There is some truth in that, but not quite the way you assume it.

First, I was about to agree with you that the term "rigged" implies both fact and motive and go change it with a clarification that I mean merely fact, not motive. But looking back at the OP, it is again very clear to me that this is rigged. If you haven't opened the image and looked at the chart, please do so and you will see that the $12 price point is clearly not following the same formula as the rest of the graph. I cannot think of a way in which that could happen either in mathematics or in coding without specifically, intentionally writing code that overrides the formula. FL have responded that it was the result of a "quick fix." Which will satisfy most people and shroud it in mystery for those who don't know the code/maths. But there's no quick fix that needs to override one price point on an otherwise intact, and still open for business, product auction. So yes, I am saying I think it's rigged. If FL can offer some other explanation, I'll be happy to admit I was wrong. But they have engaged me multiple times and haven't contradicted me on this point. In short, I think someone, somewhere did this and it reflects very badly on FL. And that needs to be investigated by FL and corrected.

Second, you say I've used hyperbole, been inflammatory, and been polarising. I don't see hyperbole. The others are true only in that I have accused FL of behaviour (no doubt by one or some, not all) that is questionable at best. I'm sure that inflames people who are loyal to FL. But I didn't say it to make them mad. I said it because I think it's true and I did give the math to demonstrate it. If people are more loyal to FL than they are to the truth, and therefore choose to be inflamed and polarised regardless of the truth of the matter, that is wrong. Loyalty to an organisation over the truth is at catastrophic proportions in Christianity in our day. And before you say I just used hyperbole, consider that I am aware of thousands... thousands of cases in which Christians chose loyalty to the organisation over loyalty to the truth in protecting the organisation instead of the victims of crime and evil. And here is where I am emotional. I have the scars of that perverse loyalty on my body and being. So no, I don't take responsibility for saying things that inflame people if those things are true. And if I haven't said them in unnecessarily inflammatory ways. I've been quick to admit the issues are probably not rooted in malice. And it's probably more a result of committee incompetence or poor understanding of the issues that has caused it. I'm not trying to say FL is a terrible, corrupt organisation. I love FL, use it almost daily, value them and what they do, think they provide an amazing service to the church, and have said so on this thread. But I have also raised this issue for years and been largely ignored.

Third, when you say we are operating on their servers, you raise a serious issue. Our use of their servers is not a courtesy to us; it is their product. We would not spend a single dollar on Logos if it didn't come with an implied, lifetime guarantee that we will be able to use that product. So I don't think it's appropriate to say they should be treated as our benefactors when they have a legal and ethical obligation to supply the product we are purchasing. That said, I fully agree that accusations should be avoided if possible and we should do our best to be kind and gracious to each other.

Fourth, and this relates to my second point, "character assassination" is, ironically, quite an inflammatory term. But it implies that the accusations are unfair and unfounded. That is not the case here. I have given the maths. I have addressed the issue privately over many years. I have been willing to explain my concerns to them carefully here. So it's not a malicious attack designed to just hurt them. It's an attempt to get them to address this seriously when all other attempts have failed over many years. And I'm not the only one who has raised these issues. Even on this thread.

And the real danger, to which I'm incredibly sensitive as you may by now perceive, is that people should not assume any criticism of the organisation is just a malicious "character assassination." Sometimes it's true. Sometimes the lives of vulnerable people are in the balance. And that means that organisations—Christian organisations especially—should not brush criticism aside casually. And Christians should not allow loyalty to the organisation to cause them to assume that any accusation is untrue and invalid. Christians, because they are good, should always be willing to stand beside the little guy and kindly but firmly insist that the organisation be transparent and accountable.

Of course I realise the stakes aren't that high here. I get that. But the principles are the same. Exactly the same. I have had one person after another on this thread try to shame me into shutting up. And that is toxic. And toxic is not an over-inflammatory word for it. That shaming is the very same method that was used to perpetuate the perpetration of horrific crimes against my family for four decades and keep people out of prison. And I'm personally dealing with enough similar cases of this same thing in the church this week to demonstrate that it is not an isolated event; it is a culture. Christians, churches, and Christian organisations must learn to be transparent and accountable. Christians must learn to require that of them. And we must learn to see that it is sin to allow our loyalty to any organisation to keep us from giving the vulnerable individual an honest hearing and assistance in holding the organisation to account.

Again, I appreciate the spirit of your comment Myke. I have taken it on board. I do recognise the validity and importance of the principles you've addressed. And I do hope you will consider my response as written in a spirit of love and good will.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jun 30 2020 10:07 PM

Jason Harris:

Denise:
Seattle: just south of Bellingham Washinton, where your 'shadowy' organization is HQ'd

Shadow: from all their (your questions) questionable practices

Masters in Accounting: your quote: "I'm raising the issue because it is a valid, real issue. I have a masters in accounting to back the claim. And I'm very, very happy to argue the maths or the ethics here as I have already done quite happily."

