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China Social Networks Technology

Million Dollar Crowdturfing Industry Dupes Social Networks 170

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the and-you-thought-gold-farming-was-bad dept.
New submitter bowlinearl writes "Three weeks ago Slashdot featured a story on the Chinese Water Army. A new study from researchers at UCSB delves even deeper into the problem of crowdturfing (full disclosure: I am one of the authors of the study). The study reveals that evil crowdsourcing services in China are a multi-million dollar industry, and that the number of jobs and the amount of money are growing exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of workers are involved, including a small contingent of career crowdturfers who each manage hundreds of accounts on social networks. The researchers observed the behavior of workers and the unwitting users who click on the generated spam by infiltrating the two largest crowdsourcing sites in China. However, crowdturfing isn't confined to China: the researchers discovered crowdsourcing sites in the U.S. that are 95% astroturf, as opposed to Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which actively polices itself, and is only 12% astroturf."
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Million Dollar Crowdturfing Industry Dupes Social Networks

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  • by niftydude (1745144) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:09AM (#38352852)
    Evil seems a strong word - as with everything - when obtaining information, know who you are talking to, and always consider the source.

    It's the first lesson everyone should learn.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Likewise, people sometimes have an axe to grind or just doesn't like some company - like here on Slashdot that would be Microsoft - and say anything bad about them even if it isn't true. So some good crowdturfing just adjust that side of things and they both stay in balance.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:34AM (#38352956)

        Both sides would be noise, not signal, which turns comments sections into total trash. Yahoo is an obvious example where you have red/blue or racists/anti-racist white nights drowning out any intelligent posts. People trying to "balance" render the section useless and those posting factual information people already know are just as useless as they do nothing to progress anyone's thinking.

        • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:05AM (#38354548)

          The difference is whether you have a workable, sustainable, working system or a broken, exploitable system.

          Yahoo Answers's system is pretty clearly exploitable. Want to get someone banned? 6 dummy accounts will do the trick - their "ban process" automatically bans someone after 6 complaints. Amazon has some funny reviews [amazon.com], some funnier ones [cracked.com], but more importantly, they actually have humans check on complaints if there's an indication that stuff indicated here [pcmag.com] is going on.

          The uglier truth is that for many sites - slashdot included - the real exploit is held by people who can do precisely what TFA's authors describe: running hundreds of accounts, commanding click-up or click-down votes through them or (in the case of Slashdot) farming for mod points. Evolving Slashdot policy has actually made this worse, not better, for three reasons I'll crib from an earlier thread:

          #1 - The best posters never moderate. They're involved in discussions, and you can never moderate AND post in the same thread.
          #2 - It's too easy for the modpoint-harvesters to attack someone's karma; you can go into people's posting history as far as you want, and downmod weeks-old posts for no reason other than to bury karma.
          #3 - The hidden gem: Slashdot implemented something akin to Yahoo's completely retarded "auto ban" function. To wit: "Also, if a single user is moderated down several times in a short time frame, a temporary ban will be imposed on that user... a cooling off period if you will. It lasts for 72 hours, or more for users who have posted a ton." [slashdot.org] The end result here is that the modpoint harvesters have been given a weapon - they control a "ban button" with which to attack not only the karma of their targets, but the posting rights of their targets.

          The worst part? You can't ever see who downmodded. Sometimes you can see the reasons, but the modpoint harvesters get wise to the tricks - currently, you'll see the majority of modpoint harvesters downmodding as "Offtopic" and "Overrated" because those didn't go through the metamod system. Although, come to think of it, I don't think I've seen a metamod nag in 3 months... do they even have that system any more?

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            Do mod points actually exist anymore? I used to get some just about every week until around 2007, and I've had one set of points in the years since then.

            • by Diss Champ (934796) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @11:15AM (#38356120)

              For some reason I have gotten a lot of mod points these last few weeks, after a very long dry period. The system appears to be modal- either it wants to give you a lot or none. My karma has been excellent for a long time, so it's not a (visible) karma change.

