The rigged "community pricing" system...

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Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jun 26 2020 2:57 AM

I've been pointing this out for years, but here's a screenshot that demonstrates that the current "community pricing" system is not up front. They claim we get it at the lowest price that bids cover the costs. But then they set intervals that bump up the prices. In this case $3 increments. Often $5. Sometimes $10.

Link (It won't let me link an image in...)

This chart looks like this because I had originally bid $12. Had they made the bidding increments $1 apart, The price would clearly be $12 per book for everyone. Since they want to keep it at $13, they literally rigged the $12 to not work. 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.

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Posts 453
Kevin | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 4:18 AM

It is pretty obvious to me that this is just a coding issue where bids at the higher end of the scale will lead to the scale re-adjusting and the increment size increasing. You can see from you image that there are bids at $18/19, which would of been the top of the scale for $1 increments. (see https://www.logos.com/product/38878/the-work-of-st-optatus-bishop-of-milevis-against-the-donatists).

Maybe it was in $3 intervals, when you bid, perhaps it is another coding issue, but the point is that is very likely an automated system.

Sure this could maybe be looked at to handle cases like yours better, but allowing your $1 of frustration to lead you to question the integrity and ethics of a Faithlife in a public forum I think is a bigger issue you should perhaps address.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 5:42 AM

Yep, Kevin got it right ... re-think destroying an organization for a dollar.

But your frustration is historic. They start the bid range, so it's guaranteed to fail! The bid increments are wrong! They never highlight key CP resources, and so on. Through the years, it's been emotional.

In my book, doom is that the initial bid range can pretty much finish off a CP before it gets started. Like starting a mine shaft in the wrong place ... more digging is more digging. It can't get better.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 6:30 AM

ALL CP listings should begin at $1 for one week, then be bumped up based on some algorithm.

Posts 538
Bobby Terhune | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 7:15 AM

Faithlife knows what there projected costs will be, they also have many years of experience to estimate how many will bid on the project. I believe they set the starting prices to be realistic in relation to the projected demand. if demand exceeds expectations then the price obviously goes lower.  

But i believe that once a title has crossed the line, then the increments should be at 1.00

Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 10:56 AM

Kevin:

It is pretty obvious to me that this is just a coding issue where bids at the higher end of the scale will lead to the scale re-adjusting and the increment size increasing. You can see from you image that there are bids at $18/19, which would of been the top of the scale for $1 increments. (see https://www.logos.com/product/38878/the-work-of-st-optatus-bishop-of-milevis-against-the-donatists).

Maybe it was in $3 intervals, when you bid, perhaps it is another coding issue, but the point is that is very likely an automated system.

Sure this could maybe be looked at to handle cases like yours better, but allowing your $1 of frustration to lead you to question the integrity and ethics of a Faithlife in a public forum I think is a bigger issue you should perhaps address.

No. It's not a coding issue or an algorithm. It takes some custom design to make sure that any bid above the cost line but below the price they want to charge will go down to zero. I'm not web designer, but I am an accountant and that much is obvious.

The intervals often change in a given product. That's not my concern. My concern is that whatever interval they use, the price must be allowed to settle at the actual point at which the bids cover the costs. And Logos makes a point not to let that happen. Even though they say that is what will happen. So no, this is not just frustration. It's a settled pattern and a policy that has been raised with them many times over a decade or so. It's deliberate and it's questionable. At best.

So I am questioning it. It does cast a shadow on the integrity of the organisation. And if you think integrity is somehow scaled on how much money is at stake, maybe that's a bigger issue that you should perhaps address. Seriously, what is it with some people who have to try to shame anyone who raises an issue like this? Feel free to disagree, but don't try to shame people or imply they have a spiritual problem for raising an issue like this. Ok?

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Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 11:02 AM

Denise:
Yep, Kevin got it right ... re-think destroying an organization for a dollar.

We Christians have got to get past the notion that questioning someone or challenging them or pointing out a problem is somehow hateful or destroying them. It's not. It's ok to point out a problem with an organisation. And if they would have addressed it when it was brought up with them privately on many occasions, it wouldn't even be up in public.

Not having a go at you. Just pushing back for the reasons outlined in my response to Kevin. =)

Denise:
But your frustration is historic. They start the bid range, so it's guaranteed to fail! The bid increments are wrong! They never highlight key CP resources, and so on. Through the years, it's been emotional.

In my book, doom is that the initial bid range can pretty much finish off a CP before it gets started. Like starting a mine shaft in the wrong place ... more digging is more digging. It can't get better.

