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Mission: Abominable

by Saul Fleischman on May 9, 2012

Its getting ugly in Empire Avenue

Mission cheating and complaining: this is where I see the most inconsideration – on both sides.

I have accepted many Mission Avenue Missions and I have launched at least ten – so I know full well that those complaining and/or calling out those who take the reward without doing the required action are “seeing” that they are cheated. Having launched a number of Missions that were probably impossible to not be able to fulfill (i.e. a Facebook like/share – and I even explain where the buttons are on the blog/site), and still been robbed of the reward by people who probably had no intention of doing even the simplest of actions, I know it happens. I am with you also, in knowing that many people run wild through the Missions – with no intention to even attempt to follow through with what’s asked.

Where I cry foul, I see no one else acknowledging, and wonder about this: What about the most inconsiderate of Mission-Issuers? I provided examples of Missions that I particularly hate to see – in Mission: Irrational (Empire Avenue Mistakes to Avoid)

Lately, I find more and more of the type of Mission that expects you to “copy and paste” or otherwise open new tabs, browsers… test links, and so on – before clicking the Mission link (and thus, taking the reward). My stance?

Gamification is what Mission Issuers need to consider

Reduce the steps (and time) you are asking for and reward in accordance of the “stupid human trick” you are asking us to perform.

Be reasonable with what you request. Here are my thoughts on fairness, by network:

Twitter: If you want the Twitter retweet copy and pasted, rather than clicked though, at least offer a larger reward – as a consideration for the extra trouble you are asking us to do for you.

Facebook: You know what happens if we give several people ten likes in one day? Facebook puts us in jail. So don’t ask for twenty likes. Ask for a “bomb,” and take what you get. Better yet, ask for the answer to one to three questions, likes on the questions, or something logical and truly interactive such as this.

Klout: If you are asking for +K in Klout, begin by understanding that we each have 10/day; don’t ask us for three +K for a 1,000e reward. We give +K to many people, and to remember if and when we gave it to you for your precious RedBull topic is as unreasonable as asking us to go to Klout on your behalf, just to test to see if we can give you +K for RedBull. Suggest we give you for RedBull, and suggest that if we cannot, we give you for two other topics (again, suggestions are wise).

Weird Networks: Its nearly every day that they find their way into Missions. Some send us to odd sites for voting, nominating, and otherwise helping you buy your way into what’s meant to be earned: before you issue those Missions, log out of the site you intend to send us to and then test the Mission link. Is it going to open? Will it send us to a landing page – that either requires us to sign in with Instagram or that is all in Dutch? Well, if you launched it and send us to something we cannot read or cannot find the way to vote in, you deserve to be “cheated.”

My writing prompt for this was a Mission entitled “So EAv is morally bankrupt?”

Empire Avenue Mission Cheater

The issuer of this Mission continued, “I’ve run hundreds of missions over the past few days. I’ve given away MILLIONS of eaves. “Pretend” money that it has taken me months to build up. To those of you who were honest and did the missions, thank you! However, the VAST majority of the people who took my money did not do the mission. We’re talking 20 or 30 thieves for each honest player. I’ve lost at least 450,000e to these spineless, gutless, cheating players. This is pathetic. Those of you who stole my money should be ashamed of yourselves.” I didn’t accept this Mission (I didn’t take the reward, in other words), but did give it a “like” and the following comment:

Oh, the horror! Those evil, abominable Empire Avenue Mission “cheaters!”

But what about the Mission issuers who send us on “wild goose chases,” or put us on things where we only learn – once we’re in – how long it will take to do what they ask?! I think it goes both ways.Without mentioning names, my current pet-peave is the type of mission where the issuer thinks its fair to ask you to test something (i.e. KLOUT) to see IF you “qualify” to take the Mission. Hey, look, my stance is this: I’ll read the Mission description. If I am willing to do it, based on the information you provided, I’ll accept. But to “test” a link to see if I have given you Klout for one specific topic in the last seven days? It is not right to ask. Fair would be to do – as some are doing – to ask that we give you +K in your selected topic if we can, but if not, other topic(s) (you might even suggest a couple that matter most to you).

About Saul Fleischman

Founder of emerging social media tool sites. Bootstrapping innovation with lean startup development teams. I do project management, user experience, PR, marketing and community development. size it!