            • If you post a lot or a little you don't get mod points. If you're in the middle range then you get plenty. I either saw someone say that or it's in the FAQ somewhere, but it does match my experience.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:49AM (#38353002)
        Please note that from this point on, comment direction and moderation in this topic will be managed by a Waggener Edstrom team on behalf of Microsoft. This is simply to ensure a positive and thoughtful discussion of Microsoft activities, and will not impact your Slashdot reading pleasure.

        Note also that any further discussion of Waggener Edstrom's efforts on behalf of Microsoft will be moderated to -1.

        "Monitoring conversations, including those that take place with social media, is part of our daily routine; our products can be used as early warning systems, helping clients with rapid response and crisis management.

        http://waggeneredstrom.com/about/approach [waggeneredstrom.com]
        http://waggeneredstrom.com/clients [waggeneredstrom.com]

        • Agree with somersault, please award the parent post the converted +5 troll.
        • Re:Mandatory Notice (Score:5, Informative)

          by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:34AM (#38354228) Journal

          I've been keeping track of the shills I run across in a journal entry:

          http://slashdot.org/~GameboyRMH/journal/273120 [slashdot.org]

          • So what exactly is your evidence that these people are shills, aside from that they post pro-microsoft or anti-google comments?
            • There's no way for me to be 100% sure. Unless I can break into their computers and find the emails between them and their employer there's no hard evidence.

        • by Pope (17780)

          *shakes fist*

          Waggeneredstrom!

      • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:54AM (#38353018)

        Class man. Vote parent up. One of the first on topic Microsoft astroturfers.

        And to answer your serious point; It's absolutely fine for someone to post on here on behalf of Microsoft. There certainly used to be quite a few people who would put "I work for Microsoft" in their posts when giving serious answers. The key thing is that if you are benefiting financially from posting you should declare that and just speak directly on behalf of Microsoft. Because the astroturfers don't do that they are deceptive and illegal in quite a number of jurisdictions where Microsoft markets to Slashdot readers.

        The fact that Microsoft is willing to use deceptive, illegal practices quite rightly discredits other people who attempt to support Microsoft in forums. Even if someone isn't benefiting directly, it's quite likely they got their viewpoint from someone who did. This is a general poison to the public debate which makes serious discussion more difficult. There is no possible justification for it.

        There is already a tendency on Slashdot that any minor technical error in a criticism of Microsoft gets picked on. If the astroturfers left this alone, this would provide more than sufficieint balance. As it is, I think that the underlying motivation is mostly to misdirect discussion making the astroturfers equivalent to forum trolls.

        • The fact that Microsoft is willing to use deceptive, illegal practices quite rightly discredits other people who attempt to support Microsoft in forums.

          I wonder if there is *any* company, or politician, who isn't trying to use {xyz}turf on the WWW to convert a displeasing reality into a sweet delusion.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rtfa-troll (1340807)
            Most of them. Oh I'm sure that with big corporations the proportion of honesty falls. I doubt more than 50% use such things as a matter of policy. Small and family owned businesses live on their reputation and know that if they get caught doing that kind of thing it will be in tatters. I think the "everybody's doing it" meme is partly self justification but is mostly a lie spread by the few that do it as a kind of self justification. This is why strong regulators (effectively enforcing existing regulat
            • by shentino (1139071)

              Economic darwinism favors companies that can gain an advantage and not get punished for it.

              Honest companies don't survive long, and the so called regulators have more to gain by colluding with the private sector than they do with doing their job.

              If you want stronger regulation you have to beef up government enough to stand up against the companies you want them to regulate.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          And to answer your serious point; It's absolutely fine for someone to post on here on behalf of Microsoft. There certainly used to be quite a few people who would put "I work for Microsoft" in their posts when giving serious answers. The key thing is that if you are benefiting financially from posting you should declare that and just speak directly on behalf of Microsoft. Because the astroturfers don't do that they are deceptive and illegal in quite a number of jurisdictions where Microsoft markets to Slashdot readers.

