questionshow to deal with posters that disregard the…

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I say kill them or chop off their hands, that will end it. Short of that, they will continue to find ways around the rules or just break the rules. Besides, they are doing it for the money and not the "love of the deal". They will make alternate ebay id's, user id's, fake stores, etc etc, there was a real problem with the cheap chinese knockoff sellers here for awhile, shill voters, and of course the "mystery bag" era.

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In addition to "the eBay spammer" mentioned, there are four sock puppets who post regularly for the Amazon merchant eTekCity, but except for not using a merchant ID they're pretty innocuous, and I personally ignore them. (They average perhaps 10 posts a week as a group, and the merchant is a good one.)

There are also perhaps half a dozen repeat-offenders whose posts are nearly always for new Amazon merchants.

The larger problem for me is that mod coverage is limited and seems to have become more so in the last few weeks. I don't really expect 24/7 coverage, but it's discouraging to drop by to check deals at 11am EDT and find posts still up that had been tattled 10-12 hours earlier.

The eBay spammer is unique, in that he knows exactly what he's doing and he's routinely abusive to @zippy the pinhead. I think I'm going to devote some time to finding him.

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Re: flagging repeat offenders through the use of their eBay IDs

There's currently only one egregious eBay spammer that I'm aware of, and pretty much as soon as his deals are tattled (and there's a mod available) his carp gets gone.

I don't understand how a flag could be set up using his eBay ID, since the link to his site doesn't contain any info about his ID.

Perhaps I've misunderstood you, though. Can you explain further what you mean?

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The obvious solutions (banning specific accounts, IP addresses or eBay accounts) seem to be beyond the capabilities of the Amazon/Woot staff, or they simply don't care. The steady loss of longtime users on DW should be a signal to them that there is something wrong, but nothing ever seems to change much. Personally I think that DW should become 'curated', meaning that deals need to be approved by a mod before the post goes live. Sure, it will slow things down a bit, but the spam should go away immediately. And users who disregard the posting rules will get deleted much faster.
(cont.)

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(cont.)
I see a parallel between DW and Craigslist, in that spammers seem to never go away. One of the most egregious spammers on CL is a HVAC co. that spams every CL board nationally. All CL needs to do is install a photo recognition module & flag all posts that match (the spam posts always have the same pic), but they would rather complain in a snarky attitude about how they are short staffed and shouldn't even be taking your phone call. If I ran my business the way CL and DW do, I would be out of business in no time.

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@magic cave: Banning eBay posts, or requiring them to be approved by a mod before the post goes live would greatly alleviate the problem.

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Limiting the number of posts by any individual user would help. Giving weight to verified users votes (users above a certain score level, like 80% or more) which would auto-delete posts if a certain number of 'high ranked' users tattle a post would help. Of course the mods would all have to be on the same page regarding the rules.

Sit all the mods down together for a couple hours & rewrite a comprehensive list that eliminates redundancy and clearly spells out what is and is not allowed, and under what circumstances. Submit this refined document to the users for feedback, then revise & publish. Then stick to it.

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Boycott the offending vendors and products.

Post their names regularly to an Ask the Community thread so all know who is on the list of shame.

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@zippy the pinhead: I think you're conflating problems. Spammers and loss of active site participants are discreet issues. I'm talking about spam.

Mods already ban "bad" accounts. That's why the eBay spammer has to keep changing his user ID so often. Apparently, banning an IP address is an entirely different matter and can't be done. Or won't be done.

Curating all posts isn't going to happen. Either there would have to be 24/7 mod coverage or there would be a huge bottleneck overnight followed by a major flood of posts early in the morning. Neither is likely to be acceptable to TPTB or to the site's users.

Banning all eBay posts is even less likely to happen, if only because the majority of eBay posts meet the guidelines and offer good deals.

Limiting the number of posts an individual can make will result in (1) an increase in the number of socks, and/or (2) the addition of sub-domains to merchants' addresses (eg., books.goodguys.com) so each is a "separate" entity.

[cont'd]

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[cont'd]

Come to think of it, by "Limiting the number of posts by any individual user..." do you mean genuine individual users, which is persons, or do you mean merchant account users?

