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Subject: Table Talk - Show Me The Money! (Paid Reviews) rss

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Michael Debije
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pahool wrote:
First of all let me say that I really like and respect you, Rodney. I've watched your content for years and I've met you at conventions. I like your positive attitude, and when there's a "Watch It Played" video available for a game I'm considering purchasing, I'll likely watch it.

I am a bit disappointed by this video, however. I believe you bring up some valid concerns, but it seems like this discussion needs to be widened beyond the vary narrow scope by which you've portrayed the situation. Not only is the scope defined too narrowly, but you use some logical fallacies to reach your conclusions.

At 10:20, you say: "We value our time and money, but by saying that reviews should be unpaid, we're kind of communicating that we don't value the reviewer's time and money."

I disagree with this conclusion, because it is set up with a false premise. No one is saying that reviewers should be unpaid, only that reviewers receiving compensation *from game publishers* creates a conflict of interest that casts serious doubts on the integrity of the reviews that they produce. This statement should be framed not as "reviews should be unpaid," but rather: "reviewers should not receive compensation from the producers of a product they are reviewing." Then, I think the conclusion that "we're kind of communicating that we don't value the reviewer's time and money" falls apart. That's clearly not at all what is being said or even implied.


I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.
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Raymond Haaken
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camipco wrote:
Reviewers on youtube are also paid by youtube.

You'd have to be VERY VERY successful with LOTS of followers to ever see a cent from Youtube with their strict minimum limits. So I think the majority of reviewers get zilch from Youtube. And even if you do, it's probably peanuts.
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Raymond Haaken
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mi_de wrote:
I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.

Do you enjoy watching Dice Tower, Rahdo, SU&SD, NPI etc? Do you think they'd still be doing this if they were not paid?
 
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Sjeng wrote:
camipco wrote:
Reviewers on youtube are also paid by youtube.

You'd have to be VERY VERY successful with LOTS of followers to ever see a cent from Youtube with their strict minimum limits. So I think the majority of reviewers get zilch from Youtube. And even if you do, it's probably peanuts.


It is a very small amount. You have to be in the tens of thousands of subscribers before you're making more than 100 bucks a month from ads. Right now I make less than $50CAD a month with almost 8k subscribers. One also has to maintain a frequent release schedule in order for that income to be maintained.

And with anyone becoming a Patron it's about a 1% conversion rate of subscribers to Patrons.
Most income is made from the tiny 1% that becomes Patrons and donate to the creator monthly and you need hundreds of Patrons just to make a part time income of less than $1000 a month.

Content creators aren't getting rich doing this. Most are barely able to pay for the equipment alone from their income, so I can't really fault anyone for getting paid where they can.
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Ryan Keane
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mi_de wrote:
pahool wrote:
First of all let me say that I really like and respect you, Rodney. I've watched your content for years and I've met you at conventions. I like your positive attitude, and when there's a "Watch It Played" video available for a game I'm considering purchasing, I'll likely watch it.

I am a bit disappointed by this video, however. I believe you bring up some valid concerns, but it seems like this discussion needs to be widened beyond the vary narrow scope by which you've portrayed the situation. Not only is the scope defined too narrowly, but you use some logical fallacies to reach your conclusions.

At 10:20, you say: "We value our time and money, but by saying that reviews should be unpaid, we're kind of communicating that we don't value the reviewer's time and money."

I disagree with this conclusion, because it is set up with a false premise. No one is saying that reviewers should be unpaid, only that reviewers receiving compensation *from game publishers* creates a conflict of interest that casts serious doubts on the integrity of the reviews that they produce. This statement should be framed not as "reviews should be unpaid," but rather: "reviewers should not receive compensation from the producers of a product they are reviewing." Then, I think the conclusion that "we're kind of communicating that we don't value the reviewer's time and money" falls apart. That's clearly not at all what is being said or even implied.


I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.


I think reviewers that want to try to make living doing it are free to seek revenue streams wherever they can. I don’t think it’s unethical to try to still do reviews even when you’re getting paid by the publishers. I don’t think viewers are entitled to full disclosure that the reviewer got a free copy, got paid, is engaged to the publisher’s son, received a kidney transplant from the designer. Viewers that yell it’s unethical and reviewers getting paid by publishers shouldn’t be supported have a right not to watch, just as much as they have a right to keep their favorite stick where the sun don’t shine.