          I don't know where you live, but Public Relations/spin/astroturfing or whatever you want to call it is a fact of life inmost of the world, and it is absurd to believe that only Microsoft (or whoever your pet hate this week is) engage in it.

          I have no great love for Microsoft, any more than for any other large corporation, but I am not so blinded by hatred that I think their marketing difffers much from Google, Chanel or Toyota.

      • And you're one of the astroturfers that tries to protect MS even when those things are true. People don't need to make up bad things about MS, because they simply have done and still do bad things.

        "Insight in 140 bytes" as in "I'm a marketing droid who loves astroturfing on Twitter/social media". Anyone who visits Slashdot regularly will recognise that the vast majority of the newest UIDs are astroturfers. I'm a bit shocked by the scale of it all as mentioned in the summary, but I already knew about the ind

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          As long as people can post anonymously on the internet, the only way to filter out trolls/astroturfers and so on is by the quality of their posts and generally slashdot's moderation system goes some way to achieving this, however imperfectly.

          If someone submits a pro-Microsoft post, it will have to be fairly sensible and coherent to avoid getting immediately down-modded, and it is ridiculous to make a blanket judgement that any post which says anything positive about Microsoft is by definition from a paid
      • Hahaha nice, an astroturfer commenting on an article about astroturfing.

      • Oh also do you work for Waggener Edstrom? [waggeneredstrom.com]

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @12:01PM (#38356730)

        I'm totally surprised that the guy who officially admits being employed by a Microsoft PR firm [slashdot.org]thinks that astroturfing is an awesome idea.

        Here's the difference between you and some rabid fanboys: rabid fanboys can in theory be argued with. They at least fit into the format of putting forth an argument that can stand on its own merits, and they in theory could change their mind when presented with counterarguments. In essence, there's the chance of an actual debate taking place. In practice, it's a different story, because fanboys tie their self-worth to how awesome a company is, and will go through all kinds of mental gymnastics to defend their support for a company.

        However, a PR droid like you is incapable of engaging in an honest debate. You are paid to advocate a position, regardless of its truth, value to me or to society. The best you can do is hang some valid arguments onto your advertisement. Which is fine and dandy, if there's a way for me to avoid said advertisement. I use adblock because I find most ads to be content and value-less. Your ads that are masquerading as comments are similarly useless to me, because by definition, they are not based on a rational underpinning.

        Likewise, people sometimes have an axe to grind or just doesn't like some company - like here on Slashdot that would be Microsoft - and say anything bad about them even if it isn't true. So some good crowdturfing just adjust that side of things and they both stay in balance.

        I love your justification for your job. So because there are some trolls that already bring down the quality of the discussion, the right approach is to bring countertrolls in that further degrade the discussion?

        For anyone who is wondering what is wrong with letting paid PR droids post without an "ad" tag, this is it: by their own admission, the best they can do is to add countertrolls to a discussion.They will degrade the signal-to-noise ratio of a site.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Torvac (691504)
      misleading/unethical. not really evil.
      how is spreading lies in this way different from spreading lies in ads on TV ?
      • by yotto (590067)

        Because you know that ads on TV are going to put the product in the best possible light, and use false imagery to try to trick you into wanting the product. Or, if you don't know this, you could.

        Note, both are misleading. Pretending to be a satisfied customer on an Internet posting is simply MORE misleading, and therefore different, from showing a bunch of skinny women drinking beer.

        • It's not like tv ads (Score:5, Informative)

          by jopsen (885607) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @05:14AM (#38353250) Homepage
          TV ads don't pose as reviews or recommendation by other follow consumers.
          Also ads elsewhere are not posted without consent, the spam comment that show up on my blog are not ads placed with my consent (Note I have spam filter and personally reviews everything it doesn't kill).
          It's equivalent to a people just putting ad-posters on your wall without your consent.

          Furthermore it is the biggest threat to the free internet today, to some extent outright destroying the internet as we know it.
          Evil is a strong word, but it's capitalization with total disregard for other peoples property and misleading to the degree that it's outright criminal.
          • It's equivalent to a people just putting ad-posters on your wall without your consent.

