Bots are Ruining the Mainstream Potential of Steemit

in steemit •  2 years ago

With all these bots flooding the platform, Steemit is becoming a difficult idea to support.

Maybe my vision of Steemit is different than the consensus, but when I joined, I envisioned a community led effort that could:

  • Help the cream rise to the top.
  • Filter out the spam.
  • Give the little guy a fighting chance at making a big impact.
  • Allow human beings to be paid for their content.

So far it is:

  • Debatable, at best, on whether or not the "cream" truly rises to the top, but it's still a work in progress.
  • Full of bots, many of which are considered spam bots.
  • The little guy is buried in a sea full of garbage.
  • Bots are making more money than a lot of good contributing Steemit humans.

A mainstream user doesn't care about your bot.

They don't care if your bot scours the blockchain for good content, or bad content, or exposes a fraud.
They don't care if your bot spams upbeat comments on everyone's blog posts.
They don't care if your bot upvotes everyone no matter what.
They don't care if your bot is trying to interact in a positive way, it's a fricken bot.

They came here to interact with human beings on a social media platform and find good content. Why are you here?

Is There a Better Way?

I get it. Some of these bots do good things. For example, @wang shows new users some tips when they first get to Steemit. @cheetah exposes people for plagiarism and fraudulent activity. And there are many, many others that do much, much less than that.

The problem is, if @wang and @cheetah are allowed to roam free on Steemit, so is any other worthless bot that anyone can create and unleash into the wilderness of the STEEM community. Is it really worth the trouble?

Not really.

Yes, people can downvote them, such as the onslaught of downvotes that has pummeled @bison015 since release. But, this isn't something that I want to deal with as a member of Steemit, let alone the rest of the mainstream world. I don't want to have to question whether or not I'm speaking to a human being, sifting through bot crap in comment sections is not my idea of a successful social media site, and I certainly don't want to judge accounts in this way going forward.

Just wait until the onslaught of "I've made $10000 a month on [insert scam site here]!" bots that are bound to be created. Are we gonna fight that one with another bot that downvotes it (aka @steemservices)? Is this really the best method? Seem's like a never ending circle of poor solutions to me.

Bots, such as @wang and @cheetah certainly have purpose, the ideas behind them are very good and have good intentions. But, I don't think they should be active members on the website. No bot should be actively posting, nor should they upvote content, or do anything that can actively contribute to the social aspect of normal users. In fact, there needs to be something that removes such accounts and/or prevents them from joining! What @wang and @cheetah provide is valuable, but they can contribute in non-active ways.

For example:

Why not just show the user a useful message, with tips that @wang recommends, before they submit a post in #introduceyourself or before they submit their first post?

Why not have @cheetah scan a user's post for plagiarism before it gets posted onto the website? If it doesn't pass, then it cannot be posted unless it passes moderation review. @cheetah can then send the post to moderation, along with a link to where they found the plagiarized article. I'll even volunteer to moderate! I'm sure many others would be interested as well. Super easy, less messy, and regular users don't shoulder the load of sifting through crap.

Steemit Needs to Change

This is about going mainstream, is it not? To evolve as a community, Steemit needs to understand that there is no way that a mainstream audience will accept the use of bots, even if it's to relay important information. Most people will get annoyed, a lot of people will be confused, and others will just try and create more bots to see what sticks since there's an opportunity to make money. The last part is the scariest part, since the bots that have been created now are by contributing members of the community, some of which are just testing their ideas out... but imagine when fake hot blonde model starts coming to Steemit with her $10,000 check she made from working online last month, or Fat Ron selling his penis growth pills. We haven't even hit that hump yet! If you think it's bad now, it's only going to get worse.

This is why all bots need to go. Banned from all social aspects. A system needs to be in place to weed them out, without using other "social bots" to fight them off. If they are useful conceptually, then that's fine, and the idea should be submitted (hello, GitHub!) and eventually the idea can be added into Steemit.

The main point is: These bots can be used in other ways to help the website without getting involved socially—leave the social aspect to humanity to figure out. Let the bots work behind the scenes to help the users have a great experience.

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This is wont last long. That's why i am powering down. Too many things happening.

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Why do you say that? Curious to have you expand on this.

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Just an emotion answer to my latest unfortunate event that happened to me today and few before hand and from others expressions. I deposited 43 steems from poloniex and never showed to my other account and it disappeared. I did research and it's happened to lots of people and to get a resolution is impossible. I even made a post and none cares to help.

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well, if your deposit from poloniex didn't go through, why don't you contact poloniex support!!?!?

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Man, sorry to hear that. I hope this issue can be resolved soon. Incidents like this could be a real deal breaker.