That said, I am naturally more attracted to amateur reviews that do it for fun. Reviewers that are trying to make a living doing it are hyper focused on churning out content, improving quality, like/subscribe/patron. They just look stressed out to me a lot of the time. I’m sure most feel they’re living the life making a living out of their hobby, and I really appreciate all the high-quality content that people like Dice Tower, Rahdo, Rodney, and especially Shut Up Sit Down put out, but at the end of the day I most look forward to what Calandale decided to put out today of him rambling through some solo playthrough because he felt like it.
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mi_de wrote:
pahool wrote:
No one is saying that reviewers should be unpaid, only that reviewers receiving compensation *from game publishers* creates a conflict of interest that casts serious doubts on the integrity of the reviews that they produce.


I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.


Thanks. I shouldn't have worded it that way. I have edited the original post accordingly:

Quote:
No one is saying The argument is not that reviewers should be unpaid, only that reviewers receiving compensation *from game publishers* creates a conflict of interest that casts serious doubts on the integrity of the reviews that they produce.
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John Zaenglein
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LOL there used to be a fool who spent 2 hours just making a chalkboard drawing of the game he was reviewing.

Reviewers should get paid. The amount of time spent on trying to have good quality content has a cost. Games, sound equipment, editing software, but mostly time.
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Ryan Keane wrote:
I think reviewers that want to try to make living doing it are free to seek revenue streams wherever they can. I don’t think it’s unethical to try to still do reviews even when you’re getting paid by the publishers. I don’t think viewers are entitled to full disclosure that the reviewer got a free copy, got paid, is engaged to the publisher’s son, received a kidney transplant from the designer. Viewers that yell it’s unethical and reviewers getting paid by publishers shouldn’t be supported have a right not to watch, just as much as they have a right to keep their favorite stick where the sun don’t shine.


I'm not saying anyone's entitled to anything. But normalizing lack of disclosure for critics is a path to an abundance of compromised reviews. If we as a community make paid reviews (especially undisclosed paid reviews) an acceptable norm, we are just increasing the cruft we need to sort through to find the more objective content.

You may not think it's unethical to do undisclosed reviews paid for by publishers, but it's a pretty established tradition in other critical review media to disclose conflicts of interest:

https://phoenixfilmcriticssociety.org/pfcs-code-of-ethics/
https://scrippsmediaethics.blogspot.com/2015/09/critics-ethi...
http://canadiantheatrecritics.ca/?page_id=9
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Ryan Keane
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pahool wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
I think reviewers that want to try to make living doing it are free to seek revenue streams wherever they can. I don’t think it’s unethical to try to still do reviews even when you’re getting paid by the publishers. I don’t think viewers are entitled to full disclosure that the reviewer got a free copy, got paid, is engaged to the publisher’s son, received a kidney transplant from the designer. Viewers that yell it’s unethical and reviewers getting paid by publishers shouldn’t be supported have a right not to watch, just as much as they have a right to keep their favorite stick where the sun don’t shine.


I'm not saying anyone's entitled to anything. But normalizing lack of disclosure for critics is a path to an abundance of compromised reviews. If we as a community make paid reviews (especially undisclosed paid reviews) an acceptable norm, we are just increasing the cruft we need to sort through to find the more objective content.

You may not think it's unethical to do undisclosed reviews paid for by publishers, but it's a pretty established tradition in other critical review media to disclose conflicts of interest:

https://phoenixfilmcriticssociety.org/pfcs-code-of-ethics/
https://scrippsmediaethics.blogspot.com/2015/09/critics-ethi...
http://canadiantheatrecritics.ca/?page_id=9


Yes, of course there’s a long-tradition in journalism of establishing ethical standards, and I support the fledging professional board game review industry doing the same, even if I disagree with what many/most people think is “non-ethical” reviewing.

But for the sake of being bored in BGG, let’s take the PFCS code of ethics you linked above and apply to a hypothetical game example, if the board gaming media industry had the same kind of money flowing as film/TV media did (tongue-fixed-in-cheek - I know little about film journalism):

I’m a salaried employee of Board Gaming Media, Inc. as a video reviewer. BGMI is contracted with Awesome Minis Or Nothing to provide honest reviews of every game they publish. My boss assigns me Mistycove to do an honest review per the PFCS ethics guidelines. He doesn’t explicitly dictate I do a positive review, but we have a contract, so you know, wink wink.

