Regarding blogspam

In the recent months, we’ve been getting more blogspam accounts, and the administrators have been discussing behind the scenes on how to deal with it. Blogspam is against the rules of this Lemmy instance and is treated the same as any other spam. That is, offending posts will be removed and blogspammer banned. I thought I’d share my thought process of moderating stuff like this.

Blogspam is kind of a controversial topic and has a lot of grey areas. It basically involves accounts seemingly made specifically to post links to a specific website, usually with the intent of generating ad revenue. Herein lies the grey area, because simply posting links to your own website or a website you like isn’t spam, nor is it against the rules to post websites that have ads, nor is it against the rules for an organization to have an official account on Lemmy, so it becomes a problem of where to draw the line. You can also run into problems where it’s hard to tell if someone is intentionally spamming or if they’re just enthusiastic about the content of a site.

That said, here are my general criteria on what is considered blogspam, with some wiggle room on a case by case basis:

  • Does the user only post links to one or a few sites? Do they have any other activity, such as commenting or moderating communities?

  • How often does the user post? For example, it might not be reasonable to consider an account to be blogspamming if they only post a few articles a month, even if they only post one site.

  • Does the user post the same link repeatedly? Do they post to communities where it would be off topic? Do they post the same link multiple times to a single community?

  • Is the user trying to manipulate the search feature in Lemmy? For example, by including a large number of keywords in their title or post body?

  • Is the site content “clickbait” or otherwise designed to mislead the reader?

  • Is the site trying to extract data or payment from readers? Examples include invasive tracking, or forcing users to sign up or pay for a membership before letting them read the article.

  • Is the site itself well-known and reputable or obscure and suspicious?

  • Does the site have an “inordinate” number of ads? Are the ads intrusive? (Autoplaying video ads versus simple sponsor mentions for example)

  • Is there evidence that the user is somehow affiliated with the site? Examples include sponsored links or having the username be the same as the site name.

  • Is there evidence that the user is a bot?

Not all of these have to be satisfied for it to be blogspam, and it’s usually up to the administrators to make a rational decision on whether to intervene.

Note that these criteria apply to sites that are generally benign, but is being posted in a way that might count as spam. If the site contains malware, engages in phishing, is blatantly “fake news”, is a scam, is generally malicious, etc, those alone are reason enough for it to be removed and the poster potentially banned, and would constitute as a much more serious violation of our rules.

I’m open to feedback on this, feel free to discuss in the comments!

@AgreeableLandscape
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creator
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11
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2Y

I got some concerns with the “fake news” part of this post. Let me just clarify what I meant by “blatantly fake news”. Personally, I’ll only remove things that are without a doubt false, and maliciously so, things like “Trump won the 2020 election”, “Climate change isn’t real” or “Vaccines cause autism”. Or, from “news” sites that have been proven to be puppets of organizations like the CIA. Stuff that “might be wrong” is generally left to up/down votes.

Though keep in mind that I’m talking about removing things at the site level with this, moderators of individual communities are generally free to remove stuff the admins don’t have a problem with at their own discretion.

@ufrafecy@lemmy.ml, @keo@lemmy.ml

Replacing “blatantly fake news” to “without a doubt false” doesn’t solve the problem at all. It still relies on your view of things. Why you in particular should be the arbiter of Truth?

Even some of the topics you listed are worthy of discussion in my opinion and should not be outright banned by instance admins on such ambiguous terms that could be stretched to infinity. Most of them not even proven to be false but rather gathered large amount of evidence against them. Who’s to say that new evidence won’t change it tomorrow? Or that evidence we already have are not intentionally misleading to benefit someone? Or just statistical error?

Previously common knowledge was that homosexuals are pedophiles, there were actual scientific evidence supporting that. Imagine labeling any counterargument to that as “without a doubt false”?

I understand the desire to shield people from trolls and misinformation and I want that too, but ambiguous rules that rely on personal world view is a terrible way to go about it.

@Bloodaxe
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deleted by creator

@CutieCactus
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32Y

Exactly - this is the whole point of federation. If you have a problem with an instance, just create your own one.

@Anachron
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72Y

I just want to chime in and say thank you for handling this topic so well! This is exactly how it should be done in my opinion.

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