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Indiegogo Doesn’t Care About PR. Site Ignores Tech Issues Impacting gogofactor.

by Tara Lee Reed on May 22, 2013

Oh man, am I ever ticked, pissed, miffed, fuming and other synonyms for furious!

As part of tracking progress of the Indiegogo campaign for my novel, Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: A Novel Approach to DatingI’ve discovered a hugely important technical issue that is negatively impacting all IGG campaigns. The social media sharing buttons are malfunctioning. They have been for at least the last six days, IGG knows about it, and they’re not doing much of anything about it.

It’s bad for you and me, but it’s just another day at the office for Indiegogo.

For those just tuning in, you can read all about why I had to launch a second campaign (for the same project) in my post, “What You Should Know Before You Indiegogo: A Cautionary Tale of Crowdfunding.” In essence, I learned that despite all their kumbaya crowing about it, IGG’s gogofactor is really bullshit.

From IGG: Indiegogo measures the activity of a campaign using an algorithm we call gogofactor. Search rankings, placement on the site, featured spots in our newsletter or blog, and inclusion in our press outreach are all determined by gogofactor. Indiegogo is a merit-based platform, which means that campaigns earn featured spots by staying active. We don’t curate campaigns, nor do we offer paid placement. Your visibility on the site is controlled entirely by you and your community.

Sounds really good, right? It would, because they left out one teensy little detail: the unadvertised minimum 20% funding requirement for entry into the site’s most browsed category, Most Popular. They didn’t mention that no matter how highly gogofactor ranks you, and no matter how high or low your funding goal, until you hit 20%, you won’t appear in Most Popular or be eligible for all that great promotion and featured placement that drives thousands of unique views to your page, hopefully converting into funding.

I learned this the hard way, and by hard way I mean that IGG made it as difficult as possible. Based on rankings in other categories I knew I had among the best “pure” gogofactor rankings of all active campaigns, but I was curiously absent from Most Popular. When I asked about it, first IGG broke their own policy and offered to lower my goal to see if it improved my rankings. When that did nothing, I inquired six times (of four levels of IGG staff) about the discrepancy and was refused an answer.

My brother figured it out and funded my campaign to 20%. I instantly became the 15th campaign in Most Popular, 1st when filtered by Canada. I moved up 76 places from my rankings in All Campaigns. My gogofactor was so high, I was outranking a campaign that had thousands more social media shares and had already funded 500% of their $10,000 goal.

Unfortunately, the blip of promotion acceptance into the Twenty Percenters Club triggered was too little too late, and I failed to meet my goal – by a lot. IGG made out okay with 9% of the money I raised, though, including on the $3,500 funded to test my hypothesis of how far I’d move up.

I funded my second campaign to 20% of the goal using money from during round one. I did so slowly, carefully tracking my movement in the rankings based on contributions and other gogofactor triggers. The traffic from my blog post definitely helped draw early views to my campaign, and within two days I moved up from page 209 of All Campaigns to page 43.

Thank God for that blog, because on top of facing fatigue from my personal network who’d ‘liked’ and shared the hell out of my first campaign, I noticed the social media buttons on campaign pages (at least every page I’ve tried) are malfunctioning, preventing me from promoting the campaign as much as I should be in early days. This presumably also negatively impacts my rankings, even with the 20% minimum met.

I first noticed it when I attempted to tweet my campaign from its page. The tweet appeared in my newsfeed, but the counter on the page remained at zero. I waited awhile for it to show up, tried it a couple more times, and nothing. I then heard from a friend who couldn’t share the page using the Facebook or email buttons. Facebook had worked for me, as did G+, so I tried tweeting out other campaigns, taking screenshots of the before and after, as well as the tweets in my newsfeed.

I sent screenshots for Little Favour (a Benedict Cumberbatch Film) to IGG, and recorded the same result for campaigns Check Please, Free The Press and 10,000 Hearts Help Gina Battle Scleroderma to name a few. Most of these campaigns have significant social media shares clocked, so it’s not surprising they haven’t noticed the hits they’re missing.

As I received them, I passed along additional reports from my network that the buttons didn’t work in the Chrome app on iPad, or that they couldn’t use it on Safari on their iPhones. I obtained more screenshots proving tweets weren’t being counted on my page and others. I also started a separate blog to track errors and other issues this time around.

