Stopping contest cheaters
I was casting my votes for projects in the Chirstmas Decorations Contest and noticed something strange. The project with the highest votes had a bunch of very brief and highly complimentary comments made by people with the generic avatar.
It just looked funny to me. The author wasn't replying to any of the comments. Look at your instructables and i bet there is a sprinkling of generic avatars and also some actual conversations between you and your commenters.
So i probed. And i noticed that a bunch of these seemingly generic profiles had been created just prior to the close of another contest. And guess what? They comment on (and i'm willing to bet - vote for) only the instructables of a single user. What are the chances?
So i sent an email to TPTB and when the contest results were announced i felt better knowing that they hadn't gamed the system.
So i was perusing the entries of the Craftsman contest to start casting votes and started with those with the most votes.
And i found another project that had a bunch of generic avatars commenting - and on one case they messed up and replied to one of their fake compliments with a thank you but they used a profile that they complimented the project on instead of the profile that they submitted the project with.
What is frustrating is that some of these projects are quite good and should stand on their own merit. The authors just ruin it by artificially creating conversation, inflating the registered user count, and seeming desperate.
To prevent from seeming biased or hoping to have my project rank higher i have asked to have my project removed from the contest. (i have no expectation of even an honorable mention my project is so pale in comparison to the many great ones - the project i really wanted to do was impossible because of my Alaskan winter weather)
I have a few suggestions...
Perhaps a rule in the contest prohibiting the creation of multiple profiles for the purpose of voting for or increasing the comments (do they pop to the front page when recently commented on?) or hit count of their project. If you really have multiple personalities then this rule would not apply. (grin) Or maybe a "report this user" feature which browsers could use. Report as: possible duplicate, offensive, violating something or other...
Perhaps the masses have a better chance of catching things like this. I don't think this problem will go away unless it is clear that it won't be tolerated. (Or am i just getting too grumpy and it should be tolerated?) We can post suspicious users or projects with comments that appear hokey.
I guess the best question to ask right now is should this be dealt with quietly (the staff will ignore votes from the same IP address or use other non-public methods of dealing with it). Or should there be a public flogging?
I'd hate to see a really great project with an honorable user bumped out of a prize or even have a lower vote tally than a project that has merits but an author cheating the system to boost their score.