Bot's are Destroying Steemit?

in #steemit4 years ago (edited)

When Seemit first started it was full of enthusiastic users, everyone was yearning to read posts and write them. Then a time came where some people were "too excited" and decided to start plagiarising posts and stealing content because of laziness.

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The Birth of Cheetah


The plagiarizing crisis got way too out of hand, and a bot was created to counter the stolen content. Cheetah would find posts and do a plagiarism check on them and then posts a comment with the link to where the content was taken from.

Cheetah has been doing a very well job at finding these people and exposing them; other users begin to flag them to ensure their post is not seen so they cannot make money from it. Many people make claims Cheetah is flagging their posts, but she does not flag, although other users are the ones who flag the copied posts.

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The Bots who Make it a Better Place


When a new person signs up on Steemit, there is a bot who comments on their introduce yourself post to greet them. This first comment and up-vote are a great encouragement for the first time user, I remember seeing that comment on my first post, and it made me so happy.

Another bot that has helped the community a great deal is the Steemcleaners bot. The steam cleaners bot goes around and finds users who are scamming others, impersonating whales, and overall posting inappropriate things. I know some of you are thinking, "but I figured we could post anything, it's decentralized," well just because it is decentralized does not mean you can post photos of nude children.

A couple of weeks ago I made a post about the dark side of Steemit and went through the negative reputation accounts. Amongst all the disturbing things I had found some of them were very unacceptable, some users would post videos of deaths, nude children, scamming and causing FUD. I was in total shock finding this out; my first reaction was who is going to find all of this throughout the platform.

You can't go and hire someone to find all of the killing and nude pictures; no one wants to see that type of stuff. Once I looked at the comments, I would see the bots saying why they removed the post and picture; this made me so happy. I was glad to find out that these bots find the filthy content out there, so none of us get to see it.

I have seen many users complaining about the steem cleaners and cheetah, but they do not know the hard work that goes on in the background to ensure you don't get exposed to these types of content.

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The Bad Bots


Just like the movie series Transformers, there are good bots and bad ones similar to Autobots and Decepticons. We need to depict the two and not blame every bot for the destruction of Steemit. Some users create spam bots that go around and spam post random stuff to up-vote themselves to farm STEEM.

I have seen some people create hundreds of bot accounts and ask for payment to upvotes authors content with their bots, so it seems like people are reading their content. The issue with these mass up-vote bots is that random posts will reach the "hot" or "trending" section because of the fast outburst of up-votes.

When these random posts go trending it throws the rest of the minnows posts under the bus, and it becomes very demeaning for them to bother posting in the future. All of the bots are 25 RP, and their voting power is almost 0, so their up-votes are worth nothing and don't benefit the user aside from looking good.

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What We Can Do


I think if the steam cleaners get a task of finding these spambot accounts being created and remove them would prove to be difficult. The best method would be to make the account creation a bit more thorough; this can slow down the bot creation. The drawback of making signing up somewhat more challenging is new users may feel intimidated being asked a list of questions and verifications.

The only solution I can think of is blocking bots so they cannot up-vote or comment. If the steam cleaners can get the ability to find the active spam bots and start blocking and muting them, this can lower the number of bots.

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The Issue With Steemit


The biggest problem everyone has with bots is that everything feels automated and unnatural. Seeing bots everywhere auto voting, commenting and spamming users becomes annoying, and it starts to feel like there are no real users left.

My personal opinion is, the good bots should stay because of the great work they do. Flagging inappropriate posts and scammers has helped the community hundreds of fold. Thanks to those bots we do not need to see the filth. Although since bots are becoming more and more across the platform, we see an uproar of bad ones also.

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Homework For You!


In the comment section below I would like all of you to discuss what solutions you think would work to help the Steemit community to clean out the bad bots and spammers. Give your opinion if you believe that we should keep those bots or hunt them down.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me for more and upvote!

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My only issue is cheetah keeps finding my content on other sites lol and once you click on the link you see that its my article published on other sites. Usually on my own website. It can be a bit annoying seeing cheetah pop up on my posts but even more so if it would cause someone to flag my posts.

I am assuming cheetah can't tell who the author is when they post my articles on my posts, its not that sophisticated, right?

