Replicants Walk Among Us: The Appallingly Lazy Tactics of Steemit Comment Spammers


I don’t have to tell you comment spammers are a problem, but nowhere have they ever been worse than on Steemit. The first month or so I was on Steemit, the only comments I received were from bots. But this article isn’t about bots. It’s about human beings who try to work out the least possible effort they can put into mass produced comments and still seem genuine.

I know they aren’t bots because they respond comprehensibly when confronted. It took me a while to compile these example screenshots because when called out, they typically delete their spam comments and vanish. I’ve divided them into categories below:

The first, and lowest effort, is the generic praise post. It contains nothing referring to the article and is as vague as possible so at least it won’t contain details which make it obvious he didn’t read it:

Notice he even upvoted my insulting image macro. That’s comedy, folks. The second lowest effort form of spam is the one which copies and pastes the title into it, so it seems to refer to what was written, but contains no reference to the actual content:

Another example of the Title Paste tactic:

The next lowest effort, one rung up from the Title Paste, is the Line Paste. It copies a single line from the story followed by generic praise:

This one I call the “Stuck With Me” tactic which is a variation on the Line Paste. It copies and pastes a random line from the article and claims it resonated with the commenter, but not why:

Next up in the ladder of sophistication, the “I will now read it” with a followup post claiming he’s done so:

Another example from a different chapter’s comment section:

Most heinous of all, sometimes they just flat out copy and paste somebody else’s comment but make small changes so Steemit’s plagiarism detection bots don’t catch it. To be clear the example below is not the copy, it’s a legitimate comment by my buddy @deadspace, the one after this is the copy (which the author has since deleted).

Here’s the slightly modified copy:

As you can see, there is no limit to how brazen they will be. Even some who I confronted that promised never to do it again, I later spotted pulling their usual tricks in the comments of other peoples’ posts. This convinces me I have been too lax with these people.

I don’t want to punish anybody. I am not the cops. I do not put myself in a seat of judgement over anyone and have flagged only sparingly so far. My reasoning was that the names of these accounts suggest most of them live in under developed countries.

They have a language barrier to overcome, and it makes sense they might think “I can just copy an English speaker’s post” to solve it. They are just looking to make some money to improve their lives, so how can somebody from a first world country interfere in good conscience?

But then I realized what a disservice I am doing to the other Steemians that these spammers also inflict their spam on. By not flagging them I send the message that spam will be tolerated, and I don’t currently do my part to weed them out of the Steemit ecosystem.

Consequently, I made a point to flag these types of posts. Not to worry, I always recognized my usual commenters but anybody else not wishing to be flagged wrongly should’ve posted more than a single sentence and include commentary on the details of the article which made it clear to me that theyread it and weren’t a bot.

BONUS CHALLENGE: See how many of the spam tactics mentioned above you can find in the comments on this very article! And remember: Don’t be a replicant. Be a replican.

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I post text here, often accompanied by images and sometimes video. People then clap or don't depending on whether they enjoy what I posted.

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