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Paid posters "Shills" and marketing.

bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,280Member Uncommon

Looking back on this past year on mmorpg.com, I can't help but think some of our former members (maybe current) were infact "shills". 

 

This is a quick google search on paid paid forum posters. They seem to be in high demand. 

 

The University of Chicago estimates 1/3 of reviews have some sort of financial incentive. 

 

Here is an actual add form a company looking for posters

We'd like posters who'll be able to make at least 20 posts a day; the more the better. 

Skills required: 
1. Have excellent written English skills and can interact with the users of the forum you are asked to post on. 
2. Have excellent research skills as you’ll have to research about a particular thread topic before you post a reply to it. 
3. Ability to read and understand something and write about it in their own words. 
Payment will be on Net-30 basis and we'll pay based on performance. 

 

My questions are do you think this is going on within our community? If so, how do we spot them?

What do we do when we spot them? 

Is it possible to prove that they are "shills"? 

Can our forum sites do anything about them?

 

Lastly, and most important, how has this affected the mmorpg industry?

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Comments

  • PsiKahnPsiKahn Woodside, NYPosts: 126Member
    I don't know if there's an effective way to stop this (certainly without ensnaring earnestly excited fans), but I wonder how harmful these posters are.  Most people on a forum like this are pretty knowledgeable about their subject matter.  Are they buying the company talking points hook, line, and sinker just because some no-name posts about it?  Spend enough time online and you get pretty saavy at reading through the bullshit and finding the angle, be it in a message board, blog or major news website.  It seems like these posters are more an annoyance than anything else, and hopefully the day will come where companies realize it's not only ineffective to have posters shilling for them, but potentially disastrous PR.
  • DashiDMVDashiDMV Not Saying, QCPosts: 362Member
    STAR WARS THE OLD REPUBLIC IS THE BEST GAME EVER AND HAS 0 PROBLEMS. EA IS A WONDERFUL COMPANY TO WORK FOR AND ADMIRE AND JEFF HICKMAN ALWAYS MAKES GOOD DECISIONS.
  • grimalgrimal Stamford, CTPosts: 2,873Member Uncommon

    OP - Weren't you on Funcom's payroll during TSW launch?

    I'm just kidding. 

    I've noticed some suspicious poster(s) this past year.  I don't think we can do anything about it.

  • NBlitzNBlitz ZwollePosts: 1,904Member

    Hu hu, a subject very dear to me ^^  I remember one but everybody was too busy circle jerking to notice.

     

    Originally posted by bcbully

    (...)

    My questions are do you think this is going on within our community?

    Without a doubt.

     

    If so, how do we spot them?

    To me, they post as if they had stocks with the company. Overly defensive and some almost to the point of aggressive. posting wayyy too much in a single day, almost exclusively in the subforum in question. Claiming they have several million hours clocked in the game but I could swear they live on the forums to even come close to the gametime they claim.

    Unless they're taken of and all they have to do is...nothing too important IRL.

     

    In between doing household chores (single) and whatever other crap IRL I have to do, I don't have as much time for gaming as I would like.

    So how do they do it? If they're not shills that is. My hats off to those folk.

     

    What do we do when we spot them? 

    What CAN be done? Nothing. They have all the time in the world (it's their job) to debate anything you may throw at them.

     

    Is it possible to prove that they are "shills"? 

    Maybe. Wasn't one exposed, from EA, back in the early SWTOR days post launch?

     

    Can our forum sites do anything about them?

    Not that I know of. As long as they abide to the RoC then there's nothing that can be done about them.

     

     Lastly, and most important, how has this affected the mmorpg industry?

    Negatively: I'd say some titles were painted in such a light that people have steered clear from them (for a while). Until they decide to man/woman up and try the game for themselves and not rely on hearsay.

    Positively: people who normally wouldn't have touched the game with a ten-foot pole, have been easily persuaded into buying/trying the game. Or to believe the game is doing better than it actually is.

  • TribeofOneTribeofOne Wellford, SCPosts: 1,006Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by grimal

    OP - Weren't you on Funcom's payroll during TSW launch?   I remeber that too..