Keep in mind that the initial purpose of cheetah is simply to point out that "duplicate content exists." When you get a cheetah message, it's usually enough to simply respond with a "thank you cheetah, that's the original version on my own web site." Such a response will immediately tell not only cheetah, but also other readers of your post, that you're "above board" and not a plagiarizer.

Cheetah will sometimes do a manual followup and ask you to "prove ownership" of the original, which can typically be done by putting a link to your Steemit profile on your web site or Facebook page.

If you have concerns, I'd recommend you also follow @anyx, who's one of our witnesses and who operates both cheetah and steemcleaners.

Great, thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment. What I have done a few times to avoid that is writing my article here first, so that it's fresh and not available on my site or any other publications. The only issue I am having with that is when I go to transfer the content to my website its not transfering correctly and then includes some html that I have trouble fixing. So what I am thinking of doing is just writing them on google docs which is what I used to do.. and then transfer it here and then on my website but with the amount of pictures, videos, etc that I add to some of my articles it takes a long time. I will try to remember to reply to cheetah whenever I see them lol which is a cute name btw lol. Thanks again for your feedback.

I would like to start with applauding you for your posts, I have seen them and my god the amount of work you put into them and research blow my mind away. They have so much information all organized with images, I could never write something at that caliber.

Lol, so Cheetah cannot tell if the content on other website is your or not. Just like when you use the website "Turnitin" for checking for plagiarism, you can put an article through and you will get 100% plagiarized because it can't tell if its yours or not. It is the same with Cheetah, it considered the post copied if theirs more than one.

So what Cheetah recommends is commenting back letting it know that this post belongs to you and you own both. I have seen your replies back to Cheetah also, so your already doing that ahah i would say just keep it up.

Aww.. that's very kind of you to say! Thank you :-)

Ah okay I wasn't sure if I should be replying back to cheetah or not lol but I figured it would be good for others to see that it is my content loool. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond and will follow you so that I can learn more about the intricate ins and outs of steemit :-) Thank you again.

Your welcome! Hahah thank you for following me, I followed you as well! I already know your going to have an amazing article about the upcoming vote on the 25th about the Kurdish independence, can't wait to see your opinion! :)

Ah yesss... lol I have been posting quite a bit about this on all of my social media accounts. You look familiar so I am not sure if you already follow me on twitter (sarahabed84) Instagram (sabed84), or Facebook (Sarah Abed) but out of the three I would say I post the most on Facebook but I do try to post the same content when possible on the other social media platforms too. Monday will certainly be an interesting day. Some Kurds even burnt their Iraqi id cards already believe it or not lol. The next few days should be interesting too.. I think Barzani had told Baghdad that if they didn't come up with an alternative within three days that he was going to go ahead with the scheduled referendum on the 25 and I think today would have been day 3... we're gonna need to make some popcorn lol

Ahah I may look typical middle eastern 😂, I'll definitely follow your social medias! My biggest fear is the after math if they do separate, it's going to be an all out war there 😱. I'm actually a Turkmani Iraqi hahah so I know how crazy it's going to get there.

Oh and I just took a look at your posts and there are a bunch that I want to read. Lots of great topics. Keep up the great work! I will try to get to them this weekend.

I hope you enjoy them, I'm not that good at writing yet, been only 3 weeks practicing. I love some honest feedback on how to improve! 😊

Thanks for the information about "turnitin" web. In the spanish community we have @lince a project against plagiarism in @cervantes Witness

Even this is a decentralized community, there should be a group that will immediately remove unwanted bots and users. This should be delegated to the witnesses we are voting. To improve quality of the community and also guard the integrity of original contents. Much like what is happening on YouTube right now, suspend and ban violators right away! Upvoted and resteemed!

I agree with this guy, sounds like a good plan

yes the Witness should have the privilege of removing bots. There are many tools available online for free and for a company like steemit they should have their own botfinder.

I agree, it should be easy for the developers to implement, the question is why are they not willing to do it. In fact, as I notice encouraging the use of it...

Bots should only be coming from or should get through first from the developers and not just from anybody...

