This morning, I did the same thing I do every morning. I woke up, got dressed, brushed my teeth, worked for two hours (yay for working from home during a pandemic!), and then ate breakfast. Over yogurt, I opened up the Episode app like I always do, and started browsing. And then I checked the Adventure genre and saw this:
Wait, what? My story that’s been finished for four months, clocking in at 16 chapters with mediocre directing and a fun but shallow plot with ~15,000 reads is trending #1 in Adventure?
I was excited, but also very confused. All Aboard! tends to trend pretty consistently, but more around the #40-#80 mark. The highest it had ever trended before was #8, and that was when my other, much better written and directed story, Ghost of a Chance, was being featured as an Editor’s Pick. Outside of that, it’s never cracked the top 20.
Getting back to my laptop, I pulled up my stats:
And then I scanned my eyes across the statistics and saw this:
Like most community authors, I had never had any gem choices in my stories until mid-last month. Then the algorithm was changed to heavily favour authors who included gem choices, so reluctantly, I threw a 5💎optional Support the Author choice on the end of each chapter. Seeing as how it’s only the 6th day of the month and I knew for a fact that when I last checked my stats yesterday I only had 5 gems this month, overnight someone(s) spent 195💎 on my story. And that’s why I was trending #1.
The new algorithm wasn’t created to help community authors. It was created to bring more money into Episode. And it’s working! I’ve been playing featured stories (which I haven’t done in YEARS) so I would have gems to support my friends. I know other community members have been doing that, too, as well as buying gems. And hey, I get it. Episode is a business and they need to make money to stay afloat. But doing that at the expense of your community? Of your authors who spend hundreds, in some cases (including mine) thousands of hours contributing to your app? It’s not the right move.
I personally think that having gems somewhat contribute to the ranking is fine. There are plenty of things that go into the algorithm, such as reads, retention, scores, etc. I don’t see why gems can’t be a part of that. But when spending a few gems is enough to skew your ranking this severely, you’ve missed the mark.
My other story was on the Editor’s Pick shelf the same week the new algorithm was put in place. The first 3-4 days of it being shelved, I got over 5,000 reads and was trending #6 in Mystery, which was amazing! Then the new algorithm came in, and it immediately dropped to #44. That’s a massive difference, especially when I was still getting about a thousand reads a day, every day. I read one of my friend’s stories that hadn’t gotten any reads in a week or two, dropped 5💎 on a Support choice, and her story jumped to #52 in the trending. The algorithm so heavily favours gems now that we’re not even trending on our own merits.
That’s why even though this is a victory for me, it feels a bit hollow. I didn’t get here because my story is that good (trust me, I’ll be the first to admit it’s not!), I got here because someone spent a ton of gems to support me. And as good as it feels to know there is someone(s) out there who enjoyed my story enough to do something so generous and kind, it would feel a lot better knowing that the success I saw from this story was because I deserved it.
Anyways, thank you for reading my rant! Let me know your thoughts on the new algorithm, and how it has affected your stories.