Exploitative Steem Reward Farming

in utopian-io •  25 days ago


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Exploitative Steem Reward Farming is the general term that is used to refer to several types of malicious and exploitative actions that harm the Steem ecosystem and diminish the services and resources available for honest Steemians.

There are three distinctive types of Steem farming:

  1. Faucet abuse
  2. Post farming
  3. Comment farming

We will explain these in this post one by one.


Faucet Abuse

The term "faucet" refers to the free accounts that Steemit Inc creates via it's flagship account @steem. These accounts are granted to new users free of charge.

When an exploiter makes hundreds of free @steem accounts, deliberately circumventing the controls that Steemit Inc put in place, they delay account creation for new users. But that's only part of the problem.

Scammers exploit these free accounts and create giant botnets out of them.

These botnets are then used to:

  • Post farm
  • Comment farm
  • Harass users
  • Abuse curation projects

To put it into perspective, a normal user typically has one to three accounts. Faucet abuse accounts are in the dozens at their lowest. Typical faucet abuse groups are in the hundreds. The largest is approximately 25,000.

When faucet abuse occurs, an innocent person suffers.

Post Farming

Post farming refers to the act of publishing a large amount of posts, usually automated or of minimal effort, in order to upvote with botnets, accounts or bidbots or to trawl for random or specific curation.

Signs of a post farm:

  • thematic, very low effort posts (ie. bot insertions from an image library)
  • dozens if not hundreds of posts a day
  • upvotes by similar accounts
  • transfers between multiple accounts to amalgamate the rewarded STEEM/SBD in one place
  • common use of nonsensical or unique tags
  • very little or no engagement with commenters or other users

Post farms may look like they're made of accounts belonging to individual users. Very often they will have a picture of a real individual or a name. These are typically stolen from online image searches are not an accurate representation of the owner.


This is an example of a post farm that uses the same tag, #liuyifei, on a portion of its posts.

Post farms cast a wide net and feed off random upvotes, like the example above. In the current age of curation-specific Dapps and projects, they also increasingly target and exploit them.

Dapp/project exploitation can look like:

  • using a free wordpress host to post via SteemPress
  • using share2steem and dlike to mass-post large arrays of random links
  • tagging mass-posts with curated tags like #wafrica
  • summoning bots that give minimal free upvotes

The purpose is to trick the automated and human curators that are part of these projects to vote on the post farm.

Smaller post farms are often composed of individuals who were mislead by scammers. There are videos in various languages that specifically instruct users to create a 100 accounts and farm with them. Usually, the source of the malicious information is a person who benefits from users falling for their scam. This is why @steemcleaners always aims to show users that posting original quality content is the best way towards success.

Other types of post farming include:

  • Faking development tests and publishing posts with "Test" and nothing more
  • Gibberish generated posts
  • "Upvote for share of reward" automated posts
  • Using large databases to populate posts with plagiarised or copy/pasted content

All of these are designed specifically to exploit the reward pool and generate undeserved rewards for the operators with no regard for normal, legitimate users.

Comment Farming

Comment farming is the act of posting a very large amount of identical, low effort or automated comments and then upvoting them. This is commonly done on older posts, where the abusers believe they have a lower chance of being noticed.

Reference: Please take the time to read our post titled The Art of Commenting.

The above is an example of what a typical comment farm would look like. The comments themselves serve zero purpose except for being upvoted.

While most will try and run a comment farm covertly, overt attempts have occurred in the past.

Note: Accounts that post large arrays of automated or copy-pasted comments without upvoting them in some way are usually but not always categorised as Spam, not comment farming. These are beyond the scope of this post.

If You Were Mislead into Farming

If you found yourself in a situation where you were mislead by a video that you've seen, a money trader that you met, or anyone else who erroneously or maliciously advised you to faucet/post/comment farm, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

We are here to help you and will do what we can to assist you in figuring out how to participate in the Steem ecosystem. We believe that everyone has something unique about them and something valuable to share. It's only a matter of sharing our knowledge.

If You Found a Farm

If you've discovered a faucet, post or comment farm during your travels around the Steem ecosystem, do not hesitate to let the @steemcleaners know. Please fill out our Reporting Form.

