Moderators and Influencers
In the course of our investigation into Astroturfing and Spam we came Across the following how-to guide on Forum Posting below. What struck us as notable is the idea that the assumption out of the gate that as a moderator or regular guy (influencer) on the forum is that you are paid to sell a product or idea. This suggests that predominantly that these online communities are not operating as mutual interest groups but rather as Astroturfing platforms to sell product (s) through sneaky little adverts and to optimize SEO Spam..
How To Be A Great Forum Poster
Some notes on this matter.
If you’re great at this, you can get lots of regular and enjoyable work
doing it. Here are a few tips:
Figure out what everyone is talking about by researching the subject matter.
Ask open ended questions to get people posting and talking rather than answering yes or no only.
*Don’t reveal you are a paid poster. The webmaster will want you to blend
Introduce yourself to get conversations started so you’ll blend in as well.
Use full words instead of online slang and *use keywords* that relate to
your subject matter in the posts to help your client with their search engine optimization. (SEO refers to their placements in the search engines which can help them get new members.)
Plenty of forum posting Jobs available Just Google it
Searches related to forum posting jobs
So after some thought we developed an idea to test this by utilizing our keyword seeding/stuffing table from our Arctic Silver 5 investigation as much of the Seeded Keywords were found on forums these where bias tested against competitors of more or less equivalent performance and is shown below.
The idea is relatively straightforward, perform a site search with the above key phrases on some of the community forums and look for those forum moderators and Influencer’s ( Posters with an excess quantity of posts) as the moderators and influencer’s one would surmise to be a more finite group then the general population of users.
An exact search example of the phrase “Get yourself some Arctic Silver” Returns 10K as shown in the following screenshot
So sampling some of these links with the targeted keywords we find them on every site we tested and many with high volume posters and moderators.
On Overclockers.com(same people that own overclock.net)
Note here that quoting the keyword is common practice for keyword propagation
Another example of an influencer posts on another keyword phrase “Good old Arctic Silver” using acronym AS5 (Arctic Silver 5) note the post numbers of the forum member 36,791……….
On Hardocp.com user has 14,425 posts
Another technique to note is the optimization of key phrases in other words they spam their own spam in order to reinforce their search engine ranking as in the following example derived from an exact search and going to the last page with omitted results included.
Following those links send you to nonsensical pages with a sneaky redirect that typify attempted Search Engine manipulation
Generally keywords and key phrases are the primary indicator , you look for multiple full name and acronyms as in the following found on Tom’s Hardware. Where Arctic silver in one form or another is mentioned 7 times in the thread as well that as the guy orders it he could have it before X-mas w/ free shipping included!. Sneaky Advert? If so should they be paying Tom’s hardware for the advertising space? Or perhaps they did? Perhaps something or perhaps nothing, it is nature of Astroturfing to be anonymous so while an individual post can not be labeled as such in a gross overview patterns begin to emerge.
Any user/consumer on the Internet should be wary, WYSIWYG is likely not the norm. The following was taken from Reddit and a common argument to be found on any forum. Here several users (manufacturers?resellers?) are all promoting or arguing about which paste is the best along with back links on where to buy. All this makes one wonder if anything at all is real on the Internet at all.
As you can plainly see and after having read our previous two part series on backlinks, forum posting is just another way by which to astroturf and spam and yet the majority of the public is oblivious to what they are experiencing and looking at
For more information and an in depth technical research follow up please read the following paper from Stanford University:
The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page Computer Science Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com