Author Topic: The Forum's "Paid Troll" Problem and What To Do About It  (Read 453 times)

Prancer

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The Forum's "Paid Troll" Problem and What To Do About It
« on: February 09, 2018, 01:15:47 AM »
Warning: the following post involves nuance and (justifiable) anger. If you don't like thinking, nuance, or are easily offended, then stop reading now.


The concept of online paid trolls and misinformation spreaders seems to be relatively new to a lot of folks here at POIScenter, which is quite an unpleasant surprise both to me and to a lot of other people reading, both within the forum and outside of it.

I can assure you, though, that this concept is not new to the fantastic and knowledgeable people who work in counterintelligence, or even to many other people within law enforcement.

What I'm about to post is not about "spam bots", which are much easier to detect. This is about actual human beings, human trolls. Importantly, this is also not about "normal" members who just happen to post something a little insane, or link to a commercial site, on a rarer basis. This is about a problem way more sinister and much more criminal in nature.

First, and importantly, let's be clear, intentional trolls/misinformers are NOT, I repeat, NOT regular run-of-the-mill, normal forum members that everyone is so familiar with and used to. Quite the opposite, these are people with one goal in mind: to cause harm. They infect forums and other online venues looking to spread their spam content in the hope of making money or misinforming people (which is done for a variety of reasons, none of them good). They pretend to be "just another person", and they attempt their deception, which can be in the form of spam links, deliberate misinformation (done on purpose, not accidentally). Again, this isn't something that I'm simply surmising, guessing at or speculating at. This is absolute reality, and it's a huge problem.

The fact that some people of the forum think that these people (actual human trolls) deserve any form of respect whatsoever is, frankly, beyond disgusting, and it truly shows their naivety, ignorance or simply an "I don't care" attitude, which is far, far worse in my opinion.

To those who consistently insist on being "nice" to these criminals, there are only two possibilities:

1) Either you don't understand the problem (most likely), which in and of itself is a very awful thing. You likely see it as a person just "being mean" to an innocent member or to another innocent human being. This possibility is more forgiving, though, since not everyone can recognize a paid troll when they see one. In fact, it is the goal of the troll to try to avoid detection by all means possible. They often fail at this, though, and there are several red flags that are easily picked up.

2) OR, you do in fact understand, and you choose to do nothing about it. Nothing. This is far, far darker and more disturbing. It means you don't give a damn about people being scammed, deceived and defrauded. It means YOU are the actual one being "mean", very, very mean in fact. It means you have no backbone, aren't willing to stand up for others and are likely incredibly deluded. At worst, it means you're involved.

A bona fide, legitimate user who happens to say something or post something that may or may not be spam is of course not to be yelled at or put down, regardless of what they post. This I can agree with wholeheartedly. However, a paid troll is not a legitimate member (they may not even suffer from POIS); it is a criminal. Think of them as a form of telemarketers on steroids. Criminal telemarketers that deceive, lie, and try to steal from you. And that don't go away as easily.

Red Flags (Some Signs of A Paid Troll/Misinformer)

*A brand new member whose first few posts contain a link or reference to a spam site or a spam product.
*Someone who consistently, intentionally spreads misinformation (homeopathy is not a valid topic on a science forum, violates the laws of physics and is harmful to society). Also, search engines will demote sites that spread this type of trash (as they should).
*A member who posts spam links should be looked at very carefully. A member who does it frequently may be a troll. Beware.

Why This is Extremely Harmful to Society, the Internet and the Forum

1) It degrades trust. Few will take us seriously. We already have a hard enough time with people taking us seriously as it is.
2) It lowers the search ranking. Modern search algorithms know about this problem, and they will eventually greatly lower the ranking of sites with low quality content, especially spam troll content. Sometimes they outright remove them (as they should).
3) It's illegal. Deliberately being a paid troll/misinformer is illegal because it's a form of fraud.
4) It harms the vulnerable, less informed members of the forum who aren't aware of paid trolls/misinformers.

What You Can Do About It

1) If you notice a new member who posts obvious links to a product or spam site, then there is a very reasonable chance he's a paid troll.
2) If he does it much more than once, he's likely a paid troll.
3) Maybe the moderators should, you know, moderate, and do the right thing by IMMEDIATELY removing the spam links instead of waiting 11 months.
4) Common sense/education go a long way to help with this problem. Use it.
5) Worst case, I am now considering launching a newer, more intelligent talkspace staffed by knowledgeable, smart people, who will focus on quality and who fully understand these major issues plaguing the internet. And take care of them properly.

It's absolutely not "inappropriate", at all, to notify people about an ongoing criminal troll issue, or to strongly stand up against deliberate paid trolls. The hypocrisy is also unbelievable. So, let me get this right, it's perfectly okay for a moderator to post, then delete, a cartoon of 2 people sucking each other off? In the public forum of all places (yes that actually happened!), won't name names. Rhymes with demo. During the height of the now-defunct research matter. But dare someone, DARE SOMEONE, share important knowledge or speak out firmly against international fraudsters, crime rings and online con artists, and oh no, that's all-of-a-sudden not okay. That's "being mean". What the flying fuck? You should be grateful for people who take their time to inform you and speak out! Quantum, quit posting shit about how much you hate MSG and start focusing on these more important issues. Remove the spam links fast Quantum. Don't just sit there. You obviously have more than enough time to spend on the forum, so do your job correctly.

At best, POIScenter will ultimately fail if this problem is left unchecked, and at worst, a criminal investigation will be launched, with the question of
"Why did the moderators do nothing when they were repeatedly informed about the spam rings?" "Why did they deliberately let them flourish?" "Who was directly involved in the fraud, and who merely sit back and did nothing?"