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I don't really blame you. The recent changes do seem to be a turn for the worst.
Removal of user edit\delete features as a response to poor security\hacks, poorly thought out reward changes without community input as a response to high rewards, and allowing the censorship bots and downvote brigades to form instead of simply giving the users the tools to block offensive things from view.
I hope they start taking some community input before trying to fix the next "emergency problem".

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Edits should be back soon!

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An official post saying that would probably bring some hope, and help the prices recover.

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Thanks. I hadn't noticed that edit/delete was no longer available. Its hard to keep up anymore there are so many posts now. I'm very curious about how that change is "a response to poor security\hacks". Was one of the hacks made possible by a flaw in the edit/delete features? I don't understand.

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I am not suggesting that anyone should power down. My thoughts are to improve the community, not to disassemble it. I hope you reconsider.

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.... This sums up the response I got from other Dolphins when bringing up issues with what is happening here. I too am powering down.

lots of the curation issue comes down to UI in my opinion. I don't remember the last time I've actually curated a tag. Also, having voting on the trending page and hot page makes it so people don't read the article before voting. Maybe hiding the payout before voting would be a better way to have "blind" vote where people actually vote with their conscience.

On the spam bot issue, I would have a mechanism like hubpages: rate limiting. You need 5 posts to be approved through a slow process before given a pass to write as much as you want. That would deter quite a bit of those nasty people to spam.

Finally, we may have to resort at one point to have people pay to become users. That makes it extra hard for trolls to actually join.

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Good ideas mate for sure. The approval process is a great idea. We have a process that was introduced in the virtual world, where the content goes through a "Peer Review" and needs x-amount of votes before it passes and is publicly viewable. That alone cut the crap being submitted in half overnight. Not saying that is the right solution for here, but what i am saying is this type of system can work wonders in increasing quality content. Also to give there bots there day, maybe even a "No Bot" option for users that have been through the process, then it would at least give bots there chance etc. I am not saying i like the bots being here, but if they are going to be apart of the ecosystem then creating a happy medium with steemians might be a solution.

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Good points. Food for thought.

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I like the voting idea.

I love the approval idea.

But this would require a moderation team, which doesn't seem to be in place at the moment. I would be willing to join that team, and I'm sure many others would as well... but this post doesn't seem to have made it significantly far, so I doubt our voices will be heard. It is unfortunate if nothing comes of this, I firmly believe there are better methods to improve user experience without resorting to bots.

I 1) completely disagree that people will not accept bots and 2) don't think we can really stop them. This is an incentive system and a complex dynamic system. Whether human bots or robot bots are gaming it doesn't matter.

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My question to you is, why doesn't it matter? Are you excited for the fact that we are going to be conversing with bots? Are you excited to share a social space with non-human interactions? Do you really think that mainstream people will be OK with this?

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So you're equivocating bots that spam comments and noise with bots that automate voting on behalf of accounts?

One is obviously useless and bots have already been made to downvote identified spam bots.

The other provides increased rates of wealth disbursement within the ecosystem.

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Provides increased rates of wealth disbursement? It's cheating, and you know it.

A bot is a bot, doesn't matter what it does. You either have them all, or you have none. I'd prefer none.

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I'm not sure why "mainstream people" are so important to you versus any other kind of interesting people.

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Steem is worth close to nothing if it doesn't tap into the mainstream market at some point. You can already see the price is going down after the early July boom. If the goal for Steem is to be a secluded community, then it has already failed. Sad that you cannot see this.

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Well, I'd like it to be a useful platform before looking at things like "the mainstream market" and "the price is going down". I didn't know the price had anything to do with an attempted decentralized reddit clone and blogging platform.

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Price is really the only thing that separates this from Reddit and other blogging platforms. Without worth, no one would be here. Being decentralized, a term which is so overused anyway, doesn't really matter for a social media platform it only matters if the coin has any worth.

Without worth, no one mines.
Without miners, the network is not secure.
Without a secure network, the coin fails completely.

Also, kinda dumb that I couldn't reply to your last post directly... seems like there is only a certain amount of nested posts before the reply button just disappears. @tie-warutho

Bring on the bot wars! Bots serve a purpose. You've given examples of how bots have done this. I agree the functions that these bots serve could be integrated into the steemit system thereby negating the need for them and I think this is something to consider. However, is it not beneficial to allow bots to arrive on the scene and identify a niche function they can serve? It they prove useful their function can be integrated into the system. Do bots not have the potential to help the platform evolve in useful directions?

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Of course pc101 is gonna be pro-bot! :)

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@pc101 Upvoted and totally agree. Bots serve a purpose and rules right now favor bots over humans. More importantly the changes in rule #176 which limited posting to 4x a day actually created a much better environment for bots since they moved the incentives away for humans to post.