I agree 100%, the witnesses need to take care of it. They get compensation for being a witness, so its only fair for them to do their fair share of hard work. The only thing I can think of keeping bots for is removing the nudity pictures of children, I personally do not want to see those pictures, even for baning users. Maybe bots can keep tasks like those.

"Policing" Bots should be allowed.

I agree. Bots should be audited regularly by both developers and witnesses.

Much to our disappointment it is not happening right now, that is why a lot of bad bots are going berserk all over steemit community... There should be something done to regulate it.

Thanks for this really helpful article. Personally I think it will be hard to eliminate bad bots, but if there is a chance to do so I would fully support this.

I agree it will be hard but it will get harder when steemit gets more mainstream so if action is taken now it will be easier :)

You are absolutely right

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Thank you for the well thought out post.

You're very welcome! :D

It's not bots we should be going after, it's people!

I'll keep it sweet and short. This platform thrives only on the merit of its users. Each of us should be personally responsible for tracking out low quality, plagiarised and unethically awarded content.

Its the shitty people behind the shitty bots that need to go.

I think if Steemit puts a minimum of 100 STEEM investment to activate an account this will stop useless people posting. It's a growing community and If we don't do something now it will be harder when theres a million users,

Something like this could work

That is a really great idea! I`m pretty sure that would solve the problem.

a 1 STEEM investment would pretty much stop it.

Yea, im sure the bots wont even bother putting in 1 STEEM so that should suffice haah.

Why can't bots also have a "ranking?" I would like to see a bot kill switch so I could turn off or select only the bots that I find beneficial to me and the community. A " Bot Zapper" would be fun!

Haha, that gave me an idea of what if we create a terminator bot that goes around and kills the bad ones. It would be nice for users to be able to deal with the bots first hand.

I don't like the idea of bots. I know they help and can do positive things for the Steemit community, but... it all feels to Big Brother to me. As time goes on, the line between the good and bad bots will blur, as do all lines. There is a reason I live off-grid, back in the woods. Heck I don't even on a cell phone, never have.

It's my dream to go off grid :). I agree, it feels so weird having the platform infested with bots. It feels like a filler.

It explains a bit more about bots to me..thanks

Howdy @distress2success.. A very interesting post on the BOTs, especially the bad ones.. The entire steemit space kind of reminds of the movie MATRIX, all the bad BOTs attacking humanity. May be bad BOTs need to exist to differentiate the good ones.. like the Evil & Good side-by-side.

I completely agree that Cheeta and Steem cleaners are doing a fantastic job, however trolling through so many posts and identifying especially the bad BOTs might be a gruelling effort.

As you said that a User and Bot cannot be differentiated, couldn't we have 2-Factor Authentication of Users every time the User needs to post? Just a wild thought...

Anyways, upvoted and resteemed, I guess you deserve this.. Cheers..

Thats an amazing idea, i never thought of that! A 2-Factor Authentication will be perfect for each post to be submitted.

Thank you buddy

First of all I liked your post, it's a good article about issues within Steemit, second I would vote to diminish the "bad bots" because they do nothing for the improvement of Steemit, they just upvote or resteem who ever pays them, which makes good content creation irrelevant, because if I want to be seen and upvoted I just have to pay, who knows maybe that's what Steemit is about know, you pay if you want to make good revenue, if not you get stuck in earning 0.30 cents or less, my husband @lenin-mccarthy just stopped posting, because he got frustrated about spending hours writing original content to get 0.30 cents or less, so maybe you cannot get good revenue on Steemit unless you buy Steem to get more SteemPower and also you have to pay to get your post seen and upvoted, who knows....

That's my biggest issue about Steemit, you can sit for HOURS and write the best articles and it will never get seen. I would do that and write all day and get nothing out of it until recently, I have been putting in loads of money to get resteems and upvotes with boosters and its just a nightmare. Things like this should never exsist in the first place, it makes things much harder to get seen. I understand how account have stronger upvote power because of investing money into the account thats totally fine but content never beeing seen is the biggest issue now.

I hope your husband comes back to Steemit :(

Well, IMHO, regarding this current pest of worthless bots. I think you could have a close idea and figure out whom are the main actors behind this contagious and pernicious trend just by clicking on the quote next.

Self Upvoting - People are borrowing SP via delegation to self upvote the shit out of their own comments. I would be shocked if this isn't the number 1 reason to borrow.

