Once upon a time...
Steemit content wasn’t always the way it is now. Before the concept of 'Author Reputation', and during the first Great Steem Bubble where we hit $4 per steem, the woodworks opened up. All sorts of people came out for a piece of the pie; spam, scams, plagiarism, fraud, and identity theft all ran rampant. Almost a year ago, I ( @anyx ) created the first form of the infamous @cheetah bot in an attempt to combat this. Back before voting bots were common place, Cheetah was actually one of the first: downvoting what I had identified as spam and fraudulent accounts. When a bounty emerged to try and identify plagiarized content, I build my own algorithm using custom web search API's to scour the internet for similar content, and then, Cheetah was truly born.
Yet, the landscape has changed since the wild-west that we started with. After Cheetah came the Steemcleaners initiative, and users who remember how bad sorting out content was in the beginning, remain staunch supporters of the project to this day. And, despite a few bumps in the road, I continue to run Cheetah -- however, she's not nearly the same as when she started.
In general, Cheetah has now become solely informative, with Steemcleaners -- real people -- as the actual action taker. While the original explanation post of Cheetah is still valid, she has evolved quite a bit over the year.
So, the purpose of this post is to clarify a few things that often come up, as frequently asked questions.
Q: What is Cheetah?
Cheetah is an informative robot that might comment on your post. If she does, she will claim that she found similar content somewhere else on the web. This is because you likely copy&pasted some form of content -- whether it be your own or not.
The interpretation of the comment is up to the voter who reads your post: the comment, in general, means that the voter will likely desire an understanding of the source of the content that you posted.
Q: Is Cheetah a 'plagiarism robot' or a 'police bot'?
NO! The truth of the matter is, it's basically impossible to determine identity online. As such, Cheetah can never determine if content is plagiarism, a form of sharing, or an in depth quoting. While I try to avoid issuing comments when a post appears to be form of sourced sharing, it's a lot harder than one would think to program ingestion and understanding of content. Which brings me to the next point.
Q: Does Cheetah discriminate based on the type of content within a post?
While some... interesting people... may peddle that I am a censorship fascist, the truth is that I, and thus Cheetah, don't care what kind of content you post. What the content is doesn't matter, only the similarity to other content on the web. In fact, there is decades of literature on machine learning trying to solve the problem of actually understanding content or sentiment, and we still are not even that good at it. I don't know how to do it either.
Q: Is receiving a comment (and upvote) by Cheetah a bad thing?
Due to the above two points, I want to stress that a comment about detection from Cheetah is NOT an accusation of malicious intent. Simply put, the comment informs the reader that the content can be found on the web in another place, and was there before the Steemit post.
There are many cases where this isn't malicious: for example, a writer of a blog deciding to re-post all their content on Steemit. However, the comment is a useful reminder to the reader: while the author may or may not directly say the content is reposted, the reminder to the voter allows them to make an informed decision of whether or not they wish to reward the post. In general, on Steemit, original content is more well received compared to reposts. And reposters that attempt to trick the readers into believing they are providing fresh content, can ruin their reputation forever. It's an ambiguous area, where the voter needs to decide. All that the Cheetah comment does is provide information to the voter.
Q: Does Cheetah flag posts?
For the most part, no. People continuously claim that 'Cheetah has flagged them', when they actually mean that Cheetah has issued a comment on their post. It's important for people to understand the distinction in the language here, as flagging has a negative connotation: being mostly used for actual abuse. Cheetah does NOT flag on content detection, she upvotes.
However, if a user spams continuously, plagiarizes and attempts to defraud the community, or claim someone else’s identity, the user will be continuously flagged in the future. Being on this blacklist is NOT an automated procedure, but rather is controlled by @steemcleaners. (Note: the 'blacklist-a' or related accounts are not part of Cheetah or Steemcleaners.)
Something else to keep in mind is that flagging is not censorship. Your posts will remain immutable forever on the steem blockchain, and anyone can read it and interact with it. Being rewarded, however, is a privilege.
Q: I hear that if I get a Cheetah comment, people won't vote for my post. Is that true? If so, you owe me money.
There are some voting bots that may ignore posts that have been flagged by Cheetah. But remember, Cheetah does not flag posts on detection. In fact, she actually upvotes, as a sign of good faith.
Despite this, I have gotten into arguments where, due to the Cheetah comment, the user believes they lost money that they otherwise deserved. Keep in mind that I don't owe you anything, and nor does anyone else on this platform: actions here are voluntary. If you believe you are owed a vote from a particular person, and they did not vote for you, you have the option of reaching out to them and tell them why they must vote for your post. I cannot control the actions of other voters, do not ask me to do so.
Q: How can I stop or avoid getting Cheetah comments?
It's very simple. Make sure that the majority of your post is in your own words, less only quotes which use markdown format ( put a
> in front of the quote) and are fully cited. Don't just copy paste. A good guide on the reasoning behind this is here. TL;DR? Add value to what you share. And keep in mind that reposting is sharing, even if you own the content.
Q: Is Cheetah a magical bot that's perfect and always gets things right?
Who would have thought, but robots make mistakes! Cheetah sometimes posts links that make no sense. I've continuously been working to reduce the odds of this happening, but robots are not perfect, and Cheetah will never be completely accurate. Sometimes the content detection gives these "false positives". If there's ever a comment that's clearly broken, feel free to message or mention me, and I'll look into it.
Q: Who can control Cheetah / how can I contact someone who can?
@anyx is the creator. However, for best results (I'm not active 24/7!) you can reach out to Steemcleaners members. Head over to steemit.chat, in the steemcleaners-public channel, and someone will be around.
Q: I do posts that have a common format and get the message. Can I stop this?
If you're designing something like a weekly challenge or game, make sure to do it on a separate (designated) account. If you still get comments, message @anyx in steemit.chat.
Q: Cheetah is actually flagging me! What can I do?
If you believe it was a mistake, you can chat with someone in steemit.chat's channel steemitabuse-appeals. However, for cases such as identity theft and clearly unremorseful plagiarism/fraud, I don't give second chances. While some will not agree with this harshness, I personally believe there are enough good, positive, and genuine people here on Steemit that we do not need to entertain those who would only seek to defraud, harm, or take advantage of us.
Q: Is Cheetah or Steemcleaners official?
No: both are voluntary actions of community members. It's important to keep in mind that Cheetah is not an official part of Steemit. Should the community no longer want her, or I can no longer afford her, I will remove her (and I have been close to doing so in the past).
Q: What's the cost of Cheetah? What about her development?
I have had to sacrifice accuracy for price, as the cost of running Cheetah is actually quite high. At the current rate, Cheetah has a direct cost of about $150-$200 USD per week, with an indirect cost even higher -- and rising. The funding to pay for her currently comes from Steemcleaners log posts.
Development is ongoing, and has never stopped! I mostly aim to improve detection and reduce false positives (as I continuously receive negative flak for any mistake). While I don't expect a reward for the continued development, nor do I post updates about development (as the algorithm I have developed for content detection is effectively a trade secret, and thus sharing updates to it would be silly), I consider my role as a witness ( @anyx ) as the direct support. This keeps the project community driven, rather than sponsored. You can vote for witnesses here.