Flagging Spam Got Me Banned!

This topic is locked from further discussion.

#1 Edited by Randolph (10168 posts) -

I just got back from being "karma banned" for five days because your karma system, which was a bad idea from the word go, goofed up. I flagged a bunch of spam posts in Games Discussion, they were making up about half the front page that morning, and I went to work. When I got back home, action had been taken on all of them, but the karma from flagging them was still on me.

I was unable to do anything but send PM's for the last five days, and had to get any info at all on what was going on through a volunteer moderator because their was no thread on it here and admin don't read private messages. (apparently) You want to ban the people doing something wrong, not the people trying to alert your incredibly sparse and far too concentrated mod team to the wrong doing.

If I sound frustrated, it's because I am. This has been an abysmally bad customer experience, and I'd like a public apology for it.

Just give us a traditional straight forward way to quickly and simply send mod alerts from an individual post, please.

Thank you.

#2 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

so they banned you for alerting them of spam? interesting....

#3 Edited by RobotOpBuddy (64734 posts) -

It's a flaw in the automated karma system, it's supposed to reduce karma by 1 for the reporter whenever the report is actioned upon (that is, deleted/removed). For some reason, that hasn't happened here - further complications that I won't mention publicly and you should already be aware of to some extent from PMs from your point of contact has prevented manual correction - the CMs were informed and passed it on and as far I'm aware Lark should currently be looking into fixing the issue. Unfortunately I can't give you an ETA on when or any progress, and Lark tends to be too busy to look at/reply to PMs sent directly to him (you could try emailing him, but there's no guarantee of a timely response there either if he's not expecting it), ohaifrancy or one of the other CMs may be able to update you now and then if it's not resolved shortly though.

I doubt the karma system will be removed completely, as it's intended to prevent abuse of the flagging system and also limit the damage a mass spammer can cause (which is also limited by other things) until a moderator is able to act upon it. Hopefully though it will be modified to prevent the automated system from incorrectly banning users for extended time periods for legitimate reports at the very least - namely making sure karma actually gets reduced when the flagged post is removed, to start with.

I (and the rest of the mod team, for that matter) understand your frustration but we're unfortunately unable to correct it ourselves due to technical issues.
As a temporary measure I'd suggest that you PM any reports to a mod (or the entire team, if you prefer) as post/thread/user links (a direct link to a post is easily obtainable by copying the link address of the #1, #2, etc parts on a post, for example the 1st link in this part of your initial post in this thread: "#1 Posted by Randolph (8946 posts)") with an appropriate PM title if you wish to continue to do so until this matter is resolved as it will take a while for your karma to automatically correct itself. This isn't ideal but at least allows you to let us know rather than relying on one of us happening to notice it - if it's a single (or a couple) mass spammer(s) then just a username profile (or post history) link and indication of what/where (e.g. {user profile link} mass spammer at off-topic board) should be sufficient - so long as it's clear which posts are a problem.

We'll let you know once the issue is resolved, at which point you should be able to use the flagging system as intended without getting caught by this rather horrid bug again.

Everyone else should be able to safely flag posts as intended without running into such an issue to begin with - or at the very least if they do we should be able to manually correct it - PMs can be made while karma banned so there should be no need for pre-emptive measures. That said, as with any other odd bugs, as isolated as they may seem it's entirely possible that others may have been caught by them and we're just not aware of them yet.

Apologies for all the inconveniences, hopefully you're willing to bear with us and the GS staff to sort out this issue so that it doesn't occur to yourself or others in the future.

Edit: It would appear it's being played with a bit atm - so they're trying to do something about it at the least. Unfortunately, the modification of karma to 999 temporarily will likely prevent you from posting until they're done. That said, they may well be done before you next try to post anyway, which would be the ideal scenario.

Edit2: Your karma has been reset and the bug preventing correction dealt with, as well as a note added to your profile by edgework about being a victim of a system bug. Hopefully that will be the last of the issues with your account.

#4 Edited by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

I have heard of another user having their karma brought up by flagging. so it could be able to affect everyone.

#5 Edited by Smashbrossive50 (2829 posts) -

@leon2365: yes,that's right,I was supposed to be one of the pork chopper users,but the mech backfired,and it could cost me a week to remove what I shouldn't earn for doing the right thing.remember how the old site did it,the dropbox was very effective,and after the submission of the case,I don't receive anything but a message that action was taken.karma system doesn't exist there,so I came across the spam control. With the karma system,I used to think " Why would a flag protect the enemy...don't tell me it's the Confederate Flag" the flag should've been a Union Flag,which supports the good people.