Yeah, this is another issue with the system, and I agree, it is frustrating. They put up a book with the lowest possible bid as $30 or something. It's manipulating the system to push for higher bids and is also questionable. Why does a Christian company choose to act questionably like this?

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Posts 538
Bobby Terhune | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 11:34 AM

Jason,

its not a conspiracy ! I really think faithlife believes that price or close to it is what it will take to successfully cover costs.  its taken years to get the Loeb collections into production (Since 2013).

It seems as if people put in low bids and then just wait to see if it well go into production. Then if there bid is too low, the up their bid the last week of bidding.

if everyone bid what they would be willing to pay, things would go much faster. as it is now, by the time a title covers cost, I've forgotten I had even bid on it. 

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Dustin Mackintosh | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 11:54 AM

Thank you for the feedback, Jason. There definitely appears to be a bug in the community pricing graph where your $12 bid shows at 0%. This is a result of a fix we pushed out yesterday when the page wasn't loading at all after the bid interval changed. I understand you have concerns about bid intervals in general. Though I can't speak to that I can ask someone with more context there to weigh in. In the meantime, our team is fixing that graph.

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 12:48 PM

Thanks for the link (and the fixes), Dustin. It's good to have some background for this graph issue!

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 26 2020 1:06 PM

Jason Harris:
It's ok to point out a problem with an organisation.

Organizations are made up of many people who don't necessarily lack integrity.

Jason Harris:
And if they would have addressed it when it was brought up with them privately on many occasions, it wouldn't even be up in public.

That's merely an excuse we use to justify what we do. It doesn't necessarily make what we say right or honorable.

I think this all comes back around to having to give account for all the careless words we say.

Jason Harris:
Why does a Christian company choose to act questionably like this?

I think the bigger question is why Christians in general choose to act questionably. I don't think it's an issue with a company. I think it's an issue with our hearts.

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Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 27 2020 1:06 AM

Bobby Terhune:
its not a conspiracy ! I really think faithlife believes that price or close to it is what it will take to successfully cover costs.  its taken years to get the Loeb collections into production (Since 2013).

It seems as if people put in low bids and then just wait to see if it well go into production. Then if there bid is too low, the up their bid the last week of bidding.

if everyone bid what they would be willing to pay, things would go much faster. as it is now, by the time a title covers cost, I've forgotten I had even bid on it.

No, it's not a conspiracty. It's basic maths. Your explanation suggests that you don't understand how the mathematical formula of community pricing works (for instance, no one is questioning or disagreeing with their calculations of the cost of the production).

Basically they use a function to find the intercept of the cost line and the price x bids line. At that intercept, p=c/b (where p=price, c=cost, b=number of bids at the given price). And Logos says/implies that this intercept p will be the p we are charged. But then charges a higher p because they have artificially limited the p at which a person may b, therefore resulting in a higher p than would be required to cover c. It's not complicated maths but Logos acts like it is when they get challenged on it. And people who don't understand the maths just knee-jerk defend Logos.

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Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 27 2020 1:10 AM

Dustin Mackintosh:
Thank you for the feedback, Jason. There definitely appears to be a bug in the community pricing graph where your $12 bid shows at 0%. This is a result of a fix we pushed out yesterday when the page wasn't loading at all after the bid interval changed. I understand you have concerns about bid intervals in general. Though I can't speak to that I can ask someone with more context there to weigh in. In the meantime, our team is fixing that graph.

Right. My concern wasn't about the graph at all. It is and has always been about bid intervals. Not their existence above the $1 mark, but their role in creating higher prices.

I only brought up the graph because it accurately shows, in graphical form, the thing you guys have been doing for years. And when you accidentally graph out your policy for people to see, it is obvious how flawed the policy is.

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Posts 44
Jason Harris | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 27 2020 1:23 AM

PetahChristian:
Organizations are made up of many people who don't necessarily lack integrity.

I didn't say they do. I said the organisation is acting questionably; in a way that raises questions about their integrity. And yes, it is possible for an organisation made up of mostly people of integrity to lack integrity. Organisational actions are fair game for scrutiny and critique. Especially Christian organisations.

PetahChristian:
That's merely an excuse we use to justify what we do. It doesn't necessarily make what we say right or honorable.

I think this all comes back around to having to give account for all the careless words we say.