AMON pays for my flight, hotel, and food to come play the game with the designer at their studio. They also give me some token promo cards. I go home, do my review video saying it’s a great game because I honestly think it’s fun and well-designed and perfectly matches my taste in games. I don’t disclose anything about my trip or BGMI’s contract with AMON; that’s private business arrangements that I’m not permitted to disclose per our contract. I have followed the PFCS ethical standards fully.
 
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Blake M
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mi_de wrote:
I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.


Really? I assume you think movie, food, car, etc. reviewers should also be unpaid? If so, it seems unreasonable to expect high-quality, professional reviews in the first place.
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Ian S
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Hi Ryan
There is definitely a 'within the spirit' of disclosure that ought to be very much at the heart of any reviewer's ethical position. If they were to assume that the contract preventing them disclosing was ok, when someone else actually finds out (and goes public) that flights/accomodation were paid for by the publisher, then their credibility would be in tatters.

I've seen this happen to reviewers in another sphere, and it's likely to be very harmful to their business.

Full disclosure is the only way to go.

Regards
Ian

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paul sitko
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Zinger56 wrote:
LOL there used to be a fool who spent 2 hours just making a chalkboard drawing of the game he was reviewing.


Some of us liked those chalkboard reviews quite a bit
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John B
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Bowers Game Corner recently posted a video in response to Mr Smith's video. I think it adds to the discussion by providing another perspective.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPgNkWUtVFY
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Eric Vannoy
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A great topic Rodney! For a long time, this subject has been needing a greater consensus in sorting out the confusion. I like the distinction you stress between previews and reviews and I would like to contribute my insight into...

WE INTERRUPT THIS POST TO BRING YOU AN URGENT MESSAGE!

My plea to Kickstarter game-makers and their video production associates:

Any game that has not been published yet, and that has a video made to go along with it (for promotional purposes) is called a preview; not a review. This should hold regardless of whatever personal opinions are included in the video. And as a favor to the BGG community, let us NOT link those videos in the "Review" sections. Until BGG decides to create a "Preview" category, these videos should be posted in the "Other" category.

"Why?" you may ask. Because there is nothing more annoying than watching what you think is a review, to find out you are watching a preview; a game in its prototype form, that may may look different and even play different in its final form.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO THE WELL-MANNERED ORIGINAL POST.


...previews/reviews. Neither is superior to the other, and both serve a great purpose. However, I think a preview is undermined when it is labeled as a review instead. By now, most of us can distinguish between the two --so it comes off as a little unprofessional to try and pass off a preview as a review. You want your campaign to be as level with its supporters as possible; being accurate in this regard garners more respect than you may think.

Regarding how we can have unpaid reviewers be compensated for all-out honesty, how does Tom Vasel do it? He is one of the few high-profile reviewers that is not afraid to not pull any punches. And based on his video output, I'm guessing he has found a way to be compensated.

___
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John B
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moonfrog wrote:

A great topic Rodney! For a long time, this subject has been needing a greater consensus in sorting out the confusion. I like the distinction you stress between previews and reviews and I would like to contribute my insight into...

WE INTERRUPT THIS POST TO BRING YOU AN URGENT MESSAGE!

My plea to Kickstarter game-makers and their video production associates:

Any game that has not been published yet, and that has a video made to go along with it (for promotional purposes) is called a preview; not a review. This should hold regardless of whatever personal opinions are included in the video. And as a favor to the BGG community, let us NOT link those videos in the "Review" sections. Until BGG decides to create a "Preview" category, these videos should be posted in the "Other" category.

"Why?" you may ask. Because there is nothing more annoying than watching what you think is a review, to find out you are watching a preview; a game in its prototype form, that may may look different and even play different in its final form.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO THE WELL-MANNERED ORIGINAL POST.


...previews/reviews. Neither is superior to the other, and both serve a great purpose. However, I think a preview is undermined when it is labeled as a review instead. By now, most of us can distinguish between the two --so it comes off as a little unprofessional to try and pass off a preview as a review. You want your campaign to be as level with its supporters as possible; being accurate in this regard garners more respect than you may think.