    I'm just kidding.  teehee

    I've noticed some suspicious poster(s) this past year.  I don't think we can do anything about it.

     but seriously, an opinion is an opinion, wether its paid for or freely given. Its up to each of us to take what we hear or read with that proverbial "grain of salt" and ultimately make our own descion/opinions.

     

    "I am disillusioned enough to know that no man's opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he's talking about."
    H. P. Lovecraft

  • apocolusterapocoluster newport news, VAPosts: 1,321Member Uncommon
      Well all I can say is..if these companies are hiring..where do I go.  Job is a job yall.  I mean, I am employed but I also have 8 hours of time to fill..might as well get paid twice during a 8 hour work day :)

    No matter how cynical you become, its never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

  • NBlitzNBlitz ZwollePosts: 1,904Member
    Originally posted by apocoluster
    (...) Job is a job yall.  (...)

    Hear, hear.

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,280Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by TribeofOne
    Originally posted by grimal

    OP - Weren't you on Funcom's payroll during TSW launch?   I remeber that too..

    I'm just kidding.  teehee

    I've noticed some suspicious poster(s) this past year.  I don't think we can do anything about it.

     but seriously, an opinion is an opinion, wether its paid for or freely given. Its up to each of us to take what we hear or read with that proverbial "grain of salt" and ultimately make our own descion/opinions.

    <span bqquotelink"="">"I am disillusioned enough to know that no man's opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he's talking about."
    H. P. Lovecraft

    Yeah, so I was a little hyped... I'll own it image 500+ skills to choose from. That touched me in a speacial place.

  • grimalgrimal Stamford, CTPosts: 2,873Member Uncommon

    The site could alter the TOS to not allow viral marketers to post.

    I do recall one very very obvious one during GW2 prelaunch.

  • vgamervgamer Texas, IAPosts: 195Member

    Let me put it this way.

     

    Why pay for things when there are enough fanbois/trolls to defend you? Sure, an occasional shill might be there but you will never be able to distinct them from genuines...

    This makes it so a forum can not possibly do something about it (unless the shill is extremely stupid and blatantly admits it). A better question is how reliable these reviews of videogame sites are. I barely see games that are rated 7 or lower. That is really suspicious to say the least.

     

    How it affects the industry? Not at all. I think for every critical consumer out there, there are 10 that are willingly to give them their money without any thinking. It explains why series like fifa and cod do so well every year despite barely any changes between the editions.

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,616Member Uncommon

    There's nothing new about this and goes way beyond just forum discussions. If you want an entertaining read about it just pick-up William Gibson's (he of Neuromance and "cyberpunk" fame) "Pattern Recognition" and "Spook Country."

    And FYI... the obvious ones you think you can easily spot are the unpaid amateurs. The pros have more skill at influencing opinions stealthily.

  • apocolusterapocoluster newport news, VAPosts: 1,321Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Iselin

    There's nothing new about this and goes way beyond just forum discussions. If you want an entertaining read about it just pick-up William Gibson's (he of Neuromance and "cyberpunk" fame) "Pattern Recognition" and "Spook Country."

    And FYI... the obvious ones you think you can easily spot are the unpaid amateurs. The pros have more skill at influencing opinions stealthily.

    Great books...little upset with Zero History though...didnt seem like much of a "ending".  Maybe not a trilogy..that would be awesome. 

    I try not to think that there might be someone like Hubertus Bigend and Blue Ant out there manipulating me hell my entire country on to what I think is cool and what I should buy....

    Dammit Iselin..now Im gonnna need a tinfoil hat :(

     

    No matter how cynical you become, its never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,616Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by apocoluster
    Originally posted by Iselin

    There's nothing new about this and goes way beyond just forum discussions. If you want an entertaining read about it just pick-up William Gibson's (he of Neuromance and "cyberpunk" fame) "Pattern Recognition" and "Spook Country."

    And FYI... the obvious ones you think you can easily spot are the unpaid amateurs. The pros have more skill at influencing opinions stealthily.

    Great books...little upset with Zero History though...didnt seem like much of a "ending".  Maybe not a trilogy..that would be awesome. 

    I try not to think that there might be someone like Hubertus Bigend and Blue Ant out there manipulating me hell my entire country on to what I think is cool and what I should buy....