If I sound angry, it's because I am. Justifiably. Those who remain ignorant about the troll problem should either educate themselves about the problem, or be replaced. In the US and across the globe, similar crime rings, both online and offline, will be falling soon. Lot of people will be heading to prison. So, on a more micro level, forum security should be the absolute number one concern. Apparently, it's not. Apparently there are those who are just too naive or lackadaisical, or far more worried about treating these paid scumbags with some kind of respect. That naive, dumb thinking needs to change. And FAST.

These paid trolls are not, and should not, be considered "forum members". They're criminals. Quit enabling them.


https://www.nbcnews.com/news/all/russian-troll-describes-work-infamous-misinformation-factory-n821486

These are the kinds of wonderful people and forum "members" that certain people here want to everyone to "be kind" to. That's an unrelated, serious problem, true, yet it's the same exact situation with regard to paid trolls, which absolutely do affect both this forum and many, many other online venues in order to steal people's money, or flood with them intentionally misleading information. Solid evidence of it.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 05:33:54 AM by Prancer »
Symptoms (mostly cognitive): brain fog/difficulty thinking, lack of motivation, fatigue, trouble finding the right words, racing thoughts, possible OCD, anxiety, social withdrawal, extreme frustration and irritability, general discomfort.

Born in 1989, and symptoms since I was 14.

Observer

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Re: The Forum's "Paid Troll" Problem and What To Do About It
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 06:54:12 AM »
Warning: the following post involves nuance and (justifiable) anger. If you don't like thinking, nuance, or are easily offended, then stop reading now.


Hello Prancer, I find that these are interesting thoughts.

We already know how people like us, who are afflicted by a rare and "difficult-to-talk-about" disease are prone to fall for and try any treatment/method that might alleviate our symptoms. We need always to be aware of this fact.

However, I am afraid that you are missing the point here. We don't think that you are not entitled to share resources and evaluations like "fakespot", or that you cannot discuss why a certain treatment will be useless (according to other people's evaluations on the internet/research papers or even your own experience). You have the full right to do so and I think all members will agree with this idea.

On the other hand, I don't think that calling people names like "trolls" when they probably suffer from POIS (and we don't have other reason to believe that they are not until proven otherwise, however misguided their treatments might be) is a helpful decission. If you seriously consider that someone might be a scammer (well, I have some previous users in my mind - they act compulsively, offer risky medical treatments based in nothing and make grandilocuent claims like they have been got rid of POIS forever and ever) you should let us know before posting offensive remarks. We have to be very serious regarding this fact and not use the ban hammer indiscriminately because someone said something that we consider is unrealistic.

For example, the same user that you called "troll" has recommended olive oil and Omega 3 to relieve POIS symptoms in other messages. Well, unless he works in an olive grove plantation in Andalusia and is trying to sell more of this product, I don't think he is being a scammer.

If someone recommends homeophatic remedies, he should be educated before anything. If he insists again and again, then it will raise one or two eyebrows and it will be dealt with accordingly.

We are always walking a thin line here with all the treatments, hypothesis and methods and I think we are not infallible. For this reason, I would recommend that we exercise extra-caution in order to deal with all these problems.

Best Regards,
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 07:02:09 AM by Observer »

Prancer

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Re: The Forum's "Paid Troll" Problem and What To Do About It
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 04:28:33 PM »
For example, the same user that you called "troll" has recommended olive oil and Omega 3 to relieve POIS symptoms in other messages. Well, unless he works in an olive grove plantation in Andalusia and is trying to sell more of this product, I don't think he is being a scammer.

Little of what you wrote makes any logical sense. Though I immensely respect Observer since he's one of the few "clear-minded" people here.

Doesn't matter what he wrote in "other messages". Professional paid trolls also give valid information. You are the one missing the point here. The point is to remove their goddamn spam links and let them post anyway (without the spam).

Bottom line: 1) Normal, intelligent human beings do not "respect" criminals (which are not actual members). I'd like to see the look on a mod's face if he were suddenly robbed, would he then take his robber out to dinner and tickle him? Yeah. Don't think so. 2) People who work in counterintelligence are billions of times smarter than the moderators here. 3) Quit being so delicate and grow a spine.

The moderators here do not moderate the entire internet, so the solution is to eventually gather the time and resources to launch a brand new forum or talkspace. The new area will be staffed by incredibly informed, very smart, logical, clear-minded, no BS people, they will do their job and get rid of criminals. They will remove such misinformation and garbage as homeopathy (which is beyond childish to talk about on a science forum). They will focus on quality. They will understand current trends on the internet and social media. A few days ago Twitter, for example, notified about 1.5 million people that they were being misled by trolls on their platform. Why? Because the folks who work at Twitter are much smarter and more qualified than the ones here at POIScenter.

A final note to forum: when one of your leading moderators here posts a picture of a stick figure fellating (sucking off) another figure, speaking of inappropriate, in the public area of the forum, then it might be time to re-evaluate the qualifications of the people who work here, just saying. That event did happen, your eyes aren't tricking you.

If the servers here are eventually raided by federal law enforcement because the forum refused to do anything about the troll problem, despite being warned repeatedly, while letting innocent members be defrauded and scammed, that'll likely change their thinking. Just taking a guess.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 05:09:02 PM by Prancer »
Symptoms (mostly cognitive): brain fog/difficulty thinking, lack of motivation, fatigue, trouble finding the right words, racing thoughts, possible OCD, anxiety, social withdrawal, extreme frustration and irritability, general discomfort.

Born in 1989, and symptoms since I was 14.