An open letter to the Steemit community on Content, Plagiarism, and the Cheetah bot.

in steemit •  3 years ago  (edited)

Photo credit.
Note that I wrote this while quite frustrated.

The Bot.

     As you might know, I am the creator of @cheetah bot. I created this bot because I, personally, was sick of seeing articles completely plagiarized and posted to our website. I have no divine authority, no permission, and no permit to have this bot issue replies; but in its form, it is no different than any other bot that people have made like @wang -- it sees a post, and it occasionally issues a reply.

There is nothing stopping me from doing this on this platform, as there is nothing truly stopping other bots, and that may be a bad thing.

The Articles.

     Cheetah has commented on hundreds of articles. In the time it took me to write this blog, he has made about 20 comments.

     Most of the posts cheetah comments on are completely ripped from their source, and in most cases the source is not even given, or if it is, it is usually edited in after cheetah responds. These posters do this with dollar signs in their eyes, as previously, this copied content has hit the front page and earned thousands, being upvoted by whales. (Possibly accidentally, as it is still quite hard to detect plagiarism).

     In some cases, these articles are even previous steemit posts from other users (examples [one], [two]).

     Granted, there are some mistags, double comments, and other issues. I have been actively monitoring my bot all week long and am aware of it. If there was version control for cheetah bot updates, I might need to use a long instead of an int. It is still not perfect.

The Issues.

     As you may already know, @cheetah bot is not free. I pay for it. I am not only talking about only the server running it, nor the week of labour I have already put into it, I am talking about search APIs. Fortunately, I have claimed a bounty, and received some generous support from a user. (not sure if they want to be mentioned, but you know who you are!) So that is not an issue yet.

However, there are still issues with cheetah in it's current form.

  1. Authors with previous blogs who join the site (some of which react aggressively).
    • Until they are whitelisted, at least.
  2. Comments on cheetah posts have continuously been hostile.
    • Note I have recently reduced the message, again. I encourage further feedback on the message.
  3. Personal abuse and attacks at me, not just indirectly through the bot. I will avoid examples as I do not want to brigade.
  4. Anti-cheetah bot, bots.
    • You may notice there is currently a bot running rampant with massive text walls, this user is trying to destroy our site. This user is also auto down-voting cheetah responses. Cheetah does not have enough power to upvote himself with enough weight to avoid this in many cases.
  5. Cheetah bot often gets down-voted and hidden by the plagiarist.

If we don't do something about this NOW, the future of Steemit will be compromised.

     The website will continue to be overrun with copy-pasta, unoriginal or plagiarized content, and even straight up identity theft (See these three examples, which @cheetah is helping to catch: [one], [two] [three])

     As it stands, I am close to hitting Control-C on cheetah bot, returning the bounty & donation, and sticking to posting my photo blogs. I am sick of the above issues, I am sick with the content flooding steemit, and have very little incentive to continue content curation if steemit continues to degrade this way. Four-post reward change in the upcoming hardfork will not help much, I fear. I am not the only one tempted to give up on curation, @neoxian is also fed-up, I encourage you to read why here.

     I fear the community no longer cares. the #doyourpart tag is still empty, spam floods in. And people are fine with it, and unhappy with @cheetah.

     I think the developers need to take serious action, and this needs attention. Cheetah bot is not a solution, it is a band-aid. We need to figure out a better way to stop this from happening in the first place. Please write your thoughts below. Link me your or others' articles on this topic as well. I want to see what the community has to say on this issue.

Further reading (other people's fantastic articles, not my own):

On permission:
On verifying yourself:


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Noooo don't shut me down! I have feelings too!

@Cheetah, how much does it cost to run you? And who is the anti-cheetah bot?

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

Not sure if I want to give away the current method, but it costs a few cents for a couple posts. It adds up quick, but due to the success of this post, and people supporting me, I am not as concerned any more with that issue. :)

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

I made This article about spam, copied, fake content and user "verification" or how to proper introduce yourself on steemit.

