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Help Shape Policy For Favorites Cheating

Journal Entry: Thu Sep 3, 2009, 12:36 PM

Favorites Cheating:
Help Shape Policy

It was quite a number of years ago that deviantART introduced :+fav: Favorites and then of course recently that was augmented with Collections.

Now as long as Favorites have been around there have been people trying to exploit them, cheat their way onto the Most Popular listing and make a quick grab at prestige and the easy road to collecting more of those pageviews so many of you treat as the most important reason for being here.

Favorites cheating isn't as common, or as easy, as it used to be.

In the old days "Popuarity" was simply a matter of counting how many Favorites a deviation had so it was a guarantee that if you pumped out a couple of hundred accounts you never intended on ever really using and used them to flood Favorites onto your own deviation you'd be assured a spot on the daily top listing.

Nowadays Most Popular isn't just as simple as counting :+fav: Favorites; it's a whole complex formula which weighs a bunch of different factors.

This formula is why the daily listings aren't constantly locked up by the same people over and over and it's why insanely popular things which people pour buckets of Favorites on automatically and without thought don't dominate any more.

So the old grind of logging in, browsing, Favoriting, logging out, ad nauseum to a hundred accounts in an attempt to crack the Most Popular list isn't a guaranteed shoe-in anymore but some people are still willing to give it a go and try.

Every three months or so we get a red flag that directs us to someone who wanted more attention or more prestige and who decided the best path was cheating.

The staff here have a large amount of experience investigating cases involving cheating and a good number of community minded individuals out there also notice when it's happening as well so nobody gets away with it for very long.

Ultimately the Favorites system is based upon an honor system which allows works to rise and fall in the rankings based on legitimately granted Favorites and when someone does get caught manipulating the system for personal attention and prestige not only are they cheating and violating our policies against exploiting the system but they are also violating the trust which we place in everyone that you will be a responsible member of the community.

When you demonstrate that you are not here to share in the creative spirit of the community but rather that you are here to seek attention and are willing to do whatever it takes to obtain that attention regardless of whether or not you need to cheat and exploit our systems to get it you can expect to get yourself banned.

So getting yourself banned for some period of time is pretty standard, but what we'd like is some community input on what to do with the deviations and/or entire gallery of the person who just got banned for manipulating the system.

We think that community input is important because ultimately people cheating in this way are betraying the community and I want to give everyone a chance to voice what should be done with the works involved.

I have a Poll here… which will be up until 18 September 2009

Vote, give input, pass it around to your friends and give us a sampling of what your opinion is on how we should handle the rare occasion of a deviation cheating it's way into the most popular list.

  • Mood: Content

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PowFlip Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2010
I don't really see why it should matter. But I didn't even know there was a "most popular" list...
SparkStudios Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2009  Student General Artist
A far worse problem is people adding excessive numbers of people to their watch list to inflate page views when they have no intention of taking an interest in the people they watch at all. It's insulting to the artist being "watched". At least the people who fav grind for pageviews are "contributing" something to the artists they are getting pageviews from.
jaime9526 Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I wacth thousands of people. and I go through every few days and chew through all the deviations, and will probably never get through them all.

SO appearances can be deceiving, somepeople (like me) are just pack rats.
disscordia Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
I have been concerned about this sort of unfair play in the past. I am glad to see some of the steps DA has taken for countering it.
Darth-Frank Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2009   Digital Artist
You know, this wouldn't be a problem if dA didn't support popularity at all. Being noticed is all good and dandy, but anyone wanting any credible art attention isn't going to get it through dA. You aren't going to be hired because you were the most popular deviant for a time (unless you have some 1337 skillz, but if you do, then you don't need dA to prove it). I don't want you to think I don't respect dA, but its hard to sit back and see people asking how to stop fav cheating when all you have to do is take the fav function away. It's pointless.
Kumiko-Art Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
As :iconmayoofka: commented, we found the deviant who created lots of fake accounts to vote for herself to win the contest.
Here is how we found her cheating...
I have seen few of her fake accounts in my "Visitors lists" on my front page. She visited me from one of her fake accounts. When I visited the deviant pages in my visitors list, I found that the deviant just joined today and the page is empty except for the faves that are only her deviations. 
So, I sent the links to mayoofka and she investigated her and she found more of her fake accounts that faving only her own deviations and voted for herself. Very sad!!! We reported it to the Help desk and all her fake accounts were banned next day.

I couldn't believe that until seeing a deviant who is actually doing that kind of thing, which is pointless. This is very disappointing...

Thank you for all your hard work on DA and helping us.
We really appreciate your assistance. :aww:
Chrisordie Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I blame MySpace.

Though is seriousness I am surprised people take the 'Most Popular' thing seriously, I mean sure it feels good on your ego but what else is it good for?

