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Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: rogerd

Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

    
Mods And Trolls
Blackhat techniques to fire up the community and increase trust
limbo




msg:1558389
 1:56 pm on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's a bit of a paradox........

A friend recently divulged:

"I use deliberate baiting/trolling to incite popular, spirited and sometimes very heated debate among my users

"Signing in as a psuedo member I will post stupid, inflammatory and contentious issues that will gain a large 'for and against' crowd. Then posing as one of the full members and as a Mod I will slowly direct the conversation to the good of the forum, showing my authority and capability to placate and rectify the problem leaving the 'fake' members happy and the real ones satisfied their forum is well policed"


He has also admitted to deliberate spamming:

"I deliberately spam the forum from time to time

"It gives the impression that we have the interest/traffic to be worth spamming even though it may be a slow week, and again I can demonstrate my ability to act quickly"


This seems wrong but he's got a very popular forum now, says he occasionally generates threads like this to get this going and draw out lurkers.

Sometimes this backfires and the posts get very nasty, but because he has a constant eye on it he is well-equipped deal with the situation.

Seems to me he’s taking advantage of the trust of his users and will eventually lead to mistrust and misuse and ultimately exactly the type of posts he’s been baiting with.

Would you do this? Good idea? Common place? And if you found a forum you visited doing this, would you go back?

 

oddsod




msg:1558390
 2:01 pm on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Are you Brett in disguise? :)

Leosghost




msg:1558391
 2:28 pm on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

According to what one of my confreres calls his jpegs this is Brett in disguise [hotboxdesigns.com];-)..

Limbo ..how come rogerd writes you personal messages then huh?

limbo




msg:1558392
 11:46 pm on Mar 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

LOL!

I'm neither Psuedo Brett nor sharing private forum nuggets with Rogerd, wish I was though...

rogerd




msg:1558393
 12:53 am on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

<takes off limbo disguise>

In the early days of a forum, a little seeding is acceptable, in my opinion. For an established forum, I'm less fond of a manipulative set of posts like this.

Having said that, I think it can be useful for an admin or mod to introduce a topic, or comment on an existing topic, using a different identity if the topic is controversial in some way. Sometimes you may need to make a point or bring up a subject without the full weight of "this is the forum owner speaking..."

The practice described, though, seems less honest and more manipulative.

lZakl




msg:1558394
 1:37 am on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

This has been taking place far longer than you'd think. Editors of news papers have been writing letters under "pen names" for decades to get a good debate going in the editorial part of the newspaper.

If you found out the Editor of your newspaper did that, would you cancel your subscription?

Most of the time when it's done, it's done with the best interest of the community, that particular institution is serving, at heart.

-- Zak

linear




msg:1558395
 4:48 am on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Editors of news papers have been writing letters under "pen names" for decades to get a good debate going in the editorial part of the newspaper.

That's an excellent observation. Mark Twain comes to mind.

Also, great thread title and subhead, limbo.

buksida




msg:1558396
 7:20 am on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

One of the Mods has recently done this on my forum and its rapidly turning into a very popular thread, even getting a few of the lurkers out.

So from the forum admin/owners point of view it can't be a bad thing. So long as it stays sensible, the last thing you want is an Admin - Moddy dispute!

rogerd




msg:1558397
 12:14 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

The only part that bothered me about it was the apparent staging of a flamefest with the full intention of a mod stepping in to sort it out and demonstrate his authority.

I think on many forums, the best discussions are started by mods/admins - they often know the hot buttons that will get things rolling. Sometimes these seed posts really can't come from a mod (e.g., a newbie question or observation).

Liane




msg:1558398
 12:39 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't think I like the idea of being manipulated like that. I'm not sure I would return to a forum where I may have spent time carefully considering my posts, thinking I may have been helping someone ... only to find it had all been staged.

Seems pretty low to me. I guess if I found out, I would have to take all things into consideration and then decide ... but on the surface, I hate the idea.

lZakl




msg:1558399
 5:21 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't think I like the idea of being manipulated like that. I'm not sure I would return to a forum where I may have spent time carefully considering my posts, thinking I may have been helping someone ... only to find it had all been staged.

So then ... By your post I can deduce that you might disagree that in some small increment, you have grown as an individual, staged or not? Carefully considering your posts is not only good for the person reading them you know ... The fact that you are thinking is a very healthy thing, and helping someone (again, staged or not) should make you feel good that you are contributing to a community. :0)

-- Zak

Liane




msg:1558400
 5:34 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

The fact that you are thinking is a very healthy thing ...

