Buying a Pony Off Amazon January 30, 2011 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible for MetaFilter to make money off referral links to amazon products? That is, when someone posts a link to an amazon product, the site automatically turns it into a referral link so Matt and Co. can make a little bit of money off the link.
posted by 47triple2 to Feature Requests at 5:28 PM (71 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I think this already happens.
But I get confused easily.
posted by inigo2 at 5:28 PM on January 30, 2011


Yes -- picked this comment randomly; note the "metafilter-20/ref=nosim/" portion of the amazon link in that comment.
posted by inigo2 at 5:30 PM on January 30, 2011


We do this already. Check the Amazon links in AskMe and you can see it in action. Pew pew.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:30 PM on January 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah, we added this in late 2005 or so. It helps pay the bills but isn't a super huge source of income.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:45 PM on January 30, 2011


Actually, in the couple months leading up to xmas, it actually doubles or more and starts seeming like an impressive amount of money with all the xmas shopping going on, but then it drops off again come January.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:45 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Since that's all wrapped up, this thread is now about how Facebook is the EPIC system described in the EPIC 2014 video of yore.
EPIC, the Evolving Personalized Information Construct, which pays users to contribute any information they know into a central grid, allowing the system to automatically create news tailored to individuals, entirely without journalists.

EPIC stores and categorizes not only news, but the demographics, political beliefs, and consumption habits of every user. At its best, EPIC is "a summary of the world — deeper, broader and more nuanced than anything ever available before ... but at its worst, and for too many, EPIC is merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue." EPIC is so popular that it triggers the downfall of the New York Times, which goes offline and becomes "a print newsletter for the elite and the elderly."
posted by cashman at 5:50 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does MetaFilter have one of those fancy link addons that I can add onto my Amazon bookmark so all of my purchases send a little bit back home? Like what Macintouch does here.
posted by jamaro at 6:09 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd really like the ability to comment on MeFi posts. When could that be added?
posted by DU at 6:18 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd really like the ability to comment on MeFi posts. When could that be added?

While we're at it, I'd like the ability to indicate my agreement with you without having to quote you and then type out this sentence.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:36 PM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Even just a page with a "help support Metafilter, shop at Amazon" link would be handy. I usually go to Amazon directly, so there's presumably an affiliate commission going spare; I'd be quite happy for Metafilter to get it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:40 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about a spawn-of-metafilter advice site? A site where mefites can go to give and get advice and suggestions regarding life's conundrums - technical, personal, financial, etc.? Most of us know a thing or two about something or the other, and most of us need a hand (or a shoulder, or other assorted body parts) on occasion.
posted by grouse at 6:41 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to be reminded, when commenting, that all people require squeezing. I'm sure that technological barriers render this a distant dream, but perhaps someday, somehow, the internet will tell me to enfold the whole of humanity in my arms, and I will finally feel complete.
posted by longtime_lurker at 6:42 PM on January 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can we have a subsite specifically for self-links?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:06 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about a sub-site for swapping recipes?
posted by odinsdream at 7:07 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


And while we're at it, a subsite specifically for discussion of SEO strategies.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:08 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I propose a subsite for proposing subsites.
posted by killdevil at 7:49 PM on January 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think it would be really cool if we could arrange to meet faceless strangers sometime.
posted by arcticseal at 8:01 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


We should be able to hook our computers together and communicate through them.

pb?
posted by carsonb at 8:02 PM on January 30, 2011 [19 favorites]


I was thinking of taking a trip, but I didn't, because there was no subsite to advise me.
posted by longtime_lurker at 8:09 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


And a subsite for the Listening Room heh heh


so not kidding
posted by cashman at 8:09 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who else has referrer programs and is frequently linked? Maybe Newegg? Maybe Zappos? What the hell do I know?
posted by box at 8:12 PM on January 30, 2011


Does MeFi benefit if I click to Amazon through a link to a cool CD recommendation in AskMe but then buy an unrelated book instead during the same session?
posted by mediareport at 9:02 PM on January 30, 2011


Actually, lazyweb request, I would totally install a greasemonky script that turned all of my amazon links into MeFi referrals.