It might be possible to devise a weighted system where some tattles count more than others, but I don't see any need for it all. All it should take is ONE tattle based on violating uniform standards to merit deletion of a post. Setting aside the issue of there being little consistency in mod judgment, which we all hope will be largely resolved by a mod meeting this week, nearly all the tattles I do are pretty cut and dried violations. I suspect yours are, as well.

I think you and I have a fundamental difference in perception of the problem: I just don't see it as a big problem at all. Aside from the eBay spammer guy and a couple of nimrods who keep advertising the same Amazon accounts that have insufficient feedback, there just doesn't seem to me to be all that much routine spam.

[cont'd]

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[cont'd]

So what do we usually have? A Canadian furniture store and a Canadian self-storage company, neither of whom post more than once every week or two. The afore-mentioned nimrods, a small bunch of Chinese sites trying to sell counterfeit stuff, a handful of Amazon merchants who aren't repeaters, an occasional Wooter who doesn't know the Amazon/eBay requirements, and that's about it.

Every now and then, usually prior to holidays, we get a mini-flood of drive-by spammers; they get tattled, they get deleted, and they virtually never show up again.

I really just don't see this site as having such a huge spam problem as to necessitate drastic measures. What I do see a major need for are (1) a broad, qualitative review of the posting guidelines that eliminates the cutesy and often conflicting language and relies instead on clear, unambiguous statements.

[cont'd]

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[cont'd]

Since TPTB control what gets posted on the Woot side, cutesy is fine, but over here we need sufficient clarity and specificity to enable well-intentioned posters, especially merchants, to get it right.

(2) thorough mod training stressing consistency in decision-making

(3) extended mod coverage so that the bulk of tattles get handled relatively quickly, thus limiting their exposure and discouraging their being repeated.

And a personal wish-list item: for the FAQ to ditch this language "See a question that has nothing to do with deals? Tattle, please. There are lots of places to shoot the BS with your online pals. We stay focused on deals here." It's hostile, insulting, anti-community, and just plain out of touch with reality.

Comments?

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@durkzilla: Tried posting a link to one of the newer spammer's deal; it was deleted in about 14 seconds [shrug]. Admittedly, I was just stirring the pot a bit since the spammer was arguing with me.

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Come on @magic cave, don't hold back, tell us what you really think.

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Maybe this is a case where the superpower needs to be given to a couple of regulars. They tag a deal and it disappears from the screen and a mod later on looks and either approves the deletion or reposted as a legit deal - they then can deal with the original poster as/if necessary.

That would allow immediate removal of the offending post and if it shouldn't have been removed it slides right back into the mix.

If those holding the superpower abuse it, it is simply taken away.

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@mtm2: A superpower? Hey, that's a great idea! I'll volunteer 'cause I already have a flying cape and a glittered eye mask.

Edit: Really, mtm2, this is not a bad idea.

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@mtm2: I think I mentioned something like that a couple of weeks ago. A lot of us are around at odd hours and could easily do a temporary block on the obviously problematical posts.

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@barnabee: : : : laughing : : : Fortunately, bandwidth is cheap these days.

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FWIW: Banning IP addresses is something we rarely do. Blocking an IP address can block entire corporations, colleges, apartment complexes, etc.

Also, you are correct that Deals is not staffed 24/7. You may have to wait for your tattles to be dealt with. It doesn't mean staff isn't working. It just means that they haven't gotten to them yet.

That's all the info I have on what you've discussed here. Since I moved to day-shift, I don't work on Deals as much except for Ask the Community because there is Deals staff working during the day.

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@thunderthighs: That leads to a question: when we get a customer-service post here that seems really to need an assist from a mod/staff, who should we now invoke? I don't want to send a notice inadvertently to someone who's no longer handling such matters.

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@magic cave:

If it has to do with Woot retail orders, you can flag @thunderthighs, @agingdraqueen, @rogetray, or @manhandsha. We also answer questions about the Ask the Community side of things.

Typically, ADQ and I are day, M-F. RR & MH are nights and weekends.

All that varies with vacation schedules, time off, etc.

I'll see if I can get someone from Deals to post who to page for them.

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@thunderthighs and @wootg8r: Many thanks to both of you. We don't seem to be getting as many of these posts as we did a few months ago (yay!), but I know none of us want to send unnecessary email to folks who are (another yay!) off at the time.