Clubs always have a front and a backdoor..... I'd get 20-50 of my friends to line up, the security guy would know who's who... The line would move slowly, the person who went in, would go to the bar grab a small drink, and then exit out the back and re-join the line. The best part is, we would only have to do this for 20-30mins at max.
The queue would grow organically, and the security guard would start letting my friends in at a faster pace, and then slow it down once everyones in.. where we would all have a few more drinks.
With zero marketing I could fill a club by just making the line look big.. Here's the big kicker, the traditional marketing in the day (posters around town + getting people to hand out flyers at other clubs in the morning) cost MORE than just giving a couple free drinks to your friends who waited in line.
The bouncer comes up and says "what are you doing?!"
Keep in mind, this is my friend's event, for charity. I know all the people involved, and I know it is empty.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"You can't just let him in."
"What should I do?" I was really curious.
"Ask him if he is on the list. Look at your pad. Go in and check. Then finally let him in."
"It makes him feel better about getting in."
Its like an open secret everyone in the industry knows.
If I've made the effort of traveling to a destination, the last thing on my mind would be to much more more I would enjoy it after I was made to jump these hoops by a power tripping gatekeeper.
It wouldn't ruin my day, but it won't make me feel better - that's certain.
I suppose popularity is interpreted as a signal of quality/excitement but, to me at any rate, it's usually a signal of boredom and frustration.
It works better with restaurants: I mean I want to see there's somebody in there eating the food but if it looks too busy, I'm out.
I used to do event promotion and in a real sense the crowd is the product, not the music or the drinks or anything else.
What you work really hard at is cultivating a loyal audience who will show up week after week no matter who you book, and who know how to dance and bring energy in with them.
Clubbing is about people more than anything else.
Therefore it's probably in their best (financial) interest to select for those who will look for popularity and happily blow away money on high-margin items on the menu.
It's kind of like when you get middle of the road food, but the price is right, and you get in and out fast for lunch. My time has value... often more than the price of the restaurant.
These people feel great in the crowd, so what is better than seeing a big crowd already trying to get to some bar? They can't be all wrong, right?
I am same as you, too many people put me off(not afraid of the crowds in any way, it just means loud subpar experience). And I agree that totally empty places feel a bit weird (that's probably a tiny sheep in me)
So yes, the reasoning behind this is solid, but the problem is that the results aren't. What happens when the person who has waited an hour in line finally gets in and the club only has 20 people in it? They see right through your sham, and they never wait in your line ever again.
I've interviewed quite a few managers of successful clubs and tons of managers of unsuccessful clubs. The unsuccessful clubs are the ones trying to create the illusion of a packed house by creating lines outside, or other illusory shams like guerilla marketing. The successful ones definitely do most things better (food, drinks, ambiance, music, etc.) but they also rely extremely heavily on a similar illusion: they don't pay people to wait in line, they pay people to drink and dance inside the club. They literally have a Rolodex of professional partiers...typically young and attractive, mostly female but not exclusively so. They are people that don't mind dancing and having a good time when nobody is around. Successful clubs pay them to get there early and create the illusion of a party that is already started. They skip past the need for a first follower  by starting the night with 20 followers.
Paying people to stand in line may trick people into thinking a club is popular, but it won't trick them into having a good time in an emtpy club that they waited hours to get into.
We'd also put out the brass posts and rope sometimes on slow nights, simply appearing like it was going to be busy enough to have to manage a line was often enough to get people to linger longer.
If a big group came in, like a bridal shower doing a bar craw, we'd usually keep them around longer with a couple of rounds of the house shot too just to keep the female to male ratio up. Eating a few bucks per round of IVs was almost always a good spend in that case.
These are "friends" in the sense that we both mutually want something from eachother, they want free drinks and VIP access, I want them to do free shit for me.
edit: remember this is pre social networking.
You definitely presented it as the strategy for popular takeout places in NYC. And it's not.
What these shops are doing is create scarcity based on real demand. While it is somehow artificially created, the customers are real. The exclusivity of the experience then creates more demand.
What the article describes is different. They would be the same only if these restaurants would be paying friends to keep the restaurant busy, to later sell it at a higher price.