            There are companies that hire graffiti artists to do that too these days.

            It's getting to the point where the marketers ought to be first up against the wall when the revolution comes (yes, even before the lawyers!).

            • by rust627 (1072296) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:21AM (#38354700)

              For instance, the entry on the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation describes their marketing division as "a bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes", with a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of robotics correspondent.

              Thank you Douglas Adams

              The fiery pit of boiling death is reserved for the lawyers .............

            • by bware (148533)

              I see what you're doing there. You're going for the anti-marketing dollar [sennoma.net].[1]

              [1] RIP Bill Hicks

              • by tehcyder (746570)
                If you are anti-marketing and anti-advertising then you are logically against laissez faire free market capitalism. Which is fine by me, but I'm not sure it would agree with most slashdotters.

                Under capitalism, the products that make the money are not necessarily the best, but they are certainly the best marketed.

                Contrary to the old cliche, you're fantastically unlikely to get rich by building a better mousetrap and waiting for the world to beat a path to your door.
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Evil is a strong word, but it's capitalization with total disregard for other peoples property and misleading to the degree that it's outright criminal.

            I think the word you're after is Capitalism, which most people here are all in favour of until someone like Microsoft, Apple or Google gets too powerful, as though the legendary Invisible Hand should somehow prevent this, because obviously teh evil government shouldn't interfere in the market.

      • misleading/unethical. not really evil.

        how is spreading lies in this way different from spreading lies in ads on TV ?

        It depends on how serious one considers the consequences of "lies" are. This "just simple marketing" can lead to switching pointless things like brands of bottled water, but also switching medical treatments, food, voting, investing, and taking life risks. Would be interesting to see a survey on the opinion of injured war veterans is about the legality of using misleading information in military recruitment. And what would "truth in advertising" mean for recruiting for fighting in Iraq? "Lose your limbs

        • by shentino (1139071)

          Being good is a competitive disadvantage in an environment full of crooks.

          Getting stabbed in the back or kicked in the nuts is pretty nasty but it's also very effective.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        how is spreading lies in this way different from spreading lies in ads on TV ?

        That's evil. Legal != ethical or moral. And while we're discussing THAT bombshell, in some countries it's illegal to spread lies in ads on TV.

      • by owlnation (858981) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @11:44AM (#38356530)

        misleading/unethical. not really evil.

        Actually... it's Fraud. Definitely evil, definitely illegal.

        By legal definition: "an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual"

        It never ceases to amaze me how desensitized and amoral so many geeks (and anyone under 30) are these days. It's definitely evil.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @06:46AM (#38353616) Homepage Journal

      All evil acts boil down either to fraud, or some kind of denial of service or possession.

      How can you doubt that fraud is an evil act? We are in between good and evil, but acts are one or the other. You do the math and you figure out which they are. Sometimes all the options are evil, of course.

  • WelcomeToTheInternetYouMustBeNewHere.jpg
  • sorry... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alienzed (732782)
    what?
  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:29AM (#38352936)
    I still don't understand where the problem comes in.

    I know when I buy a product I don't just say "Oooh, 4.76 stars! Gimme that one!". I read every damn review I can get: I read amazon, newegg, hardocp, etc. I make a point of reading both the stellar and the abysmal reviews; of reading both user and professional reviews. I just don't see myself falling to fakes. How is some harried Chinese shill, paid by the word or by the post, going to poison my impression of the product when there are still people writing the sort of real, detailed reviews that clearly took both time and a genuine user experience to write?

    It's not that I think spam reviews will all be obviously vapid or riddled with 'Engrish' straight out of some pseudo-racist 70's action film; I just don't think that even a careful, literate fake can bullshit an authentic experience in a convincing and time-efficient manner.

    And I know I'm supposed to be proud of my extraordinary time investment in researching products and my technical acumen versus the typical consumer; I know I'm supposed to think of the 'average' user as some knuckle dragging moron or arthritic grandma who would easily be fooled, Still, outside the deluded minds of preening digerati the average person isn't really too bad. I think they'll spot total bullshit almost as easily as I could.
    • by migla (1099771) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:56AM (#38353030)

      The problem comes with the numbers. You say the average person is not so dumb, well, half of the people are dumber than that.