After one initial acknowledgement of my complaint, follow up emails to IGG support were ignored for days. After nearly 36 hours, I finally contacted Indiegogo principal, Adam Chapnick who got involved, prompting an email from support conveying their tech team was looking into it, suggesting that “the social media trackers may not be updating in real time, and will show up in batches later.” (I’m still waiting.) They said I was the only one who’d complained.

Over the next 48 hours, I asked exactly what the tech team was doing, asked again how the issue was affecting my gogofactor/rankings on the site, and sent more reports from people having issues on multiple platforms and devices. Crickets. 

This morning, I had around 744 tracked visits to my page (though, IGG no longer separates unique visits from repeat visits, so I can’t give you an exact number). And yet, I still hadn’t broken 30 Facebook likes – despite being in the Top 12 pages of Most Popular, the 6th Campaign under New This Week, the first page of Writing, and the first page of Toronto.

My last campaign had over 500 Facebook likes before making it into Most Popular, finishing at 810. I’d imagine my numbers would be lower to start this time around, but it’s fishy that I’m currently at 900+ page views, now promoting my campaign on Facebook, and I still have only 43 Facebook likes, 35 Tweets and 17 G+ hits. I’m sure IGG would have you believe it’s just that people aren’t diggin’ my campaign, but I’ve got a pesky little thing called proof that it’s not just me.

Tonight, IGG support clarified: “By tracking, we mean that we are logging this issue and reviewing it as a bug. Unfortunately, since we have not received other reports of this issue from other users, we are not able to confirm the issue yet. That said, any additional information such as what you are sharing with us is helpful to troubleshoot the issue so please feel fee to share any additional information you have with me.”

I don’t know if they think I’m stupid, if they’re ticked I exposed the 20% rule, or if they ironically underestimate the power of the Internet, but I do know it’s not nearly as complex an issue as they’d like me to think. And I’m not sure why the third-party screenshots from people with IGG accounts (who are therefor “users” of the site) don’t count as confirmation of an “issue.”

I sent a reply asking if they’d attempted to recreate the issues on random campaigns, on multiple devices and platforms (which seems logical to me, even without a computer science degree). I asked them why they aren’t proactively working with people with brand new campaigns – whose Facebook and twitter networks would be at their most active – to identify and report signs of malfunction. (It’s unlikely campaigns would recognize it independently, especially with the natural fluctuation that occurs during the campaign.)

I suggested it would be wise from a PR point of view to get in front of the problem before it compromises the integrity and success of every campaign on the site, given social media shares are measured by gogofactor. I’m not expecting a terribly bright response, if for no other reason than you’d think they’d want to resolve this quickly given my propensity for sharing their shortcomings with all of you.

Afteward, a friend who owns an IT firm contacted me, aware of my request for error notifications. He was able to use the Facebook button (on his fully updated Windows machine, using the current version of Internet Explorer), but, funnily, his tweet didn’t change the count on my page. Along with screenshots of each stage, he sent this message:

“Your twitter counter isn’t working on your Indiegogo page… as you can see in the screen shots, it had 35 tweets before I tweeted mine, and it has 35 after I tweeted mine.  There’s definitely something wrong with the programming of that site and it should be looked into.

Being that my IT company has programmed sites before with counters, I can definitely say there’s something not working right and it’s impacting your campaign!”

Before Tweet Before Tweet Tweet Tweet After Tweet After Tweet

CurtTweet4

He’s an Indiegogo account holder. Does he not count as confirmation of issue? We’ll see. I forwarded his message and images to IGG.

In the meantime, please do the entire community of IGG campaign owners and contributors a favour and monitor your campaigns closely! Test buttons on campaigns you’ve never visited before, like mine, on a variety of platforms. Take screenshots. Forward your findings to support@indiegogo.com and copy Adam Chapnick (Adam@Indiegogo.com).

Maybe you’ll have a problem tweeting from your laptop. Maybe you can’t use any of the buttons on your iPad. It’s different for everyone.

IGG continues to demonstrate shady operations, from support all the way up to the top. If they were on the level, they’d be more concerned with something compromising the integrity of their algorithm (and therefor, business model). They’d be proactively troubleshooting it with users. Instead, they’re exercising avoidance, waiting for you to notice that something’s wrong. They’re (literally) banking on the likelihood you won’t, especially if you have a flexible funding campaign that pays them 9% when you fall short of your goal.