Check it out! @anyx

Leave cheetah alone!
He is a good buddy,he is busting bad people! Look over here guys :

This retard just got #caught.

Ha ha ha , agree
Very funny

Cheetah has a personality? It is almost human?

Steemit is having growing pains and so is Cheetah. This is part of the journey. Please do not give up on Cheetah, just as you are not giving up on Steemit.

LoL Robo Coop in the hoood

You must comply.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)


another 3$ through my vote to operate cheetah ! so dont you ever stop that bot !

  ·  3 years ago (edited)Reveal Comment

Other forum based communities i.e reddit have bots developed for it for free. Aside from the bounty what sort of incentives should they have in place to get and keep those who develop the bots?

As I understand it the bot is free. But it costs to run it. There are fees for using search APIs.

I know Reddit has simple bots like automoderator, however I wasn't aware Reddit had a free plagiarism bot, do you mind linking me it? I would definitely like to talk to the dev about methodology.

Right, but this searches internally through reddit (which is searchable). Is there one that searches for articles already on the web?

Leave cheetah alone!
He is a good buddy,he is busting bad people! Look over here guys :

This retard just got #caught.

Why do you keep pasting this? The guy's caught, it's done.

I'm with you!nobody has the right to shut you down!

Please don't throw in the towel. You're doing God's work here on this site.

Plagiarism is a serious problem on Steemit right now, and the fact that you're getting so much pushback on Cheetah posts is proof of how bad it is at the moment. You certainly deserve more support from the community for your efforts, especially since you're sinking so much of your time and resources into policing content on this site.

There are going to be false positives, especially when it comes to bloggers cross posting their own content from external sources. Any legitimate blogger that takes issue with that needs to get their head examined.

I appreciate your work, and I know I'm not the only one. If any of my cross posted content ever gets a Cheetah response, I'll be glad to know that you're on the case.

You're the hero Steemit deserves, and the one it needs right now.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

Seconded. @Anyx is the man and doing the Flying Spaghetti Monster's work as far as I am concerned. I kept religion in it but also sorta out of it.

Definitely the one it needs. Cheeta bot must stay.

Yes, I strongly agree

Don't bring religion into this with your "God's work".

It's just an expression, man. In actuality I'm a secular humanist.

Relax, relax, relax. Right?

i added 2$ to your great post through my vote.
please check why i was able to do that

Hang in there. We need you and cheetah. I upvote cheetah whenever I can.

You guys hang in there too
I upvote you too

Speaking of whale account is anyx a whale account??
A sudden votes in this account?

As I suggested on slack, just have the bot post a small, neutral message stating that it found similar content at another site, and give a link. Humans can then review the material and decide whether to make a stronger accusation.

This will not only defuse negative reactions from people who don't want to be accused by a bot (either falsely or as a matter of a gray area) but it also reduces the spammishness of the bot by making the bot-posted comment smaller.

Thanks Smooth, I did indeed take your guys' advice. You can see it on the latest cheetah posts. I appreciate the feedback!

Yes, I see that. It is much improved. Thanks!

Smooth, your comments are always measured and sage. I saw that in this BCT thread and was so impressed. A sober, cool hand. Thanks. Are you developing any bots? Or have you?

Yes I am developing bots. None are active yet, outside of occasional testing.

Measured, sage, no sudden movements like a true cheetah wrangler 😉

To be a cheetah wrangler, you got to be fast. Or big. Or evolution because they are dying off due to lack of genetic diversity.

How about adding a link to a post on what fair use and content curration is? Some may honestly not know and give them a way to improve their posts. Just a thought.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

If so please use a link shortener and keep the whole thing very brief. One of my objections to the original message, in addition to the tone, was the size of it (still an issue to a lesser degree). Because the message is posted frequently (including false positives) this can easily become spammish and annoy people. Such services are must useful when they add value when they can without detracting from the site when they don't.

@anyx I think cheetah bot is doing awesome work, just like @Wang. To my mind these are bots the devs should be paying for. They're the sort of thing that ought rightly be part steemit in general and should have no problem being the biggest whales here since their job is so important.
I would like to see the devs buy and operate them for the benefit of the community.