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  • Nicolas Liu

    Let me add something as follows: a) if you ask a twitter follow, follow back in a reasonable time. Don’t get mad if I unfollow you after two weeks without seeing you follow back; b) on Facebook, please have enough update, otherwise don’t ask for 10+ like if there’s nothing updated; c) don’t ask me click banner ad, if you trick me, I’ll take eaves; d) don’t give a hard count, ’20 likes, 3 comments, 1 shares’ your content is not interesting enough to warrant such big numbers; d) if you ask for a blog comment, don’t setup cumbersome spam checking system, use Disqus or other popular systems so that I don’t need to sign up and waste my time … I could add many many more. Set a reasonable expectation (not 100%) and get a life.

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Well, 1/20 to 1/30 is pretty dismal, too. :)

      But Nicholas is one of those folks I can always count on, and I appreciate that.

      • Alan Jobe

        Holly, it really does seem to me to be about the relationships. I read stuff that you write and publish on different sites all of the time, because I look for you and your content. I really do think that creating and keeping up the relationships is the key to having and interacting with a large audience.

      • Nicolas Liu

        Thanks Holly.

        Sometimes, expectation is established by the market — 500 doing something, 1,000 doing something, etc. Most of us have no time. We only try all the missions in break. So, we scan the headline and the first sentence, the follow actions ‘as usual.’ If you ask for 2 tweets for only 500e, you may be surprised that not everyone would complete as you expected.

        So, go through the market (the trend) and write your mission. If the mission is against the common practice, and you still want to give 500e and set all kind of restrictions, then you should re-write the mission and make those restrictions STANDING OUT.

        For, 75% is OK, considering all issues involved. Below that, I’ll go back to my drawing board, and re-write my mission.

        • Saul Fleischman

          Thanks @openid-121667:disqus & @b4d5359f134a70d358ebb51890d89482:disqus For me, too, I consider the realtionship, and as Nicholas pointed out, there really are Missions in which the issuer needs to be told, “no, you sent me on a wild goose chase; you ask for sharing on a page without sharing buttons,” or simply expect us to sign up to receive emails and such from a service that isn’t for me (or most people). People need to be reasonable with their expectations.

  • Tony Bennett

    first time long time, saul… 3 mo’s is a long time in sm right lol. interesting points and counterpoints. it has its flaws, but its the best way t o move eyeballs for the small timers imo. its no worse than using a service to drive traffic and its all about the perception that youre in demand – great post.

    • Saul Fleischman

      Thanks, @SociallyGenius:disqus Yes, Missions do put us in front of eyes within EA. They also can be useful for crowdsourcing feedback and so on.

  • Christophe Esposito

    Great read!

  • Dan Stepel

    Interesting post Thank you Saul.

    As you may have noticed I run between 2 and 4 missions every
    day. As I played longer and accumulated
    more eaves I started to up the reward from 1000 to 1500. Boy was I surprised to
    see the number of people just taking the money and running increase. So I just dropped it back down. There is a
    quote “locks just keep honest men honest”. I guess that may apply here.

    It was about that time that I started checking back on my
    missions and blocking those who consistently beat me. I have it now where I am
    at or very close to 100%. I know however that once I increase my shareholders
    and thus the number of those who will see my missions that average will drop.

    Still I am not worried because I know within three or four months’
    time I will have more eaves than I need and I will just not care. As I have
    always said the only secret to the game is time.

    • Saul Fleischman

      Thanks, Dan. I had never tested a lower reward – for better results. And now I just might.

  • Holly Jahangiri

    I agree with all you’ve said here. I would not want anyone to complete a Mission if they couldn’t do so in good conscience. (I always give the links in the Mission – they can check it out BEFORE accepting.) The only thing I might quibble with is making the reward commensurate with the action asked of participants. Because the ratio of folks who will just take the eaves and run is the same – maybe higher – for larger amounts. And the SAME folks are always the ones who can be counted on to really DO the Missions; I’m fairly sure they’d simply do what’s being asked regardless of whether there’s a Mission or no. So I’d rather buy their shares or return the favor if they ask one, once I know they’ve helped me out. I don’t call people out for NOT doing the right thing – it’s play money, after all. I don’t even remember their names. But I AM likely to remember the ones who play fair. ;)

    • Saul Fleischman

      Thanks @b4d5359f134a70d358ebb51890d89482:disqus this is my point exactly – “commensurate with the action,” and then, test links, be considerate. After all, as Missions launchers, our reputation is on the line as well as that of the Mission acceptors.

