Moderators or Spam Police Out Of Control?

Discussion in 'Site Feedback and News' started by Royce, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. Royce

    Royce Well-Known Member

    Mar 22, 2011
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    So I'm playing a game called Crazy Quest. A bunch of players joined TA as new members to post in the game thread and support it. They are not shills, I've met them in game chat. Many of these players have now been banned from TA and their posts removed. Is this how the forum welcomes new members? If so its a screwed up policy.
     
  2. Echoseven

    Echoseven Moderator
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    Wasn't me... I have a cautious trigger finger.
     
  3. crex

    crex Doctor of Game of the Week-ology

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    Wasn't me either. I'm not afraid to say that it was probably one of the newer mods. Ever since they were appointed as mods, these forums have been a lot stricter.
     
  4. CrazyQuest

    CrazyQuest Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty hurt by this honestly. CStrong is my #1 (literally highest ranked by far) player and I believe he was banned. Saintlee is a fairly new player. I encouraged them to come to the forums to support the game and spread the word.

    When I first came to TA I posted 3 threads in 3 days and was banned for 2 days - I was oblivious to the forum mentality having not participated in any for some years. Been motivating my user base to support the game through support of TA ever since. A couple of players recently erroneously created new threads instead of posting in the existing one. It was a mistake on their part and I even worried about it after my first "scrape with the law".

    I work really hard. Really, really hard. And this hurts.
     
  5. Xexist

    Xexist Well-Known Member

    May 6, 2010
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    Deleting legit members is going a little beyond strict, it is just wrong IMO. I mean I know when a new game gets posted and you see a 1 or two post person posting about what an awesome game this is I think 'okay here we go'. I mean, I get it.

    But this Dev has acted with nothing but the best of intentions. He is active on the site asking for feedback from his game, he is active within the games chat and helping out the players. He also has refered many of his new players to T.A. for what he thought was mutual benefit. His games gets a little more exposure and T.A. gets a new member that may have never heard of this site before.

    I can promise in the days that I have been playing I have never seen him ask people to come start new threads, nor has he tried to bribe anyone to needlessly bump his thread (he does sometimes ask people to post their questions there, I can only assume so he doesnt have to repeat himself 100 times as new players join and ask the same things).

    Sure this game isnt the next big thing, and its not trying to be, but I think the Dev got a little bit of a raw deal on this one.

    I also want to make clear, I have no issue with the mods or spam police, in fact I can see where they are coming from, but I do think the wrong call was made this time.
     
  6. Royce

    Royce Well-Known Member

    Mar 22, 2011
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    I do too, but when I heard new members were being banned it really pissed me off. I came to TA because of a particular game, and wound up being a daily visitor for over a year now. This is no way to treat new members. I know spam and shilling has been a growing issue, but there needs to be a better system.
     
  7. arn

    arn Administrator
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    #7 arn, Jul 21, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
    [preface by saying, I wasn't involved in the banning at all, and in general my day-to-day moderation involvement on the site is minimal]

    It's a stretch to say these were "legit members" though.

    2 newly registered members within 10 minutes of each other, posting in a 1 month old thread (it wasn't even the right thread). Their first posts are:

    edit: actually the first person also posted "Quality Game" separately in two other CrazyQuest threads -- one over 6 weeks old.

    It looks, acts and pretty much is shill spam. They may be actual customers, but they aren't part of the TA community and were sent here specifically to talk up CrazyQuest per his request.

    Now I get it. They aren't employees of CrazyQuest. And there is a rather vague line somewhere, but it seems this was on the wrong side of it.

    arn
     
  8. Xexist

    Xexist Well-Known Member

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    #8 Xexist, Jul 21, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
    I assume you have the benefit of being able to read the deleted posts that I didnt have.

    Agreed, those definitely sounds super - shilly. If they were posted at the Dev's request I cant say, but I can say he hasnt approached me to post anything like that nor have I witnessed him ask anyone else.


    *edit*
    I also aknowledge your point about them not being members of the T.A. community.
     
  9. arn

    arn Administrator
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    yes, I do.