Regarding how we can have unpaid reviewers be compensated for all-out honesty, how does Tom Vasel do it? He is one of the few high-profile reviewers that is not afraid to pull any punches. And based on his video output, I'm guessing he has found a way to be compensated.

___


I agree 100% with your urgent message. I see this all the time and it personally turns me off.
 
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Brant Benoit
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moonfrog wrote:

A great topic Rodney! For a long time, this subject has been needing a greater consensus in sorting out the confusion. I like the distinction you stress between previews and reviews and I would like to contribute my insight into...

WE INTERRUPT THIS POST TO BRING YOU AN URGENT MESSAGE!

My plea to Kickstarter game-makers and their video production associates:

Any game that has not been published yet, and that has a video made to go along with it (for promotional purposes) is called a preview; not a review. This should hold regardless of whatever personal opinions are included in the video. And as a favor to the BGG community, let us NOT link those videos in the "Review" sections. Until BGG decides to create a "Preview" category, these videos should be posted in the "Other" category.

"Why?" you may ask. Because there is nothing more annoying than watching what you think is a review, to find out you are watching a preview; a game in its prototype form, that may may look different and even play different in its final form.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO THE WELL-MANNERED ORIGINAL POST.


...previews/reviews. Neither is superior to the other, and both serve a great purpose. However, I think a preview is undermined when it is labeled as a review instead. By now, most of us can distinguish between the two --so it comes off as a little unprofessional to try and pass off a preview as a review. You want your campaign to be as level with its supporters as possible; being accurate in this regard garners more respect than you may think.

Regarding how we can have unpaid reviewers be compensated for all-out honesty, how does Tom Vasel do it? He is one of the few high-profile reviewers that is not afraid to pull any punches. And based on his video output, I'm guessing he has found a way to be compensated.

___


Dice Tower has a Kickstarter every year that funds around 300 to 400k.
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Eric Vannoy
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Ghool wrote:
Dice Tower has a Kickstarter every year that funds around 300 to 400k.


Wow, an impressive number range ...and a good means of funding. This tells me that gamers are hungry for unbiased reviews. If the industry also contributes to these campaigns, it shows they see the importance of this too. Perhaps there is hope for the unpaid reviewer after all.

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I believe now the Dice Tower makes money on their conventions and cruise too (at least, I imagine they do).
 
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Patrick Carkin
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Ldayjones wrote:
HereSince2010 wrote:
Quote:
If you've ever written a negative review in a game's forum you know what I mean - that people will be mean and tear you down. My most recent negative review I was questioned whether or not it was even a review, told I was far too wordy, told I hadn't played it enough, etc etc (to be fair I was also defended by many other users). Negative reviews are not often thumbed highly, rarely make it to the 'top reviews' section and will not help you get an audience if that is your goal.


Most games have an audience, however small it may be. Negative reviews here often suck because they are almost always insulting to someone.

If you don't like a mechanic and find that mechanic in a game explain that this is one of the reasons you don't like that game. Instead we get faulty logic; "this game is bad because it's another deck building game" instead of "I don't like this game because it's a deck builder."

For example, I don't like games where I have too much to do and not enough turns to do it. This means I generally don't like Uwe Rosenberg games. That doesnt mean his games are bad, it just means I'm not his audience. A good negative review explains why someone is not the intended audience while not sounding as if their opinion is the word of God.


This is a very strange comment. It is insulting to me , a person who writes negative reviews; the justification for Heresince2010's insult is that I am part of a group that is "almost always insulting" others.

I feel quite confident that my logic in each of my negative reviews is as sound or more sound than the positive review that directly precedes it, and yet, I am also sure that it received much more criticism, personal attacks and derogatory comments than the positive review that directly precedes it.

I'd be delighted to be proven wrong.


1. I'm positive every game you've given a negative review is viewed by some people as a good game.

2. You are not an all knowing deity thus your opinion is not fact or the be all and end all when it comes to determining a game's value.
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The discourse on this topic is very interesting. I'm particularly puzzled by the all the "journalism" discussion and all the talk of bias. I do not see online game reviewers as journalists. I also don't see them as being unbiased. In fact, i prefer my reviewers to have a bias. The reviewers bias is what draws me to their site.