And if you want to go deeper into this subject by drawing a big smile on your face while reading something of value. Then, click over the image below also- :)

Booty Maniacs

Completely agree. Bots are disheartening. I need real people to interact and engage with. AI is great but not perfect in dealing with these...as we've seen on YouTube. An appeal
Process to go with hand in hand sounds like a reasable solution

YouTube has become a nightmare, people get copyright striked for no reason and new users content is never growing. I love your comment about needing REAL people to interact with, I hate seeing these bot comments on my posts it get annoying and I just reply with "thanks" ahah.

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I agree with your suggestion to make some changes with the registration process. It is so easy to create an account here as per my experience. We should have some validations upon registering. I appreciate all the hardworks of these good bots. I just hope these people would be fair and work their way up through real effort and hardwork. If they want easy money, then they shouldnt be here

Exactly, some people come here thinking they can make easy money and start doing these weird things. Even the Facebook sign up takes a bit more effort.

Great post buddy!
May I translate your post to Indonesian language? I think that was amazing and some steemians in Indonesia must read it.

Thank you! Sure just leave a link to my original article.

Of course, thank you 😊

I wondered when somebody was going to get around to tackling this thorny issue. Good for you! Upvoted and re-steemed. Cheers

Thank you very much!

Frankly, I believe in liberty, and SELF control. There do have to be limits(ie. nude children). However, just like out in the real world, where it seems for every new law, another must be made to control those who try to use the loophole of the old law, people tend to spend way too much time controlling others. The problem is that this encourages the idea that a person does not need to police themselves! We need to encourage a level of ethics, not by making rules so much as living, and posting by a set of standards. If every person on Steemit maintains their own moral, and ethical standards, and downvotes those who refuse to, then the platform will be self-policing. I appreciate the bots, but I'd prefer not to need them...

Bots are not Destroying but probably it destroyed steemit.

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On second thought, I say BAN all bots, except for the "Policing BOTS" that actually serve a real purpose to the Steemit community.

Nice post @distress2success. Thanks for sharing this post. I feel the bots are must only thing to be done is to improvise the working of these bots.

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What is a bot

I see a lot of remarks here (and on other posts) about good bot/bad bot, how to stop them and having a different way of dealing with people or bots.

This points to a basic lack of knowledge about bots and the way the steem blockchain works.

A quick introduction

The steem blockchain (not Steemit) is a decentralized database, owned by noone. After the blockchain came Steemit Inc. They maintain the blockchain, make changes if appropriate or necessary, and are basically the "Guardians of Steem".
Now, having said that, this does not mean they control Steem, nor do they want to. Changes are discussed within the community, with the witnesses having a big input in this process.
What you're most likely are looking at now (steemit.com) is only one of the frontends to the blockchain, but you could also use chainbb or busy.org.

If you look at steemtools.com you'll find a whole range of programs/software to read/write the steem blockchain.

This is because the blockchain itself is open. Accessing the blockchain requires an interface, but you could write this yourself as well.

So as far as steem is concerned, a user or a bot are the same. It cannot distinguish between a person or an automated process.

So, unless we want to completely change steem and steemit, and make this a completely closed system (Hello Facebook), we just have to live with it and come up with pragmatic solutions to tackle the issues.

I keep asking this same question over and over again: What is Steemit?

  • A. Is it kind of Cryptocurrencies mining service that generates, in this case, steem?
  • B. Is it a blogging platform that rewards its authors?
  • Sadly, from what I can see, it's a mining service. Just look at the large amounts of posts that actually seem to get the most rewards and they're all about the crypto market or how well steem is doing on the markets. Sure there are a few of us trying to build traction by posting stories on as wide a subject base as possible, and most of us subscribe to this idea of "Quality posts" but until we can break the mentality of "This is the place to make money!" the situation can only get worse with people creating hundreds of accounts that only upvotes a single account that they own, automated bots that generate curation rewards, I even heard about people creating multiple accounts just to receive the few steem you (used?) to get on first signing up. (People should checkout @sherlockholmes who is doing awesome work in this area revealing inappropriate behaviour.)