So you were just ridiculing me?

Jason, from your post count I take it you are relatively new in the forums. We are asked to maintain a living room atmosphere (see guidelines) and, like any living room we have some people with unique styles of communication. Denise does not ridicule people ... she does provide very cryptic, humorous, and insightful input. She is also very knowledgeable on the mathematical foundations of AI applied to the Bible ... many of us wish we had access to her self-built application.

You will find yourself a respected spot in the living room by using language that carries a truth value (in the logical sense) rather than language that carries judgment and emotion -- at least until you know you can predict the response of the room. We are, in general, an accepting group sometimes slipping off into bizarre humor.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 8252
LogosEmployee

Jason Harris:
First, I was about to agree with you that the term "rigged" implies both fact and motive and go change it with a clarification that I mean merely fact, not motive. But looking back at the OP, it is again very clear to me that this is rigged. If you haven't opened the image and looked at the chart, please do so and you will see that the $12 price point is clearly not following the same formula as the rest of the graph. I cannot think of a way in which that could happen either in mathematics or in coding without specifically, intentionally writing code that overrides the formula. FL have responded that it was the result of a "quick fix." Which will satisfy most people and shroud it in mystery for those who don't know the code/maths. But there's no quick fix that needs to override one price point on an otherwise intact, and still open for business, product auction. So yes, I am saying I think it's rigged. If FL can offer some other explanation, I'll be happy to admit I was wrong. But they have engaged me multiple times and haven't contradicted me on this point. In short, I think someone, somewhere did this and it reflects very badly on FL. And that needs to be investigated by FL and corrected.

There was a bug in the community pricing page that would crash the page if a user had placed a bid at a value that was no longer one of the default bids, e.g., bidding at $12 or $18 before the bids were changed to $10, $13, $16, $19. This was reported by multiple customers here: https://community.logos.com/forums/p/191552/1104992.aspx#1104992

The "quick fix" was to stop the page crashing.

This "quick fix" introduced another bug, which you noticed: now the value for those bids was calculated as 0% instead of 'bidAmount * bidCount / productionCost'.

Jason Harris:
I cannot think of a way in which that could happen either in mathematics or in coding without specifically, intentionally writing code that overrides the formula.

There's a very simple explanation: most modern computer languages initialise all values in a new array to zero. Unless these are specifically, intentionally overwritten, they will stay at zero. No intentional code needs to be written to "override the formula"; instead, all that needs to happen is for a default value (of zero) to be neglected to be overwritten because the loop in the code is only processing bids by using the current bid interval.

Jason Harris:
But they have engaged me multiple times and haven't contradicted me on this point.
 

I thought this had been clearly identified as a bug on the page we were working to fix, so I didn't specifically address it.

Dustin Mackintosh:

There definitely appears to be a bug in the community pricing graph where your $12 bid shows at 0%. ... In the meantime, our team is fixing that graph.

Just to be clear: there is no "specific, intentional" logic in our community pricing graph that "rigs" the graph to display 0% for a legitimate bid. This is a known bug in the graph rendering code.

Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 1 2020 4:51 AM

Bradley Grainger (Faithlife):
There was a bug in the community pricing page that would crash the page if a user had placed a bid at a value that was no longer one of the default bids, e.g., bidding at $12 or $18 before the bids were changed to $10, $13, $16, $19. This was reported by multiple customers here: https://community.logos.com/forums/p/191552/1104992.aspx#1104992

The "quick fix" was to stop the page crashing.

This "quick fix" introduced another bug, which you noticed: now the value for those bids was calculated as 0% instead of 'bidAmount * bidCount / productionCost'.

Hey Bradley, Thanks for the explanation. I was wrong to believe this chart was a direct result of the problems I see in the community pricing system. When I said "Since they want to keep it at $13, they literally rigged the $12 to not work," I was wrong and I apologise. I accept that there was nothing shady about the rendering of this chart and will link to this in the OP [edit: tried, it won't let me].

-----

The rest of the OP, and the primary point of this thread remains. The system is designed to round up by as much as $4.99 per person per product. Potentially much further if the intervals are set at $10 or $20. As I've pointed out, this has the potential to result in charges easily into the tens of thousands of dollars above the cost of production as demonstrated already in this thread. The fine print, as I've agreed, technically covers you legally. But ethically, how do you justify this? How do you justify calling it "community pricing" when the logic of the community choosing the price by bidding to find the price that will cover costs is not followed? And how do you resolve the moral dilemma of having a system that gives the impression of being the above mentioned thing when it is in fact not doing that?