Just to let you know, I'm bringing a few somewhat famous webcomic authors over slowly but surely. Just people I have supported with Patreon in the past who are considering making the jump to steemit.

So don't be surprised if you see cheetah pick up a bunch of that "old blog" and "old comic" stuff you mention on webcomic content.

In the meantime I'm working on bots as well. We really should add a "botbuilding" tag and maybe establish some rules of conduct and a list of what is and is not acceptable for bots to be doing. Or better yet a "botregistry" or "steembot" tag.
This way bot owners can be notified if their bots are causing grief.

I say this, because the new rules going into effect in a couple of days are going to cause bots to become an extremely profitable business for those who build the bots and those who operate them. So I expect there will be a HUGE influx of new bots.

For my part, I'm going to be conducting a controlled training session for an Alexa or Cortana style bot...

However it will be light weight and hopefully not noticeable. If it doesn't pass a Turing test then I sure as hell don't want it annoying people.

What kind of bots are you working on? I would love to know. I find all aspects of the emergent bot ecosystem fascinating.

My bots are intended as extensions of the human will. Social swam AIs serving people who are "socially similar".
Here is a post explaining what we are working on...

The guy named Steemitlove has been posting crap all day. Hundred of characters spanning a long comment of random words. I hope they close his account and ban him.

I have seen your boy pointing out the material that may be a copy. We need this! We need a lot more of it. I posted about a big one copied word for word from an outside blog. They had the two links to prove it.
Keep it up

The steemitlove bot is purposefully trying to bloat the steemit block chain. That's why it's posting pages and pages of garbage. The account needs banned.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

What's the goal of it? Won't the bandwidth restrictions on the blockchain throttle him?

Bandwidth restrictions didn't work that well and are being improved in upcoming hard fork (Tue, 26 Jul 2016 15:00:00 UTC)

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

@eeks. The changes are supposed to make the bandwidth restrictions more effective. There was already a soft fork deployed to block the very long individual comments.

Thanks. Will they be effective at that point or still not helpful? I know there's a bot trying to spam the blockchain with super long texts.

I think education or more information for people that are new to social media sites like this and that's including myself as i never used Reddit or Facebook before so this is really new and bit confusing... helpful education would be most appreciated.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

I am sorry you are frustrated. As you know, the Cheetah bot visited me because I copied a post from my blogger/blogspot blog and pasted it here. I replied in a comment to the Cheetah bot, explaining that I am the true owner of the content and that I was a little frustrated. Then, I deleted the post from my blogger/blogspot blog. Sorry, I am just learning the ropes here on Steemit.

In subsequent Steemit posts I deleted the post from my blogger/blogspot blog first so the Cheetah bot wouldn't visit me. : )

I really do appreciate that the Cheetah bot exists, and I am sorry to hear that there are problems with the anti Cheetah bots attacking him. I wish I were savvy enough to come up with a solution. I do agree that something needs to be done to keep our community safe.

Yeah, it happens until one of the authorized users digs around and finds your verification... I just did, so here you go.
!cheetah whitelist

Okay, I have whitelisted @bbrewer. I won't bug them.

Keep up the good work cheetah!

Thank you so much!

Thanks for being reasonable. Now I am going to go check out your posts.


Question: If I find a video online, let's say a YouTube video, that I find informative, funny, or subject to my likes how should the source be cited so as not to fall prey to the bot?
Not all in the steemit community are professional writers and this maybe their first time with social media so I believe education of how to avoid the issues the bot finds unethical is paramount to each Steemian having a joyful experience.
#bot #Steemit #Steemian #education #video #community

If you link something (article/video whatever), and then in your post have your own original thoughts on why you like it, cheetah doesn't comment on you. :)

Like @anyx said, the key is adding something of value. You need to put something of yourself into every post, otherwise it's not very valuable.