    I don't own or run any bots, I have used @randowhale in the past but after being on Steemit for a while now and I'm not totally happy about the Minnow supporting services that ask you to pay especially when you may only have a few cents in your account. Having said that I have joined @shadowbot

  • 1. You don't have to pay anything other than allowing it to vote for you.
  • 2. You're a member of a powerful club that basically looks after its members (so far).
  • I suspect the only way to stop all these bots and shady goings-on is to remove the rewards feature, trouble is, I suspect Steemit would lose 85% or more of its userbase overnight if that happened. #TwoPenneth

    Okay, steemit if not a mining service.
    It's just one of the frontends for the steem blockchain.

    The steem blockchain generates a certain amount of SP and SBD per amount of time. This rewards pool is partially used to pay contributors to steem, that can be via steemit.com, busy.org, chainbb, or you can even have a wordpress plugin that automatically adds your post to steem (and thereby to steemit).
    You cannot "mine" for SBD or SP (anymore, you could when it started), you can get rewards by posting, commenting, being a witness.

    This means that removing the rewards structure is impossible, it would become just another blogging platform and quickly die.
    The fact that crypto posts get a lot of traction is probably due to the fact that the early adopters were crypto-savvy, they gained a lot of power and followers, and by that also rewards.

    The steempower you receive when signing up is delegated steem, not useful unless you participate. You cannot power down that SP, and even if you could, it's virtually nothing.

    We need a different approach without being to restrictive.

    I mine steem on EBOT I used the term "Mine" in a loose explanation sense not an actual act of mining. Just to clarify. :-)

    This means that removing the rewards structure is impossible, it would become just another blogging platform and quickly die.

    Yes, that's what I said. It's not impossible just undesirable for the very reason you mention.

    The fact that crypto posts get a lot of traction is probably due to the fact that the early adopters were crypto-savvy, they gained a lot of power and followers, and by that also rewards.

    Na, people upvote those posts because
  • A. They are more interested in what the markets are doing rather than who posts the best article.
  • B. They know that those types of posts generate a lot of dollars. If you get in early enough your curation reward (If you're lucky enough to receive those) will be greater.
  • It's the bitter truth, if Steemit made no money at all most of the users would leave. To be honest the parable of Steemit to mining in fact does feel accurate , If you look at old posts from a year ago they would make over $10,000 from upvotes. It feels like mining becuase when the difficulty was lower the rewards were higher and similar with steemit. The more users we have and the more the platform matures the lower the upvote value and posts make. I have seen posts by Jerry Banfield mentioning 35,000 SP upvote is worth almost $30 and today its only a dollar.

    I am not so sure if controlling the bots is a good idea. Changing certain bevahiours of the blockchain is also a way. That takes long and needs a hardfork but I am never liking the prospect of censorship and control. I think a system must be self-deregulating to serve our hive mind.

    I agree, it's going to be difficult to combat it may need a hardfork even, but i do think certain type of content would need to be censored like the child nudity and killing videos. Eventually people will create mass posts of those things and it can give Steemit a bad name in the future.

    The community has mechanisms like flags to demoneytize these things. So I would be very careful to give anybody the power to censor or it will be misused eventually.

    Thank you @distress2success and all of the commenters. As a minnow who is still lurking, a bit, this is a very fundamental and valuable discussion. Very much appreciated.

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    An absolutely brilliant post ! I mean that. Absolutely brilliant!

    I'm upvoting this.

    A good overview @distress2success.

    Bots themselves are not the issue, so much as people who want to game the system for illicit gain... using bots. Thankfully, there are some pretty good community initiatives in the works, in addition to the ones you've mentioned. The @sherlockholmes account tracks down and usually shuts down larger botnet organizations and false identity accounts, working with the @sadkitten bot which can flag thousands of comments per day. The @spaminator crew also work to catch and "unreward" spammers.

    One of the things about taking a "community approach" to the issues here is that Steemit bills itself as an uncensored platform... and that's part of the allure. Flagging content isn't censorship... it's merely community members saying "I don't like this content." In general, most people here to exploit the system will tend to cease operations if you remove their financial incentives.

    Now, the part of your post I wholeheartedly agree with is that Steemit is a community, and too much automation makes it feel unnatural. Communities are built by people not by code or technology.