#6 Posted by WhiteKnight77 (12014 posts) -

This appears to be a reason to not report spam if one is going to get banned for reporting it. Maybe the reporting system needs to be reworked and maybe go back to the system that was in place before where one could actually check the reason for reporting. Automatic bans could keep people from sticking around.

#7 Edited by Smashbrossive50 (2829 posts) -

@WhiteKnight77: this is what I thought,and the flag seems to be way too protective to something evil. That dropbox from the old site was the greatest way to eliminate the mess. The idea on banning the reporters were unacceptable. Here's the theory, one spambot was reported by an experienced user for spilling spam all over the place,but the consequence for doing the reporting will result a +1 karma to the one who reports it. That's not how justice served as I realised now. I should probably post less to eliminate what I shouldn't earn for doing the right thing. My guess will be "Right is wrong,wrong is right."(that's a portion from the song "All Hail Shadow")

#8 Edited by Randolph (10168 posts) -

My suggestion is as follows. Everyone has ten good karma from the start, and flagging posts takes away one karma for the flagger and the flagged. If it's a good flag, the flagged account loses the one karma, and the flagger gets the karma back… plus one. When an account reaches 0 karma they are karma banned. People who regularly send accurate flags that are acted upon then also gain a little more wiggle room and can, in cases of massive spam incidents like what got me banned, flag those posts without fear of getting themselves banned as well.

Just my two cents.

#9 Posted by Smashbrossive50 (2829 posts) -

@Randolph: I appreciate how this will work,those spambots don't know what's comin' for them,if the bot lose all of its karma,it should not just karma-banned,but perma-banned,I'll message you how it should go

#10 Edited by WhiteKnight77 (12014 posts) -

While I can appreciate wanting to help keep the forums clean of trolling type threads with the karma system, with the rules in place, at least for most of the forums, it just does not make sense. If people were reported for just egregious posts that would be one thing, but there are some who would take it to the next level and report for the hell of it, even if it means a temporary ban for themselves. People can make alts and get them banned without repercussions without getting their main account banned.

This is an example of new not really being an improvement over the old. The old saying "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" applies here honestly.

#11 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

but you cant just flag for the hell of it. if you do that, then you get banned for flagging posts that didn't deserve to be flagged. its in the system already, so its not that bad. granted that the karma points don't make much sense, but for the system that is in place, it is balanced out. now if only they could get it working. that's a whole different thing ATM.

#12 Posted by Smashbrossive50 (2829 posts) -

@leon2365: so how are we going to do with the massive spam clean up?the flag defected you for doing the right thing,if we don't do something with them,they just keep coming and doing the same shit all over again

#13 Posted by RobotOpBuddy (64734 posts) -

@Randolph said:

My suggestion is as follows. Everyone has ten good karma from the start, and flagging posts takes away one karma for the flagger and the flagged. If it's a good flag, the flagged account loses the one karma, and the flagger gets the karma back… plus one. When an account reaches 0 karma they are karma banned. People who regularly send accurate flags that are acted upon then also gain a little more wiggle room and can, in cases of massive spam incidents like what got me banned, flag those posts without fear of getting themselves banned as well.

Just my two cents.

Everyone's karma would have to be set to 10-{current karma} to keep everyone in the same state in that case as currently the default is 0, and +10 or higher is karma-banned...it seems to take negative values, but they're not used and unattainable without manual changes. Personally I consider it counter-intuitive atm due to positive karma actually being bad for you, so flipping that around would be nice (not needed, but it'd avoid having to fight against mental blocks that tell me that a lower karma number is worse)...setting a base of 10 isn't really necessary though. The same affect could be reached by a default of 0 like it is atm, and it dropping to -10 or lower for karma ban, with +1 per day automated (up to 0), -1 for each post reported related to your account (i.e. you reported or one of your posts reported), and then your idea of +2 for each flag acted on in favour of the reporter.

Of course, without flipping it around (i.e. leaving it counter-intuitive) the same affect could be achieved just by making it -2 rather than the currently intended (and sometimes failing to work, which obviously needs sorting out) -1 when a flag is acted on in favour of the reporter as well. Realistically, this is the closest to your solution we're likely to actually get.