    A few posts above, the dev said he asked them to come post

     
  10. Royce

    Royce Well-Known Member

    Mar 22, 2011
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    If they're actual people who play and enjoy the game, it's not shilling. Period. A shill is someone who talks something up dishonestly, either by covering up the fact they are a dev or friend/family of the dev, or by exaggerating the qualities of the product because they are gaining something from its success. None of that is the case here. These were new members who joined the site to post about a game they enjoy playing. To ban them for that is reprehensible. As for the multiple posts, new members make mistakes. Delete all but 1 post and give them a warning/temp ban. Don't turn away new members before they even have a chance to become a part of the community.
     
  11. Echoseven

    Echoseven Moderator
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    The problem is differentiating between the legitimate and the otherwise.

    If they look, sound and feel like a shill, how different from a shill are they? It's not like their contribution would be valued any more than a shill post - if all they said was along the lines of "great game".

    This in particular stings me a bit, as someone who likes to think they do a decent job of doing whatever light spam cleaning abilities I have:

    Do you know how many posts exactly like this are posted (and subsequently deleted) by the moderators/ spam police on a daily basis? I know I delete multiple a day, sometimes multiple per visit. I'm genuinely sorry that real people and not the typical spammers were affected in this case, but it's not always our fault.


    Disclaimer:
    Up until now, I hadn't even read that thread and I was not involved.
     
  12. Royce

    Royce Well-Known Member

    Mar 22, 2011
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    They are quite different. They are actual people with their own opinions. They have the potential to become valuable members of the community. As I said, I came to TA because of 1 game, saw what the forum and community had to offer and became an active member. Who's to say some of the people banned because they were assumed shills wouldn't have done the same given time. It's just a bad system. It just makes me feel a little sour about the community when new members can be subject to such extreme and unfair treatment. I have been recommending people to this site for a long time now, and I believe I will have to add a disclaimer from now on "but be careful and walk on eggshells at first because they're a bit ban-happy". How inviting does that sound?
     
  13. Echoseven

    Echoseven Moderator
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    #13 Echoseven, Jul 21, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
    From the perspective of a regular forum visitor - you see a new game that may not have had too many comments yet. One of the few comments, however, is from a member with 3 posts. All it says is "quality game".

    Whether it was made by a real person, or the developer creating a fake account, what is your reaction to that post going to be? Chances are, like the majority, you will shrug and move on. Yes it was made under different circumstances, but the end result is exactly the same and neither the members nor the moderators have any way to tell the difference.

    Now, I still very acutely remember my first few posts on this board. I remember wanting to be a valuable member and trying to contribute to the discussions at hand. Having experienced the bias that forums have to members with a low post count before, I wanted to make it clear that I had every intention of being an equal member and not a spammer or a shill, or just a temp that came here for 2 posts. All the time I see new members with one or two posts that are obviously and clearly people that came to contribute to a discussion. A post or two saying "quality game" doesn't help the poster, the developer, the other members, nor the forum itself.



    Long story short, there is no way to tell whether a shill-sounding post was made by a real member or not. If they joined the forum just to promote the game with a post and then leave for wherever the bulk of their discussion came from, they're still technically a shill.



    Once again, I'm sorry that people were caught in the system and that feelings were hurt, but rapping on the moderators and spam police because we happen to have a position of power (which is not real power, but more like a job) is not fair. You have to consider the other point of view too.
     
  14. Royce

    Royce Well-Known Member

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    #14 Royce, Jul 21, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
    Here was my faulty assumption. I thought spam police were here to ban obvious spam accounts like the people who post about watching soccer games online and post about iPhones for sale, etc. I figured a person, new or not, posting about a game in the thread for that game would be off limits to them. I figured if shilling was suspected moderators would use something like ip tracing as evidence to ban them. I believe these people were banned because someone made the incorrect assumption that they were shill accounts which is a damn shame. Plenty of well respected members post worthless comments like "awesome game" or "instabuy" all the time. Why should new members be expected to act differently? To ban someone for suspected shilling without evidence is sad IMO. To ban a new member for spamming (the multiple posts kind not the trying to be a nuisance kind) is only slightly better and really should be handled with a warning temp ban and deletion of duplicate posts.