I have enough thinking to do thanks! If I need that warm and fuzzy feeling about helping my community or any community, I can think of better ways to do it rather than spending my time being manipulated into contributing to something which has been staged.

lZakl




msg:1558401
 6:26 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

hehehe

You sound a tad like the irate letter-writers we get sometimes...

Sorry...

Liane




msg:1558402
 7:59 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sorry...

You should be sorry!

I don't have a great deal of time to surf the net and take part in forums I consider worthy. I don't think it is asking too much that the forum owner not play the role of "puppetmaster".

Manipulating your membership in this manner is a breach of trust which I find to be personally insulting and beyond that which I would call respectable.

I would hazzard a guess that if Brett were caught doing such a thing at WebmasterWorld, more than half the membership would leave for higher ground. I know I likely would.

lZakl




msg:1558403
 8:46 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was sorry for laughing at you... Not my post.

linear




msg:1558404
 1:43 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

we've all been meta-trolled....

rogerd




msg:1558405
 1:47 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I know that many forum participants put a great deal of thought, and even human concern into their posts. I've seen forum members put much effort into lengthy posts, including research on the topic if needed. They are happy to do this to help a fellow member. If they found out that the fellow member wasn't real, and his post wasn't sincere, they would likely be very unhappy.

lZakl




msg:1558406
 10:13 pm on Mar 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

rogerd,

I agree whole heartedly, but for the sake of argument; What about posts that are not questions about how to do something, or posts looking to resolve a problem. What about posts that only require a person to simply respond with their feelings or opinions on a particular subject? Is there still harm in doing this?

If ... that is If because I most likely would not ... I were to place a “staged” thread, I can tell you it surely would not be something like;
Need help processing a form in PHP!

It would be more like;
Whats better... PC or Macintosh?

Now I can tell you from experience, that discussions on PC/MAC can get quite heated by people who do little research and quite frankly have little knowledge of either, or what the other is capable of. Most times each side thinks the machine they are using is superior, period. The same type of people that will argue one side without considering that the other 'may' have a valid point, will call the issue of "staged posts" a one sided arguement. Either it's not ok, or it's completely fine, period. But to do this is just-plain close minded.

I believe "staging a post" hinges on content, and intent. If the intent is to deceive... Sure, morally and in all other ways it can be considered wrong. But if the intent was to simply start a discussion... You see where I am going? I understand that this is the sort of discussion that would go in circles for decades, because there are 3 types of people.

1) The person that thinks that editing a photo to remove clutter is “creating the news” rather than “telling it”. The ones that everything as far as ethics and morals go is a black and white picture with no gray. Now being this person is difficult, because they are often seen as too strict as far as what should or should not be allowed.

2) The person that thinks that it is ok to blur the line without crossing it to get a point across. Now this is a dangerous person to be, because generally blurring the line is openly construed as a bad thing... Opening them up as targets by society.

3) The person that simply says “I don’t care” and goes about their day. This is by far the easiest person to be, but the least rewarding.

Now it matters not which type of person you are, all three have the potential of being “good people”. All that matters is that you realize that there is someone in the other category that will debate with you until the sky turns orange. And that’s ok... but to fervently shut someone down because of their opinions, is not an act of morality or ethics, as one may think. It’s an act of narrow minded, bull headedness. To call an issue wrong, without considering ALL of the possible portions of that issue...

What I am trying to say is, can’t an issue be wrong in some cases, and ok in others? Consider the types of posts that would be staged. If you were to stage a post, would you do it in a manner that would waste people's time and effort, by fruitlessly helping someone that really doesn't exist? Or maybe try to rattle a few cages, and get some lurkers participating, without letting things get out-of-hand? What would be your goal, if hypothetically you, as an administrator, would stage a post?

Just a thought :0)

Hopefully this didn't rattle your cage! If it did, that was not my intention.

-- Zak

rogerd




msg:1558407
 2:42 pm on Mar 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't thing there is anything wrong with throwing a provocative post out there - in fact, that's one of the frequently discussed ways to build posting volume. In fact, "PC vs Mac", "Linux vs Windows", are oft-cited examples of sure-fire post-generators.

Staged posts only get ugly, IMO, if they are really deceptive, like "I was just diagnosed with cancer, and..." or if the whole discussion is staged, e.g., the fake member arguing with a mod and finally being "disciplined".

peewhy




msg:1558408
 2:49 pm on Mar 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

I bet there isn't a forum out there that hasn't dabbled in this activity.

lZakl




msg:1558409
 3:53 pm on Mar 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

if they are really deceptive, like "I was just diagnosed with cancer, and..."

Wow... lol I can only imagine. That'd clear a site.

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