The Twitter Firehose Gaming Index
The ratio of twitter items to items by others in a given user's personal firehose.
My submissions are buried almost immediately but a good 14% of them are published anyway, so I'm sure that the system is being gamed and the firehose supports this. My submissions get more than their fair share of attention from usual suspects. No experiment is complete without verification, so I have to admit I've done some of this myself but efforts were quickly overwhelmed by the pros who use botnets. Slashdot editors are in a better position to spot this kind of activity and should take action to protect the site.
So, what should normal firehose numbers look like? Slashdot runs about 25 stories a day. That stacks up to about 750 a month and 9,000 each year. For each story there are hundreds of submissions. I average about 10 front page stories per year, around 0.1% of Slashdot. My submissions make an even smaller proportion of the overall firehose because I'm nowhere near a hall of famer and of the constant bombardment by ACs and troll accounts. Different people have different interests, so I'd expect those who's interest match mine to represent me a little better but order of magnitude differences are suspicious. That sets a rather low barrier of 1%. While that's not hard to find in the small samples easily available, hit ratios of 2, 5 or 20% are obvious gaming.
Different people also have different ways of using the firehose. Some ignore it and their personal firehose contains nothing but their own comments. Others only have front page stories in their personal firehose. Because I was only interested in submission gaming, I ignored comment posts and concentrated on submissions, journals and mainpage stories.
Here's what I found:
- Keith Russell 84 checked 12/09/2008 to 12/2005, 36 his own posts (mostly sports), 40 others (mostly M$ stuff), 8 twitter 8/48= 17%
- JWilcox154 has 6 twitter and 125 others. in 2008, 8 and 192 total to 7/21/2007. almost all others nod/nixed are front page stories. 6/131 = 5%
- Macthrope has 2 of 48 back to 3/12/2007 almost all are his own comments. 2/50 = 4%
- Dedazo 134 total, almost all of his own stuff. 5 twitter and 19 others, 5/24 = 21%
- Renegadesx 49 total, 1 twitter, 19 others. 1/20=5%
The sum of these accounts is more damning than each individual because the statistics add up. It is good evidence of general gaming.
It is stunning that people doing this kind of thing would leave such obvious traces. They should know that Slashdot's editors could check for this kind of activity even if ordinary users could not and could have easily hidden the activity with their multiple accounts. For instance, a person with 100 accounts can separate the few accounts used to heckle from those used to bury. Bury activity can be partially disguised with rotations and time shifting. Other M$ promotion can be distributed through all of the accounts to statistically disguise specific activity like this. That kind of thoroughness must be too much work for the hacks sent to ruin Slashdot.
I see that three trolls have come to comment. I've exposed these people's behavior before, Keith Russel, Macthorpe and dedazo , [3, self exposure]. These three accounts are probably the work of a single person, they all have the same things to say in the same way and the same place.