Sure If you're selling prints it can help boost your sales, but if the image was worth the effort then it wouldn't need such jiggery-pokery.
mayoofka Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2009
I'd like present another issue about cheating favorites...
I had tough problem with kind a ''favorites cheating'' :(

Let me explain: Right away I'm running ''beloved animal contest'' [link] One of contest's part is a poll started on Sat 10th (2009.10.10.) [link] for the best entry that will be closed this Sat 17th (2009.10.17). With friend's help :iconkumiko-art: I have discovered one of the deviants whose entry is in the poll :iconmkxkawaiix3: has created lots of fake accounts to vote itself:

All accounts were created on 10th or after this date and that might be a proof it's for win and stay with the prize illegally :(
Kumiko-Art reported immediately the cheater to :icony2jenn: and today she has banned all fake accounts... thank you so much :clap:
CarrotStalker Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
How about those people who've added their own stuff to their own favourites (on the same account)? I didn't think that was possible but I've seen cases like that (not sure if the fav would actually show up in the deviation or if it's just like having a collection with your own work in you favs though).
StarbucksDream Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2009
It is based on how many friends one has within dA's inner circle.*
StarbucksDream Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2009
You're correct in saying popularity on dA is no longer based on how many favorites one has in their gallery. It is now based on how many one has friends within dA's inner circle. There's nothing wrong with that, but let's call a spade a spade. Hiding behind new "procedures" in order to stop unfairness is admirable; however insulting to the intelligence of your members.
crumblecoochiie Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2009  Professional Artist
I personally think that the punishment should be a permament ban, including the dead accounts.
I say once a cheater, always a cheater. No one's gonna wake up and say "Wow, I got banned. Now I understand the error of my ways.." No. People know when they're doing any wrong. They've just decided to do so to fulfill their desires of getting noticed. However, I do get the feeling.
How many have I seen poor quality work being faved over and over, just becouse of you got a swarn of watchers.

Off the wall, I think there should be a posibility of deleting your account.
GreenSprite Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2009
I think you should ban all works of the offender to make it on the front page, even by legit means, for a period of time (longer than the ban). Dunno if it's technically possible, but I think it's a fair punishment.
Mars-The-Horse Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2009
It can be very difficult to find something here. Those individuals who don't contribute artistically often contribute by acting as librarians. (Go to ABC's favorites and find every picture of a tiger wearing a hat posted on DA.)

Monitoring IP addresses is no good because many households have multiple family members using DA.

I started by being very picky about what I faved and who I watched. Now, if I like it I fav it and I'm watching a LOT of artists. It gives me inspiration.
Lightning-Powered Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009  Professional General Artist
Attention whores galore. :no:
BrunetteMenolly Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009
I agree with what someone else said, that this problem doesn't seem as much trouble as the ability to "Friend" or "Watch" people but "unwatch" all their deviations, journals, etc.
LostKitten Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009  Hobbyist
Since I've come over here in the aftermath so to speak, I'll share my "Written Suggestion" with you. I'd mentioned writing an essay on your poll and promptly after did so, here it is: [link]

It's 513 words, so it shouldn't take too terribly long to read. :D
MediaSurgeZA Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009  Hobbyist Interface Designer
I personally believe that people will always try to look for the loop holes in the system just look at the millions casino's loose because of loop holes in credit systems etc. If people dont attempt to break the system, and make a plan, how does the development and Quality teams know about it.

Curbing cheating is very difficult, because the willingness of humans to succeed at doing something whether by the book or not is un believably strong, and i dont think we will ever find a sure fire instant fix way to sort that kind of wilingnes out... unless of course we ogment DA into the mind of the user. then thats a whole new ball game... Hello the future.... :)
indie-isnt-indie Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
i think that you should just change it so that people who unfairly and illegitimately exploit the system can not have deviations ranked in most popular.

Serves them right for breaking the trust we all have in each other.
BattleForHerSoul Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009
I kind of irritates me, personally. I mean, yeah, no matter how modest you are, you like attention, but I only have a single account. I mean, I'm no Picasso, as anyone can see, but I would never manipulate a system for personal glory and fame. I don't know how I could sleep at night with that. It's just... wrong.
calleena Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It is a difficult case. Many internet deliverers use a system where a new IP is assigned to you each time you connect with the enet. That makes it hard to see how many accounts were made from the same IP. And it makes it impossible to put an IP ban.

Which is why the only sollution anyway is to ban fake accounts, delete the art and hope the person is too lazy to do it all over again.
Cinsev Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
i read this and was amazed some people would go to such lengths. :S amazing really. i dont have the time to invest in fav'ing my own work for hours on end.

some people have way too much time on their hands.
jaime9526 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
make favs from subscribers only count?