That's the kind of marketing that makes places have "Marshall's Legal Possession" papers attached to the door.
Queues are much more rare now and when they happen, it's for a different reason. However, I still sometimes get the "What's on sale?" question from passerby's.
Nothing was for sale. It just that local bakery would supply only about 200 loaves of bread so it would be sold out pretty quick after opening. When you came home with fresh bread, it did feel like an achievement and the day was only about to start!
Nobody in those times would question why bakery can't bake more if there is more demand. It was just the way it was. Centrally-planned economy where someone higher up has decided 200 a day will be the supply for the area.
I have doubts that it would even work as a way to get your name on the map. If you have a new restaurant, your arrivals are going to be so slow that if you even tried to limit your speed to the point where you build a line out the door, your customers are going to see right through it. Initial 1-star reviews for things like taking too long to get your food to the customers would be far more damaging to your business than the benefit of having a line out the door as some sort of quality signal.
If it were possible to know the opportunity costs of the strategy, it would make for an interesting optimization problem. As it stands, I can't help but think it's purely a losing strategy. The restaurant industry is counterintuitive for almost everybody...shitty restaurants can stick around forever, and extremely popular restaurants regularly go out of business. Cash flow is King. If you are sacrificing cash flow in exchange for popularity, you may succeed in becoming popular, but good luck sticking around and making money.
Isn't there some t-shirt store there like that, always has a ridiculous line that requires police to oversee just to sell some t-shirts?
I saw the Dutch documentary #followme  the other day, about the incredible fakeness of Instagram, where for a couple of dollars you can buy 1,000's of Likes / Followers. And everyone - up to the kids in high school - is doing just that, to buy popularity (the metrics have actually become the determining factor for real-life popularity for many people).
Apparently one of the big shots in this shady industry is a Dutch guy (multi-millionaire now), who manages tens of popularity-boosting websites directly or indirectly (and not only for Instagram). He caters to celebrities as well, who sometimes buy millions of followers. For these high-profile actions they arrange special events, according to the docu, like publishing 'fakish' news articles to established news sites (Forbes was mentioned) to coincide with the artificial boost in popularity.
This can be considered fraud too, as 'popular' users benefit from influencer marketing deals (free clothing, travel, tickets, money, etc.) and there is a continuous cat and mouse game between illegit popularity boosters and marketeers. Professional investigative companies jumping on this train to filter out the bad apples, etc.
I can see buying followers being a status symbol for a certain set of teenagers. It's just another way of spending your parents' money.
Now, everyone is aware of this. When doing influencer deals you get their story open rates and swipes. Everyone knows to look at the ratio of comments + likes to followers.
Kids who do this for their personal IG, certainly, get called out. A guy I used to work with bought around 10,000 followers and boosts all his posts to 500-700 Likes.
It's so ... obvious. Like bad plastic surgery.
Humans are funny.
If likes can be fake then so can comments, right?
Not to say that they don't offer a solid service of value, just that it seemed like they enabled this as a means of inflating their numbers for investors.
Random side note, people used to be able to do this with Seamless to get their sign up discount with any order, using a combination of creating a new email address, adding the new email address to a single PayPal account, generating a new Google Voice number associated with the new email address, and providing a random name. It appears they've picked up on it and have taken measures to prevent people from doing this. Might've previously allowed it for inflation reasons, but likely stopped due to their gain in momentum and it being too costly to allow with little to gain
The whole point is that as we enter into an ever more connected world popularity of views start to mean less and less because "popularity" can be so easily faked. Imagine once there are bots that can compellingly market products (or ideas/politicians/etc) in language to the standard of a Tweet, which isn't exactly a high bar. Suddenly now you could have literally millions of "people" advocating for something that perhaps only a handful actually want or believe in. It's also perhaps presumptuous to imply that this technological milestone has not already been reached.
Even draconian ideas like trying to remove anonymity would likely do little to nothing since, as in the reviews example, people can simply be incentivized to play ball for what amounts to peanuts compared to the stakes for those doing the incentivizing.
Then maybe our tribal instincts will kick back in and we as a society will return to seeking few but high quality praises, from people we trust and with whom we are connected on a human level—ie. deeper, multi-faceted connections.