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Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 1 2020 5:28 AM

MJ. Smith:
...we have some people with unique styles of communication. Denise does not ridicule people ... she does provide very cryptic, humorous, and insightful input...

I've noticed...

I didn't find her comments humourous or insightful; I found them dismissive, belittling.

MJ. Smith:
You will find yourself a respected spot in the living room by using language that carries a truth value (in the logical sense) rather than language that carries judgment and emotion -- at least until you know you can predict the response of the room. We are, in general, an accepting group sometimes slipping off into bizarre humor.

Thanks for the equal parts rebuke/invitation to the living room. Not really sure this is my cup of tea though. I'm afraid I'll give the cousins a frightful shock with my ill manners. Thanks though.

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Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 1 2020 6:27 AM

Jason Harris:
The rest of the OP, and the primary point of this thread remains. The system is designed to round up by as much as $4.99 per person per product. Potentially much further if the intervals are set at $10 or $20. As I've pointed out, this has the potential to result in charges easily into the tens of thousands of dollars above the cost of production as demonstrated already in this thread. The fine print, as I've agreed, technically covers you legally. But ethically, how do you justify this? How do you justify calling it "community pricing" when the logic of the community choosing the price by bidding to find the price that will cover costs is not followed? And how do you resolve the moral dilemma of having a system that gives the impression of being the above mentioned thing when it is in fact not doing that?

Jason, as Bradley pointed out, if the cost to produce ends up being $12.79, then they do indeed round up to $13.  Where are you getting that "The system is designed to round up by as much as $4.99?"  You would have to know exactly the amount for each bid to cover the cost and have an example of them rounding up by more than a dollar, but you don't know the exact amount needed per bid.

Another thing you are not considering is that many people could potentially drop their CP bid before it goes into production, and that little bit that was rounded up might help recover that loss of bidders.

I don't mean for this post to sound combative.  I would just be interested to know where you are seeing that they round up by more than within the dollar?  

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

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Joseph Turner:
Where are you getting that "The system is designed to round up by as much as $4.99?" 

He's positing a hypothetical example where the bids are $5, $10, $15, $20, $25 and the math works out so that the production costs would be covered exactly at a price of $15.01.

Because $15.01 is greater than $15, that bid doesn't succeed, so the winning bid is $20. This is "rounded up by $4.99" from the mathematically lowest-possible price that would have covered production costs.

Posts 10963
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 1 2020 8:30 AM

MJ. Smith:
she does provide very cryptic, humorous, and insightful input
And too often, a bit excessively translucent. Smiling.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

Posts 2079
Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 1 2020 1:24 PM

Bradley Grainger (Faithlife):

Joseph Turner:
Where are you getting that "The system is designed to round up by as much as $4.99?" 

He's positing a hypothetical example where the bids are $5, $10, $15, $20, $25 and the math works out so that the production costs would be covered exactly at a price of $15.01.

Because $15.01 is greater than $15, that bid doesn't succeed, so the winning bid is $20. This is "rounded up by $4.99" from the mathematically lowest-possible price that would have covered production costs.

Ah, that makes sense.  I guess I just see all that as baked into the way ti works.  I know it going in.

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 1 2020 3:27 PM

Bradley Grainger (Faithlife):

Joseph Turner:
Where are you getting that "The system is designed to round up by as much as $4.99?" 

He's positing a hypothetical example where the bids are $5, $10, $15, $20, $25 and the math works out so that the production costs would be covered exactly at a price of $15.01.

Because $15.01 is greater than $15, that bid doesn't succeed, so the winning bid is $20. This is "rounded up by $4.99" from the mathematically lowest-possible price that would have covered production costs.

It’s been my experience when a losing bid (like $15 in that hypothetical example) is so close to the line, that bidders will advertise it to get enough new bidders to make $15 successful.

CPers have successfully driven 20-hour Mobile Ed courses from $200+ down to $50, because FL does adjust the graph to allow much lower bids to be possible (and successful).

Although this Ezekiel 17-hour Mobile Ed has an initial minimum bid of $100, FL will likely lower it eventually. Their openness to do that goes against the concept that people will be overcharged ($80+) by a “rigged” system.

https://www.logos.com/product/192163/mobile-ed-ot362-book-study-ezekiel

I’d suggest that for examples where prices were “rounded up,” that there are plenty of actual cases where people paid less due to minimums being lowered.

Rather than the CP system being “rigged” in FL’s favor, it’s probably more balanced than we realize, where paying a little more vs. saving a little more averages out.

If someone is unhappy with having to pay $1 or $5 more for CPs, then advertise them to your friends and fellow forum members, to get more new bids and lower the price. The power to save money on CPs is most definitely in the hands of the bidders!

My top three Logos 9 Wishlist items: Carta, Dark mode, and Hebrew audio bible, please.

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