@dev00100000 Want less bots and a more social, social media platform. Drop rules that limit the number of posts you can make in a day and instead charge a fee to post. A penny per thought, and then you make it back if people upvote you.

Since that is clearly not ever going to happen, you will need to deal with bots and honestly the solution looks a whole lot more like this...
https://steemit.com/introduceyourself/@williambanks/announce-steembots-com-your-source-for-everything-bot-related-now-hiring

Notice what I did with calva in there? Just add #STEEMBOTSTAY to your posting and any bot on our code of conduct will stay out.
Anyways read what I wrote and put some comments and feedback in there, whether you love bots or hate bots, STEEMBOTS is trying to make steem a better place

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Thanks. Where can we see the rules such as the rule #176 that you mention above?

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Sorry about that. I should have said issue 176 which means it's on the github issues list which is the proper way to be discussing issues with the platform since the devs can't be expected to check steemit constantly for platform feedback.

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Thanks, I'll link it here for the who are curious:

https://github.com/steemit/steem/issues/176

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Why would Steemit want to build these into the system when other users can build the tools and use their bots to interact with the STEEM blockchain? Isn't that what decentralization is about?

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Good point. I think some bots, not all bot, will highlight short comings in the current system. It might make sense to modify the system in response, e.g. to prevent manipulation of the system in some way. I do however think there is a benefit to keeping some bots as bots. For example, there might emerge a rival to @wang that serves the same function but does so more effectively. By not incorporating @wang into the system we are allowing peoples subjective opinions to decide with of these bots best serve a particular function.

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Why not submit the idea into GitHub. This is an open source project, is it not? What's the difference between developing a bot which invades the social space, compared to doing it behind the scenes? Linux is an open source OS... I don't have any bots telling me what to do when I boot it up.

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Lol, ok, I laughed at that.

Eh 1000111101001000100010 100100100001100001 er I think we have been spotted 100100001 1001000 oh send a terminator round to his house 10001 001001000011

I think the real issue is that the whales are lazy. They don't want to log in every day for an hour and find five interesting posts to upvote. Instead, they've just selected a few authors, and then let their bots upvote everything they write regardless.

If this platform was closed to new sign-ups, that would be a rational strategy, as they would have found all the good authors, so why not automate. However, it is still an open platform, so fixing their "preferred" lists so early, simply excludes the majority.

And then there is the Harper Lee issue - what if someone just has one stonkingly good post in them? They get completely overlooked, as they arn't on the known lists.

Also - initially when I signed up, I thought this place could replace reddit. However, I still need to go to reddit to find breaking news. It is pointless doing live blogs of events here, because they get buried in the endless stream of articles about steem, introduce me stuff, and the stuff of the preferred list of authors (who mainly seem to photograph flowers).

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I don't blame the whales, to be clear. I do think that we need better regulations to sift out the bots.

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Totally agree that good articles get lost in the sea of stuff. Am I wrong to be optimistic that this will be addressed in due time?

It doesn't matter if the bots are useful or useless, what matters is it will become a bot playground and every new post on steemit will be littered with posts that are either flagged or riddled with bot information that aren't human. It makes the post look ugly as hell for any new potential voters. I don't want to have to sift through a sea of crap to find useful comments that i can engage with.

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This is my overall point, bravo @cryptoiskey

So how do you propose to eliminate the use of bots in an open source platform?

I honestly see a lot of complaining but not much in the way of solutions.

Still fail to see what the problem is. Bots are programmed by humans to perform specific tasks... that HUMANS want them to perform.

I fear a community of petty dictators and tyrants far more than I fear a community full of bots and cat pictures getting $1000.

One of those paths normally ends in violence. No thanks.

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I wish you would summarize a little here where you comment, because I'm hesitant to leave this discussion to read something else and potentially go down a rabbit hole. But I will check it out later.

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We can eliminate bots by adding a captcha system at login. We can also ban all currently known bots. Steemit can also hire a moderation team.

The bots that are useful, such as @wang and @cheetah, should not have social interactions with the user. Instead, the ideas behind them should be used in a non-social way. I've highlighted these solutions in the article, they are simple solutions, but I believe they can be effective.

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That assumes a few things:
a) bots programmed in any language won't be able to interact with the blockchain anymore (this is less 'free', not more since people create these bots),
b) how do we 'ban' accounts?
c) should we have the power to ban accounts?
d) the community is willing to give up their power to moderate things themselves and put it in the hands of a chosen few.

These aren't solutions you offer. Only a return to the same systems most of us are trying to escape from.

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I never said "bots programmed in any language won't be able to interact with the blockchain anymore"... I said that the bots that are useful shouldn't have social interactions on the site. Why can't they can do this type of work without spamming the website? I know the answer already... $$

Instead of short term gain, we should look at the long game.