This is why blockchains that distributed their supply via PoW work: you cannot buy your supply without proving you put in the work. The founder cannot fake hash power, so the distribution is "fair."
Despite everyone trying to "improve Bitcoin," I can count on one hand coins that didn't have a significantly worse distribution than Bitcoin, which makes them dead-on-arrival. This applies to coins such as Cardano and Nano as well whose distribution was insecure, making them inherently unsafe.
I thought that was funny
Basically all they had to do was disclose to investors that they were buying downloads. This can be done in a variety of ways such as mentioning a contract with the firm or service providers, and that is enough information for potential investors to look up the company.
But you can do it compliantly, like some of the examples in the article did
This probably doesn‘t help. The “The New York Times Best Sellers“ is a curated list. High sales don’t guarantee a placing on the list.
This is not even a secret:
When William Blatty sued the New York Times because The Exorcist had only been on the list, he lost the case. The defense was that “the list did not purport to be an objective compilation of information but instead was an editorial product.“ 
Think you meant "had not been". p.s. Enlightening article, thanks.
"Dog diaper changing article site making 70 billion dollars a month! Only 12k$!" Uh huh, sssssuuuurrrreeee.
It's common knowledge that to get a good network startup going, you need to sock-puppet the hell out of it. It's common knowledge that Amazon is full of scam reviews. It's common knowledge that many Twitter followers are fake, or bots. It's common knowledge that Instagram pics are photoshopped-up.
So when you see a picture of an attractive person on Instagram using some product, go to your Twitter to see a famous person recommend it, then click over to Amazon to read raving reviews, is that fraud? Because that's how the web works. It's the same exact game, you just don't give the money directly to your buddy.
It's sad that lying to people and exploiting them is not only accepted, but considered a legitimate standard practice.
I will try to explain to you why I don't understand. Maybe you can help.
Computers are an extension of our brains. What I think is happening is that people doing a whole bunch of immoral things online: lying, sock-puppeting, and so forth. But there's a not direct person-to-person link where money trades hands and the other person gets screwed. Instead it's much more subtle than that.
When you add it all up, yes, we agree, a lot of this looks like fraud to me. But maybe it's fraud in the moral sense and not fraud in the criminal sense? If I tell my Uncle Amit that his new suit looks good on him, even though it doesn't, then goes out and buys a dozen, is that fraud? What if 100 people he doesn't know participate in the same kind of lie only using a lot of different tech?
My point is that simple lying is not a crime. So it can't all be a crime. And now I'm back to trying to figure out where the line is.
ADD: As I typed this, I noticed that my FB notification went off in one of my browser tabs. I click over -- and FB is notifying me of something it already notified me of. But got me to click! I'm seeing a lot of social sites doing this double-notification stuff. I understand about distributed databases, that there might be a reason for it. But after a while, this starts to look like a whiny, pathetic attempt just to get me back looking at more Facebook.
Is that fraud? How about when Facebook both shows more of my stuff and more of the people I interact with to me -- while we're all online together, hoping that we'll start interacting directly -- and staying on FB?
There's an enormous amount of this online. FB is only used here as an example. How about when you hellban people and they think they're typing comments into a forum but they're really not? You're directly taking their time and energy away from them by lying.
I hate all of this. I'm just not sure it should be a crime.
Yes, that's what I meant. It's not fraud in criminal sense, but it's definitely immoral - and I often find myself wondering, why some of those practices aren't considered legal!fraud?
> But there's a not direct person-to-person link where money trades hands and the other person gets screwed. Instead it's much more subtle than that.
Sometimes there is. I complain a lot about dishonest ads and telemarketers, because in those cases there's a direct link - a telemarketer manipulates a poor person into buying stuff that they don't need, and that doesn't perform as well as advertised. That person is then left with mostly useless paperweight, less money for their real needs, and a sense of shame that makes it hard to admit they were duped. Yes, I know of such cases first-hand. There are degrees to this, and ultimately, it usually doesn't result in life-threatening problems, but then again me punching you and taking your lunch money also doesn't cause you more harm than hurt feelings and going hungry for the day.