Totally.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:04 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Does MeFi benefit if I click to Amazon through a link to a cool CD recommendation in AskMe but then buy an unrelated book instead during the same session?

I think it used to work that way a few years back, but they have tightened up things significantly since then. Someone else probably knows more than me, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 PM on January 30, 2011


Does MeFi benefit if I click to Amazon through a link to a cool CD recommendation in AskMe but then buy an unrelated book instead during the same session?

Yes. From the Operating Agreement:
We will pay you advertising fees on Qualifying Purchases in accordance with Section 8 and the Associates Program Advertising Fee Schedule. Subject to the exclusions set forth below, a “Qualifying Purchase” occurs when (a) a customer clicks through a Special Link on your site to the Amazon Site; (b) during a single Session that customer either (i) adds a Product to his or her shopping cart and places the order for that Product no later than 89 days following the customer’s initial click-through, (ii) purchases a Product via our 1-Click feature, or (iii) streams or downloads a Product from the Amazon Site if the Product is a Digital Product; and (c) the Product is shipped to or streamed or downloaded by, and paid for by, the customer.

A “Session” begins when a customer clicks through a Special Link on your site to the Amazon Site and ends upon the first to occur of the following: (x) 24 hours elapses from the customer’s initial click-through; (y) the customer places an order for a Product that is not a Digital Product; or (z) the customer follows a link to the Amazon Site that is formatted with an Associate’s tag that is not assigned to you.
posted by zachlipton at 10:35 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Capital, after 10 years I can show Carson my legos.
hey, a legal PLOT to write good reviews on Amazon.

Rip Foster is on this


posted by clavdivs at 10:44 PM on January 30, 2011


Even just a page with a "help support Metafilter, shop at Amazon" link would be handy. I usually go to Amazon directly, so there's presumably an affiliate commission going spare; I'd be quite happy for Metafilter to get it.

Ew. No.

It's all well and good to make some spare change whenever someone happens to link to Amazon, but actively endorsing Amazon (which is almost as evil as Wal-Mart) (though I do give them my money, because they sell everything and I'm lazy) would be kinda gross.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:02 PM on January 30, 2011


A "Books Frequently Recommended in AskMe" page sorted by topic/problem would be cool.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:13 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jacqueline: In case you weren't kidding, ReadMe.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:40 AM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yo dog, that shit's already the shit.
Now check this out: The Bride.

It's nothing but M-O-N-E-Y.
posted by artof.mulata at 2:08 AM on January 31, 2011


If we add all these new features folk are suggesting, this is going to get too much for Matt to run all by himself. Mad idea I know, but maybe think about co-opting a couple of the users to help with the modding?
posted by Abiezer at 3:11 AM on January 31, 2011


What do you mean faceless? You all have faces. I've cut them out of posterboard and draw and colour them in and you all look just like I imagined, and then the velcro on the back sticks to the blow-up doll and... oh, is this an outside-the-head voice?
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:15 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I click the Preview button can I get a sammich? HTML 5 covers that, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 AM on January 31, 2011


How about international affiliate links? MeFi links me to amazon.com, which I can't buy from. I have to click across to the .co.uk site which -- I've been told but have never double-checked -- makes Amazon forget that I got there through an affiliate link. So MeFi has never got any money from the (admittedly few) things I've bought after following MeFi's affiliate links.

So, is there scope for looking at users' "Location" field (or do some sort of IP-based location check? Or just having an optional field somewhere in the settings?) and sending us to our local version of Amazon? Or does such a tiny proportion of affiliate click-throughs come from non-American, logged-in users that the extra money wouldn't be worth the effort of customising the links?