Since I won't get anywhere with you on points b, c, and d, which are all the same, I won't bother to address it. So fine, no moderators. I still think bots shouldn't post, or upvote, or flag.

Go ahead, just automate everything and take humans out of the equation. I'm sure these big corporations will want to jump on board to advertise to a userbase that is full of automated bots, that's when the value of Steem will surely skyrocket, a bot based community that does all the work! It's genius!

I totally agree and even posted about the same thing an hour before. Here is a link to the thread: https://steemit.com/steemit/@fubar-bdhr/will-steemit-become-nothing-but-a-bot-battleground

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Thanks for sharing!

This is a diversified wilderness ! :) Thanks for sharing!

Don't give up just yet.

There are plenty of refinements still to be made to Steemit. Nearly everyone wants the system to be fairer, even people who post bullshit just because "if you can't beat em, join em" ..
Yes, it's unsustainable, but this is beta. We will get there. It took Google years to make spam a pointless endeavour.

In just some short months Steemit has been created and tweaked to a reasonable starting point. We've a bit of work to do. Not just the devs, but as we conduct ourselves as a community. Ultimately though, the spammers will lose.

Also, please put an image in there somewhere. Plain text is bad for my OCD.

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If you have a good suggestion, I'd be glad to add it to the article.

This will not last long. Steemit will fix it soon.

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I hope you're right!

Good post. This will get more people to know about it.

I honestly think the site works pretty good. Like, I've visited a few post now and usually the top comments are clearly written by humans. Idk, as a new member to this site, it's looking pretty good.

Coming from reddit bots there serve a purpose to help the discussion, they obviously don't spam as much as bots here.
I also think that they are a necessary evil here as we want steemit to be open and free discussion. ultimately we will have bots moderating bots or we will have some sort of an update by the devs.

LOL, @bison015 commented on this thread.
Irony...

I propose you to start a list of "little guys" :-)

you are absolutely right. now will anything be done about it , probably not and it will be the fall of Rome

Can we automatize in some way the fight against bots, really interested in this
thank you for so nice post

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Adding Captcha checks is a quick and easy way to keep bots from spamming the platform. For a website it is easy, to add it to the blockchain would be more difficult. (but not impossible)
Steemit could easily allow users to filter out bots by simply adding personal user blocklists.

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Users blocklist would be a really powerfull tool , lets see what devs do with this issue

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There is a "mute" button, I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like it could accomplish what you're looking for in a blocklist.

It's a nice short-term solution, but I don't really think that is a viable long-term solution to the problem. I think at the very least, there needs to be a captcha at login.

Some of my posts would instantly get upvoted by 40+ instantly the moment I post but it wouldn't even go up a few cents.

I figure these are all bots that are upvoting my posts automatically?

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Maybe, or just a bunch of minnows like you and I.

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@sephiroth @dev001000000

It's definitely bots, not just minnows like us. There's evidence in a post I made that supports what you've said above.

https://steemit.com/steem/@sndphoenix/the-bot-legions-reigns-or-why-steemit-desperately-needs-honest-human-content-curation

As @pic101 bots do serve a purpose .. At lease some bots do. My initial thoughts about steemit were that in the long run, the truely original voices would shine, and rise to the top... So far, I don't see that happening as much as I feel it should... Hopefully this will change

Tao Te Ching
The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be

we have to find a good equilibrium between users and bots, but it's not so easy. Prohibition is wrong.

This is why this site is beta. Maybe the bots are there and the developers see what's needed to added or taken away in order to develop the features for the site.

I noticed your post has the "max" five tags... but there is a way that you can easily add a 6th tag to your post at the moment:

https://steemit.com/steemit/@bayareacoins/so-you-think-you-are-limited-to-5-tags-for-your-post-now-wrong-click-here-to-learn-how-to-get-your-article-listed-with-6-tags

Have the trollbox trolls found out about Steemit this fast? Man we really must be going mainstream.

Check my solution for bots guys. Please tell me what you think...you dont have to uvote or something....just tell me your opinion ! Best regards.

https://steemit.com/steemit/@fogspam/things-that-steemit-should-implement-to-eliminate-multiple-accounts-bots-upvoting-groups-garbage-posts-etc

Give the little guy a fighting chance at making a big impact.

YES.

Even though I'm on the fence about banning bots, I feel that you made a lot of valid arguments. Perhaps if they can be moderated and not be able to make an impact (i.e. not earn any Steem rewards) it could be a viable solution. Perhaps create a separate user type for bots to segregate them. I don't want to sound to holocaust-y, but I guess it would help mitigate the growing problem.

Sorry guys. This is what you get for monetising 'content' and upvotes.

excellent. Good job man!