      It's like with advertising. It works. If it didn't, the big shoesalespeople wouldn't be putting more than half of their turnover into marketing. You and me may not be dumb enough to fall for it, but on the whole, it works and thus the thought that the system consists of rational individuals making the best decisions for themselves is mathematically laughable. Bah! That's a nice tangent I went off on there... Point being: -turfing probably still works, otherwise they wouldn't invest so heavily in it. Problem? I think so. Solution? Off the top of my head I can't come up with others than education and hard work of those who can spread truth. Or the crushing of capitalism, of course.

      • The problem comes with the numbers. You say the average person is not so dumb, well, half of the people are dumber than that.

        Hate that quote... grumble, grumble... MEDIAN... grumble, grumble.

      • by sFurbo (1361249)

        You and me may not be dumb enough to fall for [advertising]

        Yes, yes you are. We all are (well, I wouldn't call it dumb, but we are all affected by marketing). If you believe you aren't affected by advertising, that only means your filters are down, making it easier to affect you.

        • I'm inclined to dispute this point, using my own life as an example.

          For the past forty years I've been earning a typical income, spending most of it, and saving the rest. That's typical behavior for most people, I hope. When I look at what I've spent it on, almost none of it was ever advertized. For the residue of goods and services that was subject to advertizing, I observe that my buying decisions were not made on the basis of that advertizing but on my own initiative based on need, attributes, and
          • by Inda (580031)
            Same as that, but I'll add one thing: adverts actually put me off buying something. If the product or service is actually that good, why advertise it 100 times a day?

            I don't know where you're from, but in the UK we have an insurance broker company called "Go Compare". It has the most annoying soundtrack ever. Don't take my word for it, it was voted as the most irritating advertisement in 2009 and 2010.

            I refuse to visit their website, I'll change the radio station if it comes on, I'll pause the DVR and wait
      • The real problem is numbers, say there are 20 reviews on Amazon, and 15 are fake and praise the product, 1 says it's OK, and 4 says it was useless.... that looks to be the normal spread for a good product ...whereas without the fake reviews it would be 1 OK and 4 bad reviews, the sign of a pile of junk .... and so people will assume it is worth buying ... Astroturf wins ...

        • by CCarrot (1562079)

          The real problem is numbers

          Oblig XKCD [xkcd.com] reference.

          The real problem is averaging reviews based on assumed identical weighting. There has been some attempt to alleviate that with various 'helpfulness' systems (most helpful good review, most helpful bad review, was this review helpful to you? etc.) but like any open system, that can also be be gamed.

          The only sure fire method to beat the -turfers is through a healthy dose of skepticism and doing your homework. Don't base buying decisions on the reviews from one or two sites, seek out m

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        I think your Hegelian approach "it exists, therefore it's rational" (couldn't find the quote in German or English, the closest source is Russell's History of W. Phil in Russian) does not work here. Current society is highly redundant: there plenty of services, goods and inevitably, people that providing them and making them that are not necessary at all.

        There is a PERCEPTION of increased value on investment on all kinds of marketing and I am sure that there is a lot of pseudoscientifc astroturfing going on

      • " You and me may not be dumb enough to fall for it, but on the whole, it works and thus the thought that the system consists of rational individuals making the best decisions for themselves is mathematically laughable. "

        And this is why:

        http://bit.ly/dYaWUc [bit.ly]

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:58AM (#38353042) Homepage

      To most sane people, it isn't worth spending hours reading reviews for a $20 product.

      • by delinear (991444) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @05:59AM (#38353398)
        It depends what that product is, what you're planning to use it for and how easy it is to replace - I probably spent longer than I usually would reading reviews for camera equipment I planned to take abroad because it would have been a pain to try and replace it in a foreign country. Things that you need to take on a trip, or that you might need to rely on at short notice and/or during an emergency it certainly can pay to read the reviews.
      • by wanzeo (1800058) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:13AM (#38354080)

        I actually enjoy reading product reviews, it satisfies that urge to consume, while at the same time keeping the products that I buy useful and at the best possible price.