Please post issues in the comments below. And please share this post so campaign owners have a chance to identify and report issues, forcing IGG to resolve them – whether they affect one campaign or all of them.

UPDATE (April 20, 2014): Indiegogo has redesigned its site for the second time in less than a year, also renaming the “Popular Now” category “Trending,” I’m guessing in attempt to escape my posts in Google searches.

UPDATE (September 3, 2013): Read here to learn how Indiegogo is still ignoring this malfunction while campaigns suffer and how they punished me for sharing the truth with you.

Thanks for reading,

Tara Reed

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: A Novel Approach to Dating on Indiegogo

 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan Estok September 9, 2013 at 1:05 am

I am having all sorts of issues too with my campaign. I have all sorts of screenshots of a broken stats page that igg admitted was broken but said it would not effect my gogo factor. Lies. I have pissed them off by taking screen shots of everything and emailing them to staff along with blog posts about how terrible igg is of a site. I am keeping up the finding page but going to Angel investors instead. They lie so much at igg. If you watch a video of the CEO of igg he says they done help campaigns but if you read the blog about the game Frontiers, its obvious they pick and choose. IGGs CEO is friends with meetups CEO; they are located around the block from each other, and I am getting the shaft because they are afraid my site will hurt meetup. Half the time the igg page won’t load, my stats are way off, the first week I was placed way behind campaigns with no funding and far less social shares, now its impossible to find my page unless you use the direct link. Such bullshit.

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Wordsmith September 9, 2013 at 4:16 am

Thanks for writing! I’m sorry to hear that you’re having so much trouble. It’s incredibly frustrating to put so much effort and energy into a project and have it doused by the greed of the company that markets itself as “the good guys.” On one of my earlier posts, a campaigner recently told me that despite having 165 Facebook likes, her analytics board said she’d had 0 visitors for ages. She complained and complained and eventually they just changed it to “temporarily unavailable.” I have screenshots proving my tweet of her campaign didn’t raise the count on the page, and she was weeks in without passing 0 on Twitter or g+ the day I looked.

Have you read my follow up post on things ended for me? You could say I pissed them off a tad. http://www.couldawouldashouldabook.com/i-made-indiegogo-change-their-business-model-with-a-blog-post-and-was-punished/

I’d appreciate it if you’d have a read and copy and paste your comment above to that post as well. I want to make sure people see as many of us as possible.

I also appreciate the insight into relationships and operations. As with anything, it’s always a good rule of thumb to follow the money.

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maggie January 16, 2014 at 12:34 am

Also interesting is the annoying fact that when you try to link your campaign to your facebook business page and not your private account, you can’t. I’ve tried for days to get an answer out of IGG. All I got was an email telling me to increase my gogo factor ffs. Despite hundreds of my fans hitting the like button and sharing the campaign on fb and twitter, it’s not showing up. Thanks for sharing. Now I know why.

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Wordsmith January 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I think you actually can link the business page (I did), but it’s another great example of how much malfunction there is. Features/things that work for me don’t work for you and vice versa. It unfortunately works to their advantage because there’s a countless number of combined malfunctions per individual campaigner.

If you haven’t read my follow up post, I recommend it: http://www.couldawouldashouldabook.com/i-made-indiegogo-change-their-business-model-with-a-blog-post-and-was-punished/

Most people don’t realize there’s a problem. Others complain once and give up after their generic response. I get contacted regularly by people such as yourself. It’s a damn shame.

Might I suggest you go to campaigns you haven’t been to before, take screenshots before, during, and after (on the IGG page and the social media page) to prove it does or doesn’t work. With me? Tweeting someone’s campaign NEVER works, but for others, it might Facebook. It’s all programming (API).

Send the screenshots to other campaigners and see if they’ll join you in complaining, providing screens and the links to my posts to prove you know that they’ve known about these issues forever and done nothing about it. There’s a gentleman in the comments for the post I linked to above who you could likely team up with.

I hope that helps.

Thanks Maggie!

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Wordsmith March 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Thanks very much for including me! I’m headed over there now!

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Wordsmith April 16, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Thanks very much for including me in your post!

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Jalen January 8, 2015 at 3:48 am

None can doubt the vecarity of this article.

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