It still has it's flaws though - namely that people could then flag lots of obvious spam posts to get high karma to give them temporary immunity to the karma system to abuse things themselves, but manual bans, karma resets, etc can easily be handed out in those cases where people attempt to abuse the system. Karma bans never really get rid of people in the long run anyway so we'd have to manually step in for users that would do such things regardless. As livefyre makes quite clear automated moderation systems have a bad habit of either catching lots of innocent people or letting a lot of unwanted people slip by unnoticed by the system - or in most cases, both. As such, I'm not really expecting much from the system, but minimising false positives and catching out obvious culprits would be nice, the mod team can do the rest so long as users flag problem posts that we may be unaware of.

#14 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

@leon2365: so how are we going to do with the massive spam clean up?the flag defected you for doing the right thing,if we don't do something with them,they just keep coming and doing the same shit all over again

we just wait until they fix it. meanwhile, send in those messages with links and such.

#15 Posted by WhiteKnight77 (12014 posts) -

@Randolph said:

My suggestion is as follows. Everyone has ten good karma from the start, and flagging posts takes away one karma for the flagger and the flagged. If it's a good flag, the flagged account loses the one karma, and the flagger gets the karma back… plus one. When an account reaches 0 karma they are karma banned. People who regularly send accurate flags that are acted upon then also gain a little more wiggle room and can, in cases of massive spam incidents like what got me banned, flag those posts without fear of getting themselves banned as well.

Just my two cents.

Everyone's karma would have to be set to 10-{current karma} to keep everyone in the same state in that case as currently the default is 0, and +10 or higher is karma-banned...it seems to take negative values, but they're not used and unattainable without manual changes. Personally I consider it counter-intuitive atm due to positive karma actually being bad for you, so flipping that around would be nice (not needed, but it'd avoid having to fight against mental blocks that tell me that a lower karma number is worse)...setting a base of 10 isn't really necessary though. The same affect could be reached by a default of 0 like it is atm, and it dropping to -10 or lower for karma ban, with +1 per day automated (up to 0), -1 for each post reported related to your account (i.e. you reported or one of your posts reported), and then your idea of +2 for each flag acted on in favour of the reporter.

Of course, without flipping it around (i.e. leaving it counter-intuitive) the same affect could be achieved just by making it -2 rather than the currently intended (and sometimes failing to work, which obviously needs sorting out) -1 when a flag is acted on in favour of the reporter as well. Realistically, this is the closest to your solution we're likely to actually get.

It still has it's flaws though - namely that people could then flag lots of obvious spam posts to get high karma to give them temporary immunity to the karma system to abuse things themselves, but manual bans, karma resets, etc can easily be handed out in those cases where people attempt to abuse the system. Karma bans never really get rid of people in the long run anyway so we'd have to manually step in for users that would do such things regardless. As livefyre makes quite clear automated moderation systems have a bad habit of either catching lots of innocent people or letting a lot of unwanted people slip by unnoticed by the system - or in most cases, both. As such, I'm not really expecting much from the system, but minimising false positives and catching out obvious culprits would be nice, the mod team can do the rest so long as users flag problem posts that we may be unaware of.

Maybe the thing to do is attach a way to tell the karma system that what is being reporting is spam and not just flagging a post due to it being hated by someone. That way, posts flagged for spam do not hurt a user or result in a temporary ban.

#16 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

but something like that would be better for the mods to do manually rather than letting users do it. otherwise people would abuse that as well.

#17 Edited by BranKetra (46555 posts) -

@robbristow said:

It's a flaw in the automated karma system, it's supposed to reduce karma by 1 for the reporter whenever the report is actioned upon (that is, deleted/removed). For some reason, that hasn't happened here - further complications that I won't mention publicly and you should already be aware of to some extent from PMs from your point of contact has prevented manual correction - the CMs were informed and passed it on and as far I'm aware Lark should currently be looking into fixing the issue. Unfortunately I can't give you an ETA on when or any progress, and Lark tends to be too busy to look at/reply to PMs sent directly to him (you could try emailing him, but there's no guarantee of a timely response there either if he's not expecting it), ohaifrancy or one of the other CMs may be able to update you now and then if it's not resolved shortly though.

I doubt the karma system will be removed completely, as it's intended to prevent abuse of the flagging system and also limit the damage a mass spammer can cause (which is also limited by other things) until a moderator is able to act upon it. Hopefully though it will be modified to prevent the automated system from incorrectly banning users for extended time periods for legitimate reports at the very least - namely making sure karma actually gets reduced when the flagged post is removed, to start with.

I (and the rest of the mod team, for that matter) understand your frustration but we're unfortunately unable to correct it ourselves due to technical issues.