    Dammit Iselin..now Im gonnna need a tinfoil hat :(

     

     Hehe. Yeah Gibson is a bastard when it comes to making us feel uneasy :)

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    Is there a sign up form?

    I'll say whatever the gaming companies want for some extra $.

    I spend enough time here every week...

     

  • madazzmadazz A town, ONPosts: 1,564Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    Is there a sign up form?

    I'll say whatever the gaming companies want for some extra $.

    I spend enough time here every week...

     

    LOL. Let me know how the pay structure works ;)

  • jtcgsjtcgs New Port Richey, ILPosts: 1,777Member
    Does it happen? Sure. But not as often as you think. The amount of people that blindly defends a thing is rather high. You can see it everywhere, from someone defending a style of clothing to automobiles to politics.

    “I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  • TheScavengerTheScavenger Matrix, NYPosts: 911Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    Is there a sign up form?

    I'll say whatever the gaming companies want for some extra $.

    I spend enough time here every week...

     

    you actually get paid under the table, no contract and don't go emailing them because they'll say no. Or in some cases, get really angry. 

     

    Get paid quite a bit though. A lot more than minimum wage in the US, which is funny. But it probably varies.  Even more if you make a thread and it does really well. The pay goes by how active the thread is, and how many pages it has gotten to in x amount of time. Don't get much just by making replies. 

     

    It is a team effort though. Generally the company or person hires an x amount of people, and one or two people (or up to 5, depending how big the game/company is) are negative and "non-believers" so to speak, and the rest post good reviews or posts or whatever. Then the team leader is generally the one that is more skilled at creating topics and being much more subtle about it. But not everyone will be posting in the same thread, because that is rather suspicious.

     

     

    image
  • AmanaAmana New York, NYPosts: 2,552Moderator Uncommon
    We do have a rule against advertising on these forums and we find and ban shills frequently. If you guys want to continue this discussion, please do not discuss current or past posters on this site. And definitely not by name. Thanks.

    To give feedback on moderation, contact community@mmorpg.com

  • KothosesKothoses GalwayPosts: 760Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by bcbully

    Looking back on this past year on mmorpg.com, I can't help but think some of our former members (maybe current) were infact "shills". 

     

    This is a quick google search on paid paid forum posters. They seem to be in high demand. 

     

    The University of Chicago estimates 1/3 of reviews have some sort of financial incentive. 

     

    Here is an actual add form a company looking for posters

    We'd like posters who'll be able to make at least 20 posts a day; the more the better. 

    Skills required: 
    1. Have excellent written English skills and can interact with the users of the forum you are asked to post on. 
    2. Have excellent research skills as you’ll have to research about a particular thread topic before you post a reply to it. 
    3. Ability to read and understand something and write about it in their own words. 
    Payment will be on Net-30 basis and we'll pay based on performance. 

     

    My questions are do you think this is going on within our community? If so, how do we spot them?

    What do we do when we spot them? 

    Is it possible to prove that they are "shills"? 

    Can our forum sites do anything about them?

     

    Lastly, and most important, how has this affected the mmorpg industry?

    Do what the majority of internet posters do, if some one likes something that you did not, instantly resort to accusing them of being one of these people.

     

    PS where did you see this advert, in what context and for which company because I know a lot of media outlets use people like this to direct discussion towards topics that are being discussed on their site/in their publication.

    Promoting thought a new Gaming video blog http://www.youtube.com/user/quinnthalas discussing games, gamers and the internet with gameplay footage as background.

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,280Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Amana
    We do have a rule against advertising on these forums and we find and ban shills frequently. If you guys want to continue this discussion, please do not discuss current or past posters on this site. And definitely not by name. Thanks.

    nice

  • ghstwolfghstwolf hampstead, NHPosts: 386Member
    Originally posted by bcbully

    My questions are do you think this is going on within our community? If so, how do we spot them?

    What do we do when we spot them? 

    Is it possible to prove that they are "shills"? 

    Can our forum sites do anything about them?

     

    Lastly, and most important, how has this affected the mmorpg industry?