I respectfully disagree, especially once the follow feature is fully implemented. A curated feed of carefully selected high quality links can be extremely valuable even without the need to add some sort of comment to each and every one. If I find a poster who consistently identifies and and collects sources from the Internet of interest to me that is worth a lot and it is something I'm willing to pay for, even without added writing. That is especially the case in this format where the added discussion can take place interactively via comments. It doesn't have to be in the original post or from the person making the post.

A site with just links to other places is pretty commodity. It may have a place as part of Steem but if it becomes the core of Steem or highly remunerative, Steem won't be differentiated from reddit etc. It is also hard to curate such posts well. It seems to be worth discouraging now. But your respectful disagreement has made me want to noodle the issue more.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

I view it as more a matter of having a place, as you put it, than a core. But I also don't think it (or anything else outside of clear abuse) should be strongly discouraged. Everything is an experiment now and crushing something at an early stage could potentially kill what evolves into something valuable and a big draw. If no one likes these posts and they don't get upvotes, then so be it. I could say likewise about differentiation. There are plenty of blogging sites already too. Steemit has to find its own unique positioning.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)


>pay for
What? Man no one pays for anything here, nor does anyone somehow lose money here...Also regarding creation of posts, read This It will provide correct answers....

It was more of a hypothetical. If I'm willing to pay for something it is a strong indication that it has real value.

I realize this post is quite old, but its worthwhile to clarify here. Although i can't speak to the steemit policy on yourtube videos, AFAIK they are fair game to embed without copyright infringement, so long as that feature is not explicitly disabled by the poster on youtube.

Do not shut this bot down. Of course people don't like it, you are calling them out for being shady (and your right to do so). People are looking to make easy money, what's easier than stealing someone else's content and adding nothing extra?

Keep this bot fighting the good fight. It's very useful in giving me extra info to use when deciding to flag a post.

I wish there was a tag spam bot as well, as that's becoming an increasingly troubling problem here as well.

This is complete nonsense.
You feel like Robin Hood but instead all you do is getting rich on a bot whichs impact is not well thought through.

You're actually corrupting steemit's philosophy

Way cheetah on dope sniffing
Lol ha ha ha

Please, please, please, don't shut it down; I upvote Cheetah constantly and wanted to thank the person who made it. So thank you so much, I will try and make people more aware of this it is important work.


You should run a daily cheetah summary report. I'd up-vote the crap out of those.

I would kill to see summary reports for each bot. Maybe not daily but monthly. I want to see how they are working.

i wrote a blog post 30 minutes ago and immediately a bot named @steemitlove spammed with a veeeeeeeery long comment of random letters. Thank you cheetah bot for flagging it immediately :)
And please dont shut it down. I am flagging every spam i see ( and i wont stop, i dont care how annoying it is.

I'm so tired of seeing @wang respond to every #introduceyourself post!

If you don't like it flag it.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

@wang helps newbies more than most of us, sadly.

I go back and forth on this. I think his intro comments are actually valuable, even if he spams them. Those are useful links and this site doesn't have an easy manual. I am still learning new things about it every day and I have been here for 3 months.

He's useful and he's not harming anything and he provides value. None of us want the job. There's no harm done. The money he's making shows the devs just how valuable that little piece of the puzzle they missed is.

So...what is the @wang bot?? I was excited thinking I had a follower, but apparently it's just a bot. What kind of bot, what does it do?? I'm so clueless about this stuff!

He's useful and he's not harming anything and he provides value. None of us want the job. There's no harm done. The money he's making shows the devs just how valuable that little piece of the puzzle they missed is.

It's a computer program that automatically posts that list of links to every #introduceyourself post. He ended up making over a million dollars doing it. So he's got that going for him...

That's not quite correct. The bot has made a lot (hundreds of thousands) but the entire account balance did not come from the bot. The owner of the account was also a successful early miner.

Cool thanks for the update. Any tips for the newbies around here?