The idea of paid/upaid reviews is really a classic example of the free market playing out in front of all of us. I had an economics professor tell us in a lecture that if a "product" is "free"...then YOU are the product. We the watchers of reviews are the product. Our money is sought by game producers...and I'm totally ok with that. I want them to compete with each other for my money. I personally think that the reason that the Old School companies like Avalon Hill and SPI folded was because they didn't have to compete for their market. Consequently they produced a long string of stinkers and had to shutter their company.

So what does it matter if a reviewer is paid or unpaid? Reviewers are much more likely to be paid for a review if they have a following, and that reviewer has a following because people like that reviewers Bias. The fact that they have been paid is almost irrelevant. I will use the Dice Tower as an example. I wouldn't expect Zee Garcia to review the next Super-dupper 4x space opera...if he did i would expect him to be fairly short and dismissive. If i was a publisher who is making a big 4X game i would approach Sam Healy as he is more likely...by nature...to give a positive review. Additionally, Sam's followers are more likely to buy such a game. It's the Market. Popular reviewers will draw more money as they have more followers who will convert their views into purchases. Here is where the Market is awesome. If the Dice Tower crew where to TOTALLY Sell out and shill lame games as a matter of course, the dice tower's following would plummet. As soon as the dice towers numbers were down, the money for paid reviews would dry up just as fast. The followers...IE us the viewers...are the product. The real risk in this market isn't that the reviewers are paid but rather that consumers are paid to follow certain reviewers. Personally, i don't see that as much of a risk.

In summary, i like paid reviews. It makes my favorite reviews life easier and consequently their content will be better. Reviewers are incentivized to keep their followers by maintaining their particular bias. If the Dice Tower were to consistently steer me to bad games...my followership will walk. No followers...no money.
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Michael Debije
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Sjeng wrote:
mi_de wrote:
I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.

Do you enjoy watching Dice Tower, Rahdo, SU&SD, NPI etc? Do you think they'd still be doing this if they were not paid?


No, not really. There are plenty of guys doing great written reviews for free, for the love of it. Those guys you mention are really not necessary.
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Michael Debije
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blakelocke wrote:
mi_de wrote:
I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.


Really? I assume you think movie, food, car, etc. reviewers should also be unpaid? If so, it seems unreasonable to expect high-quality, professional reviews in the first place.


Assume what you want. Who needs ‘professional’ game reviewers? What do they add beyond the ‘unprofessional’ reviewers? And ‘high quality’ only in terms of camera work and special effects...the contents are rarely anything special.
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I apologize if this has been said; I didn't read all four pages of comments. I'll try to keep it short:

You say that unpaid reviews might be worse because the reviewers are putting so much time and money into it compared to the $60 that we put into buying a game, but if we're taking *everybody's* costs into it, then we have to multiply that $60 by how many people are convinced by the review to buy that game, possibly hundreds or thousands of people. (Or more? I honestly have no idea.)
 
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Sjeng wrote:
mi_de wrote:
I am saying reviewers should be unpaid.

Do you enjoy watching Dice Tower, Rahdo, SU&SD, NPI etc? Do you think they'd still be doing this if they were not paid?


I would prefer them not being paid for the actual reviews. dice tower 2019 kickstarter campaign - $300.000+. Rahdo year six (maybe 2017 or 2018, cant see newer one, not sure why he stopped doing it) $50.000+.

I mean this is a great way to earn enough money (but maybe my standards are low), without actually lying/not saying things about the game here and there, while reviewing it.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tomvasel/dice-tower-201...
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1855928930/rahdo-runs-t...
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Robert Christensen
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I'll keep this short:

Doctors in the USA have struggled with this issue for centuries. Do I trust this research article/lecture/review or is the presenter just trying to get me to buy their snake oil?
In the modern era, it's generally ok to take money from industry as long as you disclose in any presentation, article or otherwise that you've taken money. This is the mandatory "disclosure of conflicts of interest" that starts every lecture and ends every article.
It's not a perfect system, but you might look into it as a model for what you're dealing with.

Thank you for all the great content that you've created and for starting this conversation!
 
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