    Completely false in every possible way. A shill "technically" is someone who is gaining by their dishonest actions. These people were trying to share something that has given them joy. They had nothing to gain whatsoever, and were in no way dishonest.
     
  15. Echoseven

    Echoseven Moderator
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    I'll explain my personal view on spam - not sure whether other Spam Police share it or not, but this is mine and mine alone. I try to stay away from outright banning anyone. Apart from the obvious spammers, I do a lot of research into the limited info available to me before I ban anyone.

    However, recently, there has been an insurgence of spammers with names like Raymondb or Samanthaj that at first everyone ignored or, rather, gave a wide berth. Soon it became clear that they were spammers dressed up as posters and off went the bans (not just me, this was pretty universal. In fact, I'm pretty sure you can find syntheticvoid posting about them in the spam police thread). Their successors are still around and popping up every day - posting some vague and ambiguous statement before disappearing into the ether.


    The people who came here to promote a game they enjoyed did not come here to contribute, no matter if they had a personal stake in the matter or not. And I'd like to make it clear that I'm talking about something as vague as "Quality game" and not a fully thought out post with structure and an idea and meaning - those are completely different.

    Regardless, I'm going to back out before this becomes an argument. All I've been trying to say is that we have no way to tell between legitimate new members and the spammers we ban on a daily basis. Good day to you, sir.
     
  16. Royce

    Royce Well-Known Member

    Mar 22, 2011
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    I can understand your point of view, but I think we'll just have to agree to disagree in some regards. I think the good done by banning vague and ambiguous spammers is outweighed by the bad done by banning people who have just joined the forum and haven't even really had a chance to discover it and become contributing members. Everyone was new some time and there are many ways of finding your way here. Some read for a long time then join in the conversation later, some dive into it right away. The fact that they found the forum because of a particular game shouldn't matter. I don't understand why they should be subject to having their accounts banned for making weak posts. I mean geez, give em a chance to find their feet here.
     
  17. squarezero

    squarezero Moderator
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    Multiple threads on a single game are not allowed on TA. There are exceptions (iPhone/iPad threads, for example, and threads on Price Drops and Promo Code sections) and sometimes a thread about a sale or major update slips through. When a new member insists on recreating deleted threads over and over, they're skating on very thin ice. A patient Mod will send a friendly PM to let them know that they're in violation of forum rules. Someone who has just deleted dozens of spam posts may not be so charitable.

    It's fine for a developer to encourage users to participate in TA: that's not shilling. But new uses need to understand the forum rules and follow them. Creating new "I just saw this cool game" threads when there's already a thread for the game is against forum rules and tantamount to disrespecting the TA community. It also wastes Mod time (keeping in mind that we're all volunteers and have busy lives). It's not surprising if some of these folks end up banned.

    By the way, CStrong is not currently banned.
     
  18. Red1

    Red1 Moderator
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    The developer assured me that two of the new users are legitimate accounts and not shills, so I unbanned them.

    Guys, we get it right 95% of the time, but sometimes we'll get it wrong. In this case the game had SIX threads created, with some in the wrong forum, then brand new users posted shill-like posts for that game only. Someone reported this - and we investigated and thought it looked suspicious, given the history. We actually spend a bit of time investigating these things before taking action.
     
  19. CrazyQuest

    CrazyQuest Well-Known Member

    It seems like another one of my players Beor is still banned from TA?

    Also, I guess all of their posts that were deleted are irrevocably gone?
     
  20. Rubicon

    Rubicon Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2011
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    I'd just like to post that I'm very happy with the standard of moderation and spam removal here.

    It's a massive site and must get tons of it per day, yet we rarely see it. If some babies get washed out with the bathwater then I can absolutely live with that.

    These people are volunteers you know, give em a break. What are YOU doing for the community?

    EDIT: That's not aimed at anyone in particular.
     

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