A Warning to Indie Filmmakers About IMDb
Posted today on the IMDb “Help” Board
A caution for other indie filmmakers
by Jneil (Sun Aug 7 2011 20:55:29)
I strongly caution all independent filmmakers not to use the IMDb message board for their film as a way of communicating with movie viewers or potential movie viewers.
A quick view at the message board for Lady Magdalene’s, a feature film I wrote, produced, and directed, will provide plenty of examples of what happens if you try: the board has been overwhelmed by attack messages trashing my film, me personally, anybody who writes in support of the film, and anyone who has ever said anything nice about it. The troll messages have included every form of libel and today has escalated by an attempt by one troll to shake me down for money or “I’ll make it my life’s mission to hurt this film.”
Complaining to IMDb staff does nothing. It’s beyond their power to patrol the message boards and reporting any troll message results in a coordinated campaign by other troll accounts to spam the message board even more.
This hacker attack is so well organized they managed to input 103 “1″ (worst) ratings for my film overnight — this was a calculated counterattack because in a previous post to this “Help” board I noted attack votes coming from overseas where my film has never screened nor been available for sale.
In fact, this warning message will result in additional retribution. Let them do their worst; I no longer care.
Today I emailed the following to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com is the parent company of IMDb):
Subject: IMDb encourages asymmetrical warfare against indie filmmakers
Date: Sun, 07 Aug 2011 15:36:25 -0700
From: J. Neil Schulman
Organization: Jesulu Productions
To: Jeff Bezos
Dear Mr. Bezos,
By allowing and encouraging anonymous users to register ratings, write user reviews, and post on the IMDb message boards, IMDb has created a toxic environment for independent films and filmmakers, because IMDb is overwhelmed by trolls using multiple anonymous accounts which they use to attack independent films and independent filmmakers who use IMDb for its intended purpose of providing information about their films to the viewing public.
The only correction for this is to institute the same policy Amazon.com has adopted: only allow users to post comments, make votes, and write reviews under accounts tied to real and verifiable identities.
J. Neil Schulman
IMDb Pro Subscriber
Until this troll problem is eliminated, IMDb film ratings are hopelessly untrustworthy, the message boards toxic, the user reviews contaminated.
I am seriously contemplating cutting all external links to IMDb. It’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Posted August 7, 2011 on the IMDb “Lady Magdalene’s” Message Board
by Jneil (Sun Aug 7 2011 14:12:53)
To avoid feeding anonymous trolls who create multiple accounts to spam the IMDb message boards, I will no longer respond to any post on this board from any account that is not linked to a real name, an authenticated identity, with a verifiable website.
Posted August 1, 2011 on the IMDb “Lady Magdalene’s” Message Board
Webtrash on the IMDb
by Jneil (Mon Aug 1 2011 16:59:05)
Let’s acknowledge a few easily checked facts.
Anyone can get an account to post on the IMDb message boards and vote on the movie ratings.
IMDb is not in the business of fact-checking anything posted on its message boards. Its staff only fact-checks submissions to the database, itself.
IMDb also has no ability to prevent vote spamming of the movie ratings. Anybody can vote on a movie without any proof that they’ve even seen it. This problem doesn’t really affect major studio releases which get thousands or tens of thousands of votes from moviegoers, but a few determined spammers can tilt the IMDb movie ratings of independent films by creating a few hundred phantom accounts and voting multiple times. If you see hundreds of “10″ votes or hundreds of “1″ votes it’s a good indication a movie rating has been spammed.
Anyone can make up anything they want and post it here anonymously without any consequence, for any reason, demented or not, truthful or not, factual or not.
The only power anyone really has here is the power of being an active reader to figure out what’s fact and what’s made up. They can cry about their posts, in violation of IMDb policies, being reported and removed by IMDb staff. It’s crocodile tears from people who delight in random destruction of other people’s creative work. It’s the Internet equivalent of arson, vandalism, and lost souls writing dirty words on walls.
Anonymous posters on this board have been talking trash about Lady Magdalene’s. A lot of these posts are sheer unsupported nonsense, easily proved false by anyone who checks the facts both in the IMDb database and elsewhere on the web.
I wrote, produced, and directed the movie, but I could not have done any of that without a wonderful cast and crew headlined and inspired by Nichelle Nichols.
Lady Magdalene’s is available on Amazon.com, both as a DVD and as an Amazon Instant Video. Here’s the page link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B004ZMSDIK/.