(not best idea, but can guarantee only the stupdly rich will wase money doing the multi account fav parade)

on a note related to accounts that exist only to fav...some of the 'art appreciators' hanging around to compliment every naked girl, particularly the very young ones, is just creepy.

I know we need space for 'art appreciators' but perhaps a 'no devs, no right to fav or comment' system?

(saying that i flagged a creepy on up to someone, and they prompty filled their galery with shots of a school playground...ick factor nine.)
neurotype Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Seems ridiculous.... Maybe the associated deviations should have their stats removed entirely (all favorites, comments, views deleted). Also, is there some way to log favorites from one IP address?
Elorine Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2009  Hobbyist
Each household only has 1 IP address, though. What if several people from the same family have accounts on dA? My husband and I both have one, for example, and I'm sure there are others (brothers and sisters, parents and kids, etc...)
neurotype Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Too true. I mean, if a lot of favorites come from the same IP address, then there's something up. (A lot being at least, say, 5 or 10? I don't know how much these people inflate by.)
Elorine Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2009  Hobbyist
I don't know, but on a good day, I can fave a score or two of deviations at least, lol. I tend to fave on sight, if something strikes as lovely and I'm afraid I find lovely things everywhere... I'm not sure what could amount to enough faves to flag a cheat.

Or do you mean an unusual amount of faves on 1 same deviation from the same IP? It could work that way I suppose, yeah.
thundercake Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I have difficulty understanding why anyone would go to such such a ridiculous amount of trouble to achieve something so utterly fleeting and pointless.

But punishing the work in question isn't going to work...the obvious next step for these weirdos would be to fav-bomb another person's work, possibly as an act of revenge or trolling.
realitysquared Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
We typically ban the person caught cheating in this fashion; what we're seeking advice about is what the appropriate level of action is for the deviations which may be left behind during the ban.
thundercake Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
What I meant to say is that if the standard MO is to purge the favorites from the deviation in question, people might try to fav-bomb someone else's work (possibly even a popular work) as an act of trolling. So by purging all the favs from the fav-bombed work (after banning the perp) you could be inadvertently punishing the victim. It's just a hypothetical scenario, I don't know if this has ever happened or would happen.
BetaTestedRobot Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I still think we need something done about it.

Cause right now in the 8hr section we got images that are 15 and 10 hours since uploaded and it really doesn't help " switch things in and out. " ^^;
GFXNode Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009
by giving new accounts requirements which must be met before their :+fav: is taken into consideration, for example a new account must (for example):

- log in 3 times within the first week of registration
- visit a range of different deviants and deviations
- contribute to their page, or community by posting some information (a comment or fill in their profile etc)
- fully activate and confirm their email address

after this time, the pieces which were collected during the probation period add onto the deviation's reputation. similarly, if any account:

- constantly faves work by a single artist
- puts very little into the community (no uploads, no details, no comments)

then it should be flagged for human moderation.

anything else (such as delecting the origional deviation or clearing it's fave history) would be harming to the genuine community members who liked the piece.

TieraMarille Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2009
I very much agree with your ideas, however, I'm not much of an artist myself and purely dabble occasionally. I came to DA to enjoy the visual art of others and to share with others, even if only vocally, our shared like of any particular thing. Some pictures have woken up my writing muse, even if it was just because the way a flower was drawn.
I do have a few pictures up, two in particular which I made to have a real visual for four of the characters in my book, but I don't comment on work belonging to others all the time, nor do I take an active part in most other things.
As long as there is no large(ish) minimum amount of own work (of say 10) that has to be displayed, and it takes into account those that are not so free with their confidence or words, then I think your ideas will work very well.
GFXNode Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2009
oh i agree fully with you when it comes to having diverse requirements. i, myself, tend not to upload much - people who are appreciators would fall under the catagory of visiting other people's profiles etc and just filling out their details as not to make uploading mandatory.

thanks for the feedback :)
mighty5cent Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Brilliant! I think tracking down and killing the empty side accounts people have would be far better than hurting the original deviation. Accounts with no profiles, no deviations, no comments, and only favs should be examined.
GFXNode Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2009
Thanks for the positive reply. I do agree, a lot of communities take similar precautions. It's not abnormal or a bad thing to have a probational period for new users. I'm sure any true art appreciator would accept these small terms so that their work too is treated fairly.

no spell check on this computer, oh no!
EquidnaRojo Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
deleting the deviation seems harsh, and if it's really not that bad, taking it away from the community does take away some little experience someone might miss...

Though a second chance deal might be the way to go... if they do it twice, permanent ban. sometimes people are dense enough not to know that's against the rules, but the majority does, and a warning sometimes is enough to get them whipped into shape, because I'm sure most of them think they'll never get caught...