        For example, I recently needed a coffee maker, I spent months reading anything I could get my hands on about coffee makers. By the time I actually bought one, many of the earlier reviews I had read were for products not even on the market anymore. But the result is that I now know a lot about coffee makers, and I am very happy about the one I bought.

        Now I don't expect everyone to be such an scrupulous shopper, but I wouldn't go so far as to call people like me less than sane just because we refuse to buy the first shiny thing that floats into our vision.

        • by mwvdlee (775178)

          The reason I say "sane" is because you could've spend all that time you spent reading reviews simply doing some extra paid work. If you spent months reading reviews, you could have probably also spend those hours working, bought half a dozen coffee makers, threw away all but the one they liked and still have had more spare time and money left.

          It's not "sane" in the same way that people will spend quite some time bargaining for a few dollars on, for example. a $100 radio, yet round off the price of a new car

          • The reason I say "sane" is because you could've spend all that time you spent reading reviews simply doing some extra paid work. If you spent months reading reviews, you could have probably also spend those hours working, bought half a dozen coffee makers, threw away all but the one they liked and still have had more spare time and money left.

            They call those people professional product reviewers, except the companies usually gives them the coffee makers for free in exchange for a generally biased positive review (so they get more freebies from the company in the future). People like to hate on Consumer Reports, but they are one of the rare places that actually buys all their reviewed products at full price from retailers eliminating a source of bias. Product research is important, but generally for expensive durable goods that you will use for a

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Which is probably why the phrase "you get what you pay for" applies so well.

      • Let me tell you the story of me and my $35 toaster. You know the old joke about "they can land someone on the Moon, but they can't make a toaster that doesn't burn the bread"? It's totally true. After many years, I shouted, "Enough!"

        I researched toasters. (Yeah, I know. I must not have enough to do.) After a couple of hours crawling all over everywhere, reading negative reviews first, evaluating positive ones for whether there was anything interesting or useful said, etc., etc., etc., I settled on one.
    • The review sites certainly could make it easier. For instance fake book reviews are becoming a very common thing on amazon, esp. for books in the mid-range of demand. It's amazing to look at a book and see all these 5 star ratings and then note that 99% of the people who gave it 5 stars mysteriously only have 1 review....Amazon helps out a little bit by allowing you to look at only reviews from people who bought the item or are a "top reviewer", but that still doesn't really help that much.

      They should b
      • by delinear (991444)
        This is the key factor - Amazon et al only really care about the illusion of community reviews, they won't go too far out of their way to allow you to drill down to the real reviewers because, as you say, it might cost them a sale (it's certainly going to cost them money to implement). For now there is confidence in the system amongst regular users, people who are suspicious can generally get a feel for what the real reviews are by reading around, we might see more useful tools in the future as confidence i
      • by shentino (1139071)

        It's difficult to cater to us smart folks when the idiots outnumber us a hundred to one.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      the problem is that if you buy crowdsourced market research, what good is it if all the 10000 answers were from the same fucking guy?

      of course the problem is pretty obvious though.

    • by Anomalyst (742352)
      Excellent poster, A+++++, would read again.
  • I had no idea that thing was still around... guess there's no point in gaming a system almost no one is using, eh?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:42AM (#38352984)

    What on earth is a "crowdturfer"?
    Did you mistype crowdsurfer? Is it a group of people who install sod?

    If you're going to go batshit crazy with the new buzzwords, at least define them as you make them up. (Yes, that's right, TFA is the first and only use of this stupid word according to the google.)

    I haven't been this dumbfounded since some genius came up with "nettop".

    • Here is a definition from the linked article:

      "Evil crowdsourcing on a very large scale." Influencing public opinion with fake "grassroots" activity is known as astroturfing, leading Zhao to coin the term "crowdturfing," since it is done via large crowdsourcing sites.