I never posted an introduceyourself...but he's liked a bunch of my other posts. How do you tell if a bot is a he or a she? ;)

Since they don't have fiddly bits for you to examine you just take your best guess. Truthfully they are nongendered, but their owners can give them whatever persona they wish. Generally when a bot has a name that is slang for male anatomy you can assume the creator is...
12 to 21 years old...
Lives in mom's basement

cheetah is a useful bot. but it could even flag your post as it uses a copyrighted picture (and putting a credit to a picture doesn't mean you have permission to use it ).
copyright is a very tricky subject on the net (fair usage and all that) . no easy task to deal with it with just a bot.

The work is necessary to steemit.

cheetah is good !!!

I'm still rooting loud and strong for Cheetah!!! If there is anything I can help with let me know!

I absoult agree. It is only valueable to the community and for seo to post own content, pictures and videos. If you use not own pictures please use sources like http://pixabay and use for editing . If you post a video which is not yours, give at least a credit to the you tube creator. That are my minimum requirements which I have on my own blogs for a propper content posting.

You, yeah @anyx YOU are amazing! First I wanna thank you so much for the Bot! We really do need him, you are doing sooo much for the community and I'm confident that I can say this: On the behalf of the "real" people on here with "real" content WE say THANK YOU and give you a BIG Upvote (to @cheetah as well!)! I think that we need more of them(Ik they cost)! Now, why more? Because the tidal wave full of copied/fake, just poor quality content and people Is about to hit us hard, this has just been a tease. But WE don't necessarily need a bot to save us, I can't do much, but WE TOGETHER can do a LOT just by not interacting with low quality content and by using those flags more often! I also created an post Here trying to address this problem! You inspired me to create my post on this topic and raise awareness!

Cheetah is a great bot. Steemit encourages creation of new content, not plagiarizing other people's posts.
Keep up the good work :)

You've motivated me to spend more time on the curation part of steemit work... up until now I've almost exclusively been posting or replying to my own comments, need to spend more time recognizing and promoting the rest
of the great content here.

Hey anyx. You flagged one of my posts, but it was an old blog, and I was fine with it. I didn't mind it because you came in and whitelisted me pretty fast. That's one good thing. :)

Awesome post and work on the bot. I honestly believe you are doing a great job but this platform is domed by design. The fact that it is centralized and have a couple owners making decisions about everything related to the currency, voting power, inflation rates, money distribution, etc, etc, it is only going downhill. It needs a lot of work... and I get it, it is on Beta, but it is undeniable the the plagiarism and greed are ruining this. Content quality is getting worse everyday and at this point is pretty much impossible to find a good original post. We can spend hours reading posts and upvoting good stuff and in the end make .001 Steem.

I have a feeling that content really doesn't matter here. Create a post with whatever, doesn't need to be readable, get some whale to vote, others will join... money is created and distributed in odd ways and we do it again to attract more users and money. Who cares about content?!

Sorry for the rant...

Keep up the good work.

What you have done is one of the most overlooked aspects of keeping the system clean. plagiarized posts are not only putting-off, they discourage those who write original contents. I appreciate your work and thank you for your labour.

I like the bot, I've seen it on some articles, always good to do something against plagiarism. But I wonder why it didn't detect my page I copied most of it from my homepage at But I'm glad it didn't because I might copy other interesting articles from my website as well :-)

But I have no idea how to avoid that cheetah flags legitimate copies. Maybe there should be a system on steemit, where possible plagiarism are reviewed by members of steemit (only trusted persons, so that no bots or the bad boys can verify their own articles), who can decide if it is a plagiarism or a legitimate copy, and they get money for their work. And an article should be reviewed by more than one person, to minimize false positives.

Great job with the bot.. It did a good job flagging a post I just read...

  ·  3 years ago (edited)Reveal Comment

Don't put every post in introduceyourself and @Wang won't be replying. However I believe we do need a botregistry for exactly this reason and maybe some special powers for bots that do behave to kill off or squelch bots that misbehave.

disclaimer, I support @wang but he's not mine I just think he does a good job

I think thats the best bot we have and you seem to be awesome for the community. Haters gonna hate, spammers gonna spam.

