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The MOBAFire voting system is broken; A...

Creator: Vapora Dark August 27, 2017 3:42am
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Is the voting system broken?
Vapora Dark
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There's a massive issue with MOBAFire's policy on vote manipulation right now. Apparently asking for downvotes is obviously against the rules, but asking for upvotes is not. Why is this an issue, you might ask? Because that means that any Tom, **** and Harry can write their own guide and ask all of their friends to create an account for the sole purpose of upvoting their guide. This has been happening all month long with a certain streamer-become-author that's decided he wants to get into MOBAFire to increase his stream views through MOBAFire Prime.



This was a screenshot taken 1 week into his endeavors, where the "Trending" tab was completely flooded with his guides being upvote brigaded by his friends/people he'd asked to create accounts. Note: The two Akali guides are both his, one of them was archived very quickly after release since he "forgot" to set C2V and received downvotes; the next one had C2V set after its first 3 upvotes, which were instantly after the guide's release.

Currently we're not even a full month into his becoming a MOBAFire guide author, and 4 out of his 5 guides are all top rated for their champion, quickly and easily dethroning guides from longstanding authors Vicious Skittle and me.

How do me and Vicious Skittle combat this? After getting feedback from the admins, what this person is doing is completely fine, so the only way we can combat this is to do the same ourselves; ask people to upvote our guides, ask people to create accounts just to upvote if we have to.

Now here's just a little example of why this is so ridiculous: My own personal Discord server, which I link to in my guides and my stream, has over 1,000 members in it; last I checked it's bigger than the MOBAFire Discord itself. It currently has over 170 members online, but during the afternoon/evening it will have well over 200 people online. I can PM every single one of these people with copy pasted instructions on how to create a MOBAFire account and how to upvote X guides. If I want to, I can do this right now and within a day me and Skittle would have our top spots back; I could do this to get people to upvote a newly released guide and within a day, I would have probably the top rated guide on the site with only votes from brand new accounts. If even 20% of the people online at any point in time comply with my request I would have over 40 upvotes in one day.

I will personally have a swell time if this is really how the staff wants their system to work, but for obvious reasons I don't think this is intended, fair, or viable. If this is how the system actually works, then rather than guide quality, fanbase size is the most important factor in guide competition. Big streamers can write a guide for even more exposure and get their fans to mass upvote their guide and get the top spot within a day.

I hugely benefit if this is how the system will really work, but alas I actually care about MOBAFire and I don't want to see it abused like this. As word gets out of how much exposure can be obtained through guide writing and MOBAFire Prime (which took me from a 30 average viewer stream to averaging 1,400-2,200 viewers), more and more small streamers like the guy mentioned above will join the site for the purpose of growing their stream - which in of itself isn't an issue, and I've strongly encouraged some of my streamer friends to get in on the scene themselves - but the massive upvote brigading that will occur from people who have huge incentive to get their giude to the top, like the author mentioned above has, is a huge issue.

And while we're on the subject, there needs to be a better solution towards downvote brigading as well. Currently an author that's downvote brigading will only be punished if the accounts brigading are alt accounts. The author mentioned above has had some of the friends that upvoted all his guides also downvote some of his competition, which since I was paying such a close eye to the situation was brought to attention to the admins by me, and the brigaded downvotes removed from the affected guides, which IIRC included my Talon guide, Skittle's Kayn guide, most Talon guides, most Kayn guides, a few Akali guides and at least 1 Diana guide. This never would have been caught if I hadn't been paying such close attention to this author's actions and his competing guides, and after the first time the votes were removed there's been multiple more instances of the author's friends downvoting competing guides and their votes being removed and the accounts involved being banned.

