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:
- Faucet abuse
- Post farming
- Comment farming
We will explain these in this post one by one.
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 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 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
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.