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Public Service Announcement (Please Read, Esp. Mods!)

BOSW
The Shire

Apr 27, 2:25am

Post #1 of 11 (1211 views)
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Public Service Announcement (Please Read, Esp. Mods!) Can't Post

Hey there! I've been on these forums a long time though I rarely post. I wanted to give everyone here a heads up, especially the Mods, about something you should be aware of.

There's something called "black hat" marketing. It covers a wide range of legal and illegal digital marketing techniques. One of these techniques is "shilling". With the TV series coming, everyone should be aware of what shilling is and be prepared for it, in case Amazon targets this forum! (I don't know if Amazon does this, but Disney and CBS do.)

Shills are paid content writers who pose as fans and post on social media platforms, they also create accounts and pose as fans on whatever forums remain on the 'net. Shills are destructive, they leave online communities in ruins. Their job is to create excitement for franchises and give the appearance that fans love and accept a product, they are not fans, they are paid writers.

As the series approaches, shills will be dispersed across the internet to start ginning up excitement, spamming Twitter, Youtube, Facebook etc. Once entrenched, their job is to defend the product and silence any criticism of it. Shills will stop at nothing to get the job done. They will use any strategy to meet their goals. Getting longstanding, respected members of a community, the people who defend the integrity of a property, banned is their first tactic.

Don't take this lightly. These are trained professionals with a lot of experience. Once a community is infested with shills, they cannot be easily gotten rid of and they will drive real fans away.

How To Identify A Shill:

+ They pop out of nowhere with a screen name and avatar related to the upcoming project and are bursting with unusual enthusiasm for it.
+ Their knowledge is shallow, cherry picked from Wikipedia and Google searches.
+ They never bring anything to a discussion, because they're not fans, they can only follow discussions in a shallow way.
+ They have nothing of substance to say about the product, their criticisms are lightweight, the good always outweighs the bad, even if an element of the movie/series upsets most other fans.
+ The meme of Fry from Futurama holding up cash: "Shut up and take my money!" That one's a dead giveaway.
+ Posts like "I'm so pumped!" "I'm stoked!" etc. No one posts like that. Over and over again. They're "stoked" and "pumped" about everything, relentlessly.
+ Shills create tension by playing the victim: by evicting real fans they make space for their shilling.
+ Repeated posts of "If you were expecting word for word fidelity you were bound to be disappointed" etc.
+ They're never meaningfully active on any of the other forum pages, only on the page devoted to the product they're shilling for.
+ Shills talk to each other and rarely to others: this creates an echo chamber that looks like fans loving on the product to outsiders, like shareholders or market researchers (yes, these people do collect data from social media and forums).

You'll find yourself wondering how these strangers suddenly upended and took over a tight community. But by then it's too late. The forum no longer belongs to you, it belongs to the shills.

Please take this seriously. Think twice before warning or banning longstanding members for perceived infractions in favor of noobs. Shills create drama to get rid of critical fans. If the noob is causing problems (and these people are experts at appearing innocent) consider banning the person who has not been a part of this community, contributed nothing, and never adds anything worthwhile. They're probably a shill.

I repeat: this is a real marketing tactic used by entertainment companies. Keep an eye out if this forum gets flooded with new members out of nowhere, gushing all over the place about the series.

I hope this helps. I've seen several forums wrecked by shills.


(This post was edited by BOSW on Apr 27, 2:30am)


Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Apr 27, 5:42pm

Post #2 of 11 (1118 views)
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I'm really stoked about this post! ;-) [In reply to] Can't Post

Wink

Seriously, thanks for taking the time to alert us mods, and the TORn community, and to describe a shill's MO so thoroughly.

We do already have some defenses against shills, some of which I don't want to go into publicly for obvious reasons, but by far the strongest defense is our community members and our moderators. Many of the moderators here have been around as long as TORn has. We know the community, and would (and have) recognize 'shallow' posting, both positive and negative. As long as someone abides by the ToS, they're welcome to be as shallow or in-depth as they like. But, good luck to them if they actively try to get anyone banned.

To begin with, we have a 'three strikes' rule here, so everyone, newbies and oldbies alike, get two warnings. But, even before that, we usually communicate with the complainer and their object of concern multiple times before things even progress to a first warning. Other than spammers, I don't think we've banned anyone for several years. Of course, as the pace here speeds up again, that may well change.

Our members also have an uncanny ability to catch on to things like shills, and let us know if they have concerns.

I do appreciate that these are paid professionals, and thanks to your post we'll have a better feel for what to look out for, but my confidence is high that our defenses are as good as any forum's can be.


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"Life can't be all work and no TORn" -- jflower

"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase





(This post was edited by Altaira on Apr 27, 5:44pm)


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Apr 27, 6:12pm

Post #3 of 11 (1106 views)
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And shall, therefore, avoid becoming a Roman Forum. [In reply to] Can't Post

Or something. Crazy
Good to be on guard. I second everything you said.Smile



CuriousG
Half-elven


Apr 29, 12:00pm

Post #4 of 11 (1007 views)
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I'm pumped about our defenses [In reply to] Can't Post

 

In Reply To
We do already have some defenses against shills, some of which I don't want to go into publicly for obvious reasons,


The powers behind TORN are awesome and not to be meddled with. Beware the Modar lest they strike thee down! Wink

Though I'll add that a few years ago, I remember a relative stranger posting in Off Topic about how excited they were about a movie due out in a few weeks, just gushing over it without seeing it first, and then disappearing rather quickly, and I thought back then they were a paid poster. (Someone's going to ask me which movie, and I can't remember.)




NottaSackville
Tol Eressea


Apr 29, 12:37pm

Post #5 of 11 (1003 views)
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Please, let's not be too hasty to ban for shallow posts [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd hate to not be able to come 'round these parts anymore...

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


Starling
Half-elven


Apr 29, 6:23pm

Post #6 of 11 (972 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

If I couldn't do shallow my post count would have me never leave The Shire. Frown




Starling
Half-elven


Apr 29, 6:25pm

Post #7 of 11 (974 views)
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My mum [In reply to] Can't Post

would tell that young woman to put a singlet on. It is far too overcast for summer 'clothes'.




Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Apr 29, 9:24pm

Post #8 of 11 (972 views)
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Fear not.... [In reply to] Can't Post

The shallow end and the kiddie pool will remain open. It's usually not too hard to distinguish the real fans from the fakes and trolls if you're paying attention. Our oldtimers are safe...it'll just be the task of filtering the problematic elements out of the newbie wave we'll get when the hype gets going.

Silverlode

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.




Silverlode
Forum Admin / Moderator


Apr 29, 9:35pm

Post #9 of 11 (967 views)
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And a reminder to everyone.... [In reply to] Can't Post

If you think someone is a shill or otherwise not who they claim to be, please DO NOT make accusations or call them out publicly on the boards. All that will do is start an "Am not!" " Are too! " argument. Like trolls, shills get stronger the more people feed them. Just report your concerns to the Mods via PM or a post here and let us deal with them. They are attention seekers so your best weapon is to ignore them and not let them draw you into interacting on their terms.

Silverlode

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.




NottaSackville
Tol Eressea


Apr 30, 1:31pm

Post #10 of 11 (893 views)
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Whew! [In reply to] Can't Post

*Puts on arm floaties just in case*

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


BOSW
The Shire

Apr 30, 8:23pm

Post #11 of 11 (845 views)
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Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Looks like you all are armed & ready in case this invasive army of trolls assaults the dear old Forums! I shall rest easy now.

 
 

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