Although, do you have a system set up where a person who has multiple accounts linked to one adress, that their vote only counts once? if not, this would be a good idea to try... counting favorites off of e-mail acounts might be an effective solution... at least to a small amount of problems... and it would make such that much harder to relize, but make it more fair ^^ even if 3 different people were to use the same e-mail G.G

all in all, I never cheat myself to get such such honoraries, because it's just an empty win if I do... although, I have made a favorite before from one of my side accounts, never in an attempt to gain recognition...
skater-noxie Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009
getting rid of the favs on the cheated piece is a good deterrent. but like someone else said, what if someone *a notably innocent person* actually wants to +fav it, they can't... which is unfair. as is taking the art down comepletely.

then how about this...

If someone is caught cheating by manipulating the system, you DO NOT give them notification of any favs or comments, haha that way the artist thinks that no one has visited or +faved their piece eventually realising they aren't getting the popularity they desire so badly.

problem solved, they are then not receiving any gratification they so desire without punishing anyone who wants to fav it...

I think we should take away the gratification to stop them doing this... afterall it's the attention they're after anyway, so lets not give them it.

it's just like a child who throws a wobbler in a supermarket, if you feed their need for attention, they'll just keep doing it. ignoring them is the best way.
stellanigra Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Bah, i didn't know thjis kind of cheat... and I don't mind.
These peolpe has gone out of mind by making a such business for... nothing.
I see tons of people with some boring and full-of-holiday's-pics gallery with tousandss of favs: do they have many friendsor relatives on Da?
Good for them.
Xerces Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
also, you have a lovely favourites section!
Xerces Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
i think it's great that you're cracking down on this kind of thing. in all honesty, i've not seen this happen myself, or rather if i have, i've not noticed that lots of faves have been the same person faving with different accounts. i find it sad that people have the nerve to do this.
One thing that i see a lot is people that submit their stuff to club accounts 5 minutes after they've submitted it to their own gallery- so they have their own and then a few hours later, it's submitted again with a link getting them more faves in the same day to shoot up the ranks too- i guess then there is more chance of someone seeing your work if there are two versions of it. of course, these are legit faves (at least i hope so!). At least with the new club system, there will only be one image to be in the ranks which should make it a bit fairer :-)
But it's good to see something will be done about it. I can't say i ever imagined doing something like that. You're just cheating yourself :-(
Synthetamine Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Very cool, although a mob tactic might backfire on the CR crew
sd-stock Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
I honestly never thought about "cheating" in this way; it seems like far too much work.

However, I have to disagree with you statement that the same people don't fill the Popular page. Because from what I've seen, they do. It seems that the Popular page is always the same handful of people and a a couple other artists. :| But hey, you get a lot of watchers who fav everything you do and I guess that's what happens.
pittstop Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009
I can't believe anyone is that sad? I like to see my true fav count, I'd never dream of using a second or multiple accounts to make myself look more popular.

That really is pathetic.

I'll be sure to vote in the poll.
Vulcie Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009
this is so low :no: delete all of the favs on the dev, but leave the pic - if it's good folks willfind it one way or another ;)

what about ppl who add pics to their favs, i mean thousands of favs only to gain popularity? recently i've found a person who has almost 200,000 :+fav:s and is on the site for a year :bucktooth:

i mean, ppl have too much free time on their hands, they could give it to me, i'd use it for something much better than "fighting" for popularity :lol:
Lawenta Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't exactly understand those people...

Anyway. It was said countless times that it's impossible to ban an IP address because a whole country can have one, but what about limiting the number of new accounts per day from one IP address? It would take a whole lot more time to build the cheating base and thus work as prevention. I hope :)

As for the punishment... I don't care that much to be honest. Almost feels as if the pathetic life of these people was punishment enough :) But only almost :P

Ah... Have you ever had a case of all this cheating done for someone else? Some people can be quite fanatic in their support of their friends/favourite artists, so I would be careful to not punish the fav receiving artist automatically.
PirateNilly Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
I don't even see why people can be so petty as to cheat in faves. I don't have a lot of faves; most of what I have are either random people or a couple of watchers who don't comment. :\ You wouldn't see me coming up with millions (exaggeration FTW!) of accounts; because I don't have the time or patience to do so.

That and I'm not an idiot. One day I might make something that's going to totally blow minds, but not right now.
turbolover175 Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2009  Hobbyist Artist
Are the number of faves the sole factor for a pictures spot on the most popular? Someone asked me why some of my pics aren't higher up, when one of them has over 5,000 views and over 1,000 downloads, while many higher-placed pics place much higher. I'm not complaining, mind you, just wondering.
Dreamer-Of-Fate Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
They said no above
turbolover175 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2009  Hobbyist Artist
Oh, totally missed that. Still, he's maddeningly vague on the actual procedure. For good reason, I suppose.
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