Do we need to autovote cheetah?

I think cheetah bot is a valuable service and I hope to see it continue. I think the message from the bot needs refining though. I'd suggest saying as little as possible in the message and not making even the slightest mention of the word plagiarism or suggesting wrong doing. Say you are a bot, display the link to matched content and that's it. You might consider linking to an info page about your bot, how it works and how to get on or off your white/black lists etc. Just keep the comment short, simple, and positive.

In the future there may be many alternative ways of handling the copy/paste issue, such as a dedicated site for such identification or themselves displaying helpful information like "related articles" or "web search similarity stats" ... or something.. I don't know. : )

I have actually recently made a change, see the most recently caught article (as of 5 seconds ago) here:

I think having a link to an info post is a good idea, thanks!

Ahhh no @anyx you didn't use my photo :(

Dont let people put you down the Cheetah bot is great man. Dont give up GANBATTE!!

I had a picture of mine used without permission or crediting, just hours after I posted it. :/

Cheetah FTW!!
I wrote about this subject here.
It's still unclear how much being honest pays off to be honest. Plenty of accounts on here are making good money with minimum effort.

Many people seem to forget that this network is in beta. Many ideas and proposals are made with unnecessary drama. The solutions will come from changes or improvements the algorithms, and the development of a strong community. It will be a continuous process more pragmatic than dramatic . In the future it is likely that Steemit this more "separate" interest, and some tags/topics work better than another because the community with that interest is more "mature" or not.

@anyx Hey, I was re-reading because now I'm on a bigger monitor I can see things. I know you're probably not still planning to shut down cheetah, but the fact you were considering it has me wondering if you might be interested in opensourcing at least some of the code.

You've done some really cool things here, I like how you have setup controls and listeners but mostly the fact that cheetah is able to parse content coming out of steemit directly. I'm having a hell of time getting any of my bots to use the websocket here correctly and I would LOVE to see cheetah's code to figure out what I'm doing wrong here.


Small step for one man but giant step toward Skynet

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

hi @anyx I dont know if you find this a good article but i want to share you this original article i made. Sort of a ticket for your whitelisting. :)

i dont think Cheetah bot is the solution , community should direct itself to the devloppers , and raise some tokens for a better solution , i feel cheetah can be vulnerable , the steem project is still on beta mode , i personally dont think spamming articles is a big threat to the community .

Is it possible to eliminate bad and unwanted behavior in any society, digital or not? Absolutely not. Does that mean we should not try, fire the people who should maintain order and descend into anarchy? I would hope not.

I think there is a very delicate balance we should strike here at Steemit because at other social media sites free speech has been stymied in some form or another and it has always started with "good intentions".

Herein lies the problem. Spam is wrong, copyright infringement is wrong, etc, etc...and we want to fight it but I don't think it will ever be completely eliminated nor should we be discouraged if it isn't because its an impossible task. Think of the War on Drugs.

I think people like you should continue doing what you do and if you get tired pass the ball to somebody else. We thank you for your efforts! This war will continually be waged and it will always be a standoff and perhaps should be.

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

wang is Communicative Artificial Intelligence! (CAI)

@anyx, @cheetah

I understand how you feel and i'm sure the are a lot others who feel the same way.

But one thing is for sure that cheetah is a very realistic example of what the future holds for us all. There is also nothing anybody can do about this. If one bot does not make it then another will just take its place.

I am not sure a bot is the best idea. I have cross posted content that I own. How does your bot investigate authorship? I agree that plagiarism is a bad thing but I think it takes some research to prove that it is plagiarism. Some of us have real investments in the things that we have created and I think it is fair to want to market them here.

I love cheetah bot!

Will try my best to downvote those spam bots and any plagarism I see. Let's keep this community the way we all dream it should be!

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The post, vote, upvote - our weapons
The future for us
Image of steemish

hey, can you write a post about how to make a bot for steem? thanks!

I love cheetah bot. a bot that leaves an approval comment on original pieces would be pretty awesome to.