When I click the Preview button can I get a sammich? HTML 5 covers that, right?
Using the TABLECLOTH tag, yes.
posted by metaBugs at 6:25 AM on January 31, 2011


We don't create the Amazon links on the fly as the page is rendered, so we'd need to change how we do things to localize the links. Interesting idea, but as Matt mentioned it's not a major source of income with our 70% US traffic. So I don't think it's worth the effort that would be required.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:38 AM on January 31, 2011


Since it's not that much money can you swap in my affiliate code?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:58 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


What happens if a user posts an Amazon link with their own affiliate code? Does it get replaced? And send a letter to the mods telling them some banination may have to occur?
posted by floam at 7:08 AM on January 31, 2011


It never occurred to me that it would help the site if every time we went to Amazon for any purchase we started from a MeFi link. I bet a lot of folks would do that fairly regularly. Putting a link to Amazon and something like

"Start your Amazon shopping sessions from here [link]"

in the "Supporting Metafilter" section at the bottom of the About page would make that a little easier than nosing around for CD or book recommendations every time.
posted by mediareport at 7:08 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, test.
posted by floam at 7:09 AM on January 31, 2011


Kept my code.
posted by floam at 7:10 AM on January 31, 2011


floam, I'm pretty sure if you tried that in the blue or green, the code would have been replaced.
posted by mediareport at 7:21 AM on January 31, 2011


yeah, we don't replace the amazon links here in MetaTalk.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:25 AM on January 31, 2011


What happens if a user posts an Amazon link with their own affiliate code? Does it get replaced?

With pretty much all affiliate links, if we see people putting them in we'll usually replace or remove them. No banning.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:32 AM on January 31, 2011


Does this work with all the Amazons? Like amazon.co.uk?
posted by tavegyl at 7:36 AM on January 31, 2011


Oops. Should have read more carefully. Move along...
posted by tavegyl at 7:41 AM on January 31, 2011


Ooh, this brings up a good pony...

Can I get a Greasemonkey script that everyone must install that changes "metafilter-20/ref=nosim/" to "slogger-20/ref=nosim/"? That would be awesome. Thanks.
posted by slogger at 7:45 AM on January 31, 2011


slogger: Heh, I was thinking of how many computers I have under my control, and how one might go about making sure every Amazon link anybody ever clicks makes me some money. Perhaps with greasemonkey scripts or perhaps with an HTTP proxy. Aside from being evil, I think Amazon would probably catch on. Wouldn't be hard for them to see that your account was making money even when people had a Referer of nytimes.com or something.

Of coure, you could make the links change to a site you control, which then redirects to Amazon…
posted by floam at 8:18 AM on January 31, 2011


I've always wondered why the -20 on the referral codes. Anyone know?
posted by grouse at 8:28 AM on January 31, 2011


It's just the same as in town, I think.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:39 AM on January 31, 2011 [13 favorites]


No, but I have a pre -20 affiliate code from sometime in 1999 that still works to this day. I'm guessing they added -20 to make the affiliate code stand out in the URL a little more, but that's a complete guess. It could also be a version number.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:40 AM on January 31, 2011


Yeah, a generic portal link would be helpful. Why not make it easier to give a slice of shopping I'm probably going to do anyway, to Metafilter? I've gotten affiliate accounts set up for a few NFPs I help and reminding supporters to use the links around the holidays has been very helpful to those organizations.

That said, I feel obligated to wonder why just Amazon. Powell's has an associates program too. What with them being indie and Portland local and all. They usually have an excellent selection, good customer service. I know Powell's hasn't always been universally loved either, but if you do add some kind of portal link to the Support section of the About page, consider giving folks an option. There's also IndieBound, for those who want to support local more locally. Just a thought.

from a guy who for a couple of years didn't realize that you scripted the addition of your Amazon affilate number in urls and used to add your affilate ID to my book related comments and answers by hand
posted by Toekneesan at 8:48 AM on January 31, 2011


For those of us who live in the Seattle area, Amazon is a local business.
posted by grouse at 8:53 AM on January 31, 2011


Local business maybe, but not a local bookstore.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:58 AM on January 31, 2011