Lady Magdalene’s: The Musical Soundtrack is also available on Amazon.com. Here’s the page link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002OSWWDE.
Linked from the Lady Magdalene’s official movie website at http://www.ladymagdalenes.com are dozens of real reviews and comments on the movie — written by people using their real names — plus extended video excerpts and music videos from the movie, photo galleries, and so on.
Off IMDb, these vandals have no power. Here they have the power of clutter. Like people who litter any commons, it’s their goal to drive away anyone who wants to use it for ordinary enjoyment.
Basically, they’re criminals without even the courage to commit real crimes. They’re webtrash.
If you’re interested in learning anything real about Lady Magdalene’s, please look for facts in the IMDb database, on the official movie website, and on my blog at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com, where it’s not so hard to keep the creeps out.
Signing off and God bless you,
J. Neil Schulman
Posted August 9, 2011 on the IMDb “Help Board
Re: A caution for other indie filmmakers
by Jneil (Tue Aug 9 2011 04:21:09)
This discussion is probably moot. I’m guessing IMDb already has a solution in mind.
You pointed out in a previous discussion that with IMDb cutting all links to Amazon.com the only products IMDb has left to sell are subscriptions to IMDb Pro, the resume service, poster service, etc.
It’s obvious that to maintain revenue IMDb will adopt a new business model in which one needs to be an IMDb Pro subscriber to rate movies, write user reviews, and post on all but one or two strictly moderated message boards.
I even imagine that IMDb will sell editorial control of the message boards for productions listed in its database to studio execs, publicists, or producers associated with those films.
This solves all of IMDb management’s problems in one fell swoop, since IMDB Pro subscribers have to use verifiable identities (equivalent to Amazon.com customers) to make use of the enhanced services; and if the companies listing their productions on IMDb have editorial control over the message board for it they can make their own proprietary editorial choices of how proactive they want to be in moderating their own product boards.
Posted August 9, 2011 on the Lady Magdalene’s Official Website
Lady Magdalene’s has been listed on IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) since its original announcement of production on March 23, 2006, and for the most part the IMDb database contains accurate information. IMDb staff does a good job of vetting information input into the database itself for production info and cast and crew links.
There are, however, severe problems and deficiencies with IMDb.
Of the three film-festival awards that Lady Magdalene’s has received, IMDb only lists the first one. IMDb does not allow listing of awards for festivals not already listed in its database, and the list of film festivals has not been updated for the most part since 2007.
IMDb will not link to the Amazon.com User Reviews for those customers who have actually purchased either the Instant Download or DVD of Lady Magdalene’s.
IMDb no longer links to the Amazon.com catalog pages for the Lady Magdalene’s DVD, Instant Video, and Lady Magdalene’s: The Musical Soundtrack CD or MP3′s.
The User Rating for Lady Magdalene’s on IMDb is artificially low due to hackers and spammers having artificially input multiple “1″ (worst) votes — many of them from overseas users where Lady Magdalene’s has never screened, and 103 of these fraudulent votes were hacked or spammed overnight after director J. Neil Schulman complained on the IMDb Help Board about the prior spammed votes from overseas. IMDb does not require any verifiable ID to rate movies on its system, so that system has been completely corrupted by spammers, hackers, and Internet trolls.
Positive user reviews of Lady Magdalene’s have been deleted by IMDb staff after false and malicious reports by IMDb trolls charging that these reviews were written by the movie’s director, J. Neil Schulman. This was done in retaliation for J. Neil Schulman’s reports to IMDb staff that an early rough cut of the film — an early cut not up to the standards of the final commercial release — had been stolen from a distributor and used by a troll as the basis for a malice-filled “review” full of false production information and other assorted libels.
Finally, the IMDb message board for Lady Magdalene’s has been overwhelmed by anonymous posters who write falsehoods (such as that Lady Magdalene’s never won any real film-festival awards, or repetitions of the charge that positive reviews were written by J. Neil Schulman) and such spam postings have clogged and overwhelmed use of the message board for legitimate discussion of the film.
For these reasons, Lady Magdalene’s producers advise not relying on IMDb for accurate information about Lady Magdalene’s.
For background on how these campaigns of malicious disinformation are conducted throughout the Internet, see the Wikipedia article Sock puppet.
If, however, understanding these cautions, you still wish to proceed to the IMDb Page for Lady Magdalene’s, it’s at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0783538/combined.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available as a DVD on Amazon.com and for sale or rental on Amazon.com Instant Video. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!