The author himself isn't able to be punished because there's no actual proof he asked his friends to downvote his competition (which I sadly have to agree with, or someone like me could frame anyone for downvote brigading by getting my friends to downvote his competition), but the fact that the downvote sprees happened in 3-5 separate occasions and were only ever caught because of my watchful eye is an issue. Currently if I stop keeping an eye out (which I have since why bother since all his guides are going to end up being top rated at this rate anyway), if more vote manipulation occurs, no one will notice and nothing will be done about it. It should be a lot easier to detect by the mods/admins themselves, especially non-C2V vote brigading which is impossible for the common user to notice and report.

But even this issue isn't anywhere near as big as the fact that upvote brigading is currently not against the rules. In my opinion, it most definitely should be.

Thoughts?
LimitlessHavoc
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Awesome Sig by OwenTheAwesomer
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If you think this is a new issue then I'm not sure what to say. In the current system where no one gets more than a few votes for months if they don't do this, I'm 100% not surprised it's continued and even increased in frequency.

Also, people getting their friends to downvote other guides isn't something that's restricted to fringe members like this. That's been happening for ages too, but the burden of proof means that it's pretty hard to do anything about it. I've recently had this happen to me (not gonna go into detail, but it was super obvious), but, without actual proof, there's no point in reporting it or doing anything about it at all.
Vapora Dark
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Oh no, it's definitely not a new issue. Like I said to Skittle recently, "the system is easily abused, but rarely is". But a case like this was an eye opener to me as to how urgent it is to fix this, because this current case is absolutely ridiculous. Literally anyone can do what this guy has done, but even more easily since most people aren't as perceptive to vote manipulation as I am, so they mostly wouldn't have their friends' downvotes constantly removed like this guy has.

It's an issue and it needs fixed. Otherwise you can bet your *** I will abuse the system as best I can if it's what I have to do to stay competitive in this situation.

Also for the record, I didn't realize you're allowed to ask people to create accounts to upvote you. That's actually news to me, I always assumed that would be against the rules for the same reason you're not allowed to ask your friends to upvote your Reddit content. It's ridiculous to allow that on a site where the content is so sensitive to voting, it's not meant to be a competition of who has the most friends.
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I could also pretty easily abuse it if I cared. I see no point in compromising myself in that manner though, even if other people are willing to play dirty in order to get what they want. I'm extremely perceptive to vote manipulation myself, but I refuse to open that can of worms if I can't actually prove anything.

I'll be honest, I'm more worried about the fact that mobafire has declined to the point of this nearly being necessary for those of us less popular authors to get anywhere quickly rather than something people occasionally did as it was in the past.
Vapora Dark
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I'm extremely perceptive to vote manipulation myself, but I refuse to open that can of worms if I can't actually prove anything.

You should bring them up just in case. Some of my suggestions to Psiguard turned out to be wrong, but constant communication led to ~8 accounts having all their downvotes removed, and some/all of them being banned. It's hard to prove it yourself but if you bring it up to an admin they can look into it for you.
PsiGuard
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Hey Vapora & everyone else, just wanted to let you guys know that we've seen the thread and are going to be talking about this internally. I can't share anything concrete right now but we'll get back to you on this issue soon.

In the meantime, we'd be happy to hear any suggestions the community has for changes to the voting system that would help combat this issue.
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Vapora Dark
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I know Reddit has a way of combating this kind of thing. If you link a Reddit thread to someone and they try to vote on it, it turns into a "ghost vote": On the voter's end it looks like they voted on it and the thread's points go up by 1, but on the OP's and anyone else's end the points stay the same.

Something identical to that might not be optimal for MOBAFire, but it goes to show that there's probably a way to tell when someone is finding a guide naturally and creating an account to upvote, and when they're just being linked to the guide and probably being directed to upvote it. When someone upvotes a guide that they found by being linked to it, it could flag the vote for mods/admins to look into, remove, and warn the author against this kind of behavior. Even though repeat offenses wouldn't get them into trouble since there's no proof they're the one doing it, it would most likely scare them away from trying again, which would be pointless anyway since further upvotes obtained this way would continue to be removed.