True, but for me personally, I'd rather support a local business that is a major part of redeveloping a central area of my city and where several friends work than an enormous bookstore 145 miles away.
posted by grouse at 9:08 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like an option to automatically replace any link that contains an ISBN with its equivalent link in Worldcat.
posted by box at 9:11 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like a Dutch subsite please.
Were we can chat at will since no mod understands our hijinks. For instance about the new Dutch version of The Daily Show.
The horror!
posted by joost de vries at 9:21 AM on January 31, 2011


So I just clicked the Amazon link* for Crying of Lot 49 a few FPPs up the page, and there was no "metafilter-20/ref=nosim/". I'm confused how all this works.

*Here's what I get- http://www.amazon.com/Crying-Lot-Perennial-Fiction-Library/dp/006091307X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1293046257&sr=8-1
posted by slogger at 9:44 AM on January 31, 2011


We don't do the affiliate thing here in MetaTalk.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:48 AM on January 31, 2011


I thought ref=nosim didn't do anything anymore.
posted by grouse at 9:53 AM on January 31, 2011


Amazon still does a "similar items" thing at the top of the page for some products some of the time. ref=nosim keeps that from happening and doesn't hurt anything, so why change?
posted by pb (staff) at 10:06 AM on January 31, 2011


Oh yeah, looking back you said the same thing two or three times in this thread. Sorry about that. Please just ignore me. I'll be over here in the corner.
posted by slogger at 10:44 AM on January 31, 2011


For what it's worth, I'd also seriously like a generic "shop via Amazon" link that gave money back to Mefi.

I already shop at Amazon. I'm not going to stop, so a few cents of every purchase going to Mefi would be great.
posted by odinsdream at 11:12 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those who want a link, perhaps make your own in your profile, then use it whenever you're going shopping...
posted by slogger at 2:17 PM on January 31, 2011


Just tried that, slogger; seems like it could be a good idea butprofile pages don't appear to be set up to replace the referrer code right now.
posted by mediareport at 7:06 PM on January 31, 2011


mediareport: Just pick your favorite book or something, copy the URL from amazon, paste it into your profile, and tack '/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/' onto the end. That's the part the site automatically adds to Amazon URLs; if you put it on the end yourself it works the same way.
posted by carsonb at 7:22 PM on January 31, 2011


I don't think we'll add it to the About page, but here's a link to the homepage that includes our affiliate tag: Amazon.

And no, we don't replace Amazon links on profile pages either.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:28 PM on January 31, 2011


Kindle has the best affiliate kickback.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:21 PM on January 31, 2011


Is there a reason this isn't opt in? Strip referrals by all means, but saying back in 2006 'oh, we're worried about a mismatch between financial incentives and post quality - unless we get the money, in which case incentives, inshmentives' is pretty icky.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:37 AM on February 1, 2011


mathowie will have to speak to the thinking behind it, but if I recall it was way back before the site was really bringing in much in the way of revenue and it was more of a cost offset than a moneymaker. My thinking, and I don't know about his, is that if it's something people don't like -- and we have a note in the faq pretty specifically explaining it -- it's strippable with Greasemonkey or some other technical solution. Way back in the day, people were using Greasemonkey to actually add MeFi affiliate codes.

Put another way, it's been implemented on the site for several years and when mathowie first floated the idea, the idea of having an opt-in wasn't even mentioned. We try not to drown users in a sea of presferences, but sometimes it means that things like this just get implemented in a non-turnoffable way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:25 AM on February 1, 2011


Since you're doing a major upgrade to the site, could you add an 'open cupholder' button? That way, I'd be able to open it with a click of my mouse instead of having to reach over and press some button.
posted by SillyShepherd at 8:05 PM on February 1, 2011


A couple of years ago we were talking about Powells and I wrote a quick Greasemonkey script to convert MeFi Amazon links to Powells. If Matt creates a Powell's affiliate account, that info could easily be added to the script.
posted by gwint at 5:26 PM on February 2, 2011


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