Bots upvoting posts? An investigation

in steemit •  2 years ago

Following my last post, I noticed something very strange. Within seconds of posting, I already had 30+ upvotes. 

I decided to investigate. The first observation was despite the 30 upvotes, the reward generated was $0.00. So all from accounts from the bare minimum of Steem Power. 

So, I checked the "New" stream, and hey presto - there were other posts which had a similar reaction. 30-40 upvotes within a minute, but not a single penny on the board. It's not every post either, just certain targeted ones. 

Who were targeted? I'm not sure about this, but I think it's certain keywords they predict will do well. Instead, these posts are unfortunately being tainted. 

I dug further and started checking out all these accounts that were upvoting. As expecting, it was the same few accounts that were leading the bot upvote attack. 

All they were doing is upvoting as soon as the posts come live. (The 2% indicates that with the penalty on curation rewards for early upvotes - which shows the system working very effectively.)

In short

  1. Bots are upvoting posts moments after they are posted.
  2. Taking a ~98% penalty for early upvote. 
  3. They seem to be targeting posts which have a likelihood of being upvoted. Probably based on the author's history, some keywords, etc. 
  4. It's the same 30-50 bots that are attacking every post. 
  5. Unfortunately, posts with this fate are getting tainted. 

So, what's going on here? How can we fix this? Maybe @SteemServices come to the rescue?

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Some bots are worthless, but dolphins and whales can give a trusted poster an instant upvote if they trust the quality of their work. Bots should be discussed without simply taking one side. I see both having them as beneficial (like @wang helps new users a lot and also promotes some great content and users), but if you have to scroll through too many bots it hurts the experience of commenting. So a solution should be proposed and voted on, as the developers take the happiness of all users seriously. If new users are not enjoying their experience they will leave, and without new users, the value of steem will not increase as the pool of great content will be limited. Everyone helping each other out here should be the norm and not a rarity. Reaching out to those frustrated by not having anyone see their content they spent time carefully crafting should be encouraged. It is really disheartening to see a meme make more money than a heartfelt post you spent a day on. Limiting the amount of posts to four with 100% author credit should reduce the number of throwaway content you see often on facebook and redditt. It has its place, but if anyone can make the content you make, it's probably not adding much value. So hopefully everyone can continue having conversations that debate pros and cons and help form a hypothesis that could be implemented in the next fork.

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Definitely. I'm not at all saying bots should be banned, and that's a debate that's worth having. I touched upon this issue here - https://steemit.com/steemit/@liberosist/steemservices-cleaning-up-steemit-in-a-big-way

But these upvoting bots are random posting bots are just malicious and dangerous and must be stopped. I have tried starting a discussion a couple of times now, but of course it has to be a more influential steemer for the matter to be taken seriously.

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True, and I'm sure there are many people posting about this even if you are not receiving a large audience. The more people that talk about it, the more likely influential people are to see it and bring it to attention. Doesn't matter if it is a minnow or a whale who makes a great suggestion to help lots of people. I would like the bots that do not add any value or proof they have even read the article or added a thoughtful comment to be removed. And their voting power must be limited to almost next to nothing with all the upvoting done quickly. It's a shame that they want to add spam, when a well thought out comment could make them 100's or even 1000's of dollars. Reputation is everything and if you are annoying people notice and may make sure your content receives almost no reward

why this bots ruine my posts?
Yes, my post gets penalty thus, but don't you still have possibility to read it and upvote?

I've also noticed that the majority of new submissions are immediately spammed by 6 or 7 posting bots filling up the comment section. @wang has a estimated wallet value over $1.2 million yet his account has no content other then it's posting of the same comment in ever new submission. I guess I should congratulate him on his ingenuity because he's made a lot of bank.

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We have known about the posting bots for a while now. We even have bots that counter those. @steemservices is doing just that - I wrote a post about that here - https://steemit.com/steemit/@liberosist/steemservices-cleaning-up-steemit-in-a-big-way .

But these upvote bots are new for me.

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Thanks for the link. Posts like this about progress on improving steemit should be more prominent. Once posts leave the hot/trending/active lists, they enter the void.

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Yeah, sadly, this post is destined for the void too. But I do hope a more influential steemer, perhaps a dolphin picks up this debate.