Step above that are faked and bribed reviews. Again, one can say it's just noise, but then just imagine a person who needs an appliance, and can't afford to make a bad purchase. All this noise suddenly makes it very likely that whatever they buy will be crap, and they'll get an utterly suboptimal deal. I've been in that situation in the past, and though these days I can afford to pay premium and buy a branded product just to avoid dealing with this bullshit, most people I know can't, and thus shopping is often a lottery of regrets.
> My point is that simple lying is not a crime. So it can't all be a crime. And now I'm back to trying to figure out where the line is.
Same as I do. It's a hard problem; doubly so if you include enforcability and cost/benefit into calculation.
Come to think of it, maybe I'm just too sensitive about people's feelings? Maybe I mistakenly want to hold our modern civilization to much higher standards than warranted? Maybe it's still really a jungle, a dog-eat-dog world, and hoping for a society of friendly cooperation is too much?
I keep getting back to morals. We don't do a lot of things because we want to be good people, not because it's illegal.
I still don't know where the line is, but I've been convinced for some time that we need a common set of morals to hold ourselves and businesses to online. If nothing else, "The computer should never lie to me" is a good starting point. That is, whatever I perceive the computer to be telling me had better reflect what the programmers know. Anything else is bullshit. (And perhaps illegal)
Right? But why do we expect ourselves to be nice, and other people to be nice, in direct interpersonal relationship, but we allow - hell, glorify - being malicious in business setting?
> "The computer should never lie to me" is a good starting point. That is, whatever I perceive the computer to be telling me had better reflect what the programmers know. Anything else is bullshit. (And perhaps illegal)
I very much like this idea.
The best I can tell from the article, if it looks too directly like fraud, it's fraud
If you involve a few players and do it indirectly, it's marketing?
The danger here, which I guess needs to be explicitly-stated is that if public perception becomes a big part of the decision whether to prosecute or not, we've fallen completely into political crime territory, where the ultimate bad thing to do is look bad. That's not going to work.
Aren't investors going to notice that during the bankruptcy proceedings, the $100 million is nowhere represented among any assets of the company and the founder suddenly has 10 yachts? That wouldn't raise any red flags? Wouldn't you have to produce some sort of accounting records showing where the money was spent on salaries, office space, Facebook ads, etc?
I know there's a ridiculous amount of money sloshing around Silicon Valley, but I still find it hard to believe that $100 million is going to disappear and nobody is going to bother asking about where it went.
They're not _actually_ advocating buying company yachts. But a CEO salary? Sure. You can buy your yachts with that.
If they had gone bankrupt instead, and Amazon was nothing but a static HTML page while Bezos was building his own marina I imagine someone would have been asking some questions.
You buy a crappy house somewhere, and you sell it to a friend for a lot more. He might reciprocate, too.
You take your increased prices to the bank as evidence that you have more equity, which you use to back a loan.
You buy another crappy building.
This is an inefficient way to inflate asset values. What you’d actually do is put your garbage house in a special purpose vehicle (SPV), sell 5% of the SPV to your friend at a stupid price, get the SPV appraised based on that transaction, have the SPV take out a non-recourse secured loan based on that appraisal value, pay your friend back (plus something for him) and then jingle mail away.
The key is leveraging the cash your friend has to put in. That’s the scarce resource.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice nor advice of any kind. Please don’t do this.
In the past two years, the Soni family essentially created their own market in Santa Ana by flipping enough homes in a small area, said Lackner, the appraisal fraud specialist. In at least three cases, homes flipped from one family member to another – sales later used by appraisers to give credibility to high asking prices for other properties in the area."
Point is in illiquid markets, sometimes there's no price other than what a few people in the consortium have paid to swap stuff amongst each other.
Even if you sent an appraiser, he'd have to take traded prices into account.
>My buddy pays me $10 million for a million e-widgets.
How does this part work? Is this real money changing bank accounts or just promissory notes/credit?
Specifically, they're saying that paying for one kind of popularity (e.g., sales of widgets or good reviews on Amazon.com) is fraud when that popularity is meant to trick people into believing that it implies a subtly different kind of popularity (e.g., sales of widgets from independent third parties or good reviews on Amazon.com from unbiased reviewers).
"I sell 5 percent of the company to investors for $100 million and spend it on yachts."