You don't need to report every single account individually if you discovered a large botnet but be as detailed as possible. You may also contact us on Discord at https://discord.gg/W2ykxCY.

Remember, now that you know what to look for in order to detect exploitative Steem reward farming, you can be part of the solution by simply filling out a form.


Do you have specific topics that you'd like @steemcleaners to address and clarify in our future posts? Let us know in the comments.

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Hi @SteemCleaners,
Circumventing Steem's reward system has been one of the most prominent "cash cow" for the abusers.

Interaction takes time, upvoting quality content takes time and monitoring your manna and RCs are too complicated for some. Bots are good in some way (automating repetitive tasks). But it becomes abusive when it crosses the shady side of mass profiteering at the expense of others.

Thanks for putting this contribution together. New and veteran Steemians should realize this type of abuse has domino effect we don't want to promote.

I hope everyone should take the time to report the farm network they run into.


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[utopian-moderator]

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Thank you for your review, @lovenfreedom! Keep up the good work!

Thanks for sharing this @steemcleaners.

My questions are:
What are your steps in dealing with this types of abuses?
Do you have already in your mind a certain program or software to battle these abuses?

I guess there are a lot more abuses aside from what you've mentioned.
And these abuses in my knowledge since I started have not been stopped.

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What are your steps in dealing with this types of abuses?

They get added to @mack-bot / @spaminator and get auto flagged, this stops majority of them spamming further. But some of these people are pretty determined and start up doing it else where, often with a new tactic, new accounts etc. Kinda a vicious circle.

Do you have already in your mind a certain program or software to battle these abuses?

We have a lot of experience in finding new ones, plus a lot are just reported to us by the community. There are a bunch of eyes and ears out there who want Steem to be a great and fairer place. 😊

I guess there are a lot more abuses ... since I started have not been stopped

They won't ever stop, the way Steem is setup is open, it's up to the community to help fight it with downvoting. Not much else can be done unless code changes to the blockchain are made.

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Thank you very much for the explanation @pjau.
I guess this post needs to be in the trending page to spread awareness to steem community.
Thus, maybe some ideas will be shared for the growth of steem blockchain in general.

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thats what they say but review accounts i posted on here briefly added to spaminator

https://steemit.com/steemitabuse/@isacoin/mega-comment-post-farm-10686-729-paid-out-237-pending

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Why are you linking me to a 15 month old post.

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showing falsehoods of what steemcleaners says

much like their change to their terms in 2017 excluding scams after high SP holding users where found to be conducting widespread promotion of proven ICO scams continuing after multiple attempts by community to stop
pump and dump groups

and the downfall of bitconnect as a scam was confirmed which was widely promoted by 2 high SP holding whales in particular and their lackeys

Terms 2017 : https://steemit.com/steemcleaners/@steemcleaners/abuse-guide-2017-update

original (claimed) term:
https://steemit.com/steemcleaners/@steemcleaners/announcing-steemcleaners-the-steemit-abuse-fighting-team

funny they never mention above the users in steemcleaners running copy paste/spinbots bots for years farming rewards

I appreciate the expanded scope of abuse that @steemcleaners helps to combat. It doesn't get said enough, thank you for all you do to make the platform a better place for everyone.

Really love this...

Resteemed this article. Thank you for supporting Steemit community.

Posted using Partiko iOS

We really do appreciate everything you do for our blockchain!

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its funny that @steemcleaners say this is an issue when ive reported multiple mega farms totaling tens of thousands of $dollars farming rewards monthly

https://steemit.com/steemitabuse/@isacoin/mega-comment-post-farm-10686-729-paid-out-237-pending

https://steemit.com/steemit/@isacoin/reward-pool-abuse-comment-vote-farming

not to mention one user who was running a paid upvote bot with 1.3 million steem power and running copypasting spin bots farming $

thousands

also the faucet abuse of 18kSP+ farming and scamming of users through false service by @shadowbot group

https://steemit.com/shadowbot/@isacoin/18k-sp-of-steem-s-free-account-delegation-being-used-to-farm-with-shadowbot

https://steemit.com/scam/@isacoin/anti-flag-repost-2-proof-of-shadowbot-scam-by-isacoin

but now reward farming is an issue after @steemcleaners and their friends have cleaned out the system