What does a bot upvote attack implied? It does not affect you no? (Not that I want them to upvote, but I wonder)

Nice job looking into this. I also wrote a related post today: https://steemit.com/steemit/@jonblack/the-steemit-curation-nightmare-plagarism-spam-bots-ghost-profiles-and-cross-posting.

@chhayll mentioned in a comment that fast upvoting actually has a negative effect, which I hope is true.

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It definitely does - you can see the 2% marker, I believe that implies a 98% penalty. The penalty hits 0% at 30 seconds. Will check out your post.

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I was trying to figure what that meant.

I got 38 upvote same as you i sucpecting this people are bot . pretty upset with this kind of thing :( . hopeless

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It's the same 30-40 bots, I bet. It's upsetting indeed, because this just devalues our posts into the void. :(

Yikes! I'm under bot upvote attack yet again. Sigh.

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Sounds like a positive, in a way :)

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It does sound sound positive, but it's a curse.

I don't have any evidence, but it does feel like there's some algorithm at play which devalues posts with an attack of upvotes within 1 minute! I have seen a couple of great posts get lost in the void because of this effect too.

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You're right. There're actually certain algorithms at play which devaluate any up-votes within 20 MINUTES, believe it or not.

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I have noticed that too. It seems tied to the 30 minute penalty for curation rewards.

maybe they don't understand curation rewards or they are trying to increase your influence for some reason.( I can see why someone would want to auto upvote their own post)

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They obviously don't understand curation rewards. I don't know what their intention is. Maybe it's pure malice?

For a completely different perspective on bots checkout this...
https://steemit.com/introduceyourself/@williambanks/announce-steembots-com-your-source-for-everything-bot-related-now-hiring

One thing is for certain we need a botowner code of conduct and to have the bots have leashes like a pet. Don't think we'll ever be rid of them though, but perhaps we can make them into something more useful by incentivizing the good bots and drawing away the mindshare away from grief bots into something useful.
I would love to have you stop by and give me

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I saw your post, it's really good! Bots certainly have their utility and are part of Steemit. But here we are talking about bots which are just causing disorder.

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Oh you missed the point I meant by solution...
Just start adding #STEEMBOTSTAY to the body of your posts. As we get the botbuilders united around this concept of leashing, the bots will stay out of where they aren't wanted. STEEMBOTS is providing a better financial incentive to builders that want to play along so you can expect this problem to resolve itself soonish.. Just add the tag and it will start clearing up.

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Thanks, I'll definitely add that tag from the next post. :

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I also received 1 minute more than 40 empty upvote.

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Mind sending them over to some of my posts?

I think we really need to have a proper conversation about bots and whether they are actually what's best for Steemit in the long run. If we want this to be a legitimate social and intellectual network where posts are read and valued by other human beings according to their merits, bots are just going to end up making it more difficult to tell which posts are actually good and which are just being uprooted arbitrarily. Bots are also just 'rewarding' their creators for being good at coding, not for actually interacting with or adding value to Steemit, which is not the point.

Personally I think Steemit should look into restricting or even banning bots (apart from the ones like @cheetah that are actually good for the network) before it all gets out of hand.

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We certainly do need to have a debate about this. I hope there's more discussion and posts on this matter. Especially from more influential steemers.

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I have to disagree with the cheetah bot. Ultimately what's going to wind up happening is bots like cheetah will discourage legit posts from happening if a mob mentality forms based on misunderstanding. The bot is pretty harmless right now but as it grows in it's "power" more & more people will just look at it without actually reading into what it does and simply assume anytime they see it they're supposed to flag that post. Don't believe me, that's totally cool... but literally every single other social platform has already proven this to be the case. I 'm not saying cheetah isn't a good idea but I am saying it has potential to drive a huge fork in the community at some point in the near future.

Even I am getting them and I am only an otter.
These guys definitely are NOT out to make money
https://steemit.com/steemit/@dennygalindo/whales-dolphins-and-sea-ottets

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This is pretty sad, they are just sabotaging our posts. Please make a post about the bot problem.

Thank you so much for making this post and bringing something this crazy and important to light. It makes a lot of sense now... what few things I've been noticing myself with my own posts and those of others.