Something like this sounds like one of the best solutions we're gonna get, if MOBAFire can indeed detect when a guide is being directly linked to. Not sure how difficult that is though.
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I just need to clear it up that it IS against the rules to ask people to create an account solely to upvote your guide. Here are the rules we currently have:

Quoted:

Each member is expected to vote in good faith and without bias casting a single vote on any active build on the site. Working around site fail safes, bribing, falsifying or otherwise "fixing" voting on any build, comment, or other content is strictly forbidden. You get 1 vote and 1 vote only, use it wisely.


It's fine to share your guide, of course we want you to share your guide! However, there is a difference between saying "upvote my guide and I'll love you forever" and "read my guide and I'll love you forever, and if you like it don't forget to vote!" We definitely don't want people sharing their guides with the implication that the reader should not actually read their guide and just blindly upvote, but sharing your guides and giving a friendly reminder to upvote AFTER reading the guide is A-OK.

That is how the rules currently are at the moment, just for clarification. Like Psi said we are discussing this issue and will get back you soon!
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PsiGuard
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We've talked about this issue some more and I can share the staff's stance on this.

The Rules

First of all, we realize how bad it feels to have your position usurped by a newer guide author (especially in a short amount of time). I'm a guide author as well, so I know it sucks to see your guide at #2 after another guide gets a surge of upvotes. Making our voting system as robust and accurate as it can be is important for us so that readers and authors alike get the best experience possible from guide ratings.

As stated in other comments above, it is not against the rules to share your guide with other people, including publicly (like on a stream or in a discord server). Not only would it to be impossible to police people's behavior off-site, but we don't want to discourage people from sharing their work with others. We also don't want to punish guide authors who receive a surge of upvotes unless those votes are breaking site rules on voting (the ones Mowen quoted above).

That said, we do discourage people from simply asking for votes. Again, this is difficult to police, but it's against the spirit of fair voting and isn't allowed. If you see this happen in a public setting please bring it to our attention.

Something that is not allowed is bribing users to vote, either with contests, giveaways, personal gifts, shoutouts or anything that could be considered trading something in exchange for votes. Again, if you see this happening please bring it to our attention.

Automated systems are useful for detecting some types of cheating, but in cases like this it's difficult to prove any rule-breaking went on. Manual audits can be a bit more effective, but can still be limited by a lack of evidence. If anyone is suspicious that vote cheating is going on (whether someone is creating multiple accounts or asking people to downvote competing guides), we're always happy to look into it.

So @ Vapora Dark, to answer your question about whether or not you can use your own fame to promote your guide, the answer is yes. You're welcome to share your guide with your followers and viewers as much as you'd like, though of course we ask that you stick to the rules outlined above (no bribes of any kind, and please stick to sharing rather than instructing people to upvote you).


Guest Voting

One way to mitigate the effect of this issue is to increase overall voting activity. Sharing your guide and receiving upvotes from a handful of people is huge when there aren't many votes being cast overall, but pretty minor if voting is more regular. We've been trying to improve the total number of votes on site for a while now (adding features like the bar that pops up after viewing a guide for a few minutes, prompting you to comment or vote), but we have a new one in mind.

Matt's been collecting data on guest voting and determined that 89% of all votes lost from guests would have been upvotes (as an interesting side-note, 79% of votes lost to C2V also would have been upvotes). Currently you have to login to vote, but we're considering allowing guests to vote as well. Guest votes and member votes would be tracked separately, though they'd likely be displayed together.

We're considering enabling guest voting to increase overall vote activity across the site. Our current idea is to track guest and member scores separately and only display the highest score on the guide. Comment-to-vote would function the same for members, but guests would always be able to vote instantly.

Clearly it's harder to track and identify cheaters if voters aren't logged-in, so we'd be building safeguards into guest voting to detect any kind of foul play. I can't go into detail on this but wanted to let you know that we'll be doing everything we can to deal with potential cheaters who use guest voting.

We'd love to hear the community's feedback on this idea.
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