      • Here is a definition from the linked article:

        "Evil crowdsourcing on a very large scale." Influencing public opinion with fake "grassroots" activity is known as astroturfing, leading Zhao to coin the term "crowdturfing," since it is done via large crowdsourcing sites.

        What's wrong with "evil crowd-sourced astroturfing"?

        Or the more accurate, "massively parallel astroturfing"?

        Or "why-don't-they-join-the-21st-Century-and-write-a-bot-to-do-it astroturfing"?

        ...

        Heh. If the participants in a grassroots movement did this, you'd have "grassroots astroturfing".

        • by TeknoHog (164938)

          What's wrong with "evil crowd-sourced astroturfing"?

          Or the more accurate, "massively parallel astroturfing"?

          I think the technical term you're after is "embarrassingly parallel".

    • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:59AM (#38355162) Journal
      Yes, stop making up new words... and start using words we already have. It's not a "water army", it's a "navy".
    • Back in Stone Age, we had one, two, many! words. Plenty for Ogg. Who need more?
  • sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:01AM (#38353050)

    Our species has gotten its hands on toys that we're just not grown-up enough to play with.

  • by arcite (661011)
    The Chinese make the Nigerians look like a bunch of amateurs.
  • A related fallout (Score:5, Informative)

    by tanveer1979 (530624) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @06:02AM (#38353414) Homepage Journal

    I don't know whether it falls in this category, but the ability to buy crowds for cheap is having interesting results.
    A real case I observed recently.

    A leading motorcycle manufacturer did a contest in Asia (over 6-7 countries). On their webpage, write some thing about yourself(related to touring). Depending upon the number of "votes" winner will be declared, and then the winner gets a 20,000$ bike or something like that.

    The lead guy led till the second or third last day. I followed his posts on FB asking people for votes and all.
    And then bam, on the last two days, an unknown came up with largest number of votes.

    Most of his friends accused the organizer of rigging votes. After all, how could somebody with almost nil votes come on top.

    What they do not realize, for 1000$ you can actually buy tonnes of votes from these crowdturfing sites.

    For 1 cent, you can get one guy to vote, so 100,000 votes is quite a bit.

    For a random guy, not clued to this, getting 5000-10000 votes can be an achievement, and beating 100,000 votes are next to impossible.

    I have seen this happening in many online voting contests where prize money is huge.

  • "Windows Vista was really bad, but Windows 7 is great!"

  • "Crowdturfing" seems to be a new phenomenon that came with the rise of social networks, but the multi-billion pay-per-click ad industry has had to cope with (and benefit from) fake ad clicks for many years. Someone will have to burst that bubble soon...
  • When discussing China and the Internet, calling it "evil" is redundant. They are almost completely immune to legal repercussions, our governments are too pussywhipped to blackball the trade industry, and China knows this. It is the only card they ever play. They have us by our consumerist balls, so they can get away with anything.

    It is for these reasons that I drop ALL packets entering my network from China, except for VPN connections from the handful of contractors with whom I actually work. I've done

  • Is there going to be different values for nyms based on their location or verified identity? Maybe that would be a good thing. Keeping nyms, but guaranteeing that a person can have only one per site. Or one per planet.

  • We've been pointing this out for a while. Our latest paper, "Social is bad for search, and search is bad for social" [sitetruth.com], contains a tour of the social spam ecosystem. There's a whole industry out there selling not just "likes", reviews, and "+1s", but the fake accounts, IP proxies, and fake mail accounts needed to support them. Down at the bottom, the "search engine optimization" industry starts to connect to organized crime. There are several layers to separate the "legitimate businesses" looking for SEO se

  • I had no idea what this topic was about until I read the article. Even then, I had to ponder how this is an issue I need to be worried about.

    My condensed summary of all the findings:

    Don't trust product reviews on most websites. The good websites, those that you are probably already using for your online purchases, such as Amazon, offer the most reliable reviews.

    I guess being a cynic gets me through most difficult to comprehend issues without even noticing.

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