  • Alan Jobe

    I agree there is a lot of disconnect on both sides of the issue. I have mostly been very pleased with the missions I have run seeking folks to visit my blog and comment on a post. I’m not too demanding about the comments and I get tons of visitors, as well as lots of comments. But honestly? I almost never participate in missions anymore, unless someone brings one to my attention in a social channel where I don’t usually hear about missions. And then it seems to me a favor as much as seeking a reward. To some extent, clearly gamification works for me, since I just don’t get all those visits or comments when I don’t use a mission to drive traffic to my site. And yet,, I find I myself can rarely be moved to perform any action at all, merely for an eaves reward.

    • Saul Fleischman

      I have cut down on both issuing and accepting Missions. There’s plenty of time-sucks in those murky waters, and a lot of Eaves-loss for the issuers as well.

  • Mark W. Schaefer

    Does any of this result in real world business benefits? I understand opportunities to connect etc but it seems like for many the pursuit of eaves has run a little wild. : )

    • Saul Fleischman

      Actually, Mark, Empire Avenue is not just for reputation scoring, and indeed, quite different from Klout, Kred,, and so on; for me, it is somewhat useful for networking – but extremely useful for crowdsourcing. (BTW, I just started reading Return on Influence, a gift from our mutual Dane in the UK. Impressive)

  • The JackB

    My overall experience with the missions has been positive but the last few I ran were abused. I intentionally made it easy. I asked people to RT a post of mine.

    I understand that we want to be conscious and careful about what we tweet, but at the same time there is a reasonable expectation for honesty on both sides.

    • Saul Fleischman

      Thanks @thejackb:twitter yes, “reasonable” is the operative word.

  • sahaguru

    No second thought for the issues raised, Can anybody coach me to redeem the eves, I have till don’t know the way of enjoying the eves. Help me in this regard. I reached more than 4.5m since a COUPLE OF MONTHS.

  • JoeJoeKeys

    AGREED! EA is a wonderful place to network and help push whatever your pushing, but to me the most important part is the REAL GLOBAL connections that are here to be made. The other thing is EA is different from other social media interfaces in that everyone (or most hehe) are here for a “professional” reason and not to just make crude remarks and what not like on facebook and twitter. So, having said that I would ask an eave cheater to consider this: Would you steal from a potential new business client like you do with eaves? People notice and if I see someone who is consistently just taking my eaves and running I put them on my “not serious” list. :) I sincerely appreciated this article! Thank you!

    • Saul Fleischman

      Thanks @26666b0eb06f7b298e758338d29a0f47:disqus yes, the networking, and global connection-building aspect is very real. I have found the same thing to be true.

  • Sandor Benko

    Agreed. My pet peeve is when people expect mission takers to blindly like/tweet/share anything. Political, religious, violent, and non-English stuff should be clearly marked as such in the mission description. I buy shares to return the eaves when I get suckered into a mission I don’t feel good about completing. I also assume some people will just take the eaves. Not exactly surprising I guess.

    • Saul Fleischman

      Thanks @sandorbenko:disqus This is a good policy, and I do it as well. When I can’t follow through, I’ll buy and “shout” with a gentle suggestion as to why I could not follow through on the Mission.

  • Adam Justice

    Hey Saul. The public outlash over someone stealing all the play money is disturbing. It’s even more disturbing when they know what to expect, and no one will listen when there are several people who have explained how to get better results,

    I just read your mission irrational post, and it has some good tips. You offer some good tips here. Like you said, some players like Gaye or Bob Warren get good results. I get over a 100% conversion rate on my morning missions, and at least 80%+ of the people who take the missions complete them. It’s not hard to replicate either.

    There was hardly any negativity on EA before missions, and I’m an astute study of people, I’ve noticed other types of behavior that constitutes a turn off as well. After some players get to a certain point they feel entitled, and it’s at about that point that they lose their self awareness.

    Good luck with your future missions Saul, and if I can help just let me know!

    • Saul Fleischman

      thanks @adamjustice 100% is, well, “wow.” I get, um, *some* percent. And I sure don’t ask for much; you know my stance, after all. Thanks so much for your input!

  • Zoe Alexander

    Saul, have I missed something here? You have my full attention as I have read this post twice now and neither understand the post nor the comments! Forgive me have I stumbled across an on-line gaming post or are you understandably frustrated about ppl’s requests for retweets FB shares etc that turn out to be a nonsense? I’d love to know!

    • Saul Fleischman

      Thanks @zoealexanderukz:disqus Empire Avenue is a game and also a means of scoring our social media prowess. “Missions” are a feature of EA – which allow people to reward other people for doing small actions, like giving them +K (Klout), or commenting ona blog post, etc. Hope this helps.

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