    It probably does happen, and it is virtually impossible to spot the good ones.  There is a potential tell, a new member that is well written and focused on a single or narrow set of games.  Then again, someone cleaver (and give credit for getting paid to do what so many of us do for nothing) could cover their tracks on that as well (and a smart company will target established members of a forum).

    Nothing, the better ones know how to work a mild positive bias without resorting to "fanboyism". If anything their goal is to start and sustain a conversation that will highlight positives, that doesn't mean being the biggest fan in the room.  If anything "trolling" a game can serve the purpose every bit as well, maybe better as a new poster.  Going negative will almost always draw out a game's fans (many voices of support > 1 person's) and ideally get a few "undecideds" engaged in support.  A savvy company could allow playing that angle.  Remember, bigger game companies are using this to target people not swayed by their traditional marketing efforts.

    As a shill, your job is to manipulate a positive result in a public way and do so without revealing a connection.  Unless they suck at what they are doing (and even then), proving anything would be too expensive and ultimately ineffective.  It is the same situation as trying to stop gold farmers, albeit with even less data to mine.

    What to do about them, nothing.  Their performance is heavily based on starting and adding to the discussion, that is good for everyone.  It's good for the sponsor, good for the site (active sites usually make more) and that same activity is good for us as well.  Fanboys don't succeed, they are easily written off and foster negativity.

    As for what it has done to the industry, I tend to agree with NBlitz.  Let's be honest, it's just a new twist on an old marketting tactic.  It's not even all that effective in most settings, really it requires a physical crowd to work well.  If the "bandwagon" approach really was strong in an individual setting McD wouldn't have gone away from it (XXX Billion served is a pretty strong play to this method).

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,280Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Kothoses

    Do what the majority of internet posters do, if some one likes something that you did not, instantly resort to accusing them of being one of these people.

     

    PS where did you see this advert, in what context and for which company because I know a lot of media outlets use people like this to direct discussion towards topics that are being discussed on their site/in their publication.

    I found it under one of my searches. The context was "we are hiring." It even be in one of those links in the first search in the OP.

  • GdemamiGdemami Beau VallonPosts: 7,865Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by bcbully

    Skills required: 1. Have excellent written English skills and can interact with the users of the forum you are asked to post on.2. Have excellent research skills as you’ll have to research about a particular thread topic before you post a reply to it.3. Ability to read and understand something and write about it in their own words. Payment will be on Net-30 basis and we'll pay based on performance. 

    I will take such shill over trolls/haters/bashers I see on these boards any day. So for me, more power to them!

    If one disagree with you, it must be paid poster...old story, no news there.

  • DrakynnDrakynn The Pas, MBPosts: 2,030Member
    Originally posted by bcbully

    Looking back on this past year on mmorpg.com, I can't help but think some of our former members (maybe current) were infact "shills". 

     

    This is a quick google search on paid paid forum posters. They seem to be in high demand. 

     

    The University of Chicago estimates 1/3 of reviews have some sort of financial incentive. 

     

    Here is an actual add form a company looking for posters

    We'd like posters who'll be able to make at least 20 posts a day; the more the better. 

    Skills required: 
    1. Have excellent written English skills and can interact with the users of the forum you are asked to post on. 
    2. Have excellent research skills as you’ll have to research about a particular thread topic before you post a reply to it. 
    3. Ability to read and understand something and write about it in their own words. 
    Payment will be on Net-30 basis and we'll pay based on performance. 

     

    My questions are do you think this is going on within our community? If so, how do we spot them?

    What do we do when we spot them? 

    Is it possible to prove that they are "shills"? 

    Can our forum sites do anything about them?

     

    Lastly, and most important, how has this affected the mmorpg industry?

    In my experience most of the people who would be accused of being shills here do not meet any of the skills required hehe.

  • iamrtaiamrta centreville, VAPosts: 164Member Common
    Originally posted by DashiDMV
    STAR WARS THE OLD REPUBLIC IS THE BEST GAME EVER AND HAS 0 PROBLEMS. EA IS A WONDERFUL COMPANY TO WORK FOR AND ADMIRE AND JEFF HICKMAN ALWAYS MAKES GOOD DECISIONS.

    I LOL'd lots

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This discussion has been closed.