As a temporary measure I'd suggest that you PM any reports to a mod (or the entire team, if you prefer) as post/thread/user links (a direct link to a post is easily obtainable by copying the link address of the #1, #2, etc parts on a post, for example the 1st link in this part of your initial post in this thread: "

#1

Posted by

Randolph

(8946 posts)") with an appropriate PM title if you wish to continue to do so until this matter is resolved as it will take a while for your karma to automatically correct itself. This isn't ideal but at least allows you to let us know rather than relying on one of us happening to notice it - if it's a single (or a couple) mass spammer(s) then just a username profile (or post history) link and indication of what/where (e.g. {user profile link} mass spammer at off-topic board) should be sufficient - so long as it's clear which posts are a problem.

We'll let you know once the issue is resolved, at which point you should be able to use the flagging system as intended without getting caught by this rather horrid bug again.

Everyone else should be able to safely flag posts as intended without running into such an issue to begin with - or at the very least if they do we should be able to manually correct it - PMs can be made while karma banned so there should be no need for pre-emptive measures. That said, as with any other odd bugs, as isolated as they may seem it's entirely possible that others may have been caught by them and we're just not aware of them yet.

Apologies for all the inconveniences, hopefully you're willing to bear with us and the GS staff to sort out this issue so that it doesn't occur to yourself or others in the future.

Edit: It would appear it's being played with a bit atm - so they're trying to do something about it at the least. Unfortunately, the modification of karma to 999 temporarily will likely prevent you from posting until they're done. That said, they may well be done before you next try to post anyway, which would be the ideal scenario.

Edit2: Your karma has been reset and the bug preventing correction dealt with, as well as a note added to your profile by edgework about being a victim of a system bug. Hopefully that will be the last of the issues with your account.

The fact that this is a hope and not an expectation sends a very clear message about GameSpot's current state.

That message is: the developers have much to prove about themselves not just for themselves, but also for the integrity and future of GameSpot. What happens if there are hundreds of spammers in one day as a cyberattack and everyone flags each one? It is a nightmare scenario waiting to occur.

#18 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

even then, I think that already happened.

#19 Posted by Ovirew (6126 posts) -

Well then, I'm not gonna bother flagging anything anymore. Let the heroes handle it.

#20 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

or just contact the mods about it.

#21 Posted by Master_Live (12353 posts) -

Man this is such a piece of junk. Just when you think it can't get any worse GS goes the extra mile to f-it up.

#22 Posted by Saketume (16 posts) -

How about you don't get any frikken minus karma for flagging until it's been checked if you were correct in flagging it or not.

The sane system would be: You flag - > it's just a regular post and the mod marks you with bad karma. If you get enough bad karma you get a warning or temp ban OR the post you flagged is indeed worthy of flagging and a mod deletes it and if you have bad karma you regain a point of good karma.

Why in the world would someone get minus karma before it's been determined if they did good or bad. Makes absolutely no sense.

#23 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

that's why its being worked on. for that exact reason.

#24 Edited by GeminiEntity (1148 posts) -

@Saketume said:

How about you don't get any frikken minus karma for flagging until it's been checked if you were correct in flagging it or not.

The sane system would be: You flag - > it's just a regular post and the mod marks you with bad karma. If you get enough bad karma you get a warning or temp ban OR the post you flagged is indeed worthy of flagging and a mod deletes it and if you have bad karma you regain a point of good karma.

Why in the world would someone get minus karma before it's been determined if they did good or bad. Makes absolutely no sense.

Agreed.

You lose karma for incorrect flags and you gain karma for correct flags. There should also be a karma limit like mentioned, just so no one can abuse the system.

#25 Edited by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

hopefully will be implemented soon.

#26 Posted by BranKetra (46555 posts) -

@leon2365 said:

even then, I think that already happened.

Are you saying Randolph was the victim?

#27 Posted by Smashbrossive50 (2829 posts) -

@BranKetra: nope,it happened to nearly all of us,I almost had it for the price of 5/10 karma.I'm sure this would require extremely lethal force to fight back. Just one question like " Who's side the flag is on anyway,the Union(loyal users) or the Confederate(spambots a.k.a jerkasses)?" should be enough to wake the exact purpose of the flag.

#28 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

at least it has a pinned post now.

#29 Posted by The_Last_Ride (65943 posts) -

@leon2365 said:

so they banned you for alerting them of spam? interesting....

i have been close to being banned aswell. this is stupid

#30 Posted by leon2365 (13038 posts) -

@leon2365 said:

so they banned you for alerting them of spam? interesting....

i have been close to being banned aswell. this is stupid

a very unfortunate bug indeed. hopefully it gets fixed soon.