Just to be very clear, I would have had no problem bringing it up publicly regardless of whether it was addressed privately already. I was just pointing out that they could have fixed this on multiple occasions and have continually chosen not to. And shame on you for acting like criticising and challenging is somehow wrong or dishonourable. It's not. And your attempt to insinuate that I'm doing something wrong is ugly. 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. Open discussion is healthy and good. And I'm entirely open to criticism or correction or clarification. But it is a disturbing commentary on the state of Christianity how many here feel entitled to try to shame me for raising the issue. And silence me from questioning a Christian organisation. It's disturbing.

PetahChristian:
I think the bigger question is why Christians in general choose to act questionably. I don't think it's an issue with a company. I think it's an issue with our hearts.

Of course it is. And we do it because we're sinners. Which is no justification. And a company is an entity run by a collective of human hearts acting as an entity and therefore challengeable as an entity.

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Posts 797
David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 27 2020 8:01 AM

Alternatively, if those designing the system don’t have MBAs, they could be thinking “at this price point we need X people to bid, and at that price point we need Y bidders.”

Don’t assume that whatever goes against a preferred model must be guided by self-interest. That’s something to be proven, not assumed.

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Jason Harris:
Basically they use a function to find the intercept of the cost line and the price x bids line. At that intercept, p=c/b (where p=price, c=cost, b=number of bids at the given price). And Logos says/implies that this intercept p will be the p we are charged. But then charges a higher p because they have artificially limited the p at which a person may b, therefore resulting in a higher p than would be required to cover c. It's not complicated maths but Logos acts like it is when they get challenged on it. And people who don't understand the maths just knee-jerk defend Logos.

I'm sorry, I'm not quite understanding what you're saying.

Let's say the production cost is $30,000 and by the time the bidding closes, there are 2,345 bids. (Not enough to cover it at $12, but enough at $13.) Are you saying that Faithlife should calculate the intercept point and charge everyone $12.79 so that production costs are precisely covered and no more?

If so, that might be more "fair", but that's not how community pricing is advertised. From https://www.logos.com/communitypricing/about, "Everyone who bids at or above the winning bid will pay the winning bid amount."

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 27 2020 5:16 PM

Bradley Grainger (Faithlife):

Jason Harris:
Basically they use a function to find the intercept of the cost line and the price x bids line. At that intercept, p=c/b (where p=price, c=cost, b=number of bids at the given price). And Logos says/implies that this intercept p will be the p we are charged. But then charges a higher p because they have artificially limited the p at which a person may b, therefore resulting in a higher p than would be required to cover c. It's not complicated maths but Logos acts like it is when they get challenged on it. And people who don't understand the maths just knee-jerk defend Logos.

I'm sorry, I'm not quite understanding what you're saying.

I think the artificial limitation that Jason mentions (highlight mine) is that larger bid intervals exclude a slightly lesser bid that would also cross the line.

E.g., for the $3 bid interval, you may only be able to bid $10 (unsuccessful, not over line) or $13 (successful, over the line), when $12 would also have been over the line. He thinks it's rigged that people get charged $13, when $12 would also have been successful (if the bid interval had been $1 instead of $3).

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Posts 355
Vincent Chia | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 27 2020 5:47 PM

I have been a Faithlife customer and Logos user for decades.

I continue to see Community Pricing as a privilege, not as an entitlement.

FL is a business after all. It needs to be profitable to be sustainable. They don't owe us anything.

Community Pricing is an opportunity for us to acquire the desired product at a much lower price. That, I think, ought to be a privilege.

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PetahChristian:
I think the artificial limitation that Jason mentions (highlight mine) is that larger bid intervals exclude a slightly lesser bid that would also cross the line.

Sure, I can see that, but I don't believe we've communicated any obligation on Faithlife's part to resize the bid intervals to every $1 (or every $0.50, or every $0.10) in order to enable everyone to make the minimum possible bid.

PetahChristian:
E.g., for the $3 bid interval, you may only be able to bid $10 (unsuccessful, not over line) or $13 (successful, over the line), when $12 would also have been over the line. He thinks it's rigged that people get charged $13, when $12 would also have been successful (if the bid interval had been $1 instead of $3).

I see this specific example is exacerbated by (apparently; I don't know the details) $12 and $18 bids previously being available before the intervals were changed to $10, $13, etc.

However, my previous point stands. When a CP product goes into production, everyone is charged "the winning bid amount", not the minimum possible amount, be it a nice "round" number like $12 (which could have been a bid) or the mathematically lowest-possible number, e.g., $12.79.

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 27 2020 6:33 PM

No problem there, I've been fine with CP, and grateful for the chance to bid